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Joaquin Phoenix accepted the 2020 Oscar for best actor at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night.
In his speech, he called out injustices in the world. During multiple moments throughout his acceptance, Phoenix received applause from the audience and even teared up toward the end when he spoke about a lyric his brother wrote.
Phoenix’s best actor Oscar win marks the second time an actor has won an Oscar for playing the joker, coming after Heath Ledger won best supporting actor for his role as the joker in The Dark Knight. He swept awards season with recognition for his portrayal of the notorious comic book villain, taking home the Golden Globe, SAG Award and the BAFTA.
The actor’s win was the second award of the night for Todd Phillips’ take on the nihilistic villain, Joker. Hildur Guonadóttir also took home the award for best original score.
Read the full transcript below.
God, I’m full of so much gratitude right now. And I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love, the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I’d be without it. But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless.
I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively. I think at times we feel, or we’re made to feel, that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.
I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world, and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric world view — the belief that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up, but human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious. And I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
Now, I have been, I have been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.
When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.'”
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