During his acceptance speech for Best Documentary Feature in 1975 for "Hearts and Minds," about the Vietnam War, producer Bert Schneider read a telegram from the North Vietnamese ambassador at the Paris peace talks in which he thanked Americans who had pushed to end the war. Later in the program, co-host Frank Sinatra apologized with a statement he said was from the Academy.
"We are not responsible for any political references on this program and we are sorry they had to take place this evening," he said.
They may not be responsible, but political topics pop up during Oscar acceptance speeches every few years. The winner of Best Documentary Feature is often the one to make political acceptance speeches, which makes sense since they so often deal with political issues; winners during wartime are another popular time for thing to get political.
Here's some of the most political speeches in recent Academy Awards:
John Irving thanked Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights League for his win for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2000 for "The Cider House Rules," as well as the Academy "for this honor to a film on the abortion subject," and Miramax "for having the courage to make this movie in the first place."
- The environment
After "The Cove" won for Best Documentary Feature, Richard O'Barry, who was featured in the documentary held up a sign reading "Text dolphin to 4414" to find out more information about an awareness campaign.
Al Gore took the stage with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007 to announce the Oscars had "gone green." "Environmentally intelligent practices have been integrated fully into every aspect of the planning and production" of the ceremony," Gore said. He also joked about possibly announcing he would run for president in 2008 before the music they play to cut off speeches that go on for too long began playing. Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature that night.
- The financial crisis
Before thanking anyone after winning Best Documentary Feature for "Inside Job" about the financial crisis, director Charles Ferguson had this to say: "Three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong."
- Foreign affairs and war
Jared Leto took time during his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in "Dallas Buyers Club" to mention unrest in Ukraine following the Russian occupation of Crimea and in Venezuela where protesters called for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro. "I want to say we are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen to live the impossible, we're thinking of you tonight," he said.
Just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Michael Moore won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for "Bowling for Columbine." He used his speech to criticize the war, and the audience reaction was a loud mixture of applause and boos. "We live in fictitious times," he said. "We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you."
The winner of Best Documentary Feature the following year also criticized the Iraq War. "Forty years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died," "The Fog of War" director Errol Morris said. "I fear we're going down a rabbit hole once again."
The phrase "illegal immigrant" was still OK by the Associated Press when Natalie Portman opted instead to use "undocumented immigrant" when talking about the role Best Actor nominee Demian Bichir played in the film "A Better Life" at the 2012 Oscars.
- LGBT rights
Sean Penn, who won Best Actor for his portrayal of gay activist Harvey Milk in 2009, said those who voted for Proposition 8 in California should "sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support." "We've got to have equal rights for everyone," he said.
Dustin Lance Black also won an Oscar for "Milk" in 2009, for ,Best Original Screenplay. "I promise you you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours," he said.
- Michael Dukakis
Olympia Dukakis, the cousin of Michael Dukakis, endorsed him after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "Moonstruck" in 1987, yelling, "OK, Michael, let's go!" He would be nominated by the Democratic Party 16 months later.
- Treatment of Native Americans
Marlon Brando declined to accept his award for Best Actor for his role in "The Godfather" at the 1973 Oscars and instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather, president of the of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee because of, "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television and movie reruns," she said, and a siege at Wounded Knee, S.D. involving Native American activists and law enforcement.
"This moment is so much bigger than me," Halle Berry said when she became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress in 2002 for her role in "Monster's Ball." She said the win was for other black actresses and "every nameless faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."