We like to think about the people who created the Oscars. What was their thought process? “Hey, let's gather hundreds of Hollywood's biggest stars in one room, many of whom are competing with each other, pick winners and losers, and throw some alcohol into the mix—what could go wrong?”
Maybe the chaos is the point. After all, it's always fun to watch a night meant to be dictated by decorum and expectations, because as we all know, things rarely go according to plan. We can hardly wait to see what goes down at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 9, but until then, we're looking back at some of the madness from the last 91 shows. From streakers to political statements to emotional victories—and a whole lot more—these are the most memorable Oscar moments in history.
2019: Kevin Hart Steps Down as Host
Kevin Hart was set to host the 91st Academy Awards in 2019. Unfortunately, many people, especially members of the LGBTQ community, were not happy with the choice, and resurfaced homophobic tweets and jokes from Hart's past. Hart initially refused to apologize, then eventually apologized, but still chose to step down from hosting the awards show. The show went on without a host.
2017: ‘Moonlight’ Wins Best Picture
It was the mishap heard 'round the world: Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were mistakenly given the wrong envelope when announcing the winner for Best Picture. A confused Beatty hesitated before Dunaway took the envelope from him and announced that La La Land had won. A few moments later, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz became aware of the mistake, and announced the correction into the microphone: “You guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture.”
In 2015, when the Oscar nominees were announced, many noted that, certainly not for the first time, not a single person of color received a nod in an acting category. Critics and entertainers alike called out the lack of diversity, leading to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Multiple people in the film industry chose to boycott the show, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee.
2014: Adele Dazeem
John Travolta is a weird dude—we all know this. But he truly took things to the next level when, at the 2014 Oscars, he severely butchered Idina Menzel's name when introducing her performance of “Let It Go.” His interpretation? “Adele Dazeem.” He sort of redeemed himself a year later, when the two shared the stage and had a laugh about it—until he creepily cradled her face. Sigh.
2014: Ellen Selfie
Okay, so the infamous #OscarsSelfie turned out to be an ad for a Samsung phone. Even still, the photo, which features famous faces including Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Steep, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o (and brother Peter Nyong'o), Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angela Jolie, Kevin Spacey, and Channing Tatum, was pretty iconic, becoming the most retweeted photo in history.
2013: JLaw's Tumble
First, Jennifer Lawrence captured the hearts of the Academy, winning the Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Silver Linings Playbook. Then, she captured hearts across America, when she tripped up the stairs on her way to accept the award. The fall, along with her goofy, nonchalant post-show press conference, went viral, and soon she was everyone's favorite relatable celeb.
2012: Sacha Baron Cohen's Stunt
You might not remember this, and Ryan Seacrest probably wishes he didn't. Promoting his film The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen dressed up as the title character, and showed up to the red carpet flanked by two “bodyguards,” holding what appeared to be an urn. During an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Cohen claimed that the urn was filled with Kim Jong-il's ashes, and proceeded to dump them on Seacrest's suit. He was quickly escorted away from the scene by security.
2011: Melissa Leo's F-Bomb
While accepting the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, The Fighter's Melissa Leo found herself borderline speechless. That is, until she found a certain word that begins with an “F,” and spoke it into the microphone, on a live telecast. Editors successfully bleeped her out, but the moment remains hilarious and endearing.
2009: Sean Penn Talks Prop 8
After winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of slain politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, Sean Penn made a powerful statement regarding Proposition 8. Informally referred to as Prop 8, the California ballot proposition opposed same-sex marriage; Penn called for those who voted for Prop 8 to reflect on their choices, and insisted on “equal rights for everyone.”