15 Unscripted Award Show Moments That Made Headlines

Danielle Broadway
Jennifer Lawrence
youtube | Oscars

Without a doubt, the iconic Will Smith 2022 Oscars slap has gone down in history. However, other outrageous unscripted award show moments are clapping back for their place in hall of fame. They made our jaws drops, our social media go crazy, and created our most heated debates. Here are our top 15 unscripted award moments that require your immediate attention and applause.

1. Kanye West rains on Taylor Swift's award parade

Kanye West and Taylor Swift
Netflix | Miss Americana

It was 2009, and Swift had just won the award for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Music Awards. She was standing on stage on live television in front of literally everyone and their momma's, and West decided to ruin it. Stunning everyone, he snatched the mic and said, “I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best music videos of all time.” Feeling uncomfortable with the situation Swift cut her speech short and left the stage. During her award speech for a different category, Beyoncé, encouraged Swift to return to the stage and complete her speech. Talk about Yeezy being skeezy.

2. The 'La La Land' switcheroo with 'Moonlight'

youtube | Oscars

It doesn't get much more awkward than this historic mix-up. It began as a moment of joy when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land had won Best Picture during the 2017 Oscars. The cast and producers took to the stage for an emotional speech — and then their victory was shattered. Beatty and Dunaway were given the wrong envelope, and the winning picture was actually Moonlight. It was a mistake that will haunt many forever.

3. Jennifer Lawrence's tumble on the Oscars stage

Jennifer Lawrence
youtube | Preston Northrup

All was wonderful in Lawrence's world when she won the Best Actress Oscar in 2013 for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. However, when she went to take her victory lap to the stage, things took a turn. More accurately, she took a wrong turn and fell on the steps to the stage during live television. It was embarrassing to say the least, but Hugh Jackman and Jean Dujardin were there to help Lawrence up. Later, during a standing ovation for her, Lawrence said, "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing." We doubt that the day will come in which anyone lets Lawrence live this one down.

4. Steve Harvey reads the wrong Miss Universe winner

Steve Harvey
youtube | Sike

Here's another awkward mix-up on our hands, as Steve Harvey takes the crown for one of the ultimate headline-making mistakes. It was 2015 during the Miss Universe pageant when things took an uncomfortable turn. When it was time to announce the winner, Harvey named the contestant from Columbia, but it was actually supposed to be the contestant from the Philippines. Miss Columbia got her sash and was crowned like royalty — then had the rug ripped from under her. It seems like that was definitely one dream that turned into a nightmare as they knocked her off her throne.

5. Marlon Brando Refuses Oscar in protest for American Indian rights

Sacheen Littlefeather
youtube | Oscars

One of the most powerful and underrated Oscar moments took place in 1973 when Brando wouldn't accept his Best Actor award. In fact, he didn't even attend the show. Instead, he asked American Indigenous actress and activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, to go in his place. Littlefeather declined the trophy with a wave of her hand when Roger Moore tried to hand it to her. She explained that, what both she and Brando wanted instead, was better treatment for American Indigenous people in the film industry. She explained, from stereotypical movie reruns to the violence happening at Wounded Knee that year, things needed to change. Her speech, written by Brando, received a combination of boos and applause. At the time, the Oscars were even more white dominated, and activist movements to liberate oppressed communities, including Indigenous lives, weren't typically respected. It was quite a trailblazing moment.

6. John Travolta calls Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem”

This one definitely came right out of left field. It was 2014 and actor John Travolta was doing a pretty good job announcing that the live performance of the Disney hit song "Let It Go” from Frozen was about to begin. Until, something went very wrong. We're still scratching our heads and trying to figure out how Idina Menzel's name turned into "Adele Dazeem" when he spoke, but it did. Fortunately, Menzel made light of it, and she and Travolta (along with the entire world), told jokes about the name flub neither of them will ever forget. We bet Travolta is happy that Menzel just let it go.

7. Winona Ryder's facial expressions at the SAG awards

SAG Awards
youtube | TNT

While it'd be hard for anyone to question Ryder's acting talents, it's easy for them to wonder just what on Earth was going on with her during David Harbour’s Screen Actors Guild Awards speech when the cast of Stranger Things won for Best Ensemble in 2017. The cast and creators took to the stage, and it was an overall joyful moment — except Ryder seemed to be feeling a few extra emotions. Her facial expressions went from confusion, surprise, disgust and much more. To this day, people wonder what inspired that little stage production.

8. Nicki Minaj throws shade at Miley Cyrus during the VMAs

Now, it may be safe to assume that Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj wouldn't be best friends, but what happened at the 2015 Video Music Awards was super intense. Minaj took to the stage to settle a score between she and Cyrus that had already been brewing. After accepting her award for Best Hip Hop Video, "Anaconda," Minaj called out Cyrus. She said, "And now back to this [expletive] that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press — Miley, what’s good?" Cyrus and Minaj were at odds before the awards, with Cyrus saying that Minaj's claims that the VMA's discriminate against Black women was really Minaj trying to speak for other women and getting attention. Phew, all we can say is, this one was quite the mess.

