19 Oscar Moments We Remember For All The Wrong Reasons

While the Academy Awards have brought many meaningful moments to our screens, they’ve also gifted us with a whole bunch of moments that were memorable for a totally different reason!

Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via giphy.com

Let’s run back through 19 of the most awkward moments in Oscar history. 

1. Stairway stumble

Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via tenor.com

You knew this J. Law moment would make the list, right? In 2013, when accepting her Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, she tripped over her dress on the stage stairs on the way to collect her award. In typical Jennifer style, she laughed about it — all before falling over on the red carpet the following year!

In an interview with W Magazine, she said: “I was at the Oscars, waiting to hear if my name was called, and I kept thinking, cakewalk, cakewalk, cakewalk. I thought; ‘why is “cakewalk” stuck in my head?'” 

“And then, as I started to walk up the stairs and the fabric from my dress tucked under my feet, I realized my stylist had told me, “kick, walk, kick, walk.” You are supposed to kick the dress out while you walk, and I totally forgot because I was thinking about cake! And that’s why I fell.”

We’ve all been there Jennifer, daydreaming about cake and getting distracted from the task at hand!

2. Wrong winner announced

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtube.com

When Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced the winner for Best Picture, they mistakenly said La La Land had secured the award — but it was in fact Moonlight that had won! 

In a supremely cringe-inducing moment, Beatty was pushed aside as the correct slip of paper was brandished at the cameras desperately. It turns out Beatty had been given the Best Actress envelope instead of the Best Picture one, and Emma Stone won for La La Land — hence the awkward mix up! 

3. The Kidman Clap is born

Tap to play or pause GIF Tap to play or pause GIF

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via giphy.com

Nicole Kidman accidentally sparked an influx of “WTF?” reactions online for the most innocuous action — clapping! As the cameras panned across the audience, Nicole was caught clapping like…well, a seal! 

She explained afterward that she was wearing jewelry that wasn’t her own, and she didn’t want to damage it. She also said she certainly didn’t want to be the one there not clapping for others, but due to being terrified of damaging the heavy rings (believed to be Harry Winston designs with 13.58 carats), she improvised and clapped in a unique manner, which we’ll probably all remember for decades.

4. That John Travolta/ScarJo kiss

Kevin Mazur / WireImage

There’s a series of photos of Scarlett Johansson at the 2015 Oscars, during which John Travolta seemingly sneaks up behind her, grabs her around the waist, and kisses her cheek while she looks somewhat uncomfortable.

The images were a topic of hot debate online, but ScarJo told ABC News that, “There is nothing strange, creepy or inappropriate about John Travolta,” and that, “The image that is circulating is an unfortunate still-frame from a live-action encounter that was very sweet and totally welcome.”

She even went on to criticize the press, talking about how the media can make a mountain out of a molehill and cause damage. She said: “That still photo does not reflect what preceded and followed if you see the moment live. Yet another way we are misguided, misinformed, and sensationalized by the 24-hour news cycle. I haven’t seen John in some years, and it is always a pleasure to be greeted by him.”

5. John Travolta renames Idina Menzel

View this video on YouTube

Jimmy Kimmel Live / ABC / Via youtube.com

John makes his second appearance on this list in a moment no one can forget. When announcing Idina Menzel’s win, Travolta called her Adele Dazeem!

John explained to Jimmy Kimmel what had caused the awkward gaffe, saying that he was shoved onstage 15 minutes early, and the assistant told him at the last second that Idina’s name had been changed to the phonetic spelling on the card. When John got onstage to announce, he hadn’t been able to rehearse and stared at the card thinking, What is this name? I don’t know this name!

Luckily, Idina found it hilarious, and even introduced John as “Glom Gazingo” at the Oscars the following year as a joke!

6. Floors? Where we’re going, we don’t need floors!

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

Back in 1999, Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. On his way to the stage to collect the award, he took a questionable route, balancing and leaping from the back of one chair to another. Roberto, the floor is right there next to you, just calling your name!

7. A display case for your Oscar, perhaps? Nah, the floor will do.

Craig Sjodin / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

At the 2018 Academy Awards, there were no podiums onstage, so winners had to awkwardly lean down and plonk their Oscars on the floor to give their acceptance speech! 

8. When Sam Smith made some questionable claims

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

When Sam Smith won an Oscar for their song “Writing’s on the Wall,” they said they’d read an article by Sir Ian McKellan that said no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar before.

To be fair, they did say, “If this is the case, even if it isn’t the case,” so they didn’t outright say they were the first to win, but you’d think you’d do a quick Google search before saying it on a world stage and snubbing the likes of Elton John, Dustin Lance Black, and Howard Ashman, all gay men who won Oscars before Sam!

9. Streaker onstage!

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

Back in 1974, David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor to present the award for Best Picture when a naked man ran across the stage behind him! Left to try to move the show along during a totally unexpected and shocking moment, Niven simply laughed and quipped: “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”

10. When a person who was very much alive was included in the “In Memoriam” section

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

Imagine enjoying a lovely night out at the Oscars and suddenly, BAM, there’s your face in the In Memoriam segment. The tremendously awkward mishap happened when the part to honor costume designer Janet Patterson featured a photo of producer Jan Chapman, who is very much alive and was “devastated” to see her photo there.

