The Powerful Political 2017 Oscars Acceptance Speeches We Won't Soon Forget

by Kristine Cannon
Feb 26, 2017 at 10:27 p.m. ET

The 89th Academy Awards may have started off with what's sure to become an iconic opening monologue from Jimmy Kimmel, but the memorable moments didn't stop there. Throughout the night, the speeches ranged from powerful (we're looking at you, Viola Davis) to completely unexpected (yes, we're referring to that Best Picture flub).

1 /17: Mahershala Ali

1/17 :Mahershala Ali

Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Moonlight

"I had so many wonderful teachers [growing up], and one thing that they consistently told me was it wasn't about you. It's not about you; it's about these characters. You're in service to these stories and these characters, and I'm so blessed to have had an opportunity [to do that]."

2 /17: 'Suicide Squad'

2/17 :'Suicide Squad'

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Giorgio Gregorini, Alessandro Bertolazzi & Christopher Nelson for Suicide Squad

"Thank you so very… I want to talk. I have to talk, I waited for 50 years to talk, probably a little bit more. So, by the way, thank you, Academy, for [making] this all possible. Academy is not support, is not just [the] Oscars, [it's] everything. Support the movie, support beautiful people. ... And the last thing: I'm an immigrant. I come from Italy. I work around the world and this is for all the immigrants, for the immigrants." — Bertolazzi

3 /17: Colleen Atwood

3/17 :Colleen Atwood

Best Costume Design, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

"Thank you. I’m truly floored. Sting told me I was gonna win tonight, and I didn’t believe him at all. I was like, 'what?' Obviously, I didn’t prepare anything." — Colleen Atwood 

4 /17: 'O.J.: Made in America'

4/17 :'O.J.: Made in America'

Best Documentary (Feature)
Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow, O.J.: Made in America

"Yes, give it up. I want to thank the Academy for acknowledging this untraditional film. I want to thank ESPN for allowing us the canvas and the time to tell this story; this is the only way it could be told. But I want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if not for two people who aren’t here with us, Ron Goldman, Nicole Brown, this is for them and their families. It is also for others, the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence and criminal injustice. This is their story as well as Ron and Nicole’s. I am honored to accept this award on all of their behalfs." — Edelman

5 /17: 'The Salesman'

5/17 :'The Salesman'

Best Foreign Language Film
Anousheh Ansari on behalf of Mr. Farhadi, The Salesman

"I will be reading a statement by Mr. Farhadi. 'It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen Media, Amazon and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the 'us' and 'our enemies' categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.' Thank you on behalf of Mr. Farhadi."

6/17 :Viola Davis

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Fences

"You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, 'What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?' And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.

"And to Bron Pictures, Paramount, MACRO, Todd Black, Molly Allen, Scott Rudin for being the cheerleaders for a movie that is about people and words and life and forgiveness and grace. And to Mykelti Williamson, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Jovan Adepo, Saniyya Sidney for being the most wonderful artists I’ve ever worked with. And, 'O captain, my captain,' Denzel Washington. Thank you for puttin’ two entities in the driving seat: August and God.

"And they served you well. And to Dan and Mae Alice Davis, who are the center of my universe. The people who taught me good or bad, how to fail, how to love, how to hold an award, how to lose: my parents. I’m so thankful that God chose you to bring me into this world. To my sisters, my sister Deloris, who’s here, who played Jaji and Jaja with me. We were rich white women in the tea party games. Thank you for the imagination. And to my husband and my daughter, my heart, you and Genesis. You teach me every day how to live, how to love. I’m so glad that you are the foundation of my life. Thank you to the Academy. Thank you."

7/17 :'Zootopia'

Best Animated Feature Film
Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer, Zootopia

"About five years ago, almost six now — oh my god — we got this crazy idea to talk about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place." — Howard

"And we are so grateful to the audiences all over the world who embraced this film with this story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other." — Moore

8/17 :'Sing'

Best Short Film (Live Action)
Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy, Sing

"This is dedicated to the only people who can basically make the world a better place for us: kids. So let’s try and raise them in a good way, try and raise them in a way that we can be proud of them." — Deák

9 /17: 'The White Helmets'

9/17 :'The White Helmets'

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, The White Helmets

"Sadly, Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, is not able to join us tonight. We have a very short statement from him that we’d like to share with you: 'We’re so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organization is guided by a verse from the Koran: 'To save one life is to save all of humanity.' We have saved more than 82,000 civilian lives. I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life, to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.'

"It’s very easy for these guys to feel they’re forgotten. This war’s been going on for six years. If everyone could just stand up and remind them that we all care, that this war end as quickly as possible. Thank you." — Orlando von Einsiedel

10 /17: Justin Hurwitz

10/17 :Justin Hurwitz

Best Music (Original Score)
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

"I’ll just leave it at everybody whose work is on screen in any way in this movie. I was looking at your work when I was scoring the picture. I was looking at what you did when I was scoring the picture, and that’s what inspired me. So thank you to everybody who worked on this movie."

11 /17: Kenneth Lonergan

11/17 :Kenneth Lonergan

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

"The movie’s about people trying to take care of each other in the face of terrible adversity. I have been taken care of my whole life by wonderful people who I love and who’ve loved me."

12 /17: Damien Chazelle

12/17 :Damien Chazelle

Best Directing
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

"I want to thank Olivia, my love, sitting there. This was a movie about love, and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it. And it means the world to me that you’re here sharing this with me."

13 /17: 'La La Land'

13/17 :'La La Land'

Best Music (Original Song)
Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, "City Of Stars"

"I want to thank my mom, who is amazing and my date tonight, and she let me quit the JCC soccer league to be in a school musical, so this is dedicated to all the kids who sing in the rain and all the moms who let them." — Pasek

14 /17: Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney

14/17 :Barry Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

"I tell my students that I teach sometimes 'be in love with the process not the result,' but I really wanted this result because a bajillion people are watching and all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you: Your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you." — Jenkins

15 /17: Emma Stone

15/17 :Emma Stone

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Emma Stone, La La Land

"To the women in this category — Natalie, Isabelle, Meryl, Ruth — you were all so extraordinary, and I look up to you and I admire you more than I can put into words."

16 /17: Casey Affleck

16/17 :Casey Affleck

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

"That means so much to me. Thank you. One of the first people who taught me how to act was Denzel Washington, and I just met him tonight for the first time. Thank you."

17 /17: 'Moonlight'

17/17 :'Moonlight'

Best Picture, Moonlight

"Very clearly, very clearly, even in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams. I'm done with it, because this is true." — Barry Jenkins