I’d Like To Thank The Academy, Nay, Harvey Weinstein
You’re Bradley Cooper. People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2011. Comedic heartthrob from “The Hangover,” “Wedding Crashers,” Alias, and “Wet Hot American Summer.” But now, almost suddenly, you’ve starred in the dramedy “Silver Linings Playbook,” which garnered you an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. So you have to write a thank you speech, you know, just in case. Where do you begin?!
One good place to start is a website created by Rebecca Rolfe–a master’s student at Georgia Tech who is studying verbal and physical expression of gratitude. Rolfe watched and analyzed all 207 available (out of 300 total) Oscar acceptance speeches since 1953. Not only does her website help write a speech and compare it with those of past Oscar winners, but it also provides the data to answer questions such as: How often do people cry during their acceptance speeches? How many winners thank their publicists before thanking their moms? And who indulges in the time-honored tradition of being cut off by the conductor?
Here’s a sampling of stats the Newscripts gang found intriguing:
- Despite the omnipresent Oscars phrase, “I’d like to thank the Academy,” only 40% of winners actually thank the Academy. To give some perspective, 48% thank their families.
- Although 21% of actors and actresses get a little teary, they’ve only gone soft recently — 71% of Oscar tears have been shed since 1995.
- 61% thanked their production reps. In fact, Harvey Weinstein is the most thanked person in the history of Oscar speeches. By comparison, 5% thanked God. And coming in close behind at 3% is “everybody” — that’s us!
- Winners tend to get increasingly personal over the course of their speech, with 40% choosing to thank their families toward the end.
-1976 Best Director John G. Alvidsen (for “Rocky”) was the first winner in recorded Oscar speech history to thank his children. Incidentally, he was also the first to thank his psychiatrist.
- Cuba Gooding Jr., Adrien Brody, Hillary Swank, and Jennifer Hudson are the lucky four to have gotten a bit choked up AND to have been cut off by the conductor. Considering only nine people have gotten cut off ever, we can only guess that the conductor is not terribly fond of drawn-out crying jags.
-47% of women cradle their statuettes with two hands, whereas 26% of men instead hoist theirs up in the air with one arm.
- Actors prefer to call their work a “film”; directors, a “movie.”
- The speeches are actually getting longer: In the 1960s, speeches ran about 40 seconds. Now, the average speech is on the verge of 2 minutes long.
So while watching the 85th Academy Awards this Sunday, skip the clichéd betting on who will win for Best Picture or Sound Mixing and instead listen to those oft drab speeches and try to guess who will hoist their golden award above their heads, who will thank their agents before their loved ones, and most importantly, who will thank you the viewer. And if Daniel Day-Lewis beats out Bradley Cooper, see whether the Sexiest Man Alive sheds a tear or two.