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Oscars: 20 most memorable Academy Awards acceptance speeches

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An Oscars trophy

© Rex Features / Sipa Press

"And the Oscar goes to…" Five words that will send nervous tingles through even the coolest of Hollywood customer. Winning an Academy Award can prompt tears of joy, euphoria, the desire to kiss whoever crosses your path or, in the case of Joe Pesci, extreme terseness.

As the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence and Ben Affleck ready themselves for the big night on Sunday (February 24), Digital Spy takes a look back at 20 of the most memorable acceptance speeches in Oscars history.

20. Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose (2007)
"Thank you life, thank you love. It is true, there are some angels in this city!" So usually a calm and restrained presence in interviews, Marion Cotillard let her emotions run free as she picked up a much-deserved Oscar for her barnstorming turn as Édith Piaf.

> Watch Marion Cotillard's Oscars acceptance speech

Marion Cotillard accepts the Oscar for best actress for her work in "La Vie en Rose" the 80th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, in Los Angeles.

© PA Images / Mark J. Terrill/AP



19. Joe Pesci - Goodfellas (1991)
"It's my privilege. Thank you." And like that, he was gone. At two seconds long, is this the shortest ever Oscar acceptance speech?



18. Sally Field - Places in the Heart (1985)
"You like me!" exclaimed Sally Field. The line was from her film Norma Rae, which bagged her an Oscar back in 1979, a reference that many didn't twig at the time.

> Watch Sally Field's Oscars acceptance speech

Actress Sally Field accepts her Academy Award for best actress in the film "Places in the Heart" at the Oscar ceremonies in Los Angeles March 26, 1985. "I can't deny the fact you like me, " she said in her acceptance speech, "Right now, you like me."

© PA Images / AP



17. Cuba Gooding Jr - Jerry Maguire (1996)
No actor has managed to channel their own on-screen character quite as well as Cuba Gooding Jr, who was positively ecstatic when he won 'Best Supporting Actor' for Jerry Maguire. The band struck up, but Gooding Jr continued to race through all of his thank yous.

> Watch Cuba Gooding Jr's Oscars acceptance speech

Cuba Gooding Jr., reacts while accepting the award for Best Supporting Actor for "Jerry Maguire," at the 69th Annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Monday, March 24, 1997

© PA Images / Susan Sterner/AP



16. Jack Palance - City Slickers (1992)
A veteran of many classic Westerns, Palance won an Oscar at the third time of asking for his performance as grizzled cowboy Curly in the Billy Crystal comedy City Slickers. He may have been in his 70s, but Palance was still showed he was fit as a fiddle by performing one-armed push-ups on stage.



15. Sean Connery - The Untouchables (1988)
After some awkward banter between Cher and Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery took to the stage to take his 'Best Supporting Actor' Oscar. The one-time James Bond used the opportunity to joke about being a thrifty Scotsman and, more seriously, call for an end to the WGA strike that was ongoing at the time.

> Watch Sean Connery's Oscars acceptance speech

Sean Connery holds his first Oscar statuette at the 60th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Ca., April 11, 1988.

© PA Images / Lennox McLendon/AP



14. Michael Caine - The Cider House Rules (1999)
Michael Caine was away filming Jaws IV: The Revenge (it paid for a nice swimming pool!) when he won an Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters, but he didn't make the same mistake twice when it came to 1999's The Cider House Rules. Caine was on sparkling, charming form on stage, thanking his fellow nominees and stressing how much he preferred "the Oscar goes to" instead of "the winner is".



13. Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady (2012)
Meryl Streep has bagged a staggering 17 Oscar nominations - winning three - with the most recent victory coming last year for The Iron Lady. It holds special poignancy as it arrived 30 years after her last win for Sophie's Choice. In the intervening years Meryl had been nominated and lost an astronomical 12 times.

> Watch Meryl Streep's Oscars acceptance speech

Meryl Streep accepts the Oscar for best actress in a leading role for "The Iron Lady" during the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

© PA Images / Mark J. Terrill/AP



12. Kate Winslet - The Reader (2009)
Kate Winslet was approaching Meryl Streep levels of Oscar snubbery before she bagged her 'Best Actress' Oscar for The Reader. It was sixth time lucky for the beloved British actress, who said she first rehearsed this speech when she was 8 years old with a shampoo bottle.

> Watch Kate Winslet's Oscars acceptance speech

British actress Kate Winslet accepts the Oscar for best actress for her work in "The Reader" during the 81st Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

© PA Images / Mark J. Terrill/AP



11. Michael Moore - Bowling for Columbine (2003)
With a huge TV audience watching, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's "fictitious times" speech took aim at President George Bush. The reception from Oscar guests, as you can here below, was mixed, and the band kicked in early in a bid to get Moore off stage.



10. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once (2007)
Few people inside Hollywood's Kodak Theatre will have known who Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova were before they nabbed the 'Best Original Song' Oscar for Once's 'Falling Slowly'. "What are we doing here? This is mad!" said Irishman Hansard, before signing off with "make art".

> Watch Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's Oscars acceptance speech

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova accept the Oscar for best original song for "Falling Slowly" from the motion picture "Once" at the 80th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, in Los Angeles.

© PA Images / Mark J. Terrill/AP



9. Adrien Brody - The Pianist (2003)
Adrien Brody's smooch with Halle Berry hit the headlines when he won the 'Best Actor' gong for Roman Polanski's The Pianist. "I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag," he told Berry, before calling Wladyslaw Szpilman "the role of a lifetime".



8. Roberto Benigni - Life is Beautiful (1999)
Robert Benigni unleashed pure joy when he won the Oscar for 'Best Foreign Language Film' in 1999, dancing across chairs and telling the entire auditorium he wanted to kiss all of them. It's the telecast cutaways that make Benigni's speech, with tears (Goldie Hawn), laughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) and bewilderment (Sophia Loren) all on show.

> Watch Roberto Benigni's Oscars acceptance speech

Roberto Benigni with his two oscars which he won at the 71st annual Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Foreign Film for his film Life is Beautiful - 1999

© PA Images / Peter Jordan/PA Archive



7. Tom Hanks - Philadelphia (1993)
Hanks delivered a searing turn as AIDS victim Andrew Beckett in Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia, and on bagging his Oscar thanked his high school drama teacher and former classmate, "two of the finest gay Americans". The only problem? Both were still in the closet. This moment inspired Kevin Kline's 1997 comedy In & Out.

> Watch Tom Hanks's Oscars acceptance speech

Tom Hanks gives an emotional speech at the 66th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 21, 1994.

© PA Images / Reed Saxon/AP



6. Gwyneth Paltrow - Shakespeare in Love (1998)
The tears came thick and fast as Jack Nicholson presented Gwyneth Paltrow with the 'Best Actress' Oscar. The waterworks began the moment her name was read out, but, like a total pro, Gwyneth was able to rattle through her fellow nominees, her cast, crew and Harvey Weinstein. The biggest heart-wrenching moments came later in her speech as she paid tribute to her family, her late cousin Keith Paltrow and college friend Harrison Kravis.



5. Angelina Jolie - Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Back before Brad, Angelina Jolie nabbed an Academy Award for her unhinged turn in Girl, Interrupted. Now we view Angelina as the epitome of poise and grace, but then she freaked everyone out with a gushing declaration of love for her own brother.



4. Julia Roberts - Erin Brockovich (2001)
After three nominations, Julia Roberts finally got her moment of glory and nobody was going to take it away from her. "Sir, you're doing a great job but you're so quick with that stick so why don't you sit because I may never be here again," she told the orchestra conductor for fear of getting played off early. Our highlight? Roberts reprising her Pretty Woman laugh before yelling "I love it up here!".

> Watch Julia Roberts's Oscars acceptance speech

Julia Roberts appears emotional as she accepts the best actress Oscar for her role in "Erin Brockovich" at the 73rd annual Academy Awards Sunday, March 25, 2001, in Los Angeles.

© PA Images / Kevork Djansezian/AP



3. Halle Berry - Monster's Ball (2002)
"This moment is so much bigger than me. This is for every nameless, faceless woman of colour who now has a chance tonight because this door has been opened." said a tearful Halle Berry in her Oscars acceptance speech. It was the first time a black actress had won the Academy's top award and came 63 years after Hattie McDaniel's 'Supporting Actress' victory for Gone with the Wind.



2. James Cameron - Titanic (1998)
"I'm the king of the world," bellowed James Cameron as he won an Oscar for 'Best Director'. An act of extreme hubris? For sure. Instantly iconic? You bet.



1. Marlon Brando - The Godfather (1973)
Brando's 'Best Actor' Oscar victory for The Godfather was swamped in controversy as he refused to attend the ceremony, instead sending Native American civil right activist Sacheen Littlefeather to collect his trophy. Brando had become involved in the American Indian Movement, and used his win to protest their misrepresentation in Hollywood.

Littlefeather initially planned to read out a 15-page speech but was told backstage by the producer that she would be ejected from the event. Award presenter Roger Moore revealed in his autobiography that he kept Brando's Oscar overnight and it was collected by an armed guard the morning after.



The 85th Academy Awards show will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 24.

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