After what feels like another eternity, the 94th Academy Awards are finally in the history books. We were finally back at the Dolby Theater with a big production that we missed so very much last year. As with any Oscar ceremony, there are things that we loved, things we couldn’t stand and the just plain bizarre. But you can always count on some great acceptance speeches, and this year brought us some genuinely beautiful moments. Some brought up the historic nature of their wins like Ariana DeBose, others became overwhelmed in the moment like Questlove, and some we didn’t get to see in their entirety, but we were still able to see bits and pieces of them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the six best speeches of the night. Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments below.
Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
Kotsur has been the star of this year’s derby with his acceptance speeches, and his speech here did not disappoint. He joked about wanting to teach Joe Biden some dirty sign language during their recent White House visit. He thanked the Deaf theater community for helping him develop his skills as an actor and Siân Heder for being the best communicator. He also told the fisherman of Gloucester, Massachusetts, “Hey fisherman, hey Popeyes, don’t forget to eat your spinach.” He closed by paying tribute to his father, who became paralyzed from the waist down making him unable to sign. He said, “Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero.”
Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
DeBose’s win was the first of the night. She started by saying, “If I took the time to say thank you to every single beautiful person who has lifted me up on this stage, you’d find people would be sitting here ’til next Oscars.” She then told Steven Spielberg, “You’re stuck with me now.” She paid tribute to Rita Moreno, who played Anita in 1961 and won the same Oscar for that performance. “Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you so much.” After paying tribute to her family, she addressed the landmark nature of her win. “You see queer – an openly queer woman of color, an Afro‑Latina, who found her strength in life through art. And that’s what I believe we’re here to celebrate.”
Best Documentary Feature: “Summer of Soul,” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Even though he had been winning prizes all season, the grandness of the moment was a lot for Questlove to take in. After paying tribute to his fellow nominees he said, “It’s not lost on me that the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival should have been something that my beautiful mother, my dad, should have taken me to when I was five-years-old.” He then addressed the larger issue of the film. “This is about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. Just know that in 2022 this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem.” The moment then became overwhelming for him and rather than drone on and on, he gracefully closed it by saying, “I’m so happy right now. I could cry. Thank you.”
Best Film Editing: “Dune,” Joe Walker
We don’t have a transcript of Walker’s complete speech since it was one of the eight categories presented prior to the telecast. He did talk about how the term “Oscar nominee” has had a negative connotation for his teenage daughter. “My daughter once said to me in an argument, ‘It’s all very well for you, Oscar-nominated Joe Walker.’“ He then said to Denis Villeneuve, “Merci du fond du coeur,” which translates to: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Best Documentary Short: “The Queen of Basketball,” Ben Proudfoot
Proudfoot began his speech by saying, “If there is anyone out there that still doubts whether there’s an audience for female athletes, let this Academy Award be the answer.” He then paid tribute to Lucy Harris, the subject of his winning short. “She passed away before this film was nominated, but her family is here tonight, so I’d ask you to please give your recognition to them.” He closed by demanding President Biden bring home Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who is currently imprisoned in Russia.
Best Live Action Short: “The Long Goodbye,” Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia
Ahmed spoke to the nature of what his short film represented. “You know, in such divided times, we believe the road to story is to remind us there is no us and them. There’s just us. And this, this is for everyone who feels that they don’t belong, anyone who feels that they’re stuck in a no man’s land. You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there. That’s where the future is. Peace.”
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