Pacino's Oscar Moment Causes a Stir

His presentation for best picture caught people by surprise for its unexpected brevity
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2024 6:18 AM CDT
Pacino's Oscar Moment Causes a Stir
Al Pacino presents the award for best picture during the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Oppenheimer was expected to dominate the Oscars on Sunday night—and it did just that, winning seven Oscars including best picture and best director for Christopher Nolan. But while the night was relatively short on big surprises, it still generated some buzzy moments:

  • Surprise: In terms of the big awards, "arguably the biggest surprise" came in the best-actress category when Emma Stone (Poor Things) won over Lilly Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon), per the Hollywood Reporter. Gladstone had been favored to win, though both were lauded for their performances.

  • Pacino: Al Pacino's unusual announcement of Oppenheimer as best picture became a thing because the veteran actor didn't even list the contenders. Instead, the 83-year-old rather quickly went to the envelope and named the winner, without even the standard, "And the Oscar goes to ..." intro, causing a bit of confusion, per USA Today. It was "kind of more fun this way, actually—and not since John Travolta's "Adele Dazeem" moment, which just turned 10, has there been such a wonderful flub at the Oscars," per Variety. Watch the moment here.
  • Pacino, II: One possible factor in the Pacino moment is that his Scarface co-star Michelle Pfeiffer had been scheduled to present with him but didn't make the show, per Deadline. As a result, Pacino appeared to end up ad-libbing his remarks.
  • Naked Cena: Actor and wrestler John Cena presented the award for best costume design largely naked but for a strategically placed envelope, notes the BBC. It was a jokey reference to a famous Oscar "streaker" moment. (See the Cena moment here.)
  • A stand: Director Jonathan Glazer addressed the Israel-Hamas war in accepting the award for best international film for The Zone of Interest, which is about the Holocaust and Auschwitz. "Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people—whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza—all the victims of this dehumanization ... how do we resist?"
  • 'Barbie': The year's biggest box-office hit won only a single Oscar, for Billie Eilish's song "What Was I Made For?" Host Jimmy Kimmel praised director Greta Gerwig near the top of the show and noted she wasn't even nominated, per Deadline. As people applauded for her, he said, "I know you are clapping but you are the ones who didn't vote for her, by the way. Don't act like you had nothing to do with this."
  • Two notable shutouts: Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon went 0 for 10 at the show, and Bradley Cooper's Maestro also got shut out despite seven nominations, per Billboard. Cooper is now 0 for 12 for his career Oscar nominations.
  • Surprise, II: The Japanese film The Boy and the Heron won best animated feature film, which Billboard puts in its "surprise" category. The favorite, though not a massive one, had been Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
(More Oscars stories.)

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