By Brian Marder, Hollywood.com Staff
Acceptance speeches are, collectively, a mixed bag at the Academy Awards. Sometimes they make for the best parts of the looooong telecast; winners are at their most vulnerable, with so much nerves and alcohol running through their veins, allowing raw emotions to erupt. Other times, winners have already swept the ceremonies leading up to the Oscars, and the speech has turned into but another rehearsed performance for the masters thereof. This year's fall somewhere in-between. There were sadly no Michael Moore-esque polarizations and (tear) no waterworks of Jamie Foxx-ian proportions, despite solid efforts from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Reese Witherspoon. But a few wholehearted, spontaneous speeches did emerge. Plus, the presenters were solid: Steve Carell and Will Ferrell in their deadpan element? Nice, Academy, nice. Below are our picks for the top three acceptance speeches from Oscar Night.
3. George Clooney, Best Supporting Actor for Syriana:
"Wow. Wow. All right, so I'm not winning director. It's the funny thing about winning an Academy Award, it will always be synonymous with your name from here on in. It will be, "Oscar winner George Clooney." "Sexiest Man Alive 1997." "Batman died today in a freak accident at a " Listen, I don't quite know how you compare art. You look at these performances this year of these actors and unless we all did the same role Everybody put on a bat suit and we'll all try that. Unless we all did the same role, I don't know how you compare it. They are stellar performances and wonderful work, and I'm honored, truly honored to be up here. And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people, gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Proud to be part of this community and proud to be out of touch. And I thank you so much for this."
The ever-dapper Clooney was the lone wildcard to digress into a little political rambling. But it was neither the time nor--well, it really just wasn't the time, because his was the evening's first award handed out and nobody was yet in the throes of Oscars-induced delirium. He made the right move by taking the classy route and name-dropping Hattie McDaniel's groundbreaking Oscar win. Clooney was perhaps the face of the Oscars and its golden boy, but his speech didn't budge on his self-deprecation stance. Nice opener, if a tad high-road-y.
2. Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau, Best Documentary for March of the Penguins:
Luc: [After a series of whistles mimicking a penguin] "It means, thank you in penguins. I'd like to dedicate this statuette to all the children in the world who saw that movie. In 2041 they will decide to ruin you or not, the treaty that protects Antarctica. I will, maybe, the March of the Penguins will inspire them. Sorry for my English."
Yves: "Looking out on these tuxedos tonight, it's like seeing the movie again. Thank you for this homage. Thank you very much. Goodbye. Thank you. Thank you."
The doc directors went through hell on ice to capture those cute, fidgety little penguins in Antarctica, and initially seemed like they were still, er, recuperating, especially with their matching stuffed-penguin dolls. But it was all in good fun, and they wrapped it up with such gratefulness. What really earned this speech a spot in our top three was Morgan Freeman, the film's narrator, who was a deer in headlights when the cameras cut to him mid-speech. The poor guy was uncertain what to do and his face said it all, only to be exacerbated to the max when the spotlight shined down on him in case not everyone already saw it and squirmed. Oh, c'mon, he won last year--he'll be fine!
1. Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard, Best Original Song ("It's Hard Out There for a Pimp") from Hustle & Flow:
"Oh, my. Hey, we want to thank Keith Young, our choreographer. And the whole Sony Records, Lisa Ellis, our moms, our whole families. Thank you, Jesus. And for giving us a chance, the Academy. We love the Academy. You know what I'm saying? Gil Cates. Everybody. I got plenty of time. Ain't nobody else. I want to thank everybody. Yeah. Donnie Einer. Once again our families. Ludacris. What's up? Going down. George Clooney, my favorite man, he showed me love when I first met him. We bringing the house. We out of here. Memphis, Tennessee!"
Their win was our win. The rappers from Three 6 Mafia enlivened a rather sterile crowd after they provided the night's biggest shocker (not counting the jaw-dropping finale). They gave many shout-outs, including everyone from Ludacris to George Clooney to (telecast producer) Gil Cates? The true beneficiary, though, was host Jon Stewart, who gained priceless fodder and ran with it. But soon after poking fun, he gave the group a big, sweet, metaphorical hug. Awwww.