What we're all hoping for on Oscar night is a surprise-- anything but Slumdog winning in major categories, for example, or someone falling flat on their face on the way to the stage. But fact of the matter is we know what to expect not only with who wins, but what they'll say when they get up there. It's been a long, long awards season up to this point, and the likely winners have given enough speeches for us to get a good sense of their style. So below, with the aid of YouTube, I lay out what to expect from the top six acceptance speeches on Sunday-- and which speech may turn out to be a complete wild card.
Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog has been winning boatloads of awards all season, of course, and usually on hand to pick up the Best Picture statue is producer Christian Colson, who is pretty much everything we hate in an Oscar speech-- reserved, intelligent, coherent, and coolly British. So that's why we need to hope that we get really lucky, and Anil Kapoor accepts the award instead. You might have seen him beaming in the background when Danny Boyle accepted the Best Director award at the Globes, or onstage at the SAG Awards, accepting the trophy "on behalf of the children." He's just dynamic and nutty enough to give us a real Benigni-- an enthusiastic, wildly accented speech. It's the only possibility for a surprise at that point in the night, and the only thing that could make me actively root for Slumdog's victory.
Best Director: Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle is far more likely than any other director to be giving a speech on Sunday, and lucky for us, he may also be the most fun one to watch. Ron Howard's already a winner, and David Fincher and Gus van Sant don't really seem the types to be overcome with emotion. Stephen Daldry would be a fun winner to see if only because even he's not expecting it, but Boyle will probably give us the acceptance speech goods, based on what we've seen thus far this awards season. I especially love the BAFTA speech, in which he starts by thanking the people who fixed the wiring in his dad's house so he could watch the ceremony. But then the end of the Golden Globes speech is touching, when he starts breaking down in tears when thanking his family.
My bet is that Boyle will be even more overwhelmed when he wins the Oscar, and while he won't forget anyone's name or jump all over the stage like Cuba Gooding, Jr., his speech will be one to be emotionally invested in. Check out this video below from the BAFTAs, add a few more tears, and that's pretty much what to expect.
Best Actress: Kate Winslet
We've spent what seems like months talking about Winslet's awards speeches, how they're too emotional and scattered, or not emotional enough, or whatever other stupid complaint. But the fact is the woman had never won so much as a Golden Globe before this year, and it's her turn, and she gets to make a speech as long and as rambling as she wants. We're also forgetting that the really flustered speech she gave, when she forgot Angelina Jolie, was for Revolutionary Road-- and frankly, we were all pretty shocked when she doubled up on awards that night. So when Winslet accepts her trophy for The Reader, it'll probably look more like the speech below-- visibly overwhelmed, but with a long list of names to dutifully thank, and a big smile of gratitude. Of course, if she bursts out sobbing on the stage, no one is allowed to complain. Y'hear??
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke
OK, we don't really know if Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor-- it's still pretty much neck and neck between him and Sean Penn. But pretty much everyone knows that Rourke will give the better speech of the two. Remember how he thanked his dogs in his Golden Globe speech? His chihuahua Loki, a fixture on the red carpet last fall, died last week. With all condolences to Rourke on the loss of a beloved pet, there's not much better fodder for an acceptance speech. Fact of the matter is Rourke is very unpredictable, and can be expected to say pretty much anything. That goes double for if/when he finally wins an Oscar. Check out the very memorable Globes speech below for some idea of what we'll see.
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz
You can root for whoever you like to win Best Supporting Actress, and you may be right-- the race is as wide-open as any of the acting categories. But there are three reasons to root for Penelope Cruz that have nothing to do with the quality of her performance.
1. Javier Bardem. He'll be presenting the award as last year's Supporting Actor winner. He is dating Penelope Cruz. That will be one presenter-winner hug you don't want to miss.
2. Kate Winslet. When Cruz accepted the supporting actress award at the BAFTAs, she stopped to hug Winslet on the way up to the podium, and Winslet sat in the front row beaming the whole time. Who knows when the two became besties, but that's sisterhood that should be on display at the Oscars as well if Penelope snags it.
3. Her Oscar dress in 2006 (see above). She was the only one of the Best Actress nominees with the guts to dress like a princess, maybe because she knew she wouldn't win (she was up against Helen Mirren). Here's hoping she pulls off something equally fabulous this time.
Below is the video of her BAFTA speech, which is in good taste and all that. It'll be up to the other nominees, if they win, to bring the shock and the tears, since Cruz is probably the only one who can reasonably be expecting to win. But check out beaming Kate while you're watching!
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger
There's one thing certain about this award-- it will go to Heath Ledger, and his family will be there to receive it. But it's unclear where the award will go from there-- Tom O'Neill reported at Gold Derby that Academy rules state that Ledger's parents plan to hold on to it, even though the award technically belongs to his daughter, Matilda. Because Matilda is 3, she can't accept the award, and can't legally own it until she turns 18. Regardless of legal questions, though, we still don't really know what to expect from Ledger's family. They've accepted awards on their son's behalf throughout the season, but never in front of an audience the size of the Oscar's. It'll be emotional, it'll be good television-- but there's no telling if it'll be the acceptance speech, or the closure, we're looking for.