10 Oscars moments that left audiences speechless

Bettman/ Getty ImagesSome things don’t go according to plan at the Oscars.
  • The 91st Academy Awards will air on February 24.
  • Every year the event celebrates incredible achievements in filmmaking.
  • In the 91 years of the Academy Awards, there have been several mistakes, surprises, and moments that wowed the audience at the Dolby Theatre as well as viewers at home.

Each year artists, actors, and filmmakers gather at the Academy Awards to present Oscars in various categories including performance, cinematography, set design, and many more. The well-structured event takes weeks of preparation and planning, but it has had its fair share of slip-ups and unexpected surprises.

Here are the top 10 Oscar moments that left viewers speechless.


“La La Land” was mistakenly named best picture.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images‘I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.’

At the 2017 Oscars, an envelope mix-up led to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to announce that “La La Land” had won best picture.

Beatty and Dunaway were apparently given the envelope for best actress, which had already been awarded to Emma Stone for her role in “La La Land.”

Dunaway saw the film title on the card and believed “La La Land” was the best picture winner, which led to a short-lived celebration as the cast and crew of “La La Land” crowded the stage.

Someone from backstage soon ran up to let them know of the mistake, and producer Jordan Horowitz invited the cast of “Moonlight” to the stage by saying, “I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.”


Jerry Lewis improvised for 20 minutes when the Oscars ended early.

Silver Screen Collection/Getty ImagesThe comedian had to fill for time.

In 1959, the Oscars ceremony ended 20 minutes early, leaving host and comedian Jerry Lewis to improvise the finale of the show. It was Lewis’ third time hosting the Oscars (he hosted along with Bob Hope, David Niven, Tony Randall, Mort Sahl, and Laurence Olivier) and he handled it with ease, inviting the evening’s presenters and award winners to gather on stage as the orchestra played “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

The group assembled on stage – which included Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Robert Wagner, and Natalie Wood – started dancing in time with the music. Before NBC cut to a short film, Lewis entertained the crowd by conducting the orchestra and attempting to play the trumpet.


Marlon Brando refused his award due to Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans.

Ron Galella/WireImageSacheen Littlefeather at the 45th Annual Academy Awards.

In 1973, actor Marlon Brando was awarded the best actor Oscar for his performance in “The Godfather.” In lieu of accepting the award, Brando sent actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse the award on his behalf.

Brando petitioned Littlefeather in helping him bring attention to the poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.

“I’m Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee,” Littlefeather said in her speech. “I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening and … he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.”


Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied for best actress.

ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty ImagesBarbara Streisand accepting her award.

In 1969, a rare tie occurred when two actresses both won the Oscar for best actress: Barbra Streisand for “Funny Girl” and Katharine Hepburn for “The Lion in Winter.” Hepburn was absent at the 1969 awards show, giving Streisand the full stage to accept her award.

“Hello, gorgeous,” Streisand said at the top of her speech while looking at her Oscar statue. “I’m very honored to be in such magnificent company as Katharine Hepburn, and gee whiz, this is kind of a wild feeling.”


John Travolta butchered Idina Menzel’s Name at the 2014 Oscars.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images‘Adele Dazeem.’

Right before Broadway star and actress Idina Menzel was set to perform the hit song from “Frozen,” “Let It Go,” John Travolta asked the audience to welcome “the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem.”

Travolta later told Jimmy Kimmel that the mistake came from misreading a phonetic spelling of Menzel’s name on the teleprompter. At the 2015 Oscars, Menzel made light of the gaffe by introducing John Travolta as “my very dear friend Glom Gazingo.”


Jennifer Lawrence tripped while walking up to accept her award.

Mark Davis/WireImageLawrence won the Oscar for best actress.

In 2013, Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress for her performance in the drama “Silver Linings Playbook.” When she was climbing the stairs to the stage, Lawrence suddenly fell and covered her face in her hands with embarrassment before finding her feet.

The actress received a standing ovation after her fall and while holding her award Lawrence joked, “You guys are just standing because you feel bad that I fell.”


A man streaked at the 1974 Oscars.

At the 1974 Oscars, host David Niven was surprised when an artist and gay-rights activist named Robert Opel streaked across the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, throwing up a peace sign as he ran. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen,” Niven said.


Ellen DeGeneres took a record-breaking selfie at the 2014 Oscars.

While hosting the 2014 Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres wanted to take a record-breaking picture by snapping a selfie with Meryl Streep. Other celebrities soon jumped in to be in the selfie with them and the iconic photo ended up including Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Channing Tatum, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Lawrence.

The photo currently has 3.3 million retweets on Twitter and is one of the most-liked photos on the internet.


Charlie Chaplin received a ridiculously long standing ovation.

Bettman/ Getty ImagesCharlie Chaplin.

In 1972, famed actor Charlie Chaplin received an honorary Oscar. His appearance at the Oscars also marked his return to the United States for the first time in 20 years and the performer was understandably emotional.

After his speech, the crowd came to their feet and gave him a standing ovation that the LA Times later said was likely one of the longest in Oscar’s history.


Sammy Davis Jr. had an envelope mix-up in 1964.

Oscars/YouTubeSammy Davis Jr.

Before the “Moonlight” and “La La Land” best picture mix-up, Sammy Davis Jr. had his own envelope mishap at the 1964 Oscars.

Davis Jr. was given the wrong envelope and announced that John Addison had won the award for best music score for an adaptation or treatment. In reality, Addison had won for best original score for his work on “Tom Jones,” and the category winner Davis Jr. should have been was announcing Andre Previn for “Irma La Douce.”

The mistake was quickly corrected, and when Davis Jr. was given the right envelope he even put his glasses on, saying, “I ain’t gonna make no mistake this time, d— it.”

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