Who gets thanked by Academy Award-winners on Oscars Night? Spouses? Parents? Agents? God? It’s God, isn’t it. Slate examined ten years of Oscar acceptance speeches for answers.
Slate also built an amusing, interactive infographic, and you can click around on it to see who thanked whom. Here is the amazing stuff I learned:
- Only one Oscar winner has begun her acceptance speech by naming her agent first, and that was Tilda Swinton.
- Denzel Washington thanked God first. (Slate comments: “Though it won’t surprise anyone who thinks of Hollywood as a contemporary Babylon, God has only been thanked three times [in the last 10 years].”)
- Adrien Brody began by thanking his mom and dad.
- Javier Bardem began by thanking No Country for Old Men‘s directors, but then he thanked a whole host of family members.
- A lot of people start by naming their directors.
- Best Actor winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, and Colin Firth may all seem like a renegades, artistes, and “bad boys,” but each dutifully started out by thanking the Academy. (So did Jim Broadbent, Chris Cooper, and Tim Robbins. But not Christian Bale!)
- Best Lady winners who began by thanking the Academy: Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman, and almost every Best Supporting Lady-winner ever. Yawn. (And who didn’t? Kate Winslet basically expressed gratitude to everyone but the Academy, while Charlize Theron and Swinton’s lists were a little more honed.)
- Jennifer Hudson went in reverse order, beginning with grandmother, then mom, boyfriend, siblings, then the audience, the director, then the cast, then the Academy, and finally, God. Well played, Hudson.
A little more:
Hollywood (and by extension the Academy) is notoriously hard on actresses, so is it any surprise that they receive fewer standing ovations than the men—yet work harder at ingratiating themselves to the powers that be? Actresses start by thanking “the Academy” more often than their male counterparts, and once they get going they aren’t as quick to stop, generally citing a longer list of people. More interesting still is that they have long memories, often ceding credit to those who helped them rise to fame.
Though it seems a cliché to thank fellow nominees, it actually happens less often than you think. That’s why Sandra Bullock’s extremely generous speech for The Blind Side at the 2009 Oscars—wherein she addressed each and every one of her fellow nominees by name—was so unusual; no wonder she’s beloved in the industry.
Above, Slate’s other infographic, demonstrating how long winners were able to go on. Halle Berry comes in the marathon-winner at four minutes 38 seconds; meanwhile, a gushy Adrien Brody gabbed an equally-lengthy 4:30.