Oscars, at least lately, aren't particularly full of shocks and awe. But, the institution that is the Academy Awards has had its share of jaw-dropping moments. As we ponder who got Oscar nominations and who will win, we look back at some of the most surprising moments in Academy Awards history. So, what are Movie Fanatic's Top 10 Oscar Shockers?
10. Roberto Benigni Jumps, Jumps!
Oscar night can be a stuffy affair. But, occasionally when someone loses it after earning a victory, it is a moment to treasure. When Roberto Benigni (recently seen in To Rome with Love) won for Best Actor for his gorgeous work on Life Is Beautiful, he jumped out of his chair, leapt on top of the seats and proceeded to throw his hands in the air as he walked on the edges of seat tops on his way to the stage. There's enthusiasm and there's what the Italian did in 1999.
9. Juliette Binoche Robs a Legend
Ask anyone who watched or was lucky enough to be in the theater when Juliette Binoche won for Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient. Everyone and their grandmother thought that the Academy would finally give an Oscar to screen legend Lauren Bacall.
The look on Bacall's face alone showed the shock level hitting the Richter scale. One could argue that was the beginning of the end of the "give them an Oscar for a body of work" feeling at the Academy. Let's just say it happens much less so nowadays. Bacall was good in The Mirror Has Two Faces, but not Oscar good.
8. Cher Wins, Wears See-Thru Dress
Going into the 1986 Academy Awards, Cher had to know she was a front-runner to win an Oscar. And given that the photo of one holding that golden statue is something iconic and will last the test of time... why on earth would Cher shock the Academy with what she wore? Has she been recognized since? Not at all.
7. Crash Beats Brokeback Mountain
In what can only be explained as a result of "worry" on the part of the Academy for giving its highest honor to a movie that celebrated gay love (Brokeback Mountain), they gave it to the movie that trivialized race relations in Los Angeles (Crash) instead. To what end?!
6. Melissa Leo Drops Bombs
Melissa Leo is an actress whose work we have appreciated for years. So, you can imagine the surprise when Leo accepted her Supporting Actress Oscar for The Fighter and dropped a bomb... an "F" bomb! She realized her mistake, how it was a live event, quickly apologized and moved on.
5. The Oscar Streaker
David Niven is about as classy as an acting world guy can get. Then, you can imagine the earthquake of Oscar proportions that was his appearance at the 1974 Oscars as a fully nude male streaker raced by behind him. Niven handled the entire thing with panache and flair. Told you he was a class act!
4. Michael Moore Bashes Bush
What Michael Moore felt about George W. Bush and his presidency was hardly a secret. Also, Hollywood is known to favor the Democratic party, and not the Republican party that Bush represented. So, the level to which Moore shocked the Oscar crowd while accepting his Oscar for Best Documentary for Bowling for Columbine, was truly a jaw-dropper.
Moore went on a rant about Bush, and Hollywood's elite responded with boos. Whether right or wrong, it didn't matter. It was not the correct forum and it was the wrong time. The Oscars are nothing, if not partisan. Or at least they try to be...
3. Tie: Adrian Brody wins, Kisses Halle Berry & Halle Berry's Emotional Explosion
Halle Berry has had several memorable moments at the Oscars in recent history. Our third most shocking moment in Oscar history is a Halle Berry tie. Both times she appeared and emotions soared. Whether winning a Best Actress Academy Award for Monsters Ball and promptly losing it or her presenting Adrien Brody with his The Pianist award the next year and getting a massive kiss. Both moments were the central emotional powder keg of that Oscar night.
2. It's Hard Out Here for a... Rapper!
I have long felt that the Academy was behind the times, especially when it comes to the effective use of hip-hop in movies and the lack of attention the genre got in terms of Oscars.
But, when Three-Six-Mafia and Eminem took the Oscar stage to accept their awards for Hustle & Flow (It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp) and 8 Mile (Lose Yourself), our cheers could haven't been louder as the shock from the moment set in. It may have taken forever, but twice in three years hip-hop reigned at Oscar.
1. Marlon Brando Refuses Oscar
Roger Moore may be as cool as ice when he's portraying James Bond, but in 1974 when Marlon Brando sent a proxy to accept his Academy Award for Best Actor, there was no hiding Moore's uncomfortableness with the situation. A Native American activist took the stage to issue a statement from the iconic actor and refused to accept his award.
Honorable Mentions: Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White, Marisa Tomei's Best Supporting Actress upset, Citizen Kane losing Best Picture (the biggest of the Best Picture upsets), Jack Palance's one-armed push-ups after winning Oscar, James Franco channeling Marilyn Monroe while hosting and George C. Scott telling the Academy he didn't want a "damn" Oscar and then they gave it to him anyway.