From Italian actor Roberto Benigni’s chair-jumping ascent to the stage in 1999 to Sally Field’s eternally misquoted “You like me! Right now, you like me!” there is never a dull moment when the stars of Hollywood hit the stage to claim their Oscar statues.
Winning the most prestigious award in the film industry is a big deal, so overreactions are to be expected. But if you got the chance to thank the academy, your mum, your dad, your agent, Harvey Weinstein, your cat and the milkman, all in just 45 seconds, would you make it look easy? Or would you join the leagues of stars (hello, Angelina Jolie) who make history for the wrong reasons?
Now’s your chance to find out. Get your hairbrush microphones ready (and grab a pencil to note your answers as you go).
1. In high school school you were…
a) The class clown.
b) The dropkick.
c) The school captain.
d) A quiet achiever.
e) Everyone’s best friend and confidant.
2. Your idea of a great Saturday night is…
a) Dancing on tables.
b) One you can’t remember.
c) A charity gala.
d) A simple, home-cooked meal.
e) A heartfelt catch-up with old friends.
3. Your favourite types of movies are…
a) Entertaining crowd-pleasers like Gravity, Silver Linings Playbook or Rocky.
b) Awkward comedy romps with heart like This is 40, Knocked Up or Bridesmaids.
c) Movies that make you think like 12 Years a Slave, Babel or Tree of Life.
d) Simple but memorable films like The Artist, Into the Wild or Annie Hall.
e) Tearjerkers and romances like The Notebook, Life is Beautiful or Sleepless in Seattle.
4. Your favourite actor is…
a) George Clooney.
b) Jennifer Lawrence.
c) Marion Cotillard.
d) Dustin Hoffman.
e) Ryan Gosling.
5.Your bedroom is…
a) A crazy, creative space filled with souvenirs from your travels.
b) Messy and strewn with half-eaten food and tissues from your latest meltdown.
c) A peaceful place to reflect.
d) Where you sleep.
e) Cosy and covered with photos of your family and friends.
6. Your dream travel location is…
a) New York for the bright lights, big city appeal.
b) Rio de Janeiro, the city of passion and parties.
c) Borneo, to work with the endangered Orangutans.
d) Sweden, for Ikea, meatballs and free university.
e) Paris, the city of love.
7. You fashion sense is…
b) Whatever is clean.
c) A slogan t-shirt and jeans.
d) Simple but classic.
e) Whatever I feel like on the day!
Mostly A’s: The scene-stealer
Take notes from speech stuntmen like Roberto Benigni, who leapt across the rows of seats after winning Best Foreign Language Film for Life is Beautiful, or Adrien Brody, who passionately kissed presenter Halle Berry after winning Best Actor for The Pianist.
- •Jack Palance’s 1992 win for City Slickers where he did one-armed push-ups on stage.
- •Julia Roberts, who told the conductor to hold off on the music so she could take her time before yelling “I love it up here!” during her ecstatic Best Actress acceptance speech for 2001’s Erin Brokovich.
Mostly B’s: The hot mess
You really want to hold it together but this is just SUCH A BIG DEAL! There will be Gwyneth Paltrow tears, Jennifer Lawrence-style falls, speechless moments or catastrophic screw-ups that you will look back on and wince, but people will love you for it. Unless you make things really awkward like 2000’s Best Supporting Actress Angelina Jolie, who accepted her award for Girl, Interrupted by declaring “I am so in love with my brother right now”. Alrighty then.
- •Halle Berry sobbing her way through her Best Actress win for Monster’s Ball.
- •Gwyneth Paltrow’s shaky speech in that infamous pink dress after winning Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love.
- •Cuba Gooding Jr.’s high-pitched, ecstatic attempt to speak over the orchestra during his win for Jerry Maguire in order to thank everyone he’d ever met.
Mostly C’s: The activist
Like Dustin Hoffman accepting his 1980 Kramer Vs Kramer Oscar on behalf of all the people in the film industry who receive no recognition, you want to make a statement.
- •Marlon Brando sending Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather on his behalf to refuse his 1973 Best Actor Oscar due to the poor treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.
- •Best Director Michael Moore using his stage time to condemn George W. Bush for his decision to send troops into Iraq.
Mostly D’s: The man of few words
Your motto is “less is more” and you’re not afraid to leave people hanging. You will keep emotions to a minimum and articulation to a maximum and waste no words in expressing your gratitude. Like the cool, calm and collected Joe Pesci, who accepted his award for Goodfellas in 1991 with a simple “It’s my privilege. Thank you,” you will keep it short and sweet.
- •Jane Fonda accepting Best Actress for Klute in 1972 with “There’s a great deal to say and I’m not going to say it tonight.”
- •Charlie Chaplin, who accepted his Honorary Oscar by saying “This is an emotional moment for me. Words seem so futile, so feeble. I can only say thank you for the honour of inviting me here and you’re wonderful, sweet people.”
Mostly E’s: The heartwarmer
You’re either incredibly young, have overcome extreme hardship to be here or wear your heart on your sleeve; whatever the reason, you make the audience emotional and they lap it up. Sometimes, tears of joy will give way to tears of sorrow, like Heath Ledger’s win for The Dark Knight following his tragic death, accepted by his very brave family.
- •Anna Paquin’s sweet disbelief after winning Best Supporting Actress at age 11.
- •Dustin Lance Black, who spoke of his struggles to accept his sexuality after winning Best Original Screenplay for Milk.
- •Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who expressed shock and awe over winning Best Song for Falling Slowly. To make it even sweeter, Irglova was cut off by the music, so host Jon Stewart brought her back out to the stage so she could have her moment.