The Oscars Moments We'll Never Be Able to Stop Talking About

Hollywood's biggest night never fails to bring laughter and tears, but sometimes, the show delivers moments that keep audiences buzzing long after the trophies are handed out

01 of 22

1940: HATTIE MCDANIEL MAKES HISTORY

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It took more than a decade for the first Black actress to win a trophy. The honor went to Hattie McDaniel for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. However, the win wasn't all progress: In 1940, with segregation still intact, McDaniel wasn't allowed to sit beside the rest of the film's cast, and was made to sit at the back of the venue.

02 of 22

1943: GREER GARSON'S VERY LONG SPEECH

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Greer Garson set a record that has yet to be broken with her very, very long acceptance speech after winning the Best Actress award for her performance in Mrs. Miniver. The lengthy speech ran for seven minutes, and many point to it as the catalyst for the modern introduction of the time limit.

03 of 22

1968: ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S SHORT ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

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The master of suspense was nominated for five Oscars over the course of his long career, but Hitchcock never won until 1968, and even then, it was a bit of technicality. Instead of winning one of the Academy's traditional categories, he was presented with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is something of a lifetime achievement award for filmmakers. Clearly not satisfied with his honorary title, Hitchcock gave one of the shortest acceptance speeches in Oscar history: a simple "thank you."

04 of 22

1969: BARBRA STREISAND AND KATHARINE HEPBURN'S TIE

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There have been six ties in Oscar history, and the one that got the most buzz came in 1969, when Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn both won the Best Actress award: Streisand for Funny Girl and Hepburn for The Lion in Winter - her second in a row (and third overall) after taking home the prize for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner the year before. Streisand was the only one of the winners present, however, and started her speech with her now-iconic line, "Hello, gorgeous."

05 of 22

1972: CHARLIE CHAPLIN'S HONORARY OSCAR (& STANDING OVATION)

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The bulk of iconic silent film star Charlie Chaplin's career occurred before the Oscars began, but his impact on the industry was incomparable. To recognize that, the Academy gave him an honorary award in 1972, and when he did receive it, he was given a standing ovation that lasted a whopping 12 minutes. "Words seem so futile - so feeble," Chaplin said in his speech. "I can only say thank you for the honor of inviting me here." His appearance at the ceremony was also a big deal because it was one of his first public ones in the United States in two decades: he had his re-entry permit to the United States revoked in 1972 due to controversy surrounding alleged communist ties.

06 of 22

1973: SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER STEPS IN FOR MARLON BRANDO

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When Marlon Brandon won for what is now considered to be one of his best-known roles, as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, the actor wasn't there to take home the Best Actor trophy - and the woman he sent in his place didn't accept it on his behalf. He sent Littlefeather, an Apache Native American activist and the president of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, to speak on his behalf. "He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award," she said. "And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry."

07 of 22

1974: THE STREAKER

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The controversy just kept coming the next year, when a naked man (right) ran across the stage just before Elizabeth Taylor (left) handed out the award for Best Picture. Robert Opel was the man in question who did the running, behind the show's host David Niven, who could only laugh and say: "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"

08 of 22

1974: TATUM O'NEAL BECOMES THE YOUNGEST OSCAR WINNER IN HISTORY

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Starring in Paper Moon alongside her father Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar at just 10 years old. She collected the award wearing a little tuxedo, and gave a very brief speech: "All I really want to thank my director, Peter Bogdanovich and my father. Thank you."

09 of 22

1989: ROB LOWE'S SNOW WHITE OPENING NUMBER

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The opening of the Oscars always includes a humorous bit, and on occasion, a song. And in 1989, it was a Snow White-inspired take on "Proud Mary," sung by Rob Lowe and Eileen Bowman as Snow White. The routine was a disaster, and the show ended up being sued by Disney along with a whole slew of stars, including Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. They wrote in a letter that the performance was "an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire picture industry."

10 of 22

1993: RICHARD GERE, SUSAN SARANDON & TIM ROBBINS GET BANNED

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When Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins took their moment on the Oscar stage to get political - the first two on Haitian people living with HIV and Gere talking about the recent Chinese invasion of Tibet - the reaction from the Academy was not positive. They were then banned for life from the show, but it didn't last long: Sarandon won Best Actress three years later for Dead Man Walking and Robbins scored a win in 2004 for Mystic River. Gere hasn't won, but he has attended the show multiple times in the years since.

11 of 22

2001: BJORK'S SWAN OUTFIT

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There have been a lot of iconic outfits at the Oscars over the years, but none perhaps more so than Bjork's. When she attended the show in 2001 as a Best Original Song nominee, she wore an eye-popping dress with a faux swan head wrapped around her neck.

12 of 22

2002: HALLE BERRY'S GROUNDBREAKING WIN

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It was pure euphoria for Halle Berry when she won Best Actress for Monster's Ball in 2003, becoming the first Black woman to do so. After her name was read out, she immediately burst into tears, taking the stage to deliver one of the ceremony's best-remembered acceptance speeches. "This moment is so much bigger than me," Berry said. "It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."

