Given its seemingly rote, repetitive format—intro, award, intro, award, song—the Oscar broadcast has no right to be so consistently absorbing. This has something to do with standard awards suspense, but it’s also connected to the show’s history of veering way off script. The producers do everything they can to keep the Oscars predictable, but you can’t stop movie people from occasionally spiraling out of control. Here are 12 times the Oscars went completely haywire.
12 times the Oscars went completely haywire
The odd coupleWhen James Franco and Anne Hathaway were tapped to host the Oscars in 2011, many were left scratching their heads, but that was nothing compared to the show itself. Between Hathaway's over-rehearsed enthusiasm and Franco's mumbling indifference, this pairing proved to be a match made in hell.Getty
Roberto Benigni loses controlWhen Roberto Benigni won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film—an award everyone knew he was going to win—he immediately climbed on the seat in front of him and proceeded toward Steven Spielberg, forcing the king of show business to awkwardly protect himself. Benigni eventually pogo-ed to the stage and delivered one of the most eclectic speeches in Oscar history, complete with references to sunrises, oceans, and hail storms.Getty
Michael Moore gets politicalAn unofficial sequel to the Redgrave incident, Michael Moore's acceptance speech in 2003 came just days after the United States invaded Iraq. While Moore's speech expressed opinions later held by almost everyone, he received some vocal resistance (mostly from stagehands, according to Moore) on Oscar night.Getty
Vanessa Redgrave gets politicalA standout moment in Oscar history, Vanessa Redgrave's 1978 acceptance speech featured an allusion to the impossibly complicated Israeili-Palestinian conflict—her documentary The Palestinian was in the news at the time—guaranteeing some backlash. However, what really makes the speech memorable is her chillingly robotic (if well-intentioned) salute to “you" (Hollywood?) for having her back, even while outraged members of the audience voice their disapproval.Getty
Melissa Leo breaks the rulesThis 2011 speech is a great lesson in how to (a) hold an audience's attention and (b) humiliate yourself on international television. Whether flirting awkwardly with the 94-year-old Kirk Douglas, zoning out while staring into the balcony, or dropping a flagrant f-bomb, Melissa Leo's speech is completely unpredictable—even after you've seen it a few times.Getty
Cuba Gooding Jr. loves everyoneWhen Cuba Gooding Jr. won for Jerry Maguire, he came out energized and the energy only grew from there. When the band started playing him off, he said “here we go," and delivered another 50 seconds of speech, pledging his love to no less than 12 of his collaborators.Getty
Angelina Jolie loves her brotherEven after 16 years of ridicule, Angelina Jolie's 2000 speech remains somewhat baffling. While she's more composed than many winners, her tribute to her brother still seems a little too… intimate. She starts by declaring “I'm so in love with my brother right now," adding that, “he just held me and said he loved me." After thanking a bunch of other people—but not her Girl, Interrupted director, James Mangold—she somehow managed to conclude with more brother talk.Getty
Rob Lowe's duet with Snow WhiteThe 1989 Oscars began like a deranged high school talent show. Things got even stranger when Rob Lowe joined Snow White for a movie-themed rendition of “Proud Mary."Getty
Daring wardrobeTo the surprise (and glee) of many, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut's “Blame Canada" was nominated for Best Original Song in 2000. Never afraid to cause a stir, Trey Parker and Matt Stone dressed in variations on gowns popularized by Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow respectively. While this made for a memorable red carpet experience, it grew a little awkward during the three-hour ceremony.Getty
The Oscar thiefThe 1938 ceremony featured an incident that could never possibly happen today. When In Old Chicago's Alice Brady was too sick to attend the event, a stranger managed to walk on stage and claim her award. The crazy part? He never handed it over.Fox
Sacheen LittlefeatherThe Godfather was the big winner at the 1973 Oscars, but star Marlon Brando chose to stay home. In his place was Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who arrived with an unrealistically long (15 pages) acceptance speech. This manifesto—which she later read to the press—contained some important points about Hollywood's mistreatment of Native Americans, but while onstage, Littlefeather had to settle for a minute of awkward improv.Getty
The streakerAt the 1974 show, photographer and gallery owner Robert Opel raced across the stage naked, inspiring host David Niven to make a cutting remark about “his shortcomings." While this is widely regarded as the gold standard of Oscar surprises, some evidence suggests that Opel's appearance—and Niven's quip—were both planned in advance by producer Jack Haley Jr.Getty
The Oscars air Sunday, Feb. 28 on CTV.