14 Oscar Scandals That Are So Juicy, They Probably Deserve To Win Best Picture

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·14 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It's Oscar season, and while I'm sure all of the nominated films are full of drama, I doubt they can top some of the scandals that have actually taken place on stage during the ceremony.

Oscars / ABC / Via giphy.com

Here are 14 scandals from Academy Awards history, from Angelina Jolie kissing her brother on the red carpet to Rob Lowe's performance of "Proud Mary" that was so bad, a bunch of celebrities wrote a formal protest letter:

1.2000: Angelina Jolie told everyone she was "so in love" with her brother during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, then kissed him on the lips at an afterparty.

Angelina and her brother holding an award

After winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in Girl, Interrupted, Angelina Jolie and her brother James Haven shocked everyone with a red carpet lip lock at the Vanity Fair afterparty.

During her acceptance speech, Jolie gave Haven a shoutout, saying, "I’m in shock, and I’m so in love with my brother right now. He just held me and said he loved me, and I know he’s so happy for me. And, thank you for that." The duo followed up the speech with a red carpet smooch at the Vanity Fair afterparty.

The kiss immediately sparked headlines, which Jolie called pathetic. She later said that the siblings had been visiting their mother, who had cancer, in the hospital that day, and the kiss and declaration of love had just been part of her reaction to the day's emotional ups and downs. "My parents really loved that moment, and that’s what will always matter,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

Kurt Krieger - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

2.1974: A streaker ran onstage in the middle of the ceremony.

The 1974 Oscars got a little more R-rated than expected when Robert Opel, an English teacher, stripped down and sprinted onstage while host David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor.After the stunt, Niven quipped,

The 1974 Oscars got a little more R-rated than expected when Robert Opel, an English teacher, stripped down and sprinted onstage while host David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor.

After the stunt, Niven quipped, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen. But isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"

Luckily for Opel, he was able to evade arrest, probably because everyone thought the stunt was hilarious. Instead, he was invited backstage to explain himself. Turns out, the streaking was part of Opel's commentary on the ways society had become too conformist. Opel — who owned a Los Angeles gallery known for showcasing homoerotic art — also streaked at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, and even developed a costumed character named Mr. Penis.

Tragically, Opel was murdered in his gallery in after he staged a protest following the decision to charge Dan White, who killed San Francisco mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk, with manslaughter instead of murder.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

3.2014: John Travolta absolutely flubs Idina Menzel's name, calling her "Adele Dazeem."

ABC / Via giphy.com

For me, no moment can top this.

Fresh off of Frozen-mania, Idina Menzel was pretty much everywhere. "Let It Go" had been nominated for Best Original Song, which meant that Menzel, who voiced Princess Elsa in the flick, would be performing the instant classic at the show.

When John Travolta, a movie musical legend in his own right, hit the stage to introduce Menzel, he inexplicably introduced her as the “the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem." Travolta later said that seconds before he was set to go onstage, he ran into Goldie Hawn, and missed the announcement that the producers had changed the spelling of Menzel's name on the teleprompter to a phonetic version that was supposed to be easier to pronounce.

Luckily Menzel was a pretty good sport about the whole thing. She reunited with Travolta at the next year's ceremony, and even included the flub in a "That's Not My Name" TikTok.

4.1989: Rob Lowe and Snow White performed an incredibly cringy, Disney-fied duet of "Proud Mary."

The 1989 Oscars were considered a year of many firsts: the ceremony was the first time the red carpet as we know and love it was hosted, it was the first time the infamous

The 1989 Oscars were considered a year of many firsts: the ceremony was the first time the red carpet as we know and love it was hosted, it was the first time the infamous "And the Oscar goes to..." was said before each award, and it marked the first time the show didn't have a host.

Instead of the traditional monologue, audiences were forced to sit through one of the strangest opening numbers of all-time: Rob Lowe and Snow White performing an 11-minute version of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary," with the lyrics tweaked to fit the show's theme.

