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17+ Of The Most Cringe-Worthy Moments In Oscars History

Brittany Rae 20 Feb 2019

Ah, Oscars season. A time of glitz, glam, and definitely a few gags. For as long as the Oscars have been airing (89 years!), craziness has followed in its wake for all of us to enjoy from the comfort of our homes.

From wild dresses to unexpected kisses, to a shocking win or two, here are some of the wildest things that have happened during the Academy Awards.

1. "La La Land" vs "Moonlight".

Giphy | The Academy Awards

The mix-up heard 'round the world, thanks to a mistake by longtime Oscars accountants.

Thanks for the memes, guys.

They handed Warren Beatty the wrong card, which led to a massive kerfuffle on stage as the entire cast and crew of La La Land realized they were not the Best Picture Oscar winner — Moonlight was.

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2. Marlon Brando's replacement.

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In 1973, Marlon Brando made Oscar history by refusing his Best Actor award for The Godfather.

Instead, he chose to send Native American activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, to explain why he wasn't there: he did not condone the poor treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.

Littlefeather was very disrespectfully booed by the audience. Sorry that she was right, Hollywood.

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3. Adele Dazeem becomes a meme.


I just wanna thank John Travolta for this meme that still lives on.

In 2014, he was on stage to introduce Idina Menzel's performance of "Let it Go" from Disney's Frozen. Pretty simple, right?


Among his explanations for why "Idina Menzel" became "Adele Dazeem," Travolta said he was 1) starstruck by Goldie Hawn, 2) the spelling of Idina's name was changed to be phonetic for the teleprompter, and 3) his assigned page was stuck in an elevator.

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4. Björk shows up dressed as a swan.

Getty Images | Lucy Nicholson

I mean, duh.

In 2001, Icelandic singer Björk shook up Oscars fashion as we know it when she decided to walk the red carpet dressed as a swan. She even laid an "egg" at once point.

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5. The three-way ban.

Getty Images | KMazur

Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Richard Gere were all "banned" by the Oscars from ever attending again after they used their moments on stage to speak out for the political causes they cared about.

For Sarandon and Robbins, it was closing Haitian internment camps for those suffering from HIV and AIDS. For Gere, it was denouncing the Chinese government.

They've all been back since.

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6. Jennifer Lawrence biffs it.


What's a girl to do? When Jennifer Lawrence's name was called as the winner for Best Actress in 2013, she gracefully made her way up the stage, and nothing happened at all.

Oh wait, my bad. What actually happened was that she tripped — still kind of gracefully — on her way up the stairs to accept her Oscar.

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7. Cuba Gooding Jr. goes hard.

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In the true style of his character from Jerry Maguire, Cuba Good Jr. did not let the obligatory "get off the stage" music stop him from thanking everyone possible for his award.

While his peers gave him a standing ovation, he yelled the names of his castmates and crew from the film. He then jumped and danced on stage, because...hello, he just won a friggin' Oscar!

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8. A spotlight is stolen.

Getty Images | GABRIEL BOUYS

Here's what not to do when your colleague becomes the first black director to ever win an Oscar: storm onstage and completely steal his moment!

Unfortunately, that's what Roger Ross Williams' estranged producer, Elinor Burkett did at the 2010 Oscars, usurping his acceptance speech for their film, Music by Prudence. Yikes.

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9. There's a streaker on the loose.

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You ever mourn something you know will never happen again? That's me right now. Sure, streaking is immature. Sure, it's stupid.

But have I laughed at Robert Opel streaking across the Oscars stage in 1974 multiple times? Yes.

Interrupted speaker, David Niven, took it in stride, commenting, "Ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen."

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10. Angelina Jolie reveals her close relationship with her brother.

Getty Images | Jeffrey Mayer

Hey, um...I don't really have words for this one.

Angelina Jolie got on stage after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Girl, Interrupted and said: "I'm in shock and I'm so in love with my brother right now...he just held me and said that he loves me and I know that he's so happy for me."

So yeah! She also kissed him on the red carpet. I'm uncomfortable.

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11. Ellen breaks the internet

At the time of its posting, this legendary selfie was the most-retweeted tweet of all time.

Orchestrated by Ellen to create a good and wholesome moment, the selfie includes Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Brad Pit, Lupito Nyong'o, and Angelina Jolie, just to name a few.

Okay, not controversial, but seriously iconic.