13 of 22

2009: HEATH LEDGER'S OSCAR WIN

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There was barely a dry eye in the house when Heath Ledger, who died in January 2008, won an Oscar posthumously for his chilling performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, which earned rave reviews when it was released the summer following his death. His mother, father and sister accepted the award on his behalf.

14 of 22

2010: KATHRYN BIGELOW WINS BEST DIRECTOR

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In the now 94-year history of the Oscars, only two women have ever won Best Director; the first was Kathryn Bigelow, for her film The Hurt Locker. "This really is, um, there's no other way to describe it," she said in her speech. "It's the moment of a lifetime."

15 of 22

2014: THAT ELLEN DEGENERES SELFIE

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In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres used her hosting gig at the Oscars to attempt to break the Internet with one very star-studded selfie. With a photo featuring Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, among others, she managed to do it. The group photo became the most retweeted photo in Twitter history (at the time) within an hour.

16 of 22

2013: JENNIFER LAWRENCE TRIPS

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Jennifer Lawrence is famous for her quirky realness, which was on full display when she made her way up the Oscars stage to collect her Best Actress award for Silver Linings Playbook, tripping on the stairs. In true J.Law fashion, she took it in stride. "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell," she said in her acceptance speech. "That's really embarrassing."

17 of 22

2016: LEONARDO DICAPRIO FINALLY WINS HIS OSCAR

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In 1994, Leonardo DiCaprio nabbed his first Oscar nomination. In 2005, he got another, and in 2007, another. And in 2014, he had one more. But still - no wins. That is, until 2016 came around, when he won Best Actor for The Revenant, as well as a standing ovation from his peers.

18 of 22

2017: ENVELOPEGATE

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It was Feb. 26, 2017. The 89th Academy Awards were nearing their end, with just one award left to give out. Bonnie & Clyde stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage to present the prize for Best Picture. Upon opening the envelope, Beatty paused. The crowd laughed, and he showed the envelope to Dunaway after she urged him along. Dunaway read out the name of the film La La Land. Their cast and crew took the stage, and the speeches began.

But behind them, something was amiss: stagehands started running across the stage behind them. The faces of team La La Land went from blissful joy to confusion and horror. And then producer Fred Berger said: "We lost, by the way."

His fellow producer Jordan Horowitz took the stage and delivered, perhaps, what are now the most iconic words in Oscars history: "There was a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture." He grabbed the correct card out of Warren Beatty's hands, showing it to the crowd. Horowitz added, "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."

Beatty then took to the stage to explain what happened - he and Dunaway had accidentally been given an extra envelope for Best Actress, which read "Emma Stone, La La Land." He then presented the award to Moonlight, and director Barry Jenkins took the stage. "Clearly, even in my dreams, this could not be true," he began. "But to hell with dreams, I'm done with it. Because this is true."

An unprecedented mess that made headlines for weeks to come, one thing's for sure: there will likely never be a bigger moment in Oscar history than Envelopegate.

19 of 22

2019: SO MANY CONTROVERSIES

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Not long after Kevin Hart was announced as the year's Oscars host, some of the comedian's old, homophobic tweets and comments resurfaced on the Internet, and as critics called him out, he refused to apologize, saying he'd addressed his words in the past. The backlash was so big, though, that Hart ultimately stepped down, but for a while, the Academy considered inviting the comedian back after he made the rounds on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with Stephen Colbert and Good Morning America and eventually apologized.

The Oscars moved forward without a host, and almost without some of its awards, after planners announced that four trophies - Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short and Makeup and Hairstyling - would be given out during commercial breaks. Again, the Academy faced backlash, and days before the show, reversed that decision.

20 of 22

2020: THE RETURN OF EMINEM

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The last pre-COVID awards show had lots of memorable moments (Parasite's wins! Brad Pitt's first Oscar! An army of Elsas!) but the biggest "omg" for celebs in the audience and fans at home alike came when Eminem returned to the stage to perform "Lose Yourself" 18 years after the rap won the Oscar for Best Original Song. He famously didn't attend the ceremony when his song was up in 2003, and thanked the Academy for allowing him back in an Instagram post after the show.

21 of 22

2021: CHLOÉ ZHAO BREAKS BARRIERS

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Only the seventh woman ever nomianted for Best Director, Zhao broke records when she won in 2021 for Nomadland, becoming the first Asian woman (and only the second woman ever) to win the category.

In her acceptance speech, the director, screenwriter and producer spoke about poems she memorized with her father while growing up in China, and how they keep her moving forwards when life is hard. One that has stuck with her, she said, translates to "People at birth are entirely good."

She continued, "This is for anyone who has the faith and courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves and in each other. This is for you; you inspire me to keep going."

22 of 22

2022: WILL SMITH SMACKS CHRIS ROCK

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It was the moment that stopped the night: after Chris Rock made a G.I. Jane 2 joke to Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith walked onto the stage and hit Rock, returning to his seat to say, "Keep my wife's name out your f---ing mouth!"

The audience sat in stunned silence as a shocked Rock said, "Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke," before going on to present the award for Best Documentary.

Smith later addressed the incident in his emotional Best Actor acceptance speech, apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees — but not Rock.

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