Oscar Speeches Will Be Crazy

With new rules about no thank-yous, stars are likely to get political

Here comes the crazy.

A new rule is being instituted at Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies. Show producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin have asked nominees to submit a card in advance of the ceremony listing the many people they wish to thank — the babysitter, the husband, the acting coach, the dog-walker, publicist, agent, cast, crew, etc.

When the winner takes the stage to stand at the podium, those names will scroll across the bottom of the screen. Instead, they’re supposed to give some inspiring words of wisdom. Which means Oscars speeches will be very different — assuming winners abide by the rules (uh, right).

The initiative was inspired by the awkward moment last year when Dana Perry, winner for Best Documentary Short, was interrupted by music, signaling and end to her speech, just as she had begun to discuss the suicide of her son and its impact on her as a filmmaker.

The good news is that winners on Sunday who usually fumble to pull out a piece of paper to read a laundry list – or try to remember everyone but wind up apologizing for forgetting people (as “Room” actress Brie Larson did at the Golden Globes) — won’t have to worry about that.

But they will have to worry about using 45 seconds to deliver a more meaningful message to some 36 million viewers. The pressure is off in one sense; on in an another.

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Last year, when Director Alejandro González Inarritu won for “Birdman,” he used his Best Picture acceptance speech time to address his native Mexico, the government and the immigration system here in the United States. Will he do it again if he wins for “The Revenant”?

Also last year, Common and John Legend, in winning Best Original Song for “Glory,” spoke of the civil rights protest in Alabama 50 years ago still being relevant today. Legend said that America is “the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

Diversity will definitely come up. Host Chris Rock will be all over that. Actress Gabrielle Union said this week Rock has been working on his Oscar material with Dave Chappelle. It will be memorable. And it will be surprising if none of the winners bring it up.

As history as shown, there have been many memorable acceptance moments through the years — Jack Palance doing one-armed push-ups, Sally Field acknowledging that we really like her, Adrian Brody planting a kiss on Halle Berry. There were also those random remarks from Richard Gere about Tibet in 1993 and Patricia Arquette throwing out a pitch for “equal rights for women” last year.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a shoo-in for Best Actor, took a lot of time at the Golden Globes in January to thank his “Revenant” director, cast and crew. Music cut in around after 1:40. But that didn’t stop DiCaprio, who went on to thank his make-up artist, parents and friends and then cited “indigenous communities around the world,” saying it is time that we “protect” their lands from “corporate interests” and to “protect the plant for future generations.” It ran nearly three minutes.

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This year, it’s a good bet that Eddie Redmayne, who plays painter Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery in “The Danish Girl,” will use his 45 seconds to talk about transgender issues.

Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for “Joy,” has become known for making silly remarks from the stage, such as the one she tacked on to her Golden Globes speech in January when she was thanking director David O. Russell. “David, thank you. I want us to be buried next to each other. I really do.”

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Will someone give a shout-out to a presidential candidate? Olympia Dukakis, the cousin of Michael Dukakis, got political in 1987 by endorsing him after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Moonstruck.” She yelled, “OK, Michael, let’s go!” He was nominated by the Democratic Party 16 months later.

In one of the bigger statements made at the Oscars, Marlon Brando refused to accept his award for Best Actor for his role in “The Godfather” at the 1973 Oscars and instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather, president of the of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee because of, “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television and movie reruns.” She was met with a mixture of boos and applause.

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No matter what the topic, 45 seconds isn’t really much time.

Remember that Julia Roberts, who won the Best Actress award in 2001 for “Erin Brockovich,” was enjoying her moment in the spotlight so much she called out the music conductor: “Sir, you’re doing a great job, but you’re so quick with that stick, so why don’t you sit, because I may never be here again.” She gained some three minutes as a result.

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