Awards shows are created ostensibly for one purpose: to recognize those that have achieved the highest of heights in fields such as music, movies, and television shows. Anyone who thinks that awards shows are all about the award or even kind of about the awards has likely never tuned in. If they had, they would know that awards shows are really about all of the weird, unscripted moments that make you laugh, cry, and yes…cringe.
Ol’ Fashioned Side Eye
“Side eye” has become a sort of catch-all term for any kind of disapproving look given with a sort of distaste for another person. Lady Gaga seemed to experience that firsthand when she slid past a seated Leonardo DiCaprio on her way to the stage to accept a Golden Globe award in 2016. Leonardo denied that it meant anything, saying he “didn’t know what was passing me.”
Best Picture Snafu
There have been plenty of awkward moments due to poorly written back-and-forth dialogue or jokes that mismatched stars have had to read off of teleprompters at awards shows. However, Warren Beatty can’t blame the teleprompter for mistakenly announcing La La Land as Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars. Moonlight was the actual winner, as he’d been given the wrong envelope and had to reverse the announcement in a very awkward moment.
Kanye Being Kanye
Today, we expect rapper and producer Kanye West to do outlandish things in public. Back in 2009, however, it was still extremely unexpected when Kanye got up during Taylor Swift’s acceptance for the Best Female Video award at the VMAs and snatched the mic. “I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!” he famously exclaimed.
Actor John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel for a live performance of the Frozen song, “Let It Go,” at the 2014 Oscars. Well, he kind of did, anyway. Instead, he actually announced “the wickedly talented, one and only, Adele Dazeem.” Travolta has stumbled through a number of excuses for the mix-up over the years, none of which really make sense. For her part, Menzel has graciously gotten over the whole fiasco.
Landed With A Thud
It’s hard hosting the Oscars. If you make a stupid joke, no one lets you forget about it. David Letterman found out this when he quizzically felt the need to introduce Oprah Winfrey and Uma Thurman to one another in the audience. “Oprah? Uma. Uma? Oprah,” he quipped to an awkwardly quiet crowd.
Slip And Slide
One thing people love about the Oscars is all the amazing dresses the actresses wear. However, they aren’t always the best for walking in, as Jennifer Lawrence found when going up the steps to get her Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013. She stepped on her dress on the way and tripped and fell, but of course, she took it all in stride.
Something Not Quite Right
Awards show viewers at home watch celebrities very closely and often notice the strangest things, like Nicole Kidman’s weird seal-like clap at the 2017 Oscars. Later on, Kidman explained that she was wearing expensive rings and didn’t want to damage them as she was clapping.
Not So Proud
Some cringe-worthy awards show moments are embarrassing, others are just awkward…and then there are those that are totally unexplainable. The last category is where Rob Lowe’s Oscar opener from 1989 with a woman dressed as Snow White belongs. Why did Snow White go around the audience and try to interact with the celebrities? Why did she join Rob Lowe for a rendition of “Proud Mary”? We may never know.
Madonna Goes Downstairs
Madonna is a legendary performer, but even she has some embarrassing moments from time to time. At the 2015 BRIT Awards, she was supposed to have her cloak pulled off by a backup dancer, but it wasn’t properly untied, and she was actually pulled backward down a few stairs. Of course, she dusted herself off and finished the performance, because she’s Madonna.
Missing The Mark
Sometimes, a bit sounds funny on paper but doesn’t quite hit the mark in reality. This was the case when foxy actress Sofia Vergara was rotated on a pedestal at the 2014 Emmys while the Academy’s chairman gave a boring speech. The chairman made a joke about “always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.” The audience seemed to like the bit, but many at home found it inappropriate and unfunny.
Nicki Minaj Calls Out Miley Cyrus
Not since the heyday of the Source Awards and the East Coast vs. West Coast feud had we seen the kind of shade Nicki Minaj brought to the 2015 VMAs. Miley Cyrus said Minaj was “not too kind” in an interview, and Minaj saw the opportunity to bring it up when she won the award for Best Hip-Hop Video with Cyrus hosting. “Miley, what’s good?” she asked. Miley tried to brush it off, but Nicki into it.
No, Gimme Less
Britney Spears has carved out a successful career during multiple decades, but in 2007 it seemed like her comeback bid would be a complete failure. She performed “Gimme More” at the 2007 VMAs, but her performance was very lethargic as she lip-synced the song without the energy fans had come to expect.
Is That The Remix?
Layered vocals in pop songs are very popular, but they require backing tracks for live performances to make the songs sound right since you can’t have carbon copies of the artist to sing over one another. However, this opens the door for technical difficulties, which Beyonce learned at the 2003 MTV EMAs. Her backing track kept skipping and repeating the same line again and again. Finally, Beyonce just had to wave to the fans and call it a night.
Congratulations To Me
Sam Smith won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 2016 Academy Awards, which is a pretty big feat. However, he misunderstood a quote by Sir Ian McKellen from a print interview and thought he was the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. This, of course, wasn’t true, and Smith was likely very embarrassed when he realized his error later.
