Best Oscar Speeches That Will Make You Cry (In a Good Way)
Get the Kleenex ready! Academy Awards acceptance speeches can be as varied as the people saying them, but the 11 below have all been chosen to garner the same reaction: bring you to the brink of tears!
Some of these video clips will make you cry because they’re genuinely sad, and others because they’re as heartwarming as Hollywood gets. Don’t fret, though: We guarantee you’ll well up with happy tears too! Ready? Here are the Best Oscar Speeches That Will Make You Cry:
Heath Ledger’s family accepts his posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for ‘The Dark Knight’ (2009)
It had been just over a year since Ledger’s untimely passing when he won for his fearless, iconic turn as the Joker. It was only the second posthumous Academy Award ever bestowed, and we braced ourselves as his heartbroken parents and sister took the stage to accept it on his behalf. “Tonight we are choosing to celebrate and be happy for what he has achieved,” his mother said, as A-listers in the audience and viewers at home struggled to contain their emotions. But all is lost the second his sister mentions his infant daughter, Matilda. (Warning: The late Philip Seymour Hoffman is the first nominee we see in the clip.)
Lupita Nyong’o is awarded Best Supporting Actress for ’12 Years a Slave’ (2014)
Lupita’s joy and disbelief were palpable when it was announced that she won the Oscar. As poised as ever, she gave a speech that was equal parts heartwarming and iconic. Our favorite part? When she confidently concluded by saying, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
Glen Hansard + Marketa Irglova win Best Original Song for ‘Falling Slowly’ from ‘Once’ (2008)
The relative unknown professional musicians, who also starred in the film besides writing and performing all of its music, were cult favorites to win the category with the sweet ballad ‘Falling Slowly.’ Hansard’s heartfelt, humble speech in his adorable Irish brogue had us all charmed from the start — but then the music (of all things!) swelled, cutting off Irglova before she got her chance at the mic. Watchers around the world cringed. Host Jon Stewart to the rescue: He saved the day and warmed our hearts with the beautiful gesture of bringing her back onstage. She then completely owns the moment, delivering an beautiful speech that urged struggling artists to dare to dream.
Tom Hanks takes Best Actor for ‘Philadelphia’ (1994)
A young Hanks wins his first Oscar as a gay man dying of AIDS in ‘Philadelphia,’ the first big-screen, big-budget mainstream movie to tackle the subject. Hanks is clearly overwhelmed, with tear-filled eyes and trembling chin as he struggles to find the right words to commemorate the milestone for the many millions who have lost their lives to the disease: “The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels,” he said. “We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight.” Words so powerful that even our newly minted Best Actor could barely keep it together to deliver them.
Louise Fletcher signs to her deaf parents upon winning Best Actress for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1976)
Fletcher played such a horrible person in ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ that it was hard for many to imagine that Nurse Ratched in real life was something of a sweetheart. Her bright smile upon being bestowed the Oscar is almost bewildering for legions of moviegoers to witness. Fletcher got it, too. “I’ve loved being hated by you,” she said to laughter from the Oscars audience. Things get serious — and seriously sweet — when she uses sign language to send words of love to her deaf mother and father. We bet even her co-star Jack Nicholson was losing it behind those dark shades of his.
Jennifer Hudson wins Best Supporting Actress for ‘Dreamgirls’ (2007)
J Hud was probably the last one to believe that she’d win an Oscar with her first film role. But as Effie White in ‘Dreamgirls,’ the former ‘American Idol’ contestant made us love her and showed the world what she could do. Starting her Academy Award acceptance speech, she wonders aloud, “Look what God can do!” Her tearfully talking about her late grandmother got us then, but it’s the mentioning of her mother in the audience and other family members — her mother, brother and nephew were murdered a year later — that gets us now.
11-year-old Anna Paquin wins Best Supporting Actress for ‘The Piano’ (1994)
It’s Sookie as a little kid, you guys! The pre-teen, purple-clad Paquin, the second youngest person ever to win an Oscar, is so overwhelmed when she takes the award that she is literally speechless for 20 seconds. She stands up there, big eyes staring into the crowd, doing the most adorable laughing-crying combination that you will ever see (we’ll file it under “laughing” since her smile almost as wide as the podium at which she’s standing). Then, miraculously, the little pro somehow nails her lines. Bonus: Anna out-Taylor Swift’s Taylor Swift when her name is called.
Buddies Ben Affleck + Matt Damon win Best Original Screenplay for ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1998)
Before that night, Ben and Matt were young Beantown buds with a couple of credits to their names struggling to make it in the movies. Afterwards, they were Academy Award winners! It was the pair’s official introduction into the industry they had tried so hard to become part of. You can practically see their minds being blown as they arrive on the stage, and their enthusiasm and excitement once there is boundless. We don’t know if they worked out this routine of thanking people in tandem in advance, but it doesn’t matter. It’s impossible to not be moved by witnessing two young guys get their long-awaited welcome to Hollywood.
Halle Berry makes history with her Best Actress win for ‘Monster’s Ball’ (2002)
With this, Berry became the first-ever black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar. The historical weight of the victory was not lost on millions of viewers around the world, and it was certainly not lost on Halle, who was an emotional wreck from the second her name was said. She takes nearly a full minute to get in front of the mic, where she begins sobbing hysterically and gesturing to the crowd for another few seconds. She finally, FINALLY gets the first words out: “This moment is so much bigger than me.” And that is why we’re crying.
Mira Sorvino wins Best Supporting Actress for ‘Mighty Aphrodite’ (1996)
It wasn’t 28-year-old Mira who slayed us when she won for her role as a happy-go-lucky hooker in Woody Allen’s flick. No, it really wasn’t her speech that got us, delightful and appropriate though it was. Instead, it was her father, veteran actor Paul Sorvino, sitting in the crowd and absolutely overflowing with pride. Also flowing, despite his best efforts to keep it all together? The tears down his cheeks! We don’t know the science behind it, but somehow watching a proud papa blubbering over his daughter makes everyone else start blubbering, too.
Cuba Gooding Jr. wins Best Supporting Actor for ‘Jerry Maguire’ (1997)
It starts normally enough, with a subdued Gooding making sure to thank his wife first, lest he accidentally forget. He even says he won’t be mad if the music cuts him off. Oh, but when it actually tries to? That’s where the magic happens! Cuba shouts over the music, thanking everyone involved in the production, repeatedly yelling, “I love you!” and gesticulating wildly. The ecstatic actor finally puts the trophy down and jumps high into the air. Soooo much love in the air — and the on-their-feet, cheering, A-list audience sent it right on back. This is one for the ages.