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WATCH: Joaquin Phoenix in tears while paying emotional tribute to late brother River during Oscar speech

Viewers praised Joaquin's powerful speech after he won Best Actor for his role in Joker

Emmy Griffiths

Joaquin Phoenix choked up at the end of his Oscars speech after making a beautiful reference to his late brother, River, who tragically passed away aged just 23 in 1993. Joaquin won the Best Actor accolade at the Academy Awards for his incredible performance in Joker, and used his platform to make an impassioned speech about coming together against injustice before quoting a song lyric his brother wrote as a teenager. 

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Joaquin was overcome with emotion in his speech

He said: "I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love – that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it." 

He continued: "I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively. I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity." 

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Joaquin with his late brother River, who died aged 23

He also referenced his own past behaviour, admitting that he can be "hard to work with". He explained: "I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other." 

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Joaquin won for his role in Joker

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Visually overcome with emotion, he concluded his speech saying: "When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, 'Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.'" Viewers were quick to praise his powerful message, with one writing: "Joaquin Phoenix wins an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker, but actually wins for his AMAZING speech in favour of the environment, and his touching tribute to River." Another added: "The first thing that Joaquin Phoenix does after he wins an Oscar is use his platform to voice the concerns he has regarding our deeply tainted world. Phenomenal speech." 

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