Winning an Oscar is an honor that few actors can boast. However, the most famous awards ceremony in the world is not without controversy and scandals. And is that 92 editions give for many stories.
Although they can often be quite predictable, it must also be said that the Oscars have given us authentic moments over the years. Today, we remember the most controversial moments that have been lived throughout the history of the Oscars.
The first rejected Oscar (1936)
As respectable as it is to win an Oscar, the truth is that not all winners have been happy about it. This was the case of screenwriter Dudley Nichols, who won in 1936 the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film The Informer. Despite receiving such an honor, Nichols decided to refuse the award in solidarity with the Screen Writers Guild (the Hollywood screenwriters’ organization he founded). The unfair working conditions faced by screenwriters was one of the main reasons for his protest.
Discrimination against Hattie McDaniel (1940)
If you’ve seen Gone with the Wind (1939), you probably remember Mammy, the charismatic maid who sings the good old Scarlet’s praises. Thanks to her role, Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress and became the first African-American in history to win the award. In addition, we have to take into account the historical context in which this event took place: segregationist rules prevented her from sitting next to her co-stars and McDaniel had to be relocated to a place completely away from the room.
Marlon Brando rejects the Oscar (1973)
In the 1973 edition, Marlon Brando turned down the Oscar for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather. To announce it, activist Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage on Brando’s behalf and explained the reasons: the mistreatment of American Indians within the film industry. In addition to the barrage of criticism she received, Littlefeather was attacked by an enraged John Wayne backstage.
Adrien Brody’s kiss to Halle Berry (2003)
Although we don’t really know how this moment would have felt today, we have to admit that it made history. Adrien Brody won the Oscar for Best Actor that year for his role in The Pianist. When he went up to collect the award, he grabbed Halle Berry (who was presenting him with the award) and gave her a passionate kiss on stage. Although the actress at the time played along, years later she would say that none of it was planned and that “I didn’t know what was happening at the time”. However, it seems that it all came to nothing: years later, Halle Berry would make a parody of the event with Jamie Foxx during the Spike Guy’s Choice Awards.
Chris Rock’s racist jokes (2016).
Famed comedian Chris Rock served as master of ceremonies during that year’s Oscars and he certainly made his mark. In one of his sketches, Rock brought on stage three Asian kids dressed in tuxedos pretending to be Academy accountants. This was interpreted as a mockery of Asians, as it promoted the stereotype that they are good with numbers. The sketch, along with other similar jokes, provoked great anger and after the ceremony, a group of 25 Asians (including director Ang Lee) submitted a letter to the Academy in protest.
John Travolta and Adele Dazeem (2014).
Not everything is going to be drama at the Oscars. The Academy Awards has also left us with some very funny moments like the one with John Travolta in 2014. Many will remember how the Pulp Fiction actor introduced the singer of Let It Go, Idina Menzel. Unable to read the teleprompter correctly, Travolta made up the singer’s name and announced her as Adele Dazeem. Mind you, at the 2015 Oscars, Idina Menzel got “revenge” on Travolta by introducing him as Glom Gazingo.
La La Land wins the Oscar and loses it on the spot (2017).
If we talk about historic moments, this one couldn’t be missing from the list. During the award ceremony for Best Picture, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway pronounced La La Land as that year’s winner. The film’s entire crew rushed to the stage to collect the award, but their joy was not to last. After a commotion on stage, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz revealed that it had all been a mistake and that the real Oscar winner was Moonlight. Apparently, the envelope with the correct name had been misplaced. An unforgettable moment indeed (especially for the La La Land team).
Will Smith’s slap to Chris Rock (2022)
Chris Rock doesn’t get off easy. The slap Will Smith gave the comedian will go down in history as one of the most controversial moments in the history of the Oscars. Few remember the awards given that night: the ceremony was marked by the slap the actor gave Rock in response to a joke he had made about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith: “Jada, I love you, I can’t wait to see you in The Tenniene O’Neil 2”. The comedian alluded to the alopecia that the actress has been suffering from for several years and from what we saw, she must not have been amused. Seeing his wife’s reaction, Will Smith stood up and slapped Chris Rock in front of the entire audience.