Joaquin Phoenix’s Best Actor win at Sunday’s Academy Awards wasn’t a surprise—he’d already won Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a BAFTA for his starring role in Todd Philips’ Joker. Each time he delivered a memorable speech—whether it was his endearingly ramble and bleep filled address at the Globes, a tender shout-out to his fellow nominees at the SAG Awards, and a thoughtful criticism of systematic racism at the BAFTAs. So it’s no surprise that his Oscars speech was very moving.
"I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees,” began Phoenix, who said that the greatest gift of his acting career is that it gave him and everyone else assembled at the Oscars "the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless.”
"I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal, we’re talking about the fight against injustice,” said Phoenix, before honing in on animal rights. The actor described the abuses suffered by animals farmed for human consumption. "We go into the natural world and plunder it of its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and then steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable."
He also apologised for his reputation as being a bit of a prickly character. “I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and ungrateful,” Phoenix said. "But so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity.”
He ended the speech with tears in his eyes, and read a lyric by his older brother River, who himself was nominated for an Oscar before his tragic overdose death at age 23. "When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric,” Phoenix said. "He said , ‘Run to the rescue, and love and peace will follow.’ Thank you."
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