Not Just Yet, Taylor
The technology that allows for live views of every award nominee as the winner is announced has not been very helpful to celebrities. It means those that don’t win must be on their best behavior at all times, even when disappointed. When Daft Punk won Album of the Year at the 2014 Grammys, Taylor Swift and her friends thought she won for a moment, only to realize that Daft Punk’s album also began with an “R.” Whoops.
Crying Those Ugly Tears
Sometimes, we don’t look our best when we cry. Everyone knows that. So when Chrissy Teigen was captured crying happy tears for John Legend when he and Common won Best Original Song at the 2015 Golden Globes, maybe we should have been more accepting of her awkward facial expression. “It’s been 5 minutes, and I’m a meme,” she lamented on Twitter.
Mind The Landing
Stage diving isn’t for everyone. R&B singer Miguel proved that during the 2013 Billboard Awards when he was performing his hit song “Adorn” and decided to dive to the other section of the stage. The problem is he landed on top of a poor woman, smacking her in the face with his leg and crotch in the process. Yikes.
Artist Of The Millennium?
Michael Jackson won a lot of awards during his time as the most famous pop star in the world. However, he earned a lot of notoriety in 2002 for an award that he didn’t actually win. At the VMAs, the producers wanted to celebrate Michael’s birthday, and Britney Spears called him “artist of the millennium” during her introduction. Jackson thought he won an award of that title and gave an acceptance speech.
In 2008, Katy Perry was still at the beginning of her stardom as a pop singer. She appeared at the 2008 MTV Latin America Awards, doing her song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Near the end, Katy jumped on a giant cake. However, the frosting was slippery, and afterward, she fell not just once, but four times!
Cuts Like A Knife
The Jonas Brothers wanted to make a real impression at the 2007 American Music Awards by entering through shattered panels of glass. However, Joe Jonas tripped on the threshold during his entrance and fell, cutting his hand in the process. To his credit, he continued with his performance, bloody hand and all.
So Awkward It Must Have Been Real
At the 2013 Emmy Awards, there was a very strange moment as host Neil Patrick Harris led the show into a commercial break. In the background, a seemingly random man appeared and slowly inched away from the frame and off the stage, never breaking eye contact with the camera. Later on, most viewers decided that it was too awkwardly funny to be an accident.
You Just Got Burned
Streakers are a relatively common sight at sporting events and other outdoor gatherings, but are not so often seen at major awards shows. At the 1974 Oscars, however, a naked man streaked across the stage as co-host David Niven spoke. Afterward, Niven said, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” Ouch.
Seth’s Awkward Song
Many actresses accept the idea of appearing nude on film as long as it fits the role and serves the movie’s purpose, but that doesn’t mean they want to joke around about it. Seth Macfarlane’s musical number at the 2013 Oscars reminded viewers of the famous breasts they’ve seen, and although the actresses he mentioned were in on the joke, it was still a little cringe-worthy.
The ubiquity of live cameras at award shows have made it so that performers are on their best behavior while in their seats. However, Faith Hill appeared to be really freaking out after losing Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2006 CMAs to Carrie Underwood. Later on, she said it was just a joke and that the uproar over it was “utterly ridiculous.”
Thanks For Joining Us
It’s always a terrible experience to show up for something way late, so you can only imagine the kind of guts it takes to walk out on stage 80% of the way through your music group’s live performance. Melody of the Pussycat Dolls was M.I.A. at the group’s 2006 AMA performance until the final 40 seconds, when she suddenly showed up, dancing out of step and screeching off-key over her mates.
J.Lo Takes A Fall
When you’ve done thousands of hours of choreographed dancing on stage, you’re bound to have a mixup or two, and you just hope it won’t be too epic. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Jennifer Lopez at the 2009 AMAs, when she fell to her butt after doing a jump while performing “Louboutins.” True to form, she got up quickly and went on with the show.
It’s hard to pin down one moment of the 2011 Oscars where co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway had an awkward moment, because the whole show was pretty much the epitome of not having any chemistry. The fact that neither of them is exactly known for being very funny didn’t help as they were forced to go through canned jokes and corny bits, too.
Emotions Ran High
Before the 2009 VMAs, Lil’ Mama was best known as a one-hit wonder responsible for the catchy tune “Lip Gloss.” After that night, she was dubiously known for jumping on stage during Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s performance of “Empire State of Mind.” She even struck the final pose with the two, arms crossed as if she belonged there. Afterward, both stars said they would have preferred her to stay in her seat.
It’s one thing to love your brother, it’s another thing to plant the kind of liplock on your brother that Angelina Jolie did on the red carpet for the 2000 Oscars. Angelina didn’t feel that it was a big deal and doubled down during her speech after winning Best Supporting Actress. “I’m so in love with my brother right now,” she gushed.
Gimme A Kiss
Many people would put this among their top Oscar moments, but others felt it was a bit too much when actor Adrien Brody won Best Actor at the 2003 Oscars and decided to give presenter Halle Berry a huge (and romantic) kiss. It’s likely that Berry’s husband at the time, Eric Benet, who was there as her date, was not a fan.