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Best moments in Oscar history

The time Bjork laid an egg on the Red Carpet

Best moments in Oscar history  The time Bjork laid an egg on the Red Carpet

The most important night in Hollywood since its first edition in 1929 always provides laughs and tears, but sometimes the show also holds moments that keep the audience on the edge of their seats even after the trophies have been handed out, images that captivate us so much that they become indelible memories in the collective imagination. In anticipation of the most important event in the international film scene, let us retrace ten iconic moments that have shaped the history of the Oscars.

1. Alfred Hitchcock's acceptance speech (1968)

The master of suspense was nominated for five Oscars throughout his long career, but never won until 1968, and even then not in one of the Academy's traditional categories: he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, a kind of lifetime achievement award for directors. Perhaps not satisfied with the honor, Hitchcock gave one of the shortest acceptance speeches in the history of the Oscars and otherwise: a simple "Thank you, thank you very much".

2. Littlefeather refuses the award on behalf of Marlon Brando (1973)

When Marlon Brando won the Oscar for one of his most famous roles, Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, the actor was not present to accept the trophy in the Best Leading Actor category. He decided to send in his place Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American Apache activist and president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee: «It is with great regret that he cannot accept this generous award - said Littlefeather - and the reason for this choice is the treatment that the film industry now reserves for American Indians.»

3. A naked man enters the stage (1974)

In 1974, a naked man entered the stage just before Elizabeth Taylor presented the award for best film: Robert Opel, an American photographer and gallery owner. The presenter David Niven reacted with great composure. After breaking into a short laugh, he commented, «Is not it fascinating to think that the only laugh this man will ever have in his life is taking his clothes off and showing his weaknesses?». Evidence later emerged that Opel's appearance was set up as a media spectacle by the show's producer, Jack Haley Jr, and even Robert Metzler, the event's commercial director, believed the incident was somehow planned.

4. Cher and her revenge dress (1986)

Best moments in Oscar history  The time Bjork laid an egg on the Red Carpet  | Image 444735
Best moments in Oscar history  The time Bjork laid an egg on the Red Carpet  | Image 444734
Best moments in Oscar history  The time Bjork laid an egg on the Red Carpet  | Image 444733

By the time Cher won the Best Actress Oscar in 1987 for her role in Moonstruck, she had already shocked the Oscar audience with a carnivalesque revenge dress. She appeared at the 1986 ceremony wearing an imposing feather headdress, bare-chested, accentuated by triangular hemlines at the top and bottom, in a dress that her long-time collaborator, stylist Bob Mackie, had created especially for her and which he later told the New Yorker he had designed "a bit for revenge". At the time, Cher had just starred in Peter Bogdanovich's film Mask and won Best Actress at Cannes for her role as the mother of a disfigured teenager, but had been snubbed at the Oscars. «She was furious that she had not been nominated for Mask - Mackie said on the subject - There were a lot of people who said, 'That's not fashionable!' And I said, 'Of course, it's not fashionable.' It's crazy clothes to attract attention!' And it got attention, people are still talking about it.»

5. Bjork lays an egg on the red carpet (2001)

Bjork can always be counted on to awaken dormant spirits during awards season, but it's hard to top the memorable outfit seen on the 2001 Oscars red carpet when the singer showed up in a white swan costume. The dress by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski included a matching egg, which the musician brazenly 'laid' in front of the paparazzi. But more than the act itself, it was the press that gave the event iconic appeal. Jay Carr of the Boston Globe wrote: «Bjoerk's wrap-look swan dress ... makes her look like a refugee from the worst ballet company in the province», while Steven Cojocaru called the dress «probably one of the dumbest things I have ever seen» and Joan Rivers remarked, «Later I saw Bjoerk in the ladies' room, sowing toilet paper on the floor; this girl should be institutionalized.»

6. Halle Berry is the first black woman to win the Best Actress award (2002)

Halle Berry's historic win as the first black woman to win Best Actress moved everyone:  «This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, and Diahann Carroll. It's for the women standing next to me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, and Vivica Fox. And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because that door opened tonight.» But despite her wish, no other black woman has won this category in the twenty years since.

7. The posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger (2009)

On 22 February 2009, Hollywood held Oscar night, but one of the most celebrated nominees was absent: Heath Ledger, who had died of a drug overdose in a SoHo flat a year earlier at the age of 28. His unforgettable portrayal of the famous and iconic Batman villain in the second film of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy earned the Australian actor a posthumous Oscar, which was accepted by his family on behalf of his daughter Matilda amid general emotion

8. An Oscar by accident (2017)

On 26 February 2017, the 89th Academy Awards was coming to a close with only one award left to present. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage to present the trophy for Best Picture. When the envelope was opened, Dunaway read out the name of La La Land and the cast and crew thanked her on stage. But something was wrong behind them: the stagehands ran onto the stage and the faces of the La La Land team changed from unbridled joy to horror. «Moonlight won,' says one of them «no, this is not a jokeMoonlight has won.» Jimmy Kimmel arrives and confirms the news, showing the envelope. What happened? Warren Beatty tries to explain: «The envelope said Emma Stone for La La Land». Jimmy Kimmel jokes: «It's my fault, I knew I was going to screw it up before the end.' Good night, I promise not to come back.»

9. Zhao breaks records

The seventh woman ever nominated for the Best Director award, Zhao broke records in 2021 when she won for Nomadland, becoming the first Asian woman (and only the second woman ever) to win in the category. In her acceptance speech, the director, screenwriter, and producer spoke about the poems she memorized with her father when growing up in China and how they "keep her going when life is difficult": «People at birth are good through and through. This is for all those who have the faith and courage to cling to the good in themselves and others. This is for you. You inspire me to keep going».

10. Will Smith's slap in the face (2022)

The most memorable slap in history occurred after Rock made an uncool joke about Jada Pinkett's alopecia. Will Smith stormed on stage and slapped Rock, saying «Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth!». In general embarrassment, the audience fell silent as the shocked presenter replied «Wow, man, that was a joke» before presenting the award for Best Documentary. On the same night, Smith won Best Actor for his role in King Richard in 2021, and in his emotional acceptance speech he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees - but not to Rock. The actor then resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy itself imposed a 10-year ban on his participation in any of the organization's events, including the Oscars.