15. Best Original Song: "Writing's on the Wall" from 'Spectre' – Music and Lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Smith’s acceptance speech would have been more impactful had he done his research: The Grammy winner said he read an article by Ian McKellen where the actor said “no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar.” That’s not true, and his words felt especially empty seeing as he received the award immediately following Lady Gaga’s powerful performance of the also-nominated “Til It Happens to You” alongside sexual assault survivors. But it still belongs on this list because of the overall message — “I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day” was the short speech’s most memorable line, and an incredibly poignant one at that.
14. Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Vikander’s excitement was on full display in the first-time winner’s breathless speech, where she frantically searched for her Danish Girl director and co-star in the crowd so she could properly thank them for their help. Although her gratitude and shock were endearing, the speech itself didn’t contain any especially unforgettable moments.
13. Best Picture: Spotlight – Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, and Blye Pagon Faust
Earlier in the night, Spotlight co-writers Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer paid tribute to sex abuse survivors and journalists in their acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay, and while the film’s producers didn’t have much else to add when they won for Best Picture, they did directly address church leaders in a moving call for change. “This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” Michael Sugar said. “Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”
12. Best Original Score: The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
The Italian composer may have delivered his speech through an interpreter, but his sincere gratitude came across in his short time on stage — and he appeared moved by the standing ovation he received from the audience. After thanking director Quentin Tarantino and the team behind the bloody, snowy Western, Morricone turned to his fellow composers, saying, “My tribute goes to the other nominees, and in particular to the esteemed John Williams.” He then summed up the importance of music in carrying a film — and in turn, the importance of a film on the music itself. As he put it, “There isn’t a great soundtrack without a great movie that inspires it.”
11. Best Sound Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road – Mark A. Mangini and David White
Mad Max had a lovely, lovely day at the Oscars, but only Mangini and White captured the essence of George Miller’s road-rage-fueled epic. The enthusiastic duo dashed onto stage, cheering, “Yeah, yeah yeah!” until the sound cut them off — but only for a second — before they delivered a speech that honored their department with an earnest tribute. “For thousands of years, we’ve been telling stories in the dark around a flickering light, whether a campfire or a projector. David and I do it with sound…I knew sound could tell my story, but nothing quite like this. Sound artists are storytellers,” Mangini said. “Thank you, George. I hope to see you around the next campfire.” White capped it off with a succinct summary of the film itself: “I’m so proud, so proud to work on this loud, loud, loud film, that actually had silence in it.” Silence you could witness on screen.
10. Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Spotlight is an ode to both sex abuse survivors and the Boston Globe journalists who exposed the abuse in the Catholic Church, and co-writers Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer thanked both in their short but compelling speech. “We made this film for all the journalists who have and continue to hold the powerful accountable and for the survivors whose courage and will to overcome is really an inspiration to all,” McCarthy said. “We have to make sure this never happens again.”
9. Best Animated Short Film: Bear Story – Pato Escala Pierart and Gabriel Osorio Vargas
Bear Story‘s win wasn’t just a victory for the short’s directors — it was also a victory for the country of Chile. “This is the first Oscar for our country, so this is very important for us,” Escala said. “Un gran aplauso para todos,” he went on, suggesting a round of applause for everyone. “Viva Chile!” The speech was short and sweet, and appropriately celebrated a historic moment.
8. Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Of course the writers of the film that managed to make clear sense of the convoluted 2008 housing crisis would deliver one of the most concise speeches of the night. Randolph and McKay took the stage not only to thank their studios and Michael Lewis, author of the book that chronicled the economic downfall and the meteoric rise of the few who noticed what was happening, but also rounded out their time at the mic with a passionate message — a call to arms, if you will. “If you don’t want big money to control government, don’t vote for candidates who take money from big banks, oil, or weirdo billionaires,” McKay said. “Stop!”
7. Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Alejandro G. Iñárritu became the first filmmaker to win back-to-back best director awards since 1951, and after thanking his cast and crew — especially Leonardo DiCaprio — he ended with a powerful statement about prejudice and diversity by quoting a line from The Revenant: “They don’t listen to you. They just see the color of your skin.” “So what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair,” Iñárritu concluded.
6. Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
A surprise winner who seemed surprised — and delighted — by his win, Rylance graciously accepted his trophy in an eloquent, thoughtful speech. “I’ve always adored stories,” he began, “hearing them, seeing them, being in them. So for me to have the chance to work with one of the greatest storytellers of all time, Steven Spielberg, it’s just been such an honor.” At that, the director of the Cold War drama mouthed a “thank you” back at his star, and Rylance continued by expressing his awe at being included in the stacked category. “I don’t know how they separate my acting from your glorious acting in these wonderful films that you’re in, which everyone must see,” he said. “I don’t know how they separated the five of us from all the other supporting actors who are making films at the moment. It’s a wonderful time to be an actor and I’m proud to be a part of it.” Well said, and well done.
5. Best Documentary – Short Subject: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Obaid-Chinoy kicked off her speech by rightfully showing off a bit: “Thank God I have two of them now,” the now two-time Oscar winner (she first nabbed an award in 2012 for Saving Face) said as she held the statue. “This is what happens when determined women get together.” She thanked those who fight for “a more just society for women” and shared that this film, which follows a teenage girl who survives an honor killing in Pakistan, is helping change a law on honor killings. “That is the power of the film,” she concluded, effectively reminding everyone just how influential movies — especially movies about real-life issues — can be.
4. Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan
Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up in the technical categories, but the giddiest and most memorable acceptance speech for George Miller’s action epic came with its first award: Best Costume Design. After kicking off with a reference to the film — “what another lovely day” — and recounting the chance text that put her on a plane to Namibia to meet Miller, designer Jenny Beavan closed by saying, “I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but actually it could be horribly prophetic, Mad Max, if we’re not kinder to each other and if we don’t stop polluting our atmosphere. You know, it could happen.” It was a delightfully unpredictable acceptance speech for a delightfully unpredictable film.
3. Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room
Larson’s happiness couldn’t be contained: On stage, the winner went, as she put it, from the big thank-yous to the small ones, starting with the film festivals that screened the low-budget adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel about the love between a mother and her son in the worst of circumstances. After thanking director Lenny Abrahamson, Donoghue, and, of course, adorable costar Jacob Tremblay, Larson delivered a heartfelt appeal to the viewers themselves, the ones who saw Room light up the screen in the first place. “Thank you to the fans, thank you to the moviegoers,” she said, smiling. “Thank you for going to the theater and seeing our films. I appreciate it, thank you.” (No, Brie — thank you.)
2. Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
It finally happened: After five nominations and a career full of critically acclaimed performances, DiCaprio won his very first Oscar. He used the first half of his speech to thoughtfully thank those who’ve helped him along the way (including director Martin Scorsese), before sharing an impassioned plea to stop climate change. “Let us not take this planet for granted,” he ended. “I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you very much.” The speech could have benefited from more emotion — this was his long-awaited Oscar, after all, so a tear or two would have made for some satisfying television — but it was undeniably moving to see him use his very public platform for a cause he clearly believes in.
1. Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out – Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
With Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera created one of the most inspiring and emotional films of the year, and their acceptance speech was no different. After they both graciously thanked their families and Team Pixar, Docter concluded their joint speech with a rousing call to action for future Oscar winners around the world. “Anyone out there who’s in junior high, high school, working it out, suffering — there are days you’re gonna feel sad, you’re gonna feel angry, you’re gonna be scared,” Docter said. “That’s nothing you can choose, but you can make stuff. Make films. Draw. Write. It’ll make a world of difference.”