Patricia Arquette’s Incredible Speech, and 8 Other Times the Oscars Got Political

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Patricia Arquette’s Incredible Speech, and 8 Other Times the Oscars Got Political

Patricia Arquette’s Incredible Speech, and 8 Other Times the Oscars Got Political

1. Patricia Arquette and Gender Equality

Many awards winners will include political material if it’s related to the work they’re winning for. But not Patricia Arquette. She was possibly inspired to devote the end of her speech to the gender pay gap because of recent leaked emails that exposed specific pay discrepancies in Hollywood. Or maybe she was just inspired by the more general experience of living in that world every day. Either way, she surprised everyone with her speech:

To every woman who gave birth. To every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

And no one tried to hide their reactions.



2. Common and the Spirit of the Edmund Pettus Bridge

When Common gave his acceptance speech this weekend for his song “Glory” from the movie Selma, he spoke about the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That was the bridge across which King led the historic march, and which was recreated for his and John Legend’s performance that night.

The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South Side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy.



3. Marlon Brando and the Treatment of Native Americans

When Brando won the Best Actor award for his role in The Godfather, he didn’t even give a speech. Instead, he gave that time to Sacheen Littlefeather, the president of the of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee to tell the world about the disgusting portrayal of Native Americans in film and television.


4. Halle Berry’s Historic Win

When Halle Berry won her Best Actress award for Monster’s Ball, she was the first (and as of yet, only) black woman to do so, a fact she acknowledged in her speech.

This moment is so much bigger than me. It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.



5. Sean Penn and Prop 8

He may have made a questionable immigration joke at this year’s ceremony, but in 2009, Sean Penn used his win for Best Actor in the movie Milk to discuss the recent passage of Proposition 8, banning gay marriage in California.

For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.

Sean Penn


6. Jared Leto and Unrest Abroad

When Leto won Best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club in 2014, he used his speech to speak about his family, the victims of AIDS, unrest in Ukraine, and protests that were happening in Venezuela.


7. Charles Ferguson and the Financial Crisis

Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs won the Best Documentary award in 2011 for their film Inside Job, about the U.S. financial crisis. Before even thanking anyone, Ferguson spoke to the state of the people involved with that crisis.

Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.


8. The Cove and Dolphin Awareness

The Cove, which was about the capture and slaughter of dolphins in Japan, won Best Documentary in  2010. Much like Charles Ferguson, these filmmakers were not content to simply say “thank you” and leave the stage. Activist Ric O’Barry held up a sign reading “Text DOLPHIN to 4414” during the speech, as a way to spread more information to viewers.



9. Michael Moore and the War in Iraq

You don’t give an Oscar to Michael Moore and expect him to NOT be controversial in his speech. Moore accepted his award for Bowling for Columbine in 2003, just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq. His speech was met with approximately equal boos and cheers.

We live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you.



Related topics Academy Awards, Oscars, politics, speeches
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