When you keep covering the Oscar race, it’s easy to forget that the winners are real people who can be genuinely surprised and honored by taking home a prestigious award. Thankfully, on Oscar night, that excitement and gratitude can really shine through, and we got some lovely acceptance speeches last night.
For me, the highlight of the night was Bong Joon-ho‘s acceptance speech for Best Director. The prognosticators (myself included) had the award going to Sam Mendes for 1917 since the Academy tends to recognize the “most” directing. Instead, they gave it to Bong, who appeared genuinely surprised and moved by the award. In his acceptance speech, he quoted Martin Scorsese and thanked Quentin Tarantino for being a champion of his early work. It wasn’t a perfunctory thanks to his fellow nominees (that came at the end when he also acknowledged Todd Phillips and Mendes), but to show how two of his fellow nominees had a massive impact on his life.
That’s kind of the beauty of the Oscars: when they remind of those that came before (Scorsese, Tarantino) paving the way for a future where a movie from South Korea can win four Oscars on the night (Bong tied Walt Disney for most Oscars in a single night). Bong’s acceptance speeches hammered home why we tune in for this long awards ceremony and bother to care about how the industry recognizes certain pictures.
Other fun speeches on the night included Laura Dern thanking her parents (acting legends Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern), Brad Pitt managing to weave in political commentary while also personally thanking folks who helped his career like Ridley Scott and Geena Davis with his role in Thelma & Louise, and Taika Waititi thanking his mother even though he lost track of where she is right now.
Check out the best acceptance speeches of the night below.