Will Smith as the Oscars (Image via MARCA)

Oscars: 7 most awkward moments of all time

The Oscars, in all their popularity, are perceived to be awards of the highest degree when it comes to their contributions to cinema. Not only are they a celebration of some of the finest art that has been created in a given year, but the ceremony has also become a source of some of the most talked about pop culture phenomena in the modern world.

While artists and celebrities try to be at their best during the Oscars every year, even the slightest unexpected reaction or a quirky head turn often finds its way into memes and is saved for posterity. With last year's infamous slapping incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock, the bar for awkward moments at the Oscars has undoubtedly been raised.


From Nicole Kidman's weird palm clap and Jennifer Lawrence's great fall to some tense hosting that failed to bring in laughs, here are the most awkward moments at the Oscars so far.

Wrong announcements, awkward hosting, and other memorable gaffes at the Oscars


1) When the wrong film was announced for the Best Picture award


The Oscars in 2017 were completely overshadowed by the major mistake made right at the biggest moment of the ceremony, when the winner for Best Picture was announced. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were called on stage to do the honors. Initially, Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner for the category.

While the mistake would not have been so much of an awkward one if it was rectified immediately, it wasn't. It was only after the cast and crew of La La Land appeared on stage and began celebrating their win that producer Jordan Horowitz walked up on stage and announced that there had been a mistake, and that the winner was actually Moonlight.

This major mix-up was seemingly a first in Oscar history. Although the artists involved did laugh it off, the moment still tops the list of major blunders committed at the awards ceremony.


2) When John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel as 'Adele Dazeem'


Before the winner for the best picture was announced incorrectly, ever small mix-ups like mispronounciation of names were a rare occurence at the Academy Awards.

However, this changed when, at the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta introduced Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem, leaving the audience as well as Menzel thoroughly confused.

In January 2022, Idina Menzel took to social media and started a challenge called "Not My Name," where she compiled a series of the roles she played and declared, "My Name is Idina but they call me ..." Along with all the roles she has played, she also added a clip of Travolta calling her by a different name. While it was all in good humor, fans were delighted to see her include the flub in her challenge.

3) When Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted

Anne Hathaway and James Franco (Image via YouTube)

In what is considered one of the most major Oscar debacles ever, Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted the Academy Awards in 2011. The hosting was found to be very awkward and uncomfortable as the two were barely in sync. Amidst the monologues, musical numbers, and attempted jokes, both of them were widely made fun of for their lack of coordination and timing.

Fans and critics expressed their disappointment for months to come after the ceremony. Even years later, the 2011 Oscars are remembered for its truly awkward hosting.

4) When Sacha Baron Cohen spilled ashes on Ryan Seacrest

At the 2012 Oscars, Cohen appeared dressed as his character from The Dictator. Along with the clothing, he carried what he called the ashes of 'Kim Jong Il'.

The jury's still out on whether what happened next was a prank or a genuine mistake - Cohen spilled the ashes he was carrying on Ryan Seacrest's suit when he ran into him on the red carpet.


While Seacrest expressed disappointment at the time, he took it all in good humor and even made jokes about it on Twitter. In 2016, however, when Seacrest refused to be interviewed by Cohen during the Oscars season, fans recalled the incident and suspected that he may not be over it after all.

5) When Jan Chapman's picture appeared in the In Memorium segment

In Memoriam 2017 (Image via TIME)

In another embarrassing mix-up on the organizers' part, the 2017 Oscars saw Australian film producer Jan Chapman's image accidentally being used in the "In Memorium" segment in place of the Australian costume designer Janet Patterson. Chapman later expressed her devastation while audiences across the globe were surprised by the major mistake.

Chapman also expressed that she had previously collaborated with Patterson, who was her close friend. Her reaction to the moment when she responded that she is alive and well made the mistake all the more widely known.

6) When Neil Patrick Harris predicted the winners

Oscars 2015 (Image via CNN)

At the 2015 Oscars, host Neil Patrick Harris suggested that he could predict the winners of the night. He displayed a briefcase which he claimed had the predictions and opened the case at the end of the night. The case did contain some very specific hints towards the winners, making it amusing to the audience.

However, the predictions got audiences questioning whether he actually had access to the list of winners. While organizers assured that no such thing had happened, fans began coming up with theories about how such accurate hints could have been given.

Just the speculations and theories made the moment quite awkward as the reactions weren't really as funny as expected.

7) When Will Smith won an Oscar for King Richard

While this may not seem like an awkward moment in itself, the fact that it came right after Smith physically assaulted Chris Rock on stage, made it all the more awkward and out of place.


Moments after Will Smith was offended by Rock involving Jada Pinkett Smith in a joke, he received the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard. However, the moment was undercut owing to what had happened before it.

Smith later resigned from the Academy.

The 95th Academy Awards are scheduled for March 12, 2023.

Edited by
Upasya Bhowal
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