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Are You Chasing Your Hero? Or, Some Great Oscar Acceptance Speeches

There are many things I like about watching the Oscars. While I don’t know much about fashion, I do enjoy seeing my favorite actors “all gussied up.” I also like seeing the clips from the nominated movies. It’s nice to remember the ones I saw the year before, and it helps me determine whether or not I want to see the others.

But the main reason I watch the Oscars is the acceptance speeches. I like them all – the funny ones, the tearful ones, the unabashedly gleeful ones, and the even the ones that are more like grocery lists of gratitude.

My favorite speeches are the ones that include a little of all of the above, and then some. What’s the “then some?” It’s when the actors talk about love, peace, or justice. It’s when they tell personal stories about where they came from, and how, if they can do it, anybody can. It’s when they talk about the way that making their particular movie changed them, and/or the world, in some significant way.

I originally meant this particular post to be about Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech, given at the at the 2014 Oscars after winning the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Dallas Buyers Club. I was going to write about him saying that he was chasing his hero – himself, always ten years older. It was really lovely, and it reminded me of an exercise I do with many of my clients. It’s one I learned long ago in coach training at the Coaches Training Institute, called the Future Self Meditation. Matthew McConaughey’s take on it is unique and certainly working for him. I encourage you to see what I’m talking about by clicking here.

However… As I was doing my research about Oscar acceptance speeches in general, I realized that this post had to include many more than just Matthew McConaughey’s. My goodness, there are some great ones out there! And, we are so lucky that YouTube exists now, so we can watch them loooong into the night, if we like.

The first speech I want you to see is that of Hattie McDaniel. She was the first African American to receive an Academy Award, winning Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of “Mammy” in 1939’s Gone With The Wind. Her acceptance speech, which can be seen here, is as beautiful as she is, glowing while she speaks of gratitude and hope. There is much more to say about Hattie McDaniel, including the facts that she was in over 300 movies and only received credits for 80, that she was the first black woman to ever sing on the radio in the United States, and that it’s currently unknown where her Oscar is! Her story is heart-wrenching and encouraging all at once, and you can read more about her, and her too-short life, here.

Next, I encourage you to watch the gorgeous and emotional 2002 acceptance speech of Halle Berry, especially right after Hattie McDaniel’s. She had just won the award of Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her performance in Monster’s Ball. There are no words that can augment what she said in her speech, which can be watched here. What I will tell you is that, with the winning of this award, she became the first woman of African American descent to win an Oscar for an Actress in a Leading Role, and is still the only one, as of this writing in 2014.

The speeches I’ve spoken about above are only a few of my favorites. I can’t possibly point you to all of them. However, I have listed a few more, below. I hope that you will take the time to watch each of them and maybe even allow yourself the gift of “going down the rabbit hole” of the many more great Oscar acceptance speeches.

With that said, may your “rabbit hole” experience start with these:

1985 – Sally Field, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Places in the Heart

1997 – Cuba Gooding, Jr., Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Jerry Maguire

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Foreign Language Film, Life is Beautiful

2001 – Julia Roberts, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Erin Brokovich

2001 – Russell Crowe, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Gladiator

2005 – Jamie Foxx, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Ray

2005 – George Clooney, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Syriana

2007 – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Best Original Song, “Falling Slowly” from Once (Make sure you watch this one – there’s a part 2; and you can hear the song itself by clicking on “Falling Slowly” above)

2008 – Tom Hanks, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Philadelphia

2014 – Lupita Nyong’o, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Dallas Buyers Club

So, which are your favorites??? 

 

Photo of Laura Biering taken by April Groome.