In a podium finish with Parasite’s surprise best film Oscar win and Laura Dern’s excellent red carpet looks and general fabulousness, the highlight of the 2020 awards season was Brad Pitt’s acceptance speeches.
The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood supporting actor had arguably his best professional year, winning not just gong after gong but hearts and minds with his self-deprecating turns at the podium.
The Oklahoma father of six is a “public speaker of rare zip and self-awareness”, said the Guardian, just one media outlet lining up to congratulate Pitt on his way with words because, who knew?
Although Pitt claimed he used no speechwriters, it turns out he had help from celebrity friends.
But let’s refresh ourselves first on some of his work.
After winning at the Golden Globes, he told the A-list audience he hoped to bring his mother Jane as his plus-one, but “any woman I stand next to they say I’m dating and it’d just be awkward”.
He added to his laughing co-star Leonardo DiCaprio (or ‘LDC’, as ‘BP’ calls the Titanic leading man), “I would’ve shared the raft”.
Accepting the same best supporting actor award at the Screen Actors Guild ceremony, Pitt offered his role as an ageing stuntman was “a big stretch: A guy who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on with his wife”.
Also at the SAGs, he quipped the win would add cred to his life in the dating app-sphere (“I got to add this to my Tinder profile”) and gave a not-so-sly dig at director Quentin Tarantino’s film foot fetish.
“I want to thank my co-stars Leo, Margot Robbie – Margot Robbie’s feet, Margaret Qualley’s feet, Dakota Fanning’s feet,” said Pitt.
“Seriously, Quentin has separated more women from their shoes than the TSA.”
He didn’t make it to the BAFTAs in London, citing family commitments, but sent Robbie as his emissary.
She read a Brexit joke (“Hey Britain, heard you just became single – welcome to the club”) and another about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ‘Megxit’ to a crowd that included Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Robbie said Pitt was planning to call his award Harry because “he’s really excited about bringing it back to the States with him”.
Then, at the Oscars, Pitt wove a political barb into his speech, to blast Republicans on Donald Trump’s impeachment trial voting against hearing from new witnesses.
“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here … which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.”
According to the star, he wrote the lines himself – mostly.
Pitt revealed to Variety he “worked on” the speeches with “a lot of funny friends” who “helped with some laughs”, including comedians Jim Jefferies and Bob Oschack, plus, surprisingly, Fight Club director David Fincher.
“My man Fincher, we trade barbs every week,” Pitt said.
Backstage at the Oscars, he said his ease with the mic was hard won and he’s always been “really tentative” about public speaking.
“I know that sounds antithetical, given the profession I’ve chosen, but that’s not necessarily my thing,” he said.
“So this round, I figured if we were going to do this, I’d put some real work into it and try to get comfortable. And this is a result of that.”
Can we expect more magic?
“I’m definitely writing.”