When it came time for acceptance speeches, it’s safe to say last night’s Oscars ended on a rather unique note. Before the La La Land and Moonlight Best Picture envelope mixup occurred, here are the best speeches we heard from the awards ceremony.
When it comes to delivering powerful, moving speeches, Viola Davis never disappoints and last night was no exception. Davis won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences. “You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard,” she began. “People ask me all the time—what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories—the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
La La Land director Damien Chazelle took home the award for best director and gave a heartfelt thank you to his crew and the film’s stars’ Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and John Legend. But the sweetest moment of his speech was when he thanked his girlfriend Olivia. “This was a movie about love, and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it, and it means the world to me that you’re here sharing this with me.”
Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali won for best supporting actor and kicked off the Oscars on a great note. “I want to thank my teachers, my professors,” he said. “I had so many wonderful teachers. And one thing that they consistently told me is that it wasn’t about you. It’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.” Ali ended his acceptance speech by thanking his wife who gave birth to their daughter, Bari Najma Ali, just four days before.
Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won gold for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight. Jenkins began by saying, “I tell my students that I teach sometimes: ‘be in love with the process, not the result,’ but I really wanted this result because a bajillion people are watching, and all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the academy has your back, the A.C.L.U. has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years, we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you.”
McCraney went on to say, “I also want to say thank God for my mother, who proved to me through her struggles and the struggles that Naomie Harris portrayed for all of you, that we can really be here and be somebody. Two boys from Liberty City up here on this stage representing 305. This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming who don’t see themselves. We’re trying to show you you in us. So thank you, thank you. This is for you.”
Emma Stone took home an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in La La Land. “To the women in this category,” she started. “You are all so extraordinary. I look up to you and I admire you more than I can put into words. It has been the greatest honor to stand alongside of you.” Stone went on to thank her family, director Damien Chazelle, her co-star Ryan Gosling, and the film’s crew and ended by saying, “I still have a lot of growing and learning and work to do and this [award] is a really beautiful symbol to continue on that journey and I’m so grateful for that.”