Oscars: Watch 10 of the Shortest Acceptance Speeches Ever

11:00 AM 2/27/2016

by Keely Wold

Ten Academy Award winners who needed no notes to remember their speeches.

Courtesy of Photofest

This year, the Academy Award producers are attempting to streamline Oscar speeches by having all nominees give them a list of names to thank, which will be rolled across the screen in the event that they win. The new process is intended to make speeches more genuine, and prevent nominees from pulling a list of names out of their pocket in fear of the faux pas of forgetting a spouse. In honor of this new era of Oscar speechmaking, take a look back at the ceremony's most memorably brief speeches. 

  • Rita Moreno

    When Rita Moreno was presented with the Oscar for best supporting actress in 1962, she kept it short and sweet, saying, "I can't believe it! Good Lord. I leave you with that!" Moreno's win was one of four that West Side Story collected that night.

  • Joe Pesci

    Joe Pesci gave a short but memorable speech when he accepted the best supporting actor award in 1990 for his role in Goodfellas: “It’s my privilege. Thank you.”

  • Alfred Hitchcock

    When Alfred Hitchcock accepted the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968, he famously only had five words to say. Hitchcock had previously been nominated for best director on five separate occasions.

  • Dorothy Malone

    If you think that the orchestra that begins playing when speeches go over 45 seconds isn't subtle enough, consider Dorothy Malone. She won the best supporting actress statuette for Written on the Wind at the 29th Academy Awards in 1957, and only 35 seconds into her speech, Jack Lemmon walked to the podium and showed her his watch.

  • Jerome Hellman

    When Midnight Cowboy won best picture in 1970, producer Jerome Hellman famously spoke for less than 20 seconds. Midnight Cowboy is the only X-rated film to ever win best picture.

  • Tatum O'Neal

    As the youngest Oscar winner ever, Tatum O'Neal was remarkably composed, and wore a memorable child-sized tuxedo when she accepted the best supporting actress award in 1974 for her role in Paper Moon. She thanked two people before exiting the stage.

  • Anna Paquin

    Twenty years later, 11-year old Anna Paquin accepted the Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance in The Piano, making her the second-youngest Oscar winner ever. Paquin was justifiably overwhelmed and spent her first 20 seconds at the podium struggling to breathe.

  • Patty Duke

    Like Paquin, Patty Duke gave a concise but emotional speech. She seemed overwhelmed and said only, "Thank you," upon receiving the golden statuette for best supporting actress for her role in The Miracle Worker.

  • Billy Wilder

    At the Academy Awards in 1961, The Apartment swept the show, winning five statuettes, with Billy Wilder accepting for best picture, best director, and best writing. Despite this, his combined speech length for all three acceptances was under 40 seconds.

  • Louie Psihoyos

    When The Cove won the Oscar for Best Documentary at the 2009 awards show, director Louie Psihoyos was only able to say two words before the orchestra cut him off (producer Fisher Stevens gave a short speech before him). Psihoyos later released a video of the Oscar speech he would have given, had there been more time, saying: "I would have enjoyed last week a lot more if I’d known I wasn’t going to get to speak!"