10. Adrien Brody wins for The Pianist
Yes, it was an upset. Adrien Brody was a long shot for his portrayal of a pianist turned Nazi concentration camp prisoner — but that is not what makes his victory so remarkable. Leaping up the stairs to the stage to accept his golden man from Halle Berry, Brody grabbed his award and then Berry for an extended kiss, producing gasps throughout the theater. As a startled Berry stepped backward and Brody began his speech, the look of shock on Berry’s face was unforgettable. See Adrien Brody accepting his Oscar and kissing Halle Berry.
9. Tommy Lee Jones over Ralph Fiennes
Tommy Lee Jones was on fire throughout The Fugitive — but the year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar was supposed to be handed to Ralph Fiennes for his searing performance in Schindler’s List. That fact alone makes Jones’ victory an upset, but what made it truly memorable was his acceptance speech. With his head shaved strangely bald for a movie role, Jones looks terribly awkward in all his Oscar photos from that fateful night. These photos are forever, Tommy, and you know it!
8. Roman Polanski wins in 2003
Roman Polanski’s Best Director award in 2003 was astounding, given the fact he was out of the country and not allowed to return because of skipping out of his statutory rape conviction in 1977. Accepting from Europe, Polanski’s victory was one of the stranger scenes Oscar watchers have seen in some time. The fact that Martin Scorsese was denied yet another Best Director Oscar for his Gangs of New York work with Polanski’s win only makes The Pianist‘s director winning the prize all the more, frankly, creepy.
7. Sally Field: “You really like me”
Oh, boy. After winning the Best Actress statue for Norma Rae in 1977, Field was overcome with emotion and honest surprise in 1984 when she won Best Actress for Places in the Heart. Standing at the podium utterly flabbergasted, Fields simply began hollering, “You really like me. You really, really like me.” (That must be why she haven’t been back since.)
6. Rob Lowe dances with Snow White
Here’s another example of a Hollywood darling making an Oscar misstep and finding himself never invited back. Rob Lowe thought a little song and dance with Snow White at the 1988 Oscars would make for good television. Bad move, Rob: The performance was lambasted and became the butt of jokes for the next 20 years. Although he went on to an enormously successful TV career with West Wing and Brothers and Sisters, Rob Lowe has never captured the movie magic he was on the cusp of attaining before dancing with Snow White.