Here’s A Look Back At Some Of The Most Iconic Moments In Oscars History

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

It’s Oscars time again and there’s bound to be some controversies at the biggest night in the movie calendar but have you ever wondered who gets to pick the winner and how films even get nominated in the first place?

Here’s a look back on the best, worst and most controversial moments in Oscars history.

What Are The Oscars?

The Oscars, aka the Academy Awards, is the oldest of the big four entertainment awards, and it’s the grand finale to the film awards season. The other three big ones are the Emmy Awards for TV, the Tony Awards for theatre, and the Grammy Awards for music. 

Other film award ceremonies that happen in the lead up to the Oscars, like the Golden Globes, are all gearing up to hopefully win some of that Oscars glory.

Who Chooses Them?

Films campaign to win, not unlike a political campaign. Studios pick their best movie candidates and spend millions of dollars to convince the voters that their movie is Oscar-worthy. This includes things like screenings, billboards, copies of screenplays or soundtracks, and lots of contact between studios, publicists, and voters.

So who decides who actually votes for the winner? 

The Academy Awards are chosen by the Academy (who would’ve thought!), which is short for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s made up of over 9000 members, each belonging to a particular branch of the awards, like costume design, producers, or actors.

To be a part of it, you need to have feature film credits and be approved by the executive committee. Each branch then votes for its own category in a preferential voting system.

There are also rules around campaigning for an Oscar, like limiting direct contact with Academy members or hosting certain events after the nominations come out. The movies that campaign well by making a good impression on the voters are more likely to win Oscars, though there are some exceptions.

Let’s talk a walk down memory lane at some of the biggest Oscars moments in history.

Biggest Oscars Moments

We start in 1973, when Marlon Brando refused his award for Best Actor in The Godfather and instead asked Sacheen Littlefeather to step on stage and speak about the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.

One year later, in 1974, was the year of the streaker.

1985 was the year of Sally Field’s “You Really Like Me” speech, which was parodied everywhere.

In 1999, Gwenyth Paltrow won an Oscar for her role in Shakespeare In Love, wearing an iconic pink slip.

That year, Shakespeare In Love also controversially beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. This was reportedly due to director, and all-round terrible person, Harvey Weinstein and his aggressive campaigning tactics. These tactics changed the game with Oscars campaigns and studios now spend more time, money, and effort on their campaigns to convince Academy members to vote for their movies.

2002 was Halle Berry’s emotional acceptance speech as the first black woman to win Best Actress, along with that iconic dress.

Heath Ledger winning a posthumous Oscar in 2009 for his role in The Dark Knight was a pretty unforgettable moment.

2010 was the first time we got a female Best Director, with Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

And just last year was the second ever, with Chloe Zhao and Nomadland.

Quirky, relatable poster girl Jennifer Lawrence famously tripped on her way to accept Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.

And a year later, we got that Ellen Degeneres selfie, and John Travolta’s chaotic attempt at saying Idina Menzel.

In 2016, Leo finally got his Oscar for The Revenant, and we also got the scathing criticism of #OscarSoWhite, in response to the lack of diversity in the nominations.

Last, but certainly not least, was the envelope mix-up.

The cast and crew of La La Land took to the stage and started their acceptance speech for Best Picture, only to be interrupted and told that Moonlight was the real winner.

We’re not sure if this year’s Oscars will top any of these iconic moments, but that’s probably what they said every year.