9. The Oscars streaker, Robert Opel

Red carpet
Unsplash | Amir Hosseini

We're not sure what sounds appealing about getting nude at the Oscars and running in front of the camera, but we'll leave it to American photographer, Robert Opel. In 1974, another Oscar awards ceremony was going down, and British actor, David Niven was about to call up Elizabeth Taylor — until something shocking happened. Opel ran on the stage naked and flashed the peace sign as people hollered from the audience, and we imagine several households turned off their no longer family-friendly programming. Maybe they forgot to turn on the AC during the Oscars that year?

10. Lady Gaga "bumps" into Leonardo DiCaprio

Lady Gaga
youtube | Entertainment Tonight

There's a lot of foot traffic when stars get up to claim their awards at the Golden Globes, and this was one weird collision. Lady Gaga was making her way to the stage after being awarded Best Actress in a miniseries for her role in American Horror Story. While it's safe to say that nothing was standing in her way, DiCaprio was certainly "sitting" in her way. What's odd isn't that DiCaprio moved his shoulder and arm out of the way for her to walk, it's the facial expression he had while doing it. The man looked positively startled, like he somehow forgot that he was in a crowded awards ceremony being shown on live television. To little surprise, the moment was solidified forever with many memes.

11. Adrien Brody gives Halle Berry a victory smooch

Adrian Brody
youtube | Oscars

This one is kind of cringey because it looks like some non-consensual kissing took place, and it really doesn't make any sense. Adrien Brody took to the stage to claim his Best Actor Oscar during the 2003 Oscars for his role in The Pianist. Then, everyone was shocked when Brody grabbed, actor and presenter, Halle Berry in his arms for a passionate kiss on the lips. These actors were not dating and didn't really interact with each other regularly. When asked about the kiss in 2017, Berry revealed that the whole time, she was asking herself, "What the [expletive] is going on?" Just in case it's not clear from this example, surprising people with kisses they didn't ask for should be a big no-no.

12. Natalie Portman called out sexist nominations

Natalie Portman
youtube | No Content

While in theory, the value of a director should be based on the quality of their work and the message behind it. That's not always the case. In fact, for years the entertainment industry has become known for a legacy of sexism and male privilege. Even if it's uncomfortable, stars like Natalie Portman believe it's important to mention the gender inequities in Hollywood. During the 2018 Golden Globes, Portman chose to call things as she (and many others) see them. After Ron Howard explained that the category was for Best Director Golden Globe, Portman took to the mic and said, "Here are the all-male nominees." Howard laughed and gave an awkward nod. Portman a chose a subtle, yet cutting approach to call out a clear problem.

13. Brie Larson gives Casey Affleck the cold shoulder

Casey Affleck
youtube | Oscars

Sexual assault allegations are very serious, and Brie Larson wasn't about to fake friendship with Casey Affleck during the 2017 Oscars when Affleck was awarded Best Actor Oscar. Larson was the presenter, and when Affleck joined her on stage, she wouldn't clap for him and seemed like she didn't want to hug him. Larson has spoken out about helping survivors of sexual assault, so with Affleck's sexual harassment allegations that were presented while filming the documentary, I'm Still Here, weighing on her heart--a congratulations was out of the question. Both lawsuits against Affleck were closed in 2010.

14. Adele's Grammy performance do-over

Even for mega-star singer, Adele, sometimes the pressure is truly on. In an unusual occurrence during the 2017 Grammys, she had to start her tribute performance in honor of the late George Michael over again. She began the song with some trouble reaching her normal Adele vocal greatness, which was frustrating enough to make her cuss into the mic. She quickly apologized for her language and said “I can’t mess this up for him.” From there, the show went on without a hitch. Any time you're feeling critical of your mistakes, remember Adele makes them, too.

15. The slap

Chris Rock and Will Smith
youtube | Entertainment Tonight

At this point, everyone and their dog knows what "the slap" refers to, but just in case anyone needs a refresher, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Rock threw a G.I Jane joke at Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Smith did not take it well, as his wife is experiencing hair loss due to alopecia. So, he got up on stage where Rock was, and slapped him in the face. Smith went back to his seat and proceeded to shout, "Keep my wife's name out of your [expletive] mouth!" twice. While there have been plenty of outrageous awards moments that make headlines, this is one of the first to include violence. People are divided, debating, contemplating and trying to make sense of this moment---and the memes that have followed.

Let us know what you think of our 15 unscripted awards show moments in the comments and if there's one or more that shocked you.