You may not realize it from the coverage, but there were several great acceptance speeches other than the classy way “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz handed Best Picture to “Moonlight” after the envelope mix-up at the end of the ceremony. This year was primed to be full of emotionally and politically charged speeches and, for the most part, this year’s winners did not disappoint. Below, we recap the five best thank yous.
Davis had been amazing with her speeches all season and her Oscar acceptance did not disappoint. She talked about how their profession celebrates life and tells the stories of those who “dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition,” before getting to emotional thank yous for August Wilson and Denzel Washington. She capped it off with a beautiful tribute to her parents, her husband and her daughter for everything they taught her so far in life. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I hope this isn’t the last Oscar speech we see her give.
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
The actor has a wonderful way with how he speaks and even doing normal thank yous to the people involved with “Moonlight” sounded fantastic including his shout out to producer Adele Romanski for forcing Barry Jenkins to cast him. But the real gem of his speech came at the end when he saluted his wife who had been in the later stages of pregnancy during all of awards season and had given birth to their daughter just a few days ago. It was sweet and touching and beautifully capped off with “Peace and blessings” to everyone.
Farhadi’s film was out front and we knew something dramatic would be said if he won but what could have been an angry tirade was actually brief, eloquent and powerful. The Iranian-American astronaut accepted the award and read a brief statement by the director. He described how his absence was “out of respect for the people” of Iran and the disrespect shown by the “inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants into the U.S.” He then encouraged empathy between “us” and “others” and perfectly encapsulated how artists can confront divisiveness.
Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O’Connell, “Hacksaw Ridge”
It’s tough to imagine losing a single Oscar race, but to have endured a staggering 20 defeats in a row is unthinkable. That’s the situation O’Connell has found himself in since reaping his first nomination 33 years ago for “Terms of Endearment.” Considering how long he’s waited for this he was very quick and to the point in his thank yous to his family and “Hacksaw Ridge” crew. The most moving moment was when he dedicated his win to his late mother who got him his first job in sound. When he asked how he could thank her, she said that he “can work really hard and someday you go win yourself an Oscar and stand up on that stage and you can thank me in front of the whole world!” A beautiful moment for a very overdue winner.
Best Original Song: Benj Pasek, “City of Stars” from “La La Land”
Composer Justin Hurwitz just rattled off a bunch of names and co-lyricist Justin Paul had a nice bit about being educated in public schools that taught and valued the arts, but Pasek really made the presentation memorable. He started by saying that he was “literally freaking out right now” but then thanked his mother, who was also his date that night, for letting him quit the JCC (Jewish Community Center) soccer team to be in a school musical. He then dedicated it to all the kids “who sing in the rain and all the moms who let them!” The icing on top was seeing his mother stand up and cheer her boy when he was done.