Not only was the performance incredibly cringeworthy, it was also illegal. Disney promptly filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Academy for using Snow White's image without permission. To make matters worse, a group of 17 Hollywood heavyweights joined together to write a scathing letter to the Academy, calling the show an embarrassment to the actors and artists who were nominated.

Years after the fact, Rob Lowe admitted he knew the performance wasn't a good move after he saw director Barry Levinson, who was nominated that night for Rain Man, mouth "What the f**k" during the number. Apparently after the performance, a dejected Lowe sat next to Lucille Ball in the greenroom, where the pair contemplated if his career was over.

ABC / Via youtube.com

5.1973: Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather onstage to decline his Best Actor win on his behalf in protest of the way Native Americans were treated in Hollywood.

While Marlon Brando wasn't the first person to decline their Oscar, his snubbing of the ceremony following his iconic role in The Godfather was one of the most shocking.Brando, who had already taken home the Best Actor statue once before for his role in the 1955 movie On The Waterfront, was considered a shoo-in for his role as Mafia boss Vito Corleone in 1972's The Godfather. However, Brando refused to accept the award in protest of the way Native Americans were treated in Hollywood.Instead, he sent Native American actor and activist Sacheen Littlefeather onstage to decline the award on his behalf. The 1973 awards were the first time the show had been broadcast internationally, and over 85 million people watched Littlefeather's passionate speech, which came just a month into a standoff between Native American activists and authorities after police killed a Lakota man at the Wounded Knee reservation in South Dakota.

While Marlon Brando wasn't the first person to decline their Oscar, his snubbing of the ceremony following his iconic role in The Godfather was one of the most shocking.

Brando, who had already taken home the Best Actor statue once before for his role in the 1955 movie On The Waterfront, was considered a shoo-in for his role as Mafia boss Vito Corleone in 1972's The Godfather. However, Brando refused to accept the award in protest of the way Native Americans were treated in Hollywood.

Instead, he sent Native American actor and activist Sacheen Littlefeather onstage to decline the award on his behalf. The 1973 awards were the first time the show had been broadcast internationally, and over 85 million people watched Littlefeather's passionate speech, which came just a month into a standoff between Native American activists and authorities after police killed a Lakota man at the Wounded Knee reservation in South Dakota.

Getty Images

6.2003: Adrien Brody unexpectedly kissed Halle Berry after she presented him with the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The Pianist.

Halle Berry was tapped to present the Best Actor award at the 2003 Oscars. The prize went to Adrien Brody for his role in The Pianist. When Brody hit the stage after his big win, he embraced Berry and pulled her in for a passionate kiss. After the kiss, Berry appeared to be in disbelief while the audience awkwardly laughed. On a 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Berry told Andy Cohen that the kiss was completely unplanned and that she was far from a willing participant.

Halle Berry was tapped to present the Best Actor award at the 2003 Oscars. The prize went to Adrien Brody for his role in The Pianist.

When Brody hit the stage after his big win, he embraced Berry and pulled her in for a passionate kiss. After the kiss, Berry appeared to be in disbelief while the audience awkwardly laughed.

On a 2017 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Berry told Andy Cohen that the kiss was completely unplanned and that she was far from a willing participant. "I was too focused on ‘What the fuck is going on right now?" she said.

The kiss wasn't the only shocking thing Brody did during the 2003 show. He recently revealed that Jack Nicholson, who was also nominated for Best Actor, invited all of his fellow nominees to his house to persuade them to boycott the ceremony, which was held five days after the United States invaded Iraq. Brody refused, saying that while Nicholson and the other nominees might have won before, it could be Brody's only chance to nab the coveted award.

Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

7.1961: Elizabeth Taylor won Best Actress for a movie that she couldn't stop dissing, but got an emergency tracheotomy so she could be healthy enough to attend the ceremony.

Elizabeth wears a sleeveless dress and short hair as she poses with her award

Elizabeth Taylor had been nominated for Best Actress three times (1958, 1959, and 1960), but had never taken the prize home. When the nominations for the 1961 ceremony came out, Taylor had once again been nominated, this time for her role in Butterfield 8, in which she played a sex worker.

