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Guest Blog: Unbelievable Oscar Moments By Ida Lassing

Trey Parker and Matt Stone at the 2000 Oscars.

This blog has been written by a second-year student of the Creative and Professional Writing programme at the University of Derby, in anticipation of the 2022 Oscars. Look out for further posts from the students on the QUAD blog in the run up to the ceremony.

On the 27th of March the Oscars are back, for the 94th time. Having caused more than enough controversy over the years, the Oscars are sure to lead to mixed feelings among many. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the best films of the year and give films that might not have reached the mainstream viewer a chance to be acknowledged. On the other hand, many, or rather most, feel that the Oscars do not quite represent the public opinion. Whether the Oscars are your event of the year, or you despise the concept, there are some moments that can bring a smile to anyone’s face. Those moments are what we’ll cover today, the top 5 unbelievable Oscars moments (in no particular order), which will hopefully brighten your day.

Moment 1: Jack Palance’s one-armed push-ups

How fit do you think you’ll be when you’re 73? In my mind push-ups will be completely off the table, let alone one-armed push-ups. This was not the case for Jack Palance. In 1991 Palance won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in City Slickers. When he went up to give his speech he showed off his strength by doing one-armed push-ups on stage. He managed three one-armed push-ups, ending it with a single normal push-up. It's all smiles in the audience until it hits them that they should probably go to the gym tomorrow.

Moment 2: Trey Parker and Matt Stone dressing up as Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow

Red carpet looks account for as many headlines as the movies on display at the Oscars. Trey Parker was nominated for best song at the 2000 Oscars for Blame Canada from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and made headlines with his red carpet outfit. Fellow South Park creator Matt Stone came as Parker’s date and wore a replica of Paltrow's pink Ralph Lauren dress which she had worn the year before. Parker wore a replica of Lopez’s green Versace dress that she had worn to the 2000 Grammys. While both looked stunning, their outfits attracted quite a bit of negative attention and the pair were accused of not taking the event seriously by fellow nominees. In an interview reported by FarOutMagazine (2021) the pair admitted to not taking the event seriously and not caring about all the Hollywood hype. They solidified this by taking LSD before walking the red carpet, only coming down from the high during the ceremony itself.

Moment 3: Alfred Hitchcock’s acceptance speech

For some the Oscars seem like an eternal process, a constant stream of acceptance speeches that all say the same thing. They thank family, friends, crew, and potentially add in some words of wisdom. Generally these speeches are ignored and forgotten. A speech that stood out was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1967 acceptance speech when he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He ambled up to the podium to the sound of the orchestra, and said, “Thank you.” After taking a look at the presenter he added, “Very much indeed,” but by then the microphone had been turned off, and Hitchcock left the stage at a leisurely pace. One of the most polite, and definitely the shortest, of all Oscars award speeches. 

Moment 4: The Oscar heist

In 2000, 55 Oscar statuettes were stolen a few weeks before that year’s Oscars ceremony. The manufacturer worked tirelessly to produce 55 new statuettes in time for the event, and the media had a field day. A few days after the disappearance trash scavenger Willie Fulgear found 52 of the statuettes in a Koreatown dumpster. Apparently, the thieves had a change of heart and dumped the statuettes, though they were later caught. Another statuette was recovered in a 2003 Florida drug bust, though the final two statuettes remain missing. At the time the media made the heist out to be a real threat to that year’s Oscars. It was later revealed that all statuettes are made a year in advance, and that the 2000 statuettes were already delivered. The 2001 statuettes were the ones that got stolen. The heist led to a significant increase in security when delivering the prizes. Oscar statuettes are currently delivered via plane and are accompanied by armed security, so winning an Oscar the honest way is your best bet now. 

Moment 5: Björk’s swan dress

Another red carpet look that has aged like fine wine is Björk’s swan dress. In 2001 Björk was nominated for best original song for I’ve Seen it All from the movie Dancer In The Dark. She turned heads when she walked the red carpet in a bodysock covered in crystals and a swan draping its neck around hers, its feathered body becoming her skirt. The designer behind the dress was Marjan Pejoski. When walking down the red carpet Björk “laid” eggs along the way, later saying that she was making a statement about fertility. At the time she mainly confused onlookers. The dress made every “worst dressed” list that year as it didn’t fit the traditional idea of what a dress worn to the Oscars should look like. It lacked the usual glamour and class. Björk was not bothered by these remarks, saying that this was probably her first and last Oscars, and that she was not there to fit in. Pejoski also said that he didn’t mind, he was used to his designs being misunderstood. If anything he was glad that it had gained so much attention. While it was disliked at the time the swan dress has now become one of the most iconic red carpet looks from the Oscars. It paved the way for artists, such as Billy Porter and Lady Gaga, to wear some truly astonishing and discussion-worthy outfits.

In its 94 year history the Oscars have given us some heart-warming moments, and plenty of drama. This year has seen the nomination of some marvellous films, of which I personally recommend West Side Story (at the risk of tears), and Encanto (lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda, need I say more?). Love or hate the Oscars, the movies nominated deserve recognition for their hard work.

Written by Ida Lassing.