The Most Controversial Moments in Oscar History

Each year, the Oscars recognize the most prestigious films, actors and filmmakers for their contributions to cinematography. However, the star-studded event rarely passes without controversy: From winner mix-ups and interruptions to surprise political statements and inappropriate behavior, the Oscars’ off-the-cuff moments never fail to entertain.

So, as the 95th Academy Awards approach, let’s take a look back at some of the most controversial moments in Oscar history.

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

Will Smith slaps American actor Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards

The 2022 Oscars will forever be remembered for the “slap heard around the world”. Photo: Reuters

In 2022, host Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, saying he couldn’t wait to see her in GI Jane 2 – a reference to the 1997 film starring Demi Moore with a team cut.

The joke outraged Will Smith, husband of Pinkett Smith, who stormed the stage spouting profanity and slapped Rock in the face.

The shocking moment became one of the most talked about events in Oscars history, with the incident so outrageous that some media sources questioned whether it was staged. Eventually seen as legit, this surreal moment took Hollywood scandals to a new level and left viewers stunned.

Confusing La La Land

Warren Beatty and Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars

La La Land mistakenly received the Best Picture Oscar, only to have it removed and handed to Moonlight in an unprecedented confusion of the Oscars. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

In 2017, the Oscars suffered major confusion when “La La Land” was mistakenly declared the best picture winner instead of the actual winner, “Moonlight.”

Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway received the wrong envelope backstage, forcing the producers of “La La Land” to hand out the prize to the legitimate winners, the team behind “Moonlight.”

Ellen’s starry selfie

Host Ellen Degeneres takes a group photo at the 86th Academy Awards

Host Ellen Degeneres took a star-studded selfie at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, aiming to break the record for the most retweeted photo of all time. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

In what has to be one of the most successful publicity stunts of all time, Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 Oscars viral selfie captured Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jared Leto in a rare moment of Hollywood madness.

“If only Bradley’s arm was longer,” DeGeneres tweeted. “Best picture ever. #oscars”

The star-studded pic has since racked up nearly 3 million retweets and over 2 million likes.

John Travolta botches the name of Idina Menzel

John Travolta on stage at the Oscars in 2014

You say tomato, John Travolta. Photo: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Another highlight of 2014 was John Travolta’s blunder when introducing singer Idina Menzel for her performance of “Let It Go” from the hit movie Frozen, with Travolta introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.” The not-so-minor incident quickly went viral, sparking numerous memes and parodies.

Travolta later apologized for the error, blaming the error on a problem with the teleprompter.

Siblings Angelina Jolie and her brother James Haven share an intimate kiss

Angelina Jolie kisses her brother James Haven

Angelina Jolie shocked audiences around the world when she kissed her brother James Haven on the lips at the Oscars in 2000. Photo: Shutterstock

There was a lot of applause when Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for her performance in girl interrupted at the Oscars in 2000, but her acceptance speech quickly took a bizarre turn when she professed her love for her brother James Haven, who was in the audience supporting her.

“I’m in shock, and I’m so in love with my brother right now,” she said, “He just hugged me and said he loved me, and I know he’s so happy for me. And, uh, thank you for that.

The siblings were later pictured sharing a kiss on the lips on the red carpet, further fueling speculation about their unusual relationship.

Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry

Actor Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry

Actor Adrien Brody was forced to apologize for his non-consensual kiss with Halle Berry at the 2003 Oscars. Photo: Reuters

Another controversial Oscar kiss happened in 2003 when Adrien Brody swept Halle Berry off her feet and surprised her with a particularly passionate, but non-consensual kiss. Berry initially laughed it off, but later revealed she didn’t approve of the gesture and was just too surprised to react at the time.

Brody faced considerable backlash for the kiss and was later forced to apologize to Berry.

Marlon Brando refuses the award

Sacheen Littlefeather refusing the Oscar for best actor in 1973 on behalf of Marlon Brando.

Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather turned down the Best Actor Oscar in 1973 on behalf of Marlon Brando. Photo: Bettman

Making history in 1973 and at the 45th Annual Academy Awards, Marlon Brando caused a stir when he won Best Actor for his role in The Godfather, but didn’t show up to accept it. .

Instead, he sent actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather to explain that he was boycotting the film industry in protest against the mistreatment of Native Americans.

Although the stunt confused and angered audiences on the night, it sparked a conversation about the portrayal of marginalized groups in Hollywood. Brando’s decision to turn down the award and Littlefeather’s courageous delivery of his message have since been celebrated as a significant moment in American history.

The Oscar streaker

Robert Opel makes a peace sign as he runs naked on stage at the 46th Academy Awards

Robert Opel was seriously underdressed when he crashed the 46th Academy Awards. Photo: Shutterstock

However, the Oscars’ most outrageous moment came the following year at the 1974 Oscars, when a mustachioed man came clean to a stunned audience.

As actor David Niven introduced Elizabeth Taylor, a man named Robert Opel ran naked past him, waving a peace sign to the audience.

The incident only lasted seconds before security removed Opel from the scene, but it caused a huge stir on the night, grabbed headlines around the world and remains one of the most talked about moments. Oscars so far.

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