Entertainment

Oscar speeches that seized the moment

Updated 12:56 PM ET, Wed June 28, 2017
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"...This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened..." -- Halle Berry, accepting the best leading actress award for her work in "Monsters Ball" at the 74th Academy Awards on March 24, 2002 at the Kodak Theater Getty Images
"...I'd like to accept this trophy in the name of all those thousands of disabled veterans who are laying in hospitals all over the country." -- Actor Harold Russell, accepting a special award at the 19th Academy Awards on March 13,1947. Russell, a disabled veteran of World War II, won two awards that night -- one for his performance in the 1946 movie ''The Best Years of Our Lives" and an honorary statue. CPL Archives/Everett Collection
"Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech, which I cannot share with you presently because of time but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry ... and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee...." -- Sacheen Littlefeather (aka Marie Cruz), declining the best actor award at the 45th Academy Awards on behalf of Marlon Brando on March 27, 1973 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Bettmann Archive
"...It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated. I will now read a short wire that I have been asked to read by the Vietnamese people. It is sent by Ambassador Dinh Ba Thi, who is the chief of the Provisional Revolutionary Government's delegation to Paris, the Paris political talks. It says: 'Please transmit to all our friends in America our recognition of all that they have done on behalf of peace and for the application of the Paris Accords on Vietnam. These actions serve the legitimate interest of the American people and the Vietnamese people. Greetings of friendship to all the American people.' Thank you very much." -- Burt Schneider (pictured, right), accepting the best documentary feature award for his work on "Hearts and Minds" at the 47th Academy Awards on April 8, 1975 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
"...Two, out of millions, who gave their lives and were prepared to sacrifice everything in the fight against fascist and racist Nazi Germany. And I salute you and I pay tribute to you and I think you should be very proud that in the last few weeks you've stood firm and you have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression. And I salute that record, and I salute all of you for having stood firm and dealt a final blow against that period when Nixon and McCarthy launched a worldwide witch hunt against those who tried to express in their lives and their work the truth that they believed in. I salute you, and I thank you, and I pledge to you that I will continue to fight against anti-Semitism and fascism." -- Vanessa Redgrave, accepting the best supporting actress award for her role in "Julia" at the 50th Academy Awards on April 3, 1978 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Bettmann Archive
"[Speaking simultaneously in sign language:] I'm so happy. I wanted to win very much because I'm so proud of "Coming Home," and I want many people to see the movie. I'm signing part of what I'm saying tonight because, while we were making the movie, we all became more aware of the problems of the handicapped. Over 14 million people are deaf. They are the invisible handicapped and can't share this evening, so this is my way of acknowledging them...." -- Jane Fonda, accepting the best leading actress award for her role in "Coming Home" at the 51st Academy Awards on April 9, 1979 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
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"...I think that through this award you're really acknowledging the Vietnam veteran. And I think what you're saying is that for the first time, you really understand what happened over there. And I think what you're saying is that it should never, ever in our lifetimes happen again. And if it does, then those American boys died over there for nothing, because America learned nothing from the Vietnam War." -- Oliver Stone, accepting the best director award for his work on "Platoon" at the 59th Academy Awards on March 30, 1987 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion John T. Barr/Getty Images
"...I know that my work in this case is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious creator of us all. A healing embrace that cools their fevers, that clears their skin, and allows their eyes to see the simple, self-evident, common sense truth that is made manifest by the benevolent creator of us all and was written down on paper by wise men, tolerant men, in the city of Philadelphia two hundred years ago. God bless you all. God have mercy on us all. And God bless America." -- Tom Hanks, accepting the best actor award for his role in "Philadelphia" at the 66th Academy Awards on March 21, 1994 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion DON EMMERT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
"...I have been in a place for six incredible years where winning meant a crust of bread and to live another day. Since the blessed day of my liberation I have asked the question, why am I here? I am no better. In my mind's eye I see those years and days and those who never lived to see the magic of a boring evening at home. On their behalf I wish to thank you for honoring their memory, and you cannot do it in any better way than when you return to your homes tonight to realize that each of you who know the joy of freedom are winners." -- Gerda Weissmann Klein, the subject of documentary short winner "One Survivor Remembers." She spoke on stage with winner Kary Atholis at the 68th Academy Awards on March 25, 1996 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Brooks Kraft/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
"...I want to thank the Academy for this honor to a film on the abortion subject and Miramax for having the courage to make this movie in the first place....and everyone at Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights League." -- John Irving, accepting the best adapted screenplay award for his work on "The Cider House Rules" at the 72nd Academy Awards on March 26, 2000 at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Center SCOTT NELSON/AFP/Getty Images
"I've invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to--they are here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fictitious of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush! Shame on you, Mr. Bush! Shame on you! And any time you've got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up!" -- Michael Moore, accepting the best documentary feature award for his work on "Bowlng for Columbine" at the 75th Academy Awards on March 23, 2003 at the Kodak Theatre Bob Riha Jr/WireImage/Getty Images
"...For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone." -- Sean Penn, accepting the best actor in a leading role award for his role in "Milk" at the 81st Academy Awards on February 22, 2009 at the Kodak Theater
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When Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens won the best documentary feature award for "The Cove" at the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010, they were accompanied on stage by producer Paula DuPré Pesmen and film subject Ric O'Barry. O'Barry walked on stage carrying a sign that prompted the audience to text for more information on how to help curtail the dolphin slaughter depicted in the film. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong...." -- Charles Ferguson, accepting the best documentary feature award for his work on "Inside Job" at the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27, 2011 at the Kodak theater GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
"...This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. And to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you." -- Jared Leto, accepting the best actor in a supporting role award for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2, 2014 at the Dolby Theater Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"...Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces, and I do. And that's the most unfair thing I think I've ever heard. So, in this brief time here, what I want to use it to do is to say this: When I was sixteen years old I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I'm standing here. And so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it's your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along." -- Graham Moore, accepting the best adapted screenplay award for his work on "The Imitation Game" at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015 at the Dolby Theatre Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"...To every woman who gave birth. To every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America." -- Patricia Arquette, accepting the best supporting actress award for her role in "Boyhood" at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015 at Dolby Theater Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"Nina Simone said it's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were fifty years ago, but we say that 'Selma' is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on." -- John Legend, accepting the best original song award with Common for their work on "Selma" at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015 at the Dolby Theater Kevin Winter/Getty Images
"...I'm so happy, I'm thrilled, actually, that we were able to hopefully shine a light on Alzheimer's disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized, and one of the wonderful things about movies is it makes us feel seen and not alone. And people with Alzheimer's deserve to be seen, so that we can find a cure...." -- Julianne Moore, accepting the best actress award for her role in "Still Alice" at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015 at the Dolby Theater Craig Sjodin/Disney ABC Television GroupGetty Images
"...Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity. For the indigenous people of the world. For the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this. For our children's children. And for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted." -- Leonardo DiCaprio, accepting the best leading actor award for his role in "The Revenant" at the 88th Academy Awards on February 28, 2016 at the Dolby Theater MARK RALSTON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images