The 20 Most Memorable Oscars Moments of All Time

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When we think Oscars, we think couture gowns, emotional acceptance speeches cut off by music, historic wins and, oh, the occasional mishap. (Looking at you, Will Smith.) With the 96th annual Academy Awards right around the corner on March 10, what better way to prepare for the crème de la crème of awards shows than by remembering the Oscar moments that made us laugh, cry and cringe?

From Anna Paquin’s acceptance speech (or lack thereof) to the La La Land and Moonlight debacle, here are 20 of the most memorable moments in Academy Awards history.

1. When Hattie Mcdaniel Broke Down Barriers (1940)

McDaniel became the first African-American to receive an Oscar when she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Gone with the Wind.

2. When Barbra Streisand & Katharine Hepburn Pulled a Cady Heron at Spring Fling (1969)

These icons split the tiara trophy for Best Actress for their respective roles in Funny Girl and The Lion in Winter.  Hepburn wasn’t there to accept the award herself, but hey, at least no one had to wear Regina George’s headgear.

3. When Charlie Chaplin Received a 12-minute Standing Ovation & Honorary Oscar (1972)

Skip to 2:48 to see the star of The Kid adorably flummoxed and grateful.

4. When Jack Palance Did One-Armed Push-ups Onstage After Being Named Best Supporting Actor (1992)

Hey, everyone expresses excitement in different ways. Even  City Slickers like Palance.

5. When 11-Year-Old Anna Paquin’s Win Rendered Her Speechless (1994)

She definitely handled herself better than we would have at 11. Those giggles, though.

6. When Halle Berry Became the First Black Woman to Collect a Best Actress Oscar (2002)

So. Many. Emotions.

7. When Heath Ledger Received a Posthumous Oscar (2009)

Ledger’s mother, father and sister accepted the Oscar on his behalf and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

8. When Jennifer Lawrence Ate It on Live Television (2013)

Never change, J-Law.

9. When Ellen Degeneres Took the Most Famous Selfie Ever (2014)

With so many celebs in one selfie, it’s no surprise that DeGeneres held the record for most retweets ever…until a boy with a love of chicken nuggets surpassed her in 2017.

10. When Leonardo Dicaprio Finally Won (2016)

Gold things come to Leos who wait...for six nominations.

11. When Jimmy Kimmel and Sunny Pawar Reenacted The Lion King  (2017)

It’s the most adorable circle of life.

12. When Moonlight, Not La La Land, Snagged Best Picture (2017)

We don’t know who we felt worse for: Warren Beatty or the guy who had to break the news to everyone.

13. When Jimmy Kimmel Handed Out Snacks to Moviegoers (2018)

Sounds like our kind of Sunday night.

14. When Frances Mcdormand Celebrated Women in Her Speech (2018)

After revealing that she had “some things to say,” the actress asked every Oscar-nominated woman in the room to stand.

15. When Keegan-Michael Key Made a Mary Poppins-Style Entrance (2019)

Good thing he stuck the landing.

16. When Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper Performed ‘Shallow’ (2019)

Can you say chemistry?!

17. When Eminem Delivered a Surprise Performance (2020)

He performed “Lose Yourself” 18 years after the song won Best Original Song for 8 Mile.

18. When Chloé Zhao Made History (2021)

The Nomadland filmmaker became the first Asian woman to win Best Director.

19. When Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock (2022)

It was the slap heard around the world.

20. And Finally, When Michelle Yeoh Won Best Actress (2023)

She was the first Asian woman to win an Academy Award for lead actress.

Tune in for more Academy Awards mishaps and milestones on Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on ABC.

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