The 10 best film award acceptances - in pictures

As we enter awards season, we'd like to thank these past winners
10 best: acceptances: Actress Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel, 1940

Best supporting actress Oscar for Gone With the Wind

Twenty-three years before Sidney Poitier’s best actor win, and 61 before Halle Berry’s for best actress, Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Gardenias in her hair, sequins down her gown, McDaniel’s speech is equal parts humility and gravitas: “I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel. And may I say thank you and God bless you.” She keeps it sob-free, too, walking off with hankie, and dignity, intact
Photograph: John Springer Collection/Corbis
10 best: acceptances: Charlie Chaplin Stands By Oscar Statue
Charlie Chaplin, 1971

Honorary Oscar

An almost unrecognisable, semi-exiled Chaplin looks deeply affected by the standing ovation that welcomes him on stage. The trippiness of the atmosphere after a full five minutes of claps and bravos is compounded by a microphone glitch that gives his speech a God-like echo. “I can only say that… thank you for the honour of inviting me here, and, oh, you’re wonderful, sweet people.” It was only his second Oscar (he’d won a first, also honorary, in 1929) but not his final: he picked up the best score Oscar for Limelight the following year
Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
10 best: acceptances: Isaac Hayes Holding His Oscar Award
Isaac Hayes, 1972

Best original song Oscar for Shaft

Hayes picks up points for coming to the ceremony dressed as a faux-shearling hearth rug, and for dedicating the award, after brief nods to the Academy and Stax, to “a lady who’s here with me tonight, because years ago her prayers kept my feet [on] the path of righteousness, and that’s my grandmother… [In] a few days it’s her 80th birthday and this is her present from me.” Here’s hoping they sang the song which won the award - “Who’s the black private dick/ That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?/ Shaft!” - while she cut the cake
Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
Marlon Brando, 1973

Best supporting actor Oscar, accepted by Sasheen Littlefeather

It’s not really an acceptance speech – Brando’s Apache emissary refuses the gong offered by (fabulously mismatched) presenter duo Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore for The Godfather. But her reasons for the refusal - “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns” - make this a ballsy, and awkward, awards moment, the more so because of Littlefeather’s unimpeachable courtesy: “I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening...”
Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Features
10 best: acceptances: Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock, 1979

American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award

In 1968, Hitchcock won his sole (honorary) Oscar and said: “Thank you” - just that. Eleven years later, as toast of the AFI, he spoke for six minutes and was amusing for all of them (the allotment-sized flower arrangement helps). Hitch’s thanks this time had a direction: his wife, Alma. “Had the beautiful Miss Reville not accepted a lifetime contract without options as Mrs Alfred Hitchcock some 53 years ago, Mr Alfred Hitchcock might be in this room tonight, not at this table but as one of the slower waiters on the floor”
Photograph: Frank Edwards/Rex Features
10 best: acceptances: Kary Antholis (R) holds the Oscar he won for Achie
Gerda Weissmann Klein, 1995

Best documentary short Oscar for One Survivor Remembers

The elderly subject of this Holocaust film accompanies director Kary Antholis on to stage then, after he’s spoken, and as flunkies try to usher her off, puts the whole knees-up in sobering context: “I have been in a place for six incredible years where winning meant a crust of bread and to live another day… in my mind’s eye I see those who never lived to see the magic of a boring evening at home. Thank you for honouring their memory and you cannot do it in any better way than… realise that each of you who knows the joy of freedom are winners”
Photograph: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images
10 best: acceptances: 18th Annual GLAAD Media Awards - Show
Jake Gyllenhaal, 2006

GLAAD award for outstanding service to the lesbian, gay and transgender community

It’s usually viewed as a cop-out to tape an acceptance speech while backstage on your next film, for it to be piped into the auditorium in lieu of flesh and blood. But Gyllenhaal seems honestly sorry to be missing the bash at GLAAD, honouring him for his work on Brokeback Mountain. In his low-key way he hits all the right buttons: humbled, flattered, embarrassed and eager to protest that all he’s done is to be part of a generation who “believe a story like that is a story that [is] equal to any other love story”
Photograph: Getty Images
10 best: acceptances: Actor Mickey Rourke holds his award for Best Performance by
Mickey Rourke, 2009

Best actor Golden Globe for The Wrestler

Sean Penn might have won the Oscar, but the assortment of frequently weepy, oft-inappropriate speeches Rourke made in the run-up stole his thunder. At the Independent Spirit Awards, he gave an affectionately meant shout-out to Eric Roberts (“Whatever he did 15 years ago should be forgiven”). At the Baftas, he thanked his publicist for sexual guidance, and Marisa Tomei for letting him see her naked. Best of the bunch is his damp-eyed Golden Globe tribute to all his dead pets, “because sometimes when a man’s alone all you got is your dog”
Photograph: Francis Specker/Bloomberg News
10 best: acceptances: Polish-born French director Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski, 2010

Best film and best director at the European Film Awards

Anyone who’s ever conducted a webcam chat with someone of advanced years, particularly if only one party’s camera is turned on, may be able to imagine how it felt to watch Polanski, 77, beamed into a concert hall in Tallinn through the magic of Skype. Polanski won four EFA awards for The Ghost. Cue return virtual visits to his chalet and to a fixed grin the size of a bus. Polanski says nothing of especial interest, but his good humour, especially at the end, as an Estonian girls’ choir belts out something folksy beneath his massive face, is impressive indeed
Photograph: Raigo Pajula/AFP/Getty Images
10 best: acceptances: Palme d'Or Award Ceremony: 63rd Cannes Film Festival
Juliette Binoche, 2010

Best actress at the Cannes film festival for Certified Copy

Cannes can get emotional. Last year alone, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul thanked “spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand” and tried to kiss the jury, best actor Javier Bardem lavished love on Penelope Cruz and best actress Binoche rallied for the release of Iranian director Jafar Pahani, then on hunger strike in a Tehran prison. “It’s a tough battle to be an artist and an intellectual,” she said, holding aloft a placard bearing his name. It worked – briefly: Pahani was freed three days later, before being rearrested in December, and sentenced to six years in jail
Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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