Going For The Gold

Winning words are `short', `sweet'

Oscar nominees advised to time and plan speeches, keep lists of names brief

February 25, 2007|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun Reporter

THE 79TH ACADEMY AWARDS / / Tonight at 8 p.m. on Channel 2

Speech excerpts

Over the years, movie stars have surprised audiences with their acceptance speeches. Excerpts from some of the more notable (for better or for worse):

"Wow, wow."-- Forest Whitaker,

at the Broadcast Film Critics Association awards, 2007, for The Last King of Scotland

"Members of the Academy, distinguished guests, viewers, ladies and gentlemen: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride -- my foot. I have my very own Oscar now to be with me till death do us part. I wish the Academy to know that I am as delighted as I am honored, and I am honored."-- Peter O'Toole,

honorary lifetime Oscar, Academy Awards, 2003

"I don't know what I did in this life to deserve all of this. I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."-- Hilary Swank,

Academy Awards, 2005, for Million Dollar Baby

"I'd like to thank Jack Nicholson for making being in a mental institution like being in a mental institution. I loved being hated by you."-- Louise Fletcher,

Academy Awards, 1976, for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

"A girl's got to have her moment. Everybody tries to get me to shut up. It didn't work with my parents, and it didn't work now."-- Julia Roberts,

Academy Awards, 2001, for Erin Brockovich

"This is the highlight of my day. I hope it's not all downhill from here."-- Kevin Spacey,

Academy Awards, 1999, for American Beauty

"I'm practically unprepared!"-- Greer Garson,

Academy Awards, 1943, for Mrs. Miniver (After that opening line, Garson prattled on for a record-breaking seven minutes.)

"I'm happy enough to cry, but I can't take the time to do so. A taxi is waiting outside with the engine running."-- Claudette Colbert,

Academy Awards, 1935, for It Happened One Night (Colbert had a train to catch.)






Don't write this off as another dysfunctional-family comedy. It's a functional-family comedy about a mom, dad, half-brother and sister, crazy uncle and earthy granddad who ultimately unite against the sanitizing forces of American life. My guess is that once Academy voters got Babel out of their DVD players and their systems, they warmed to a movie that's both good and good for a laugh.


The whole movie is like Helen Mirren's performance: able to speak Shakespearean folios about the burden and responsibility of power with subtle shifts in language and delivery, offhand gestures, and mere ripples in the surface of the queen's court and Tony Blair's suburban manse. It's a tiny masterpiece, but a masterpiece.



Some bred-in-the-Beantown actors (including Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg), a corkscrew plot, dialogue soaked in cheap yet pungent alcohol, and staging, camerawork and editing that are equally fleet and powerful -- that's urban entertainment, delivered by an auteur operating as an ace showman in The Departed.

Should Win: Paul Greengrass.

Scorsese's work in The Departed is top-notch, but in United 93 Greengrass pulled off what Scorsese did at his inspired peak in Taxi Driver: harnessed his style, technique and empathy to a story that sums up the potential for heroism and horror in the way we live now.


Will Win: Forest Whitaker.

Whitaker and O'Toole: The two names are linked for the top male award acting this year. In The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker proves himself the rare performer who can act on an epic scale and bring the audience with him all the way to the brink of over-the-top -- just as O'Toole did, gloriously, in Lawrence of Arabia. But in Venus....

Should Win: Peter O'Toole.

... O'Toole, acting against a refreshingly resourceful and salty female named Whittaker (first name Jodie), does things no one else has done before on-screen: he shows a performer burning with that essence of epicurean art, "a hard, gem-like flame," as well as the wit and humanity that fuel it.


Will Win: Helen Mirren.

Mirren takes impersonation to poetic heights. Although The Queen details the insularity of the House of Windsor, the star's ability to convey the monarch's genuine integrity and hard-grained strength gives surprising pull and power to the ruler's outmoded idea of keeping private feelings private, even for public figures like Princess Diana.

Should Win: Helen Mirren.

Like Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote in Capote, this is one performance that will be praised, studied, and, most important, savored, for generations.


Will Win: Eddie Murphy.

When an instinctive talent like Murphy pours all his energy and talent into a part like James Thunder Early in Dreamgirls, it melds with some essence of his being. He makes you feel what James Thunder Early and Eddie Murphy feel. He brings you to the outer limits of delight and despair.

Should Win: Eddie Murphy.

Just think "Jimmy Got Soul." In that number alone, Murphy proves he has it, too.


Will Win: Jennifer Hudson.

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