Much to everyone's surprise, Taylor took home the prize, even though she had slammed the movie multiple times, even using profanity to share her distaste for the flick. It was later revealed that Taylor only made the movie out of a contractual obligation with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and only followed through so she could go on to make Cleopatra with 20th Century Fox.

Taylor was also battling pneumonia during the ceremony, and even had an emergency tracheotomy to ensure she could attend (something that fellow actor Shirley MacLaine claimed skewed the awards in Taylor's favor).

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Via Getty Images

8.2000: The creators of South Park impersonated famous women on the red carpet and then admitted they were on acid the whole time.

The two men of South Park wearing iconic dresses from award shows of before

Clearly things got super weird at the 2000 Academy Awards.

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were nominated for Best Original Song for "Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The duo wanted to make a splash at the show, and decided to show up in costume, with Parker wearing his own spin on the iconic Versace gown that Jennifer Lopez had worn to the 2000 Grammys, while Stone wore a pink dress that resembled the Ralph Lauren number Gwyneth Paltrow had worn to the 1999 Oscars.

The duo said that while some people loved their dresses, others weren't too pleased that the pair appeared to be poking fun at the awards. "Some people were stoked when we showed up at the Oscars in those dresses, Michael Caine being one. But I remember Gloria Estefan was super-pissed," Stone told The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition to causing a red carpet ruckus with their outfits, the pair later revealed that they had eaten sugar cubes laced with LSD right before the show.

Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

9.1969: Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied for Best Actress, but Hepburn didn't show up so Streisand took home the prize.

At the 1969 ceremony, Barbra Streisand and Katherine Hepburn were up for Best Actress for their respective starring roles in Funny Girl and The Lion in Winter. While it was Streisand's first nomination, it was Hepburn's eleventh. In fact, Hepburn had even won Best Actress the year before for her role in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, and was not expected to win back-to-back awards.Ingrid Bergman presented the award for Best Actress and exclaimed,

At the 1969 ceremony, Barbra Streisand and Katherine Hepburn were up for Best Actress for their respective starring roles in Funny Girl and The Lion in Winter. While it was Streisand's first nomination, it was Hepburn's eleventh. In fact, Hepburn had even won Best Actress the year before for her role in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, and was not expected to win back-to-back awards.

Ingrid Bergman presented the award for Best Actress and exclaimed, "It's a tie!" Streisand and Hepburn had each received 3,030 votes, marking the first time the awards had ever had to deal with a dead tie. In 1932, Fredric March and Wallace Beery tied for Best Actor, but Beery had actually received one less vote than March. The two split the prize because the Academy had put in place a rule that if nominees came within three votes of each other, they would have to share the honor.

Luckily for Streisand, Hepburn didn't attend the 1969 show, so the spotlight was all on her. She famously said "Hello, gorgeous," the opening line from Funny Girl, while accepting her award.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Via Getty Images

10.2017: Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty incorrectly announce La La Land as the winner of Best Picture, when Moonlight had really won the prize.

the presenters on stage while Jimmy Kimmel is off the side biting his fingernails

The 2017 Oscars almost went off without a hitch, until Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty took the stage to reveal the night's big Best Picture winner.

Dunaway and Beatty, who had starred together in Bonnie and Clyde, were invited to announce the Best Picture winners to celebrate the movie's fiftieth anniversary, even though the pair have notably had a strained relationship over the years.

All was going smoothly until Beatty went to read the winner. He looked noticeably confused, and some wondered if he was having a hard time seeing the teleprompter. He held the card out to Dunaway, who assumed he was changing up the script and allowing her to read out the winner. She exclaimed "La La Land!" and the cast and crew filed on stage to celebrate.

Backstage, Academy accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers sprung into action and alerted production that the wrong envelope had been given and that Moonlight actually had won Best Picture. Stage managers scurried on stage to correct the gaffe.

So what happened? Turns out Beatty had been handed an extra Best Actress envelope, which had gone to Emma Stone for La La Land, instead of the one labeled Best Picture. A production error earlier in the day meant that they had run out of time to rehearse the last few awards prior to showtime, which could have contributed to the mistake.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

11.1993: Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress, but some claim the presenter read the wrong name and was too embarrassed to backtrack.

