Iconic Moments From the Oscars Over the Years

Iconic Moments From the Oscars Over the Years


Iconic Moments From the Oscars Over the Years

The Academy Awards have given us their fair share of memorable tales

The Academy Awards have given us their fair share of memorable tales

Text: Ahad Sanwari

The 93rd Academy Awards are due to take place this Sunday on April 25. This year’s ceremony is sure to go down in history as the first (and hopefully last) ever “Pandemic Oscars,” given that last year’s show came mere weeks before the world went into lockdown.

Given that we’re going to be bearing witness to a moment that will be forever ensconced in the shrines of Academy glory, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most remembered moments from the almost century long history of the Awards. And before we move on, for the sake of this list, we’d like to thank the Academy for this honor.

An Iconic Moment for Black Artists: Hattie McDaniel wins Best Supporting Actress (1940 Oscars)

McDaniel shattered boundaries of race and privilege at the 1940 ceremony when she won Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind. While the movie and her “mammy” performance haven’t aged the best (nor the fact that she was made to sit separately from the other cast members of the film), McDaniel’s win, the first ever for an African American, proved that it was only a matter of time before barriers like racism couldn’t deny true talent.

An Iconic Surprise: Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tie for Best Actress (1969 Oscars)

Ties aren’t new for the Oscars, but this one was particularly shocking. Both women were frontrunners in the race and to see Ingrid Bergman reveal that both came out on top (which, at that time, required an exact tie of votes) proved that the Awards were just as capable of awarding new talent, giving Streisand her first golden man, as they were of honoring legends of the screen, giving Hepburn her third.

An Iconic Fashion Statement: Cher wears Bob Mackie for the win (1988 Oscars)

There have been several iconic fashion moments at the Oscars (Cher’s other Bob Mackie gown, Bjork’s swan, Angelina Jolie’s leg). But none remain so intrinsically linked to the person in question as when Cher, pop star extraordinaire at the time, wore this sheer, fringed Mackie number to pick up her Best Actress trophy for Moonstruck.

An Iconic “Oh dear” Moment: The opening number of the 61st Academy Awards (1989 Oscars)

When you take the words “Snow White” and “Rob Lowe” and “Proud Mary,” what you’re given is the opening number of the 61st Academy Awards, a spectacle of oddity. The Allan Carr production aimed to celebrate the extravagance of Hollywood, but ended up being a show stopping mess that made absolutely no sense and caused Disney to sue the Academy.

An Iconic Sweep: Titanic freezes the competition (1998 Oscars)

There’s movies, and there’s movies. And Titanic just happened to enter a third echelon of excellence on that fateful night in 1998, winning a grand total of 11 Oscars. While it did only tie the mark set by Ben-Hur before it (and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King after), it stands tall in cinema history and has managed to make more of a mark than the other two.

An Iconic “Whoa, okay!” Moment: Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry (2003 Oscars)

Oh, Adrien Brody, must you be remembered this way? Enroute to the stage to pick up his Best Actor Oscar for The Pianist, Brody got caught up in the excitement and kissed presenter Halle Berry for the whole theatre (and world) to see. The moment has since become a touchstone of cringe culture in Hollywood, especially in regards to conversations about consent and sexual harassment.

An Iconic Win for Trailblazing Women: Kathryn Bigelow wins Best Director (2010 Oscars)

It took 82 ceremonies for a woman to finally take home the trophy for Best Director, which Kathryn Bigelow achieved in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, presented to her by a pioneer female director in Streisand. Bigelow’s impact still remains, encouraging several other women to take the helm in cinema. And with Chloe Zhao a frontrunner for this year’s trophy, that tradition looks ready to be upheld once more.

An Iconic Meme: John Travolta births Adele Dazeem (2014 Oscars)

Oh, John Travolta, must you too be remembered this way? For fans of cinema from the 70s, Travolta is the charismatic star of Saturday Night Fever and Grease. For those who were first introduced to him at the 2014 Academy Awards, he’s the guy who butchered Idina Menzel’s name and honorably knighted her with “Adele Dazeem.” At least Menzel got her revenge later on (in more cringeworthy fashion).

An Iconic Oopsie: La La Land “wins” Best Picture (2017 Oscars)

La La Land, the night’s frontrunner, seemed like the safe pick for the big prize at the 2017 ceremony. Which is probably what Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty thought when they announced their name as the winner, only to be surprised when it turned out they had read the card wrong and Moonlight was the real Best Picture winner. Still, La La Land went home with six Oscars, there’s no reason to cry there.

An Iconic Win for World Cinema: Parasite wins Best Picture (2020 Oscars)

Last year’s ceremony was historic in its own right, deeming the night’s biggest winner a South Korean dark comedy. Parasite became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture and set a precedent for the Oscars’ recognition of international cinema, eliciting cheers from crowds across the world who were appreciative of the decision to not just reward “the sure bet.”

Credits: Image credits: Lennox McLendon/AP


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