Sometimes, a speech comes along during Oscar season that not only gives us a sense of gratification that the winner that year was to our liking but brings a smile to our face and a deeper understanding towards the thespians who cater to our entertainment needs.
Here are ten inspiring speeches from Leading Actress Oscar winners over the years.
10: Sally Field for “Places in the Heart”
The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!
9: Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball”
Oh my God. Oh my God. I’m sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you. I’m so honored. I’m so honored. And I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which His blessing might flow.
8: Julia Roberts for “Erin Brockovich”
Oh, thank you, thank you ever so much. I’m so happy. Thank you. I have a television, so I’m going to spend some time here to tell you some things. And sir [speaking to music conductor Bill Conti], you’re doing a great job, but you’re so quick with that stick. So why don’t you sit, ’cause I may never be here again.
7: Jodie Foster for “The Accused”
And most importantly my mother Brandy, who taught me that all of my finger paintings were Picassos, and that I didn’t have to be afraid. And mostly that cruelty might be very human, and it might be very cultural, but it’s not acceptable. Which is what this movie’s about. Thank you so much.
6: Kate Winslet for “The Reader”
Okay, that fainting thing, Penélope. I’d be lying if I haven’t made a version of this speech before. I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror and this [holding up her statuette] would’ve been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now! I feel very fortunate to have made it all the way from there to here and I’d like to thank some of the people along the way who had faith in me. My friends and my family, especially my mum and dad, who are in this room somewhere. Dad, whistle or something, ’cause then I’ll know where you are. [Loud whistle.] Yeah! I love you!
5: Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side”
So… if I can take this moment to thank Helga B. for not letting me ride in cars with boys till I was eighteen, ’cause she was right; I would’ve done what she said I was gonna do. For making me practice every day when I got home, piano, ballet, whatever it is I wanted to be. She said to be an artist you had to practice every day. And for reminding her daughters that there’s no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation, that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love. So, to that trailblazer who allowed me to have that, and this [referring to the Oscar], and this, I thank you so much for this opportunity that I share with these extraordinary women, and my lover Meryl Streep. Thank you.
4: Reese Witherspoon for “Walk The Line”
And I want to say that my grandmother was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She taught me how to be a real woman, to have strength and self respect, and to never give those things away. And those are a lot of qualities I saw in June Carter. And people used to ask June how she was doing, and she used to say: “I’m just trying to matter.” And I know what she means. You know, I’m just trying to matter and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody. And you have all made me feel that I might have accomplished that tonight. So thank you so much for this honor.
3: Louise Fletcher for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
Well, it looks like you all hated me so much that you’ve given me this award for it, and I’m loving every minute of it. And all I can say is I’ve loved being hated by you.
2: Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
But also I want to thank — because I really understand I’ll never be up here again. I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends. I look out here and, you know, I see my life before my eyes: my old friends, my new friends. And really, this is such a great honor, but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends, thank you, all of you, departed and here, for this, you know, inexplicably wonderful career. Thank you so much. Thank you.
And, for me, the most moving speech comes from the 1983 telecast where Shirley MacLaine won for her portrayal in “Terms Of Endearment.”
I’m not going to thank everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life — although, with the way my mind has been going lately probably everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life and in the other life I might have had had something to do with this. You know, if “Terms of Endearment” had happened to me five years ago, I think I would have called it a thrilling, commercial, artistic accident. But I don’t believe that anymore. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as accident. I think that we all manifest what we want and what we need. I don’t think there’s any difference really between what you feel you have to do in your heart and success. They’re inseparable. But in the end just let me say one thing. Films and life are like clay waiting for us to mold it. And when you trust your own insides, and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of a principle that seems to me is at work with everyone. God bless that principle. God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. I deserve this. Thank you.
The 86th Annual Academy Awards will air on March 2, 2014.