When Marisa Tomei took home the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in My Cousin Vinny, people were shocked. While Tomei was acclamed for her performance, she was a relative newcomer in Hollywood and had only been in five movies prior to nabbing the role in My Cousin Vinny. Tomei was considered a total long-shot to win the prize, with odds looking like it would come down to a close call between Joan Plowright and Vanessa Redgrave.While people were shocked that Tomei beat out Hollywood heavy-hitters, it wasn't until the next year that rumors started to circulate that Tomei wasn't the actual winner. In 1994, The Hollywood Reporter reported that an error resulted in Tomei's name being called, and that the scandal was soon about to be exposed. Many believed that Jack Palance, who presented the Best Supporting Actress award, had gotten flustered and read the last name that appeared on the teleprompter instead of the actual winner's name from the envelope.Tomei called the story hurtful, and the Academy has denied the rumor.

When Marisa Tomei took home the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in My Cousin Vinny, people were shocked. While Tomei was acclamed for her performance, she was a relative newcomer in Hollywood and had only been in five movies prior to nabbing the role in My Cousin Vinny. Tomei was considered a total long-shot to win the prize, with odds looking like it would come down to a close call between Joan Plowright and Vanessa Redgrave.

While people were shocked that Tomei beat out Hollywood heavy-hitters, it wasn't until the next year that rumors started to circulate that Tomei wasn't the actual winner. In 1994, The Hollywood Reporter reported that an error resulted in Tomei's name being called, and that the scandal was soon about to be exposed. Many believed that Jack Palance, who presented the Best Supporting Actress award, had gotten flustered and read the last name that appeared on the teleprompter instead of the actual winner's name from the envelope.

Tomei called the story hurtful, and the Academy has denied the rumor.

Steven D Starr / Corbis via Getty Images

12.2015: April Reign tweets #OscarsSoWhite, setting off a major movement in Hollywood.

13.2003: Michael Moore criticizes President Bush during his acceptance speech.

Moore holds his award and throws a peace sign

We've all heard the music start up when a speech goes on for a tad too long, but the orchestra was forced to kick things off a little early when director Michael Moore used his Best Documentary speech to criticize President George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq.

"We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons ... Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you," Moore said during his speech. He was met with boos from the audience, and was quickly played off stage.

Moore, who later released Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary that explored President Bush's role in using the media to stoke public fear in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, ended up reviving the speech while accepting a lifetime achievement award at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards. Moore read off the portion of the speech that had been cut off during the broadcast. During the speech, he encouraged people to pick up their cameras and start documenting the war on democracy stirred by then-President Donald Trump.

Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc / Via Getty Images

14.2020: The lights went down in the middle of Parasite's Best Picture acceptance speech.

Parasite's Best Picture win was a huge deal: it marked the first time a non-English language film took home the top honor. When the cast and crew headed onstage to accept the award, which was one of six the movie won through the night, coproducer Kwak Sin-ae first took the mic and spoke for 45 seconds before turning things over to Miky Lee, the film's other producer.But before Lee got to deliver her speech, the lights went down on the stage and cameras focused on Jane Fonda, who was slated to deliver the night's closing remarks. The audience was instantly outraged, and stars like Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron, who were sitting in the front row, started chanting

Parasite's Best Picture win was a huge deal: it marked the first time a non-English language film took home the top honor. When the cast and crew headed onstage to accept the award, which was one of six the movie won through the night, coproducer Kwak Sin-ae first took the mic and spoke for 45 seconds before turning things over to Miky Lee, the film's other producer.

But before Lee got to deliver her speech, the lights went down on the stage and cameras focused on Jane Fonda, who was slated to deliver the night's closing remarks. The audience was instantly outraged, and stars like Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron, who were sitting in the front row, started chanting "Up! Up!" to persuade the showrunners to turn the attention back to Parasite.

Luckily the cheers worked, and Lee was able to deliver her remarks.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Any other scandals from Academy Awards history come to mind? Share them in the comments!