Best Actor, Mystic River, 2004
What went wrong?
There are guys who can saunter up to collect an Oscar unprepared and dudishly shoot the breeze (see Bridges, Jeff). Sean Penn is not that guy. He starts predictably enough with an anti-Iraq war joke. Being a fine actor, he’s good at looking deep, so he gives us plenty of heavy-weight pauses—as if a treatise by Sartre on the moral consequences of existentialist thought is about to come out of his mouth.
What follows is the most boring, rambling Oscar speech ever, in which he randomly thanks whoever pops in his head. Worst of all, he has just beat Bill Murray (Bill Murray!) for the Oscar. And we can only dream of the riches his speech would have mined.
Take-home lesson for Oscar winners
Unless you have the repartee of Stephen Fry, write a speech.