22 February 2009

The 'magic' of Oscar acceptance speeches

It's an interesting fact that, at school speech days and company award-giving events, the lucky winners do not get to make acceptance speeches - with result that audiences are spared the endless succession of embarrassing expressions of surprise, gratitude and false modesty that are the norm at the annual Academy Awards and Golden Globe ceremonies.

If acceptance speeches aren’t considered a necessary part of such events in the world outside show business, it raises the question of why the organizers allow and encourage Oscar winners to say anything at all – other than, perhaps, Alfred Hitchcock’s minimalist masterpiece (“Thank you”) back in 1967.

Do they really think that anyone wants to hear the succession of rambling thanks to everyone who ever existed (including Clint Eastwood’s mother for passing on her genes to him) or the uncontrolled emotional outbursts from the likes of Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet?

The answer is obviously an emphatic “yes”. Otherwise, without the unpredictable possibility of such embarrassing excesses, movie award ceremonies would be so boring that no one would ever watch them, let alone pay large sums of money to broadcast such magical moments to the wider world.

(See here for Paul Hogan's much ignored good advice on award winners' speeches and some reflections on why speech-making doesn't come naturally to actors).

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