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15 most memorable Oscar moments

If the Academy Awards are the pre-springtime event you look forward to all year long, you may know many of these record-breaking and history-making Oscar moments by heart. But we can bet there are at least a few that will surprise you. Try not to tear up, gasp and giggle at these unbelievable moments that have made the Oscars great.

15. Neil Patrick Harris bares all

Neil Patrick Harris Oscars
Image: Getty Images North America

The hilarious and handsome Neil Patrick Harris can do no wrong, especially when he bares his heart, soul and undergarments on stage. In 2015, the indomitable NHP took his hosting gig to the next level when he came out in his tighty whities for a tongue-in-cheek Birdman sketch. Maybe it was a good luck omen because Birdman made Oscar history by winning four statues that year, including Best Director and Best Picture.

14. Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech breaks hearts

Lupita Nyong'o's acceptance speech
Image: Adriana M. Barraza/

Everyone was pulling for Lupita Nyong’o to win Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave in 2014, and when she did, the crowd’s response was overwhelming. Nyong’o’s acceptance speech stood out because it was honest and raw without being overworked — leaving the Academy Awards without a dry eye in the house. Nyong’o opened her heart and told her audience and “every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid,” upon accepting the major award for what was her first film.

13. Kathryn Bigelow wins Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow Oscar
Image: WireImage/Getty Images

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow was another contender to make Academy Award history, and she had her low-budget war film The Hurt Locker to thank. The Hurt Locker took home six awards, including one for Best Picture, and Bigelow didn’t leave empty-handed. That night, Bigelow was the first woman in history to win the Academy Award for Best Director, with only four women who had been nominated before her in the past 80 years.

12. Heath Ledger lives on

Heath Ledger Oscar
Image: Getty Images North America

Following his untimely death in 2008, Heath Ledger’s legacy continued on when he was awarded Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight at the 81st Academy Awards, posthumously. In a beautiful moment that touched all of Ledger’s fans and supporters deeply, the late actor’s family accepted his award for him on stage. Gone too soon but never forgotten, it was in that moment that Ledger’s talent and diverse career were solidified.

More: Oscar Nominees: Then & Now

11. Jennifer Garner shakes it off

Jennifer Garner Oscar fall
Image: Getty Images North America

In a Hollywood nightmare come to life, Jennifer Garner gained much unwanted attention at the 78th Academy Awards when she tripped while walking up the steps to present the Oscar for Achievement in Sound Editing. While the girl-next-door actress might not be the most sure-footed, she can certainly think on her feet when she joked, “I do all my own stunts!” Bad luck might be with the Jennifers at the Oscars — Jennifer Lawrence famously tripped on the steps when she won Best Actress in 2013.

Next Up: Adrien Brody wins for The Pianist

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