25 of the most unforgettable moments in Oscar history
We may wish we could forget last year's painful best-picture flub, but these Oscars moments will be burned in our memories. USA TODAY
"There's been a mistake."
Those four words changed the course of Academy Awards history last year, when 2½ minutes into Team La La Land's best picture acceptance speeches, producer Jordan Horowitz informed the crowd that Moonlight had actually won.
The jaw-dropping gaffe — which was met with stunned disbelief by those in the room and at home — was the result of a mix-up by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who mistakenly handed presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty the wrong category envelope.
It was also an awesome reminder of the unpredictability of Hollywood's biggest awards, which celebrate their 90th year March 4 (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT). Here are some of the other most talked-about moments through the years:
A compilation of some of USA TODAY's best photos from Academy Awards gone by. USA TODAY
1. Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Oscar (1940)
She was the first black actor to ever be nominated or win, for best supporting actress for Gone With the Wind. The next to earn the prize wouldn't be until 1964, when Sidney Poitier took home best actor for Lilies of the Field.
2. Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tie for best actress (1969)
They each received 3,030 votes for their respective performances in The Lion in Winter and Funny Girl. But it was Streisand's speech that won the night in Hepburn's absence, when she accepted the trophy and uttered her character's famous line, "Hello, gorgeous."
3. Charlie Chaplin gets an epic 12-minute standing ovation (1972)
The silent-film icon garnered the longest standing ovation in the awards' history when he returned to the U.S. to accept a lifetime achievement Oscar, after 20 years in exile for alleged Communist sympathies.
4. Marlon Brando refuses to accept Oscar (1973)
Instead of walking to the stage when he won best actor for The Godfather, Brando sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather up to protest the misrepresentation of American Indians in Hollywood.
5. Tatum O'Neal becomes youngest Oscar winner ever (1974)
At just 10 years old, O'Neal won the award for best supporting actress for her performance in Paper Moon, which she starred in alongside her father, Ryan O'Neal. Wearing a tuxedo and beaming, she thanked her dad and director Peter Bogdanovich.
6. A streaker crashes the awards (1974)
Shortly before Elizabeth Taylor was set to announce best picture, gay rights activist Robert Opel stripped naked and ran across the stage behind Oscar co-host David Niven. He was not arrested, and merely explained that it was "one of those one-time things."
7. Sally Field exclaims, "You like me!" (1985)
Accepting her second best actress Oscar for Places in the Heart, Field memorably gushed, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” The giddy declaration has famously been misquoted as "You really like me!" over the years, and was later parodied by Madonna, Jim Carrey and Field herself.
8. Cher turns heads in see-through dress (1988)
The Oscars have long been a runway for some of Cher's boldest fashion statements, including feathered headdresses and belly-baring gowns. But her jewel-encrusted naked dress may have been her most daring, which she wore when she won best actress for Moonstruck.
9. Rob Lowe opens the show with a bizarre duet (1989)
The actor was endlessly lampooned for his participation in this campy opening number, in which he performed a duet of Proud Mary with Snow White-clad newcomer Eileen Bowman. Stars including Paul Newman and Julie Andrews slammed the disastrous 10-plus-minute number as an "embarrassment" in an open letter, and Disney filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Academy for using its character.
10. Jack Palance does push-ups onstage (1992)
Then 73, the best supporting actor winner for City Slickers used his time at the podium to bemoan how producers favor young actors. He then proved his vigor by getting down and doing three one-armed push-ups mid-speech.
11. Marisa Tomei shockingly wins best supporting actress (1993)
After Tomei beat out veterans Vanessa Redgrave and Joan Plowright for her comedic tour de force in My Cousin Vinny, conspiracy theories began to circulate in entertainment publications that presenter Jack Palance couldn't read the winner's card and called the last name on the teleprompter. The rumor has since been debunked by the Academy and footage from the ceremony, which shows Palance reading the card.
12. Roberto Benigni literally jumps for joy (1999)
When Sophia Loren announced Life is Beautiful for best foreign-language film, its Italian director/actor was so elated that he walked across the tops of seats as he made his way to the stage. This is the moment of joy, and I want to kiss everybody because you are the major of the joy," Benigni said.
13. Angelina Jolie shares an uncomfortable moment with her brother (2000)
Taking best supporting actress for Girl, Interrupted, Jolie uncomfortably thanked her older brother James Haven, saying, “I’m in shock and I’m so in love with my brother right now." They were later photographed briefly locking lips at the event, fueling speculation about their curiously close relationship.
14. Halle Berry makes history with Oscar win (2002)
As the first and only black woman to win best actress, the Monster's Ball star emphasized the award's significance, proclaiming, "This moment is so much bigger than me." She dedicated the honor to "every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."
15. Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry onstage (2003)
In a move that's become even more cringe-worthy to watch in light of the sexual harassment allegations that have rocked Hollywood, Brody brings Berry in for a long, awkward kiss when he takes the podium to accept best actor for The Pianist.
16. Crash takes best picture over Brokeback Mountain (2006)
In what'ss considered one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history, Paul Haggis' race drama beat out Ang Lee's critically favored front-runner, making it only the second film ever to win the top prize without a Golden Globes picture nomination.
17. Martin Scorsese finally wins best director (2007)
After five previous nominations in the category, Scorsese brought home the award in his sixth try with mobster drama The Departed. He has earned two directing nominations since, for Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street.
18. Heath Ledger wins posthumous Oscar (2009)
After his sudden death at 28 from an accidental overdose of prescription medications, his family accepted his best supporting actor award, for his towering performance as the Joker in Batman movie The Dark Knight.
19. James Franco and Anne Hathaway bomb as Oscar co-hosts (2011)
Despite Hathaway's earnest attempts to pick up his slack, Franco's checked-out turn made for one of the least energetic (and most critically panned) hosting gigs ever.
20. Jennifer Lawrence trips over her dress (2013)
The then-22-year-old fell as she climbed the steps to accept her best actress trophy for Silver Linings Playbook, cementing her status as America's most relatable (and clumsiest) star.
21. Ellen DeGeneres takes the most star-studded selfie ever (2014)
The Oscar host had the most retweeted tweet of the year for her A-list group shot with Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong'o. "If only Bradley's arm was longer," she captioned the snap. "Best photo ever. #oscars."
22. John Travolta butchers Idina Menzel's name (2014)
The Grease actor launched a thousand memes when he introduced the Frozen star's performance of Let It Go, unintelligibly pronouncing her name as "Adele Dazeem."
23. Patricia Arquette calls for pay equity in impassioned speech (2015)
Three years before Time's Up entered the national lexicon, the Boyhood supporting actress winner went viral with her fervent acceptance speech, which singled out the wage gap between men and women. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America," Arquette said, earning huge cheers from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.
24. Chris Rock takes no prisoners in opening monologue (2016)
The stand-up comedian made for a searing Oscar host amid outrage over the second year of #OscarsSoWhite, taking aim at the lack of diversity in the acting nominees, and stars such as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith who boycotted the ceremony because of it. "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties," he jabbed. "I wasn't invited!"
25. Leonardo DiCaprio wins best actor (2016)
After five acting nominations, DiCaprio at last clinched a little gold man for his taxing performance in wilderness survival drama The Revenant. Onstage, the longtime environmental activist used the podium to rally for global warming efforts, saying, "It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating." Earlier that night, DiCaprio walked the red carpet with his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, who adorably teared up during his speech.