Watch 10 of the Most Inspiring Oscars Speeches of All Time
Beyond the glamour of the Academy Awards, and beyond the fun of trying to predict which movies and film industry members are going to win awards, some of the Oscars’ best moments always happen during acceptance speeches.
For most, an Academy Award is the pinnacle of recognition for years and decades of hard work and dedication — blood, sweat and tears. And for winners, the opportunity to be on stage offers a moment to inspire, lift up and encourage those without a voice, those who have yet to make it, and those who helped them reach their own potential.
So without further ado, here is a roundup of 10 of the most inspiring Oscar speeches ever made on the grand stage of the Academy Awards. Tissues, please!
Winning Best Actress in 2004 for her landmark portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, Charlize Theron’s speech is a perfect example of humbleness, team spirit and above all, a daughter’s boundless love for her mother.
Awarded the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2013 for her landmark humanitarian efforts with the United Nations Refugee Agency, Jolie delivered a moving speech about luck, opportunity and the obligation to be of use to others than ourselves.
Rewarded with Best Supporting Actor for the performance of a generation in the 2013 Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto dedicated his award to the victims of AIDS and the LGBTQ+ community with a message of love, life and living for your dreams.
Lupita Nyong’o was always meant to be an Academy Award winner, and her portrayal of Patsy from Solomon Northup’s eponymous memoirs 12 Years a Slave created a visceral image of the suffering women of color in bondage endured generation after generation. The necessity to recognize that endless pain, and to encourage people, and especially young children of all walk of life was a message that left the audience roaring with applause.
McConaughey’s Oscar speech had a deceptively simple message at heart: always be your own hero. But always look to the best future version of yourself for inspiration. Now that’s an idea we can all say alright, alright, alright to.
Never giving up, no matter what life throws at you was the most important lesson Batman himself had to share during his 2013 win for Argo. That, and not holding on to grudges — no matter how hard that may be.
One of the most iconic Academy moments in history, Halle Berry’s 2002 win for Monster’s Ball marked the first and only time a woman of color took home Best Actress from the glitzy award show. The historic moment came with a lot of tears and endless gratitude towards the women of color who paved the way to the landmark moment.
After decades of groundbreaking performances and six Oscar nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home Best Actor in 2016. What could have been a well-deserved moment of self-congratulation, became yet another opportunity for DiCaprio to advocate on behalf of our environment, planet and future, reminding us all that we only have one home, so we best cherish it.
The supremely talented Viola Davis reminded everyone of the sheer beauty of ordinary lives, even in tragedy and heartache and the necessity to remember the stories of thsoe who came before us.
Taking home Best Actor for the forever-iconic role of Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks made many hearts go pitter-patter, using his moment in the spotlight to declare his love for his wife.
Sacheen Littlefeather for Marlon Brando
Igniting controversy across the nation, Marlon Brando’s 1973 Godfather win is perhaps the most powerful moment of onstage activism ever to take place at the Academy Awards. Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather took to the stage on behalf of Brando to circumvent the FBI’s news blackout of the Wounded Knee crackdown on Native American rights activists and protest the portrayal of First Americans in the TV and film industry.