11. When Angelina Jolie kissed her brother on the lips

View this video on YouTube

Oscars / Via youtu.be

I mean, loving your siblings is one thing, but kissing them on the lips is quite another! Angelina made headlines worldwide when she kissed her brother on the lips on the red carpet, shortly after saying, “I’m so in love with my brother right now. He just held me and said he loved me, and I know he’s so happy for me,” when accepting her award.

All a bit odd…

12. When eight major awards were given offscreen

Abc / ABC via Getty Images

In 2022, the Academy Awards decided to host a pre-show off-air, with the aim of editing clips into the telecast. This meant that Dune, a fan favorite, had already won four awards behind closed doors before the show had even started. 

On top of that, Riz Ahmed won an Oscar — the first Muslim person to win an Oscar for a live-action short film — and no one got to watch it happen. Most people found out on Twitter!

13. When Daniel Kaluuya told us all his parents had sex

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

When accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor, Daniel went off on a bit of a tangent and said: “My mum, my dad, they had sex! It’s amazing, do you know what I’m saying? I’m here!” The camera then cut to his mother and sister in the audience, and his mum can be seen mouthing: “What’s he talking about?!” while his sister cradles her head in her hands!

14. When Rebel Wilson and James Corden presented in full-body furry cat costumes

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

Following the ridicule around the CGI-heavy movie Cats, castmates (or should I say Catsmates?!) Rebel and James rocked up onstage in full-blown furry cat costumes to present the visual effects category at the Oscars. 

A self-deprecating joke from the pair who said, “Nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” the joke might have been less awkward if they didn’t start batting the mic stand like cats for a straight 12 seconds before announcing the winner…

15. Regina Hall straight-up gropes a bunch of men

View this video on YouTube

ABC / Via youtube.com

In a surreal moment at the 2022 Oscars, Regina called a bunch of famous men, including Jason Momoa, Simu Liu, Timothée Chalamet, Bradley Cooper, and Tyler Perry, to the stage for “COVID patdowns.” She said the actors were to come backstage, take their masks and clothes off, and then she would “swab the back of (their) mouths with (her) tongue” and “do some other freaky stuff which (she would) record.”

She frisked Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa pretty heavily onstage, and it was all just a little awkward. Plus, I can’t help but think of the weird double-standards presented here — imagine the righteous outrage if a male presenter had called up a bunch of women and frisked them onstage. Perhaps it’s a weird flex for the Academy Awards, showing they’re not just sexist against women after the Seth MacFarlane boob song, which we’ll look at next!

16. Seth MacFarlane’s song about boobs

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtube.com

When Seth MacFarlane presented the Oscars, his routine was described as “hostile, ugly and sexist” by the New Yorker amongst many others. His opening song was all about — yep, you guessed it – boobs. Specifically those of the actors in the audience that he’d seen onscreen. 

The routine was lambasted, especially as some of the scenes he referenced were rape scenes, and some, such as in the case of Scarlett Johansson, were only seen due to hackers releasing intimate private photos without consent.

MacFarlane later said the song came from reading press in the run-up to his hosting gig, which implied they knew the type of content he’d put out, and they didn’t want it. He said his original idea was a “very tame, old-style song and dance,” but that it was “the idea of creating an alternate Oscars that was exactly what they were afraid would happen” that enticed him, and said that, “In a way, (the public) helped create what (they) despise.” 

So basically, he read an article where someone predicted what he was going to do, and he decided to really show them by erm…doing exactly what they predicted he would do??

17. When Elinor Burkett seized her Kanye moment

View this video on YouTube

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtu.be

In a moment reminiscent of Kanye’s infamous Taylor Swift stagebombing, Elinor Burkett interrupted director Roger Ross Williams as he began his acceptance speech for Music by Prudence. She shares the award as producer, but nonetheless, it was mega awkward when she barged onstage and said, “The man never lets the woman talk; isn’t that just the classic thing?” and then totally took over, not letting Roger get a word in edgeways!

18. When Chrissy Teigen fell asleep

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) / Via youtube.com

At the 2017 Oscars, Chrissy Teigen was spotted snoozing on husband John Legend’s shoulders during Casey Affleck’s acceptance speech. Awkward, sure, but hey, celebs are humans, too, and sometimes you just gotta nap!

19. And finally, THAT Will Smith/Chris Rock moment

Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

In 2022, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith looking like GI Jane due to her shaved head. Jada, who has an autoimmune condition called alopecia, which causes hair loss, looked upset. Will went from laughing to aggressively shouting at Chris Rock to “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,” and even barging onstage to slap Chris around the face.

The moment was so shocking that many were convinced it must be a skit, but unfortunately it was not, and Chris was left to move the show along in shock and likely with a painful face!

What’s a super-awkward Oscars moment that sticks out in your memory? Let me know in the comments!