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I Want to Thank the Academy

I Want to Thank the Academy
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The 93rd Academy Award Ceremony is to be broadcast on Sunday, April 25. "Oscar" is the name of the figure on the small statue, so people call the award "an Oscar."

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated a diverse group of actors and movie professionals for awards. Like others who came before them, they will give short speeches thanking those who helped them in their work.

In today's lesson, we will look at the language you will hear in those speeches. If you ever have the honor of receiving an award, you can use this knowledge to make your own acceptance speech. Let us start with how long the speech should last.

Keep it short – you only have 45 seconds

To be a member of the Academy, a person has to work in the production of movies released in theaters. When a winner receives an award, they usually begin by thanking the Academy, moviemakers like themselves. There is a time limit for Oscar acceptance speeches. It is said the Academy decided to make the rule after Greer Garson gave a nearly six-minute speech in 1942. Now, the speeches are supposed to be less than 45 seconds. However, the winners of the best actor award usually speak for about two minutes. At that point, music usually begins to play, telling the speaker to finish.

The Australian actor, Paul Hogan, gave advice to the winners at the 1987 Academy Awards. He said,

Firstly, winners, when you make your speech, it's a good tip to remember the three Gs: be Gracious, be Grateful, Get off.

"Be gracious" means to be kind and respectful. After all, the winners are speaking to a group of people they want to continue working with in the future. "Be grateful" means to be thankful, and "get off" means to leave the stage. Many Oscar winners use their time to speak in support of their favorite cause. That can make their speech much longer. But people watching on TV usually enjoy hearing shorter speeches.

Present perfect tense

Award winners usually look back over their life or work. They may try to use humor. The grammar you will hear at that point often includes the present perfect tense. Here is Shirley MacLaine in her 1984 acceptance speech.

I have wondered for 26 years what this would feel like.

Marlon Brando used the present perfect as he accepted his first Academy award in 1955. He said,

I don't think that ever in my life have so many people been so directly responsible for my being so very, very glad.

Thank you for…

After thanking the members of the Academy, almost every winner thanks family and coworkers. In 2018, Gary Oldman spoke of his 99-year-old mother. He asked her to prepare tea for him and the Oscar.

I say to my mother, thank you for your love and support. Um, put the kettle on, I'm bringing Oscar home.

Note that Oldman said, "Thank you for your love and support." This is the most common way: thanks: 'for + noun."

In 2020, Brad Pitt used the preposition "to."

Thank you. This is incredible, really incredible. Thank you to the Academy for this honor of honors. They told me I only have 45 seconds up here…

Be humble

How do movie makers show that they do not think they are better than other people, in other words, that they are humble? One way is to praise the other nominees and to say that they should receive the award. In his speech, Tom Hanks said other actors should have won, not him.

I am standing here in lieu of my fellow nominees who are just as deserving, if not more so, of this moment.

Paul Hogan also gave advice about being too humble.

Secondly, don't be too humble tonight because we have up here a second envelope. So don't get up on stage and say, 'I don't deserve this award.' If you really feel you don't deserve an Academy Award, just give us a wave from your seat.

Inspire others

Finally, a good speech inspires others to work toward their own goals. In many Oscar speeches, the winners say that others can reach success, too.

Lupita Nyong'o, in 2014, wanted children to follow their dreams.

When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.

Shirley MacLaine said everyone should trust that they can succeed.

God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. I deserve this. Thank you.

And now, with congratulations to all of the winners of the 93rd Academy Awards, I’m Jill Robbins.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this lesson for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

diverse – adj. made up of people or things that are different from each other

tip n. useful or secret information

kettle - n. a container used for heating or boiling liquid

incredible adj. difficult or impossible to believe

stagen. a raised platform in a theater, auditorium, etc., where the performers stand

deserve –v. used to say that someone should be given something

in lieu of expression. instead of

envelope n. an enclosing cover for a letter, card – at the Academy Awards, the winning name is written on a card in an envelope.

inspire - v. to make (someone) want to do something; to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create

potential –n. something that is not real now, but is able to become real in the future

Have you ever accepted an award or honor publicly? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.