Dozens of Oscars will be bestowed on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre. Some, like Antonio Banderas, Scarlett Johansson, Cynthia Erivo and Jonathan Pryce, have their first shot at winning. Here's how six winners remember their first whirlwind moments after hearing “And the Oscar goes to ... ” and their name.
NOT EASY BEING FIRST The supporting actress award was presented first in 1989, bringing Geena Davis to the stage at the top of the show. “I sort of can’t believe I have to go first,” Davis declared.
Years later, she recalled being nervous about something else, too. “Oh, gosh, I was so shocked, and it all became a sort of blur. I just wandered up on stage and then Melanie Griffith kissed me. ... She kissed me. And I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I bet I have lipstick on my face now.’ So, when I was giving my acceptance speech. I was like this,” Davis said, putting her hand to her cheek much like she had years earlier.
“And people thought, ‘Oh, she's shy’ or something. But I was actually like, ‘Oh, I have lipstick on.’” ‘NICE TO MEET YOU’ Lupita Nyong’o was already an awards season darling by Oscar night in 2014, earning praise for her performance in “12 Years a Slave” and for her dazzling red carpet looks.
She covered her face when her name was announced as best supporting actress winner as those around her, including John Travolta, Brad Pitt and her brother, rushed to congratulate her. “I remember being very disoriented and then Liza Minnelli grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug. And I was like, ‘Wonderful. Thank you. Nice to meet you,’” Nyong’o recalled, laughing.
SETTING OSCAR DOWN Sometimes, you’ve just got to put the Oscar down. That was the case for Alan Arkin, who won best supporting actor in 2007 for “Little Miss Sunshine.” Shortly after receiving the statuette from presenter Rachel Weisz, Arkin set it down on the stage and reached into his coat pocket. “I know you’re not supposed to read but I would be totally incoherent if I didn’t,” Arkin said before delivering his speech.
“Acting for me has always been, and always will be, a team sport,” Arkin said. Years later, he recalled how otherworldly the moment felt. “I remember it vividly. You leave your body and somebody else takes over and that's what it was like for about three days. I wasn't there. I was somewhere else. I don't know where I — I didn't know where I was,” Arkin said. “My body was — in two different places.”
‘RUSSELL CROWE SAID DON’T CRY IF YOU GET UP THERE’ The 2003 Oscars were a family affair for Nicole Kidman, who brought her parents and daughter to the ceremony. Denzel Washington announced the best actress category and when he called out her name, Kidman reached out to hug her mother first. She then turned to her father and daughter seated in the second row.
“Russell Crowe said don’t cry if you get up there and now I’m crying,” Kidman said before thanking “The Hours” filmmakers. Asked about the moment last month, Kidman said she remembered “just sort of being in absolute shock, total shock. I was very young and, so, I was like kind of — like it was all swirling around me.
“I remember my mom and my dad being there, and I just remember it as one of the greatest moments in my life.” ‘DENZEL WAS MY FOCAL POINT’ When Jordan Peele won the best original screenplay Oscar in 2018, it was Kidman who called his name.
The audience immediately leapt from their seats, including fellow nominee Greta Gerwig. They remained standing as Peele accepted his trophy and began speaking. “I remember getting on stage and looking down and people were standing, which was crazy. And right down the middle was Denzel Washington,” Peele said, noting that Washington was clapping enthusiastically. “That’s like the craziest thing in the world. He's, you know, he's it. So, you know, that was — Denzel was my focal point.”
‘HE NEVER CAME.’ The elation that comes with an Oscar win can be short-lived when the movie's fellow nominees are passed over. That was the case in 1981, when Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” tied for the most nominations with “The Elephant Man.”
First, the ceremony was delayed because of an assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan. “It was a quite extraordinary because Reagan had been shot and so they postponed the Oscars and Luciano Pavarotti was supposed to give the editing award. But ... opera singers book themselves up for three years, four years in advance. So, he didn't. And who did? Richard Pryor, who I just think was a genius,” Thelma Schoonmaker, the film editor on “Raging Bull,” recalled.
“ And, so, he mangled my name. It was wonderful. He absolutely destroyed my name. And I was such a fan of his that when I went up on the stage, I grabbed his hand. ... And I think he might have just recently been burned from freebasing. I don't know. And I grabbed his hand and I just said, 'Oh, my God. I'm such a huge fan of yours.' I'd sort of forgotten.
“And so that was a great, wonderful moment. However, I won, De Niro won, and we were waiting backstage for Marty. And he never came. He didn't win. And that was possibly the worst night of my life.” It would take 16 years for Scorsese and Schoonmaker to celebrate an Oscar win on the same night. It happened with “The Departed.”
They have another chance on Sunday, where both are nominated for “The Irishman.”