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I'd Like to Thank the Academy ... and Who Else? A Breakdown of Winning Speeches

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...
It’s become a bit of a cliche thing to say, “I’d like to thank the Academy,” but chances are there are many people in Hollywood standing in front of a mirror right now practicing those words. Years ago, when I once day dreamed of walking up the stairs and accepting an Oscar® from Billy Crystal, I spent a lot of time on planning how I would thank the Academy. Of course I would thank my mother first, and then my movie star husband, and then my celebrity best friends. I remember thinking several times, after I didn’t land a part I just knew I should have gotten, “Well I won’t be thanking THEM when I win my Oscar®!” Oh yes, the award show snub.

Slate has created a mind-blowing interactive grid of acceptance speeches that chronicle the last twelve years of who people thanked while on stage. After they did some math, they realized Meryl Streep was thanked more times than God was. I think that is more of a statement about how people give thanks than any sort of spiritual crisis happening in the movie industry. Chances are God isn’t sitting at home in front of the TV waiting to find out if he got thanked, but you can bet your kids are up and waiting.

I wanted to do my own research on who people thanked so I looked at the last five years of winners. I read the transcripts of the acceptance speeches for both the Best Actor and Best Actress as well as Best Supporting Actor and Actress for the award years between 2008-2012.

You would think EVERYONE took a moment to thank the Academy, but that wasn’t the case. Only fourteen out of the twenty had an “I’d like to thank the Academy” moment. Fourteen actors also made certain to thank the cast of the film. Thirteen actors thanked or gave shout outs to the director they worked with. Next the actors most thanked their spouse, followed by their fellow nominees, and then their friends. Only six actors thanked a parent. That was very surprising to me.

{Side note to my charming son who may one day win an award: THANK ME IN YOUR SPEECH!}

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

As you can see, most actors were pretty traditional with their thank you speech: the Academy, the other nominees, the cast, the director, the spouse, and friends and family. Meryl Streep isn’t the only actor who has been thanked by a winner. Within the last five years actors have given thanks to: George Clooney (Sandra Bullock), Hattie McDaniel (Octavia Spencer), Emma Thompson (Kate Winslet), and Mickey Rourke (Sean Penn).

But who does Meryl Streep thank when she wins? After thanking her husband, Don Gummer, Meryl thanks her “other” partner: her hairstylist and makeup artist Roy Helland.

“Thirty-seven years ago, my first play in New York City, I met the great hairstylist and makeup artist Roy Helland. And we worked together pretty continuously since the day we clapped eyes on each other. His first film with me was “Sophie’s Choice,” and all the way up to tonight when he won for his beautiful work in “The Iron Lady” thirty years later. Every single movie in between. And I just want to thank Roy…”

If you happen to win an award this year, for goodness sakes, thank your Mom!

Who would you thank?

Resource: Academy Awards Acceptance Speech Database
Image Credit: Julia Roberts from the Academy’s Instagram

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