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12. Adrien Brody forgets what consent is

Getty Images | Timothy A. Clary

A good general rule for just living life is to not kiss people you don't know. Like, I feel like that's pretty obvious, right?

Adrien Brody must have missed that memo, because he grabbed presenter Halle Berry in 2003 and kissed her in front of millions of people without her consent.


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13. "Brokeback Mountain" doesn't bring home the gold

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Critic and audience favorite Brokeback Mountain was practically guaranteed the Best Picture win in 2006. The film had already swept 6 other categories and was seemingly the obvious choice for the big win.

Which is why everyone — including Best Picture presenter Jack Nicholson — was shocked when Crash wound up being the winner.

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14. Idina Menzel returns the favor


After John Travolta bungled her name in 2014, Idina Menzel became an overnight meme.

In 2015, she got her chance to return the favor, introducing Travolta as her "dear friend, Glom Gazingo."

That wasn't what had people talking, though. It was Travolta's bizarre insistence on holding onto her chin and talking in her face that set Twitter afire that year.

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15. A 10 year-old wins an Oscar.

Getty Images | Julian Wasser

Tatum O'Neal made history when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting actress in 1974.

Nominated for the film Paper Moon, Tatum performed alongside her real-life father, Ryan O'Neal, in the film.

Since then, no one has beaten her record.

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16. The Best Actress tie.

Getty Images | Bettmann

Barbara Streisand and Katherine Hepburn made quite a splash in 1969 when they both tied for the Best Actress award. Streisand landed the win for Funny Girl, while Hepburn took home the gold for The Lion in the Winter.

Only Streisand was on hand to accept her Oscar.

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17. Quvenzhané Wallis makes history.

Getty Images | Jeff Kravitz

What can't Quvenzhané Wallis do? After lying about her age to grab her starring role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, she made history as the youngest-ever Best Actress nominee at the age of 9.

She also made history as the first-ever African American child to be nominated for the award!

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18. Shakespeare in Love nabs the win.


Saving Private Ryan won best picture, right? When you think of that film, you think of prestige and awards, so surely it came out on top.

Well, color me surprised: it lost. Shakespeare in Love took home the best picture award in 1999, to the shock of many.

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19. The longest speech of all time

YouTube | Nandan Sharma

Do you get frustrated when award winners are cut off in the middle of their speeches? There's actually someone to blame for that, and her name is Greer Garson.

In 1943, she won the Best Actress award for Mrs. Minniver and proceeded to talk for a full five minutes while on stage.

After her record-breaking speech, the 45-second rule was instituted. Thanks, Greer!

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20. Roberto Benigni's chair sprint.

Giphy | The Academy Awards

Who could forget this absolute bit of wholesomeness? Roberto Benigni won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, and promptly (and happily) lost his mind.

Aided by the helpful hand of Steven Spielberg, he lept up onto the chairs and then ran down them to accept the Oscar. The world needs excitement like this, guys.

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21. Cher wears anything.

Getty Images | Julian Wasser

Cher can wear anything. Truly.

She proved that in 1986, when she made Oscar fashion history by sporting a sheer, midriff baring dress with an incredibly elaborate headpiece.

Cher conceived the outfit with designer Bob Mackie, who she would collaborate with for the next year's Oscars, as well.

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22. The censors get a workout.

Getty Images | Michael Caulfield

I don't know how anyone could move fast enough to censor words during live broadcasts, but somehow the hardworking people behind the 2011 Oscars pulled it off.

While Melissa Leo accepted her Best Supporting Actress award for The Fighter, she slipped up when she said, "[...]it looked so [expletive] easy!"

Before that, no one had ever said the "f-word" at the Oscars.


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23. Leonardo DiCaprio makes a statement.

Getty Images | Kevin Winter

2016 finally put the "get Leo an Oscar" meme to rest when he finally won for his role in The Revenant.

During his speech, he chose to speak out against climate change, citing the struggle he and the crew had trying to shoot in a cold climate that was rapidly changing.

He said, "Climate change is real, it is happening right now."

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24. The Oscars forgo a host.


After chosen presenter, Kevin Hart, stepped down amid scandal surrounding homophobic tweets he once made, the Oscars was left with a spot to fill — and no one wanted it.

The 2019 Oscars will thus go host-less, with a string of uber-famous celebs presenting the awards, instead.

So, everything is the same, just with no "witty" middleman.

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