1. The Ecstatic Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire, 1997. Gooding’s sheer enthusiasm at winning the award is completely infectious. You’ll feel the joy just watching him feel it.
2. Matthew McConaughey “You’ll Never Be Your Hero”
Best Actor Oscar for “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2014. McConaughey gives a great, sincere, and funny speech but his final point about always trying to be a better person is what really sets this one off.
3. Julianne Moore On Bringing Awareness
Best Actress Oscar for “Still Alice,” 2015. Many families struggle when family members succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease. Moore’s touching speech about bringing awareness to those families is touching.
4. Russell Crowe On Believing In Yourself
Best Actor Oscar for “Gladiator,” 2001. To win an award like this seems “vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable” is how Crowe phrases it. His speech on having courage even when you’re downtrodden is wonderful.
5. Oprah Winfrey On Living For A Higher Purpose
Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement, 1998. Oprah’s speech on using your life to be a beacon for others is amazing and her thankfulness to those she looked up to is something we should all remember to feel.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio On Risk Taking
Golden Globe for Best Performance in a Motion Picture for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” 2013. Watching it now it’s hard to see how this movie could have been seen as a risk but apparently it was. DiCaprio’s speech on taking risks and accepting them is an inspiration.
7. Kate Blanchett On Women In Cinema
Best Actor Oscar for “Blue Jasmine,” 2014. Driving home the truth that movies with female leads can be not only successful but lucrative, Blanchett goes all in on reminding the industry that people want to see woman-centered movies.
8. Tom Hanks Loves His Wife
Best Actor Oscar for “Forrest Gump,” 1995. This one is touching if for no other reason than how choked up Hanks gets when talking about his wife who also seems to get choked up. You’ll probably get a little choked up too.
9. Lupita Nyong’o On The Validity Of Dreams
Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “12 Years A Slave,” 2014. Nyong’o’s speech is perhaps the most effusive and thankful in recent memory but her statement that “no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” is a wonderful note to end on.
10. Ellen DeGeneres On Being Kind
People’s Choice Humanitarian Award, 2016. Be kind, that’s it. Frankly, a revolutionary sentiment in a cynical age.
11. Jared Leto Loves His Mom
Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2014. A lot of people love their mom’s but not many get up on stage and tell the difficult tale of their mother’s lives in such a way that all that mother’s hard work seems suddenly and totally justified.
12. Marlon Brando’s No Show
Best Actor Oscar for “The Godfather,” 1973. Ever the real rebel, Brando rejected his 1973 Oscar for “The Godfather.” Instead an Apache woman named Sacheen Littlefeather appeared on his behalf to bring attention to the way the film and television portrayed Native Americans.
13. Meryl Streep On Soaking In The Moment
Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady, 2012. Streep saying “I really understand I’ll never be up here again” sets the entire tone for everything else she says which is one part award acceptance and two parents self reflection on a career that she genuinely seems to be thankful for. Good stuff.