Thursday, April 14, 2011

30 Day Movie Meme: Day 21


I don't have many favourite Oscar speeches -- I find that they tend to go on for too long and sometimes seem a little forced. Or, maybe it has more to do with the fact that, come Oscar night, we already know who is going to win. That didn't used to be the case but now the mystery of who will win has been stolen from the Oscars by the slew of pre-Oscar awards shows (most notably the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards). The Oscars have never been more dull, predictable and overrated than they have been these last couple of years. But, back in the day, there were some great moments.

In 1972, after years of exile, Chaplin was welcomed back into the United States to receive his Honourary Oscar at the 44th Academy Awards. I wasn't born in when this happened but, as a big Chaplin fan, I saw this clip years ago when doing research on his life for a film essay. The clip of Chaplin stepping onto the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where the Oscars were once held, was memorable for a variety of reasons.

1) It was Chaplin's first public appearance in the United States in 20 years.
2) His appearance received the longest standing ovation in Oscar history, lasting for 12 full minutes.
3) Most importantly, Chaplin is genuinely humbled. The joy is evident on his face. Here's a man who likely had no idea how he'd be received by the audience when he stepped on the stage and his reaction is one of the most sincere I've ever seen at the Oscars.

Without ego, Chaplin steps up to the mike and say's one of the shortest thank-you speeches in Oscar history -- but it also happens to be one of its greatest ...because it's so genuine. Short and sweet, just like Chaplin.

"This is such an emotional moment for me. And words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say, thank you for the honour of inviting me here. Oh, you're wonderful, sweet people. Thank you." 

The embedding is disabled on YouTube, but you can WATCH IT HERE.

What is your favourite Oscar speech?


  1. Marlon Brando wasn't too bad at getting someone else to 'un-accept' and Oscar wasn't he!! That is probably the most memorable 'non' speech ever made at the Oscars, and to be honest the only one I can recall!!

  2. I actually almost put Marlon Brando's "un-accept" but I wanted to put someone who was happy to be receiving an award ...although Brando's sentiments were no less genuine, just controversial. haha.

    I just realized I wasn't following your film blog! But I am now. I've never seen Layer Cake (your most recent entry). Come to think of it, I don't know that I've seen Daniel Craig in a major role ...

  3. I completely agree with your take on the most recent Oscar shows, esp. the stilted and predictable nature of Oscar speeches. Actors can rarely conjure up that amazing performance energy that lead to their win. There are still some really charismatic figures in Hollywood though. As you say, the past is full of great moments.

    Also, in honor of your fantastic blog (esp. your classic reviews) I'm granting you the "Versatile Blogger Award." Come pick it up @ my blog!

  4. Thanks Laura..allways nice to know someone is reading. Unfortunately my blog doesn't toally mirror my total taste in movies. I watch only what is avaliable in theatres or the video store. If I want the classics I'm out of luck as I have to buy them, and books before DVD's with me!
    I see alot of foreign language movies but the cinema they play in has closed for two years for major renovations so my viewing options are limited at the moment.
    Daniel Craig is a fine actor who i like immensley, both as an actor and person. He keeps quiet and stays out of all that 'Hollywoodness' I dislike. He reminds me so much of Paul Newman wirh those piercing blue eyes.
    A good movie of his is Flashbacks of a Fool. It is one of those that has slipped under the radar as it was made between his Bond movies. It was excellent because he is everyting Bond isn't in it. Layer Cake is good too and if you see a Craig movie then any of those two are a good starting point.

  5. @Matt: There have definitely been great speeches that are more recent (Russell Crowe comes to mind) but a lot of the mystery and the excitement of the Oscars has faded over the years.

    haha! Thanks. I just popped over and left a comment. I'll definitely do my post for it by the end of this weekend, I promise. Thanks again!

  6. @Brent: I'm the same way with the classics ...I either watch the channel TCM or I just buy them without having seen them. It's a bit of a risk but I only pick the ones I know are considered timeless classics. I actually just watched It Happened One Night this afternoon.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  7. hey Laura -->
    Thanks for the visit! I'm reminded so often of the wonderful writers in the blog-o-sphere and how frequently I lose touch with them, distracted by life, by films (happily, though at times not so much) and by the work. There really are no short cuts when it comes to writing about films, making films, watching films, and sharing the love with others. You really do have to do 'the homework' but in this case it is a welcome reprieve for the tragedies, en mass happening all around us.

    That aside, great moment to reflect on. Chaplin was beautiful here, gracious and humble - there is no doubt he was filled with emotions and genuinely affected by the award. So true, there is no pretending at the awards only the person revealed and so often we catch a glimpse of the person rather than the personae.

    Thanks for the thoughts Laura - cheers

  8. @Brent: I think Layer Cake was the superior film for Craig - I for one was less than enthusiastic about the Bond departure. They got it all wrong - unlike Guy Ritchie's re-invention of Sherlock Holmes. I mean who would have thought to turn Holmes and Watson into the equivalent of action heroes? Craig as Bond replaced the charisma and overt sexuality of the character into an action hero more concerned with Parkour (the jumping about buildings, fences, etc.) than seduction - both women and foes. Give the classic Bond films a gander and you'll see what I mean.

  9. @Rory: Thank you so much for the comment. Agreed -- it's hard to keep up with all the great film blogs out there, but I'm always open to following new ones and sharing favourite films and recommendations.

    Thanks for stopping by again!

  10. I have a good one here for you Laura!! John Mills played a mute in Ryan's daughter for which he won an Oscar. His acceptance speech was nothing but a nod in homage to the role!!! It is the shortest Oscars speech ever!! That is if you can call it a speech!
    You have opened up an interesting line of thought here for me as I've been taking note of some of these Oscar speeches lately.

    @ Rory what on earth makes you think I haven't seen any of the pre-Craig Bond films???? Maybe you should come to my blog and read a recent post on a Brosnan outing.