The fluffy red carpet chatter, those musical opening shout-outs to top contenders, the parade of gilded trophies and one speech after another thanking directors, agents and publicists — now 86 years old, Oscar night can feel like slipping on a pair of familiar old slippers.
And yet — once in a blue moon — the Academy Awards get a bit of a jolt, a minor electric shock. Maybe it’s from a genuinely awkward and unvarnished acceptance speech or perhaps a surprising appearance. Sometimes, it’s due to a truly terrible segment.
Halle Berry wins Academy for Best Actress (2002)
This was a historic moment, and we’re pretty sure everybody was rooting for Berry. That night, she became the first African-American actress to win in the Best Actress category for her film Monster’s Ball. We cannot believe it took until 2002 for that to happen, but it did. Berry’s speech was charged with emotion and had us all reaching for tissues.
Cuba Gooding Jr. excited acceptance speech (1996)
Just like Mr. Benigni, Cuba Gooding, Jr. reminded us all about how exciting it is to actually win an Oscar. The actor picked up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Jerry McGuire and could not stop himself from shouting words of love for everyone. Seriously, he said it a lot. It was one of the rare earnest and sweet moments at the Oscars.