The Best Oscars Moments the Academy Would Love to Forget
Photo: Ozgur Donmaz (Getty Images)
Enough goes wrong at the Oscars every year for the Academy to publish an annual coffee table book. From broken chairs to flubbed lines, wardrobe malfunctions and jokes that bombed, the Oscars is always one misstep away from being a total trainwreck. How can we forget recent year’s screw-ups like Auli’i Cravalho getting smacked in the face with a flag mid-performance or Billy Crystal’s questionable impression of Sammy Davis Jr.?
As we stock up on snacks and sugary beverages in preparation for this year’s show, we take a moment to reach back into Oscar history and find the best moments the Academy would love to forget. Because you can’t spell awkward without award.
More Oscar fails: The 9 Biggest Oscar Snubs of 2019
1974: A Streaker Comes To Hollywood
It was the '70s and streaking was just good harmless fun. Or so thought photographer and activist Robert Opel as he jogged onstage in his birthday suit past a bemused David Niven who was trying to introduce Elizabeth Taylor. The move made Opel a sensation and for the next year, his was the most famous member of the Academy.
2011: Franco and Hathaway Host
In a half-baked attempt to reel in a younger audience, the Academy chose a young A-list couple to host the awards show. The chemistry was so bad between James Franco and Anne Hathaway, less than a minute after the opening ovation, the crowd began to shift uncomfortably in their seats. The Oscars always feel like a schlep, but halfway through the opening monologue, we all knew we were in for long night.
1986: Rob Lowe Sings, Snow White Dances
Possibly the 11 worst minutes in Oscar history, what started out as an innocent song-and-dance number with Disney's beloved Snow White turned into an overblown production that, by minute five, had everyone cringing (except for Rob Lowe, who was all smiles). The number was so bad, rumor has it that it single-handedly ruined the career of Grease-fame film producer Alan Carr. Some say that after that night, he never danced again.
1972: Brando Slams Hollywood
By the time The Godfather came out, Marlon Brando had fallen so far from Hollywood's good graces, he was living on a private island in the South Pacific and rarely came to Tinseltown. When his performance as Vito Corleone nabbed him an Oscar, he refused to attend the ceremony and sent an Apache woman named Sacheen Littlefeather in his stead. The beautiful, well-spoken Littlefeather used the moment to lambaste Hollywood's treatment of indigenous people. It was the kind of unexpected poignancy that the Academy swallows like a cold and soggy french fry.
2000: Angelina Smooches Her Brother
Incest will definitely raise some eyebrows on the red carpet. In 2000, at the height of her rising stardom, Angelina Jolie left a bad taste in everyone's mouth when she wet-kissed her brother on the way into the ceremony. We all turned a blind eye and went on with the show, but later in the night, Jolie forced the issue when she interrupted her own acceptance speech to point out "I'm just so in love with my brother right now." She had been alluring in every role...up until that one.
1958: Jerry Lewis Yanked
The control room on Oscar night is a high-pressure place to be. Controlling every moment of coverage ensures the show looks good and stays on schedule. Back in 1958 when comedian Jerry Lewis hosted the Oscars, the show ended 20 minutes early, and with so much time still left in the broadcast, Lewis took it upon himself to start improvising until he was off the air. The result was apparently so awful the network pulled the plug after a few wild barbs and went to black rather than have to watch another minute of Lewis' freewheeling antics. Leave it to the Oscars to dethrone the King of Comedy.
1943: And the Longest Speech Goes To
There are rules for a reason. And the reason why the orchestra plays Oscar winners offstage during their speech is all thanks to Greer Garson and her record-setting monologue. It started off well enough, but Garson kept going until she had spoken northward of five minutes. At a time when most people didn't even give speeches, Greer inspired the Academy to set a 45-second limit on thank yous. Even so, that didn't stop Julia Roberts from giving her own five-minute speech in 2001, thanking everyone in the room except her biopic's namesake, Erin Brokovich.
1999: Gwenyth Paltrow's Total Meltdown
Winning an Oscar is an emotional thing. Some are left speechless; others explode with joy. Gwenyth Paltrow straight up had a meltdown. Crying as she approached the stage, a torrent of sobs overtook her in such an assaulting display, even Gwen's mom couldn't help cringing. Those acting classes paid off for Paltrow, but she must have skipped the one where you make yourself not cry.
2017: Moonlight Madness
What is the story with the Academy keeping multiple winner's envelopes? Is it so they can change their mind mid-ceremony if someone smiles the wrong way? When La La Land won the most coveted award of the night and all the producers and cast came onstage to give their speeches, it was certainly one of the biggest follies in Oscar history when they were then told to hand back their statues and sit down. While the better movie ultimately won, it begs the question: What the hell is even going on back there behind the curtain?
1989: No Host at the Oscars
Thirty years and history repeats itself. In 1989 the Academy decided to go with no host for the evening's festivities. It was immediately dubbed the worst Oscars of all time by all concerned. Now, the Academy tempts fate again by throwing another no-host event, after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out. Whether it will go down in history as one of the worst of all time is yet to be determined, but we're guessing this year's coffee table book will be characteristically heavy.