Weirdest Things That Have Happened at the Oscars

Written by Andres Salazar

This year, March 12th marks the date of one of the most-talked-about events in pop culture media. For one Sunday every twelve months, most people who enjoy watching movies sit in front of their TVs to watch the legendary award ceremony: the Oscars. We all love movies so much that we dedicate an entire evening to commemorating those that stood out. A celebration of the best of the best, the Oscars is a highlight reel of cinematic innovation, acting expertise, and editing talent.

           While the Oscars spotlight Hollywood’s finest, the ceremony itself is an event. Multiple guests are invited to play live music, famous actors and actresses present the trophy to the winners, and the crowd is an ocean of celebrities and media personalities wearing the most expensive clothes. However, such an extravagant event also leaves lots of room for some very unexpected occurrences. A ballroom full of the biggest people in pop culture naturally starts to breed some moments that turn heads into confusion or utter shock. Loads of shocking instances have been witnessed in previous years. In celebration of the Academy Awards this March 12th, here are some of the weirdest things that have happened at the Oscars:

1.       “Boxer” meets boxer

Sylvester Stallone is an actor with a lengthy history with the Academy Awards. As a guest or even as a nominee for best actor, the Italian Stallion has been seen multiple times during the Oscars since the 70s. Although he is incredibly well known for his roles in the Rambo (1982-2019) series and more recently for his work on the Expendables (2010-2023), Sly Stallone is best known for his work in the Rocky series. Even today, when the cameras shine on him, the images of him fighting Apollo Creed, Ivan Dragon, and Mr. T come to mind. However, we must remember that the actor is not a professional boxer. This makes for an interesting moment at the 1977 Oscar Academy Awards, where he was surprised on stage while presenting a trophy by the one and only Muhammad Ali (Stone, 2016). As the crowd cheered for these two icons of the sport, Stallone had an amusingly confused face. Unsure of what to do, he started to jokingly spar with the heavyweight legend. What was so great and fun about the moment was precisely that once he came face to face with one of the best boxers of all time, Stallone received a strong reminder that Rocky was just a movie. Perhaps in an alternate universe, Stallone might have been able to stand toe to toe with Ali, though in our case, he just looked happy, confused, and a little humbled.

2.       The birthday suit

The annual ceremony is famous for people coming in with their most carefully picked dress or suit. Those attending the Oscars often ensure they are as nicely dressed as possible. Whether it’s a custom-made suit designed by Ralph Lauren himself, or even a dress made of beef, as Lady Gaga wore at the MTV Awards, fashion is of the utmost importance. There was a time, however, when someone decided to do the exact opposite by wearing nothing. One of the most notable events of 1974’s cinematic history saw a streaker run behind Oscars host David Niven, butt naked (Schulman, 2023). Speechless and smiling out of embarrassment and confusion, the host waited for security to take control of the situation after the man wearing his birthday suit “graced” the audience with his light jog across the stage. Though, what was perhaps more shocking than the streaking itself was that a mustache like the one he had was once socially acceptable.

3.       Marlon Brando refuses the Oscar

The Godfather is seen as one of the best movies of the 1970s. The film was revolutionary for the crime and drama genres, partly due to the strong acting performances by all members of the cast. The leading actor, Marlon Brando, shone as the star of the romanticized look into the life of the Italian mafia. During the 1973 Academy Awards, the title of best actor went to Brando, who, to the surprise of the entire crowd, did not rise to the stage to take the trophy. In his place was White Mountain Apache actress Sacheen Littlefeather, who informed the audience that he would not be attending the ceremony. Protesting the on-screen representation of indigenous actors and characters, the biggest prize in cinema was rejected, which was unheard of until this point (Walsh, 2022). This sparked immense controversy, with lots of the blame and criticism being wrongly thrown at Littlefeather. However, the Oscars has since formally apologized to the indigenous actress for the treatment from this incident (Benchetrit, 2022). This moment has since become a highlight of the career of the at-the-time resurging Marlon Brando.

4.       The La La Land confusion

All of our examples have come from the 1970s. Most of the weird moments at the Oscars have resulted from awkward interactions or guests trying to intervene in one of TV’s most-watched evenings. In some cases, however, the moment comes from a mistake made directly by the people running the show. A famous example of this is the biggest highlight of the 2017 Academy Awards. The musical La La Land (2016) received the prestigious award of the best picture, to the joy of director Damien Chazelle and the entire movie’s cast. In one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history, as the show ended, Jordan Horowitz walked onto the stage and announced that the wrong envelope was presented and that the movie Moonlight (2016) was the actual winner (Young, 2017). Journalists and guests were baffled at the last-minute error, and social media went crazy. The embarrassment from the production team was palpable and what was supposed to be a night of celebration turned into a mess of people on TV not really knowing what was happening.

5.       The Slap

We couldn’t end the list without talking about one of the most viral moments of last year. This is a clip that, without a doubt, has been since countless times by anyone with a device connected to the internet.  After making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock was on the receiving end of a shockingly hard and swift right-handed slap (Khomami, 2022). Everyone, including Chris Rock, was left speechless at the fact that Will Smith had just assaulted someone shortly before winning an Oscar. People were initially unsure whether it was an intentional bit from Will Smith. Still, it became abundantly clear that it was entirely serious when he started yelling expletives at the ceremony’s host. A slap so crisp it was heard worldwide, becoming one of the hottest meme trends of the year and skyrocketing to the top of the YouTube trends list (Khomami, 2022). It seemed that for about a week, the action shot was being played everywhere you looked. Will Smith has since apologized for his actions , but his picture-perfect open-palmed right hook is now an automatic talking point when anyone brings up the Oscars (Lee, 2022).

The Academy Awards is one of television’s most viewed events every year. Months and months are dedicated to ensuring the show goes as smoothly as possible. Hosts are carefully chosen, scripts are rehearsed and reviewed countless times, and the guest list is methodically curated. All of this is to try to make the ceremony incident-proof, though some things get through the cracks. As a result, these unexpected moments of chaos have become some of the biggest highlights of the Oscars’ history. The protest from Marlon Brando and the slap from Will Smith are only examples of how a couple of seconds in front of the cinematic community can become so ingrained in pop culture history. These days, capturing the slightest slip-up and posting it on social media has almost become just as popular as watching the awards themselves. Though the producers will keep trying to prevent unexpected instances from happening, the audience will always remember those weird moments from the Oscars.


Benchetrit, Jenna. (2022). Sacheen Littlefeather receives apology at Academy event 49 years after Marlon Brando’s Oscars protest. CBC News. Retrieved February 9, 2023 from

Khomami, Nadia. (2022). Video of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at Oscars tops YouTube chart. The Guardian. Retrieved February 10, 2023 from

Lee, Benjamin. (2022). Will Smith posts emotional apology for the slap: ‘I am deeply remorseful’. The Guardian. Retrieved February 20, 2023 from

Schulman, Michael. (2023). What Became of the Oscar Streaker?. The New Yorker. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from

Stone, Natalie. (2016). Watch Muhammad Ali and Sylvester Stallone Present at the 1977 Oscars. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2023 from

Young, Ian. (2017). Oscars 2017: How did the La La Land/Moonlight mix-up happen?. BBC. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from

Walsh, Savannah. (2022). The Academy Apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather, Who Refused Marlon Brando’s 1973 Oscar. Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 9, 2023 from

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *