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Everyone treats an Academy Award acceptance speech a little differently. Some spend most of their time thanking those who also worked on the film. Others devote most of their speech’s runtime to family members. A highly emotional moment like that is deeply personal and a reflection of one’s personality. That being said, more than a few trends have emerged over the last dozen years. For example: winners are bizarrely more likely to thank Meryl Streep than God.
That jarring fact and dozens more were revealed in an exhaustive analysis published on Slate. The outlet cataloged the winning speech of every single actor or actress for the last twelve years. That works out to forty-seven times at the podium, not forty-eight because Heath Ledger passed away before he was able to make his. It turns out winners are more likely to thank producers than directors, more likely to thank co-stars than family members and very, very unlikely to thank God. In fact, only three people in the last 12 years have thanked God: Forest Whitaker, Denzel Washington and Jennifer Hudson.
You could spend hours going through all of the various winners, checking out who they thanked and figuring out recurring trends and odd similarities. All of that technology is now at our disposal. I’ll go ahead and get you started with a few observations, however. Women tend to thank more people than men. George Clooney didn’t thank anyone by name in his speech because he’s Clooney and that’s how he rolls, and a majority of people pick "the Academy" or some reference to the governing body as the first thank you out of their mouths.
In the end, the most important ingredient in any acceptance speech is simply to be honest and to be genuine. The best speeches always shine a light on the personality of whoever is giving it. They let all the emotion and all the overwhelmed confusion bubble over onto the surface, add in plenty of smiles and the end result is pretty endearing.
To watch an absolute pro knock it out of the park, you can check out Morgan Freeman accepting the Best Supporting actor nod for Million Dollar Baby below…