Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Moments of Respect at Awards Shows. For this list, we’ll be looking at classy, honorable, humble, and considerate moments from award shows that were worthy of good spirit trophies. Which award show moment do you respect the most? Let us know in the comments.
#10: A Standing Ovation for Audra McDonald
“68th Tony Awards” (2014)
When somebody constantly wins awards, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes, thinking, “Really, them again!?” This has never been the case for Audra McDonald, who truly deserves every accolade that comes her way. In 2014, she reached multiple landmarks with her Tony-winning performance as Billie Holiday. In addition to being her record-breaking sixth Tony, McDonald became the first actress to win in all four performing categories. Whether or not everyone in the audience knew these stats, they were all well-aware of McDonald’s storied career. The emotional winner found herself encircled by her adoring peers, giving a standing ovation with cheers roaring throughout the theater. McDonald also used this platform to pay respects to the women who paved the way for her, including Holiday.
#9: Dolly Parton’s Dedication to Ukraine
“57th Academy of Country Music Awards” (2022)
Dolly Parton has always been a class act. The 2022 AMC awards were another testament to her sincerity, generosity, and compassion for others. Hosting the event, Parton opened the show with a message of love for Ukraine. While Parton didn’t want to get too political, she couldn’t bring herself to ignore the Russian invasion, which commenced only a couple of weeks earlier. Parton felt it was “not only important but urgent to do it because there’s so much grief and so much sorrow.” Parton kept her speech short, sweet, and respectful, dedicating the show to “our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.” The country music legend hit just the right note, bringing attention to this ongoing struggle while still maintaining the show’s upbeat pace.
#8: “La La Land” Producers Stay Classy
“89th Academy Awards” (2017)
We’re all familiar with the “La La Land” “Moonlight” Best Picture mixup. It was probably the most notorious moment in Oscar history… er, at the time at least. Although this moment was one big facepalm, it also saw the “La La Land” producers show their true colors. Think about it. You’ve received the Academy Award for Best Picture, the pinnacle of achievement in your industry. Then minutes into your acceptance speech, you find out that a mistake was made. Many people would act outraged under these circumstances. Yet, Fred Berger, Marc Platt, and especially Jordan Horowitz couldn’t have been more professional, humbly passing the Oscars to the “Moonlight” filmmakers. For all the disappointment in the room that night, there was also great sportsmanship on display.
#7: Norm Macdonald Remembered
“73rd Primetime Emmy Awards” (2021)
The entertainment world suffers losses every year, but Norm Macdonald’s death in 2021 was especially rough, as few even knew he had been battling leukemia. At that year’s Primetime Emmys, Macdonald was featured on the In Memoriam segment with other lost legends like Michael K. Williams. Yet, the admiration for Macdonald shined through the most during the acceptance speeches. In addition to thanking Conan for his years of service, winner John Oliver proclaimed Macdonald the funniest late-night comedian of the past two decades. “SNL” also won that evening, giving fearless leader Lorne Michaels a chance to commemorate the former cast member. Macdonald was somewhat underappreciated when he anchored “Weekend Update,” but this ceremony is a testament to why he was always a comedic genius.
#6: Susan Lucci’s Overdue Win
“26th Daytime Emmy Awards” (1999)
“Overdue” is a word that gets thrown around a lot regarding actors and awards. “All My Children” star Susan Lucci certainly fit that description in 1999. Lucci had been playing Erica Kane for almost 30 years. During this period, she got 18 Daytime Emmy nominations, losing every time. It was practically an in-joke that Lucci was always a nominee, never a winner. 19 proved to be Lucci’s lucky number, finally taking home Outstanding Lead Actress. Lucci wanted the win, and the audience clearly wanted to see her win. Most ovations last several seconds, maybe a minute at most. Lucci’s lasted almost two minutes before the crowd calmed down. If the Emmy wasn’t already a sign of respect, the reception to Lucci’s win was.
#5: Beyoncé Lets Taylor Swift Have Her Moment
“26th MTV Video Music Awards” (2009)
Much like “Envelopegate,” Kanye West hijacking Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech is among the most surreal things to ever happen on live TV. Following this infamous interruption, Pink reportedly yelled at West, who was asked to leave the ceremony. Swift cried backstage, and she wasn’t the only one. She crossed paths with an emotional Beyoncé, who was just as shocked when Kanye proclaimed her the worthier winner, feeling horrible for Swift. If there’s one thing Beyoncé is good at, though, it’s turning lemons into lemonade. See what we did there? When Beyoncé won Video of the Year, she gave Swift the chance to soak in the applause. West’s actions were beyond disrespectful, but Queen B’s courtesy was the opposite.
#4: Paying Respects to Orlando Victims
“70th Tony Awards” (2016)
In the early hours of June 12, 2016, a shooter entered an Orlando gay nightclub, resulting in the single deadliest attack against the LGBTQ+ community on U.S. soil. That night, the annual Tony Awards were held. The ceremony would be dedicated to the Orlando victims with host James Corden opening the show on a dignified note. Frank Langella had some haunting yet inspirational words during his acceptance speech. Lin-Manuel Miranda delivered a beautifully worded sonnet that only he could’ve conceived. As an additional sign of respect, the muskets were removed from the “Hamilton” cast’s performance of “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).” The world indeed felt turned upside down, but the love in the theater that night didn’t allow hate to win.
#3: Ving Rhames Gives His Award to Jack Lemmon
“55th Golden Globe Awards” (1998)
When someone wins an award, it’s not uncommon for them to give a shout-out to their fellow nominees. It’s rare that a winner actually gives their award to another nominee, however. That’s exactly what happened at the 1998 Golden Globes. Upon winning for his portrayal of Don King, Ving Rhames invited acting legend Jack Lemmon on stage. As Lemmon received a standing ovation, Rhames graciously offered him the award. Despite trying, Lemmon wasn’t able to return the prize, although Rhames received a duplicate Globe. Some might describe this as awkward, but it’s clear that Rhames’ actions came from a place of respect for his fellow nominee. Lemmon couldn’t have been more touched by Rhames’ gesture, referencing it when he won for real two years later.
#2: Two Heroes
“27th MTV Movie & TV Awards” (2018)
Here’s another award winner who took their moment to honor someone else. Chadwick Boseman won the golden popcorn statue for Best Hero in 2018. While Boseman and Black Panther are household names, James Shaw Jr. is another that everyone should know. Earlier that year, this electrical technician disarmed a shooter at a Waffle House. Although four were killed, the casualties might’ve been even higher if it weren’t for Shaw. As if that weren’t heroic enough, Shaw raised over $200,000 for the victims’ families. Shaw didn’t see himself as a hero, but Boseman declared him one during his acceptance speech. Boseman proceeded to give Shaw the award from one hero to another. Following Boseman’s passing, Shaw reflected, “The moment itself spoke volumes about his grace.”
#1: In Memory of Martin Luther King Jr.
“40th Academy Awards” (1968)
Four days before the 40th Academy Awards were meant to take place, the nation was shaken by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In the wake of the civil right leader’s death, Sidney Poitier, Louis Armstrong, and other African-American stars decided against appearing on the Oscars, needing time to mourn. They returned, though, when the event was postponed two days, following King’s public funeral. When the show eventually went on, Academy President Gregory Peck commenced with a tribute to King. Peck discussed King’s influence on society, which was reflected through nominees like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night.” Peck paid “profound respects” to King, encouraging the industry to continue producing films that would honor what he stood for.