• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

What makes a good acceptance speech? 

ByValerie Creasy

Mar 1, 2024
Hand clutching an Oscars statue

If you’re like me, then you have also propped up a ladle in your kitchen, when no one is home, holding a Santa statue as your imaginary Oscar while you perform a gracious speech for winning Best Original Screenplay. Maybe you haven’t done that, but you should definitely try it. Just be careful to time it right so that your parents don’t walk in and wonder why their ladle is standing up between two book ends rather than being in the drawer where they left it. There’s no good excuse for it besides coming clean, to which you will be laughed at. 

With the Oscars nearing, I have found myself watching the previous acceptance speeches of Academy Award Winners. My favorite acceptance speeches include Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s for Best Original Screenplay (Good Will Hunting), Ke Huy Quan for Best Actor (Everything, Everywhere, All at Once), Emma Stone for Best Actress (La La Land), Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor (The Theory of Everything), and Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress (Fences). What makes these speeches so incredible is that all of these winners are gracious and aware of the feat they have just accomplished. Excitement and gratitude radiates from each of them, and there is something so incredibly endearing about that. 

Not only this, but there is a humanity in these speeches that we don’t often see in the glamorous facade of Hollywood. There is often some kind of performance going on, as if famous people are attempting to maintain personas in hopes of being glorified by normal people like us. With these winners, however, there seems to be no facade at all. Their humanity erupts in their voices quietly cracking, in the jumping or yelling with excitement like a kid, in the glossy sheen over their eyes moments away from spilling over, in the nervous laughter escaping between deep breaths and in the pauses as they realize what’s happening. We can feel through the screen how genuine their joy is, which is very refreshing. 

The perfect acceptance speech consists of seven things: 

1. Acknowledging those who are handing them the award. 

2. Stating how much this moment means to them, rather than trying to act too nonchalant for the sake of saving-face. 

3. Recognizing and congratulating the other nominees. 

4. Thanking the people who helped them get there, especially family and spouses, along with their friends, cast members, writers, directors and crew. 

5. A joke – self-deprecating or not – or something a little awkward, in between it all that breaks the tension and sends the audience into laughter. 

6. Gripping the Oscar so tight as if they’re scared it’s a dream that will be gone when they wake up. 

7. Running overtime and speedily getting their last words in before they rush off with a big, cheesy grin as they walk backstage. 

This being said, I understand that they only have so much time, and the moment is so exciting that I’m sure it’s almost impossible to remember all of this or to think of just the right words to say. But that’s the best part about it. We get to see these vulnerable, usually unscripted, moments from people who we only ever see in scripted roles. It is in these moments that we realize they were once normal kids, like us, who also used Santas as Oscars.

Hnad holding Oscar Award on black” by focusonmore.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.