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Most awkward Oscars moments of all time – WATCH

The Academy Awards have seen some pretty awkward moments over the years…

oscars awkward moments© Photo: Getty Images
Megan Bull
TV Writer
March 11, 2023
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Ah, the Oscars – the crème de la crème of awards season. One of the most star-studded and prestigious nights on the Hollywood social calendar, you might expect the night to go without a hitch, but that's not always the case. Spawning headline-hitting and meme-worthy moments, the Academy Awards can get pretty awkward at times. 

From stumbles up the stairs to the infamous Oscars slap and the time that La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of Best Picture, we're taking a look back at the most jaw-dropping and awkward moments in Oscars history. Click the video below to watch each and every one of them...

WATCH: The most awkward Oscars moments

2022 - Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

In a moment that will forever go down in Hollywood history, the 2022 awards show saw Will Smith take to the stage and slap host Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith's hair loss. The actress was diagnosed with alopecia in 2018.

will smith oscars slap© Photo: Getty Images

Will Smith famously slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2022

Following the shocking incident, Will was officially banned from the Oscars gala and other Academy events for 10 years, and he also issued a public apology video in response, telling fans:

"It's been a minute. Over the last few months, I've been doing a lot of thinking and personal work. You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer. It's all fuzzy, I've reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he's not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out."

The actor continued: "So I will say to you, Chris. I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris' mother. I didn't realize, I wasn't thinking how many people got hurt in that moment."

MORE: All there is to know about the 95th Academy Awards

READ: Will Chris Rock attend the 2023 Oscars?

2017 - La La Land is mistakenly announced as the winner of Best Picture

How could anyone forget this seriously awkward moment?! It was in 2017 that La La Land was wrongly announced as the winner of Best Picture. The dramatic error occurred after the wrong envelope was handed to hosts Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, prompting them to announce the Hollywood musical as the winner instead of Moonlight

lalaland oscars© Photo: Getty Images

Hosts Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway wrongly announced La La Land as the winner of Best Picture in 2017

Shortly after the cast and crew took to the stage to collect the Oscar, It didn't take long for the mistake to be realised, however, with one of the La La Land producers, Jordan Horowitz, announcing: "Sorry, guys, hold on. There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture." 

moonlight lalaland© Photo: Getty Images

The cast of Moonlight was then brought to the stage to accept the award

Turning to the confused audience, he added: "This is not a joke, Moonlight won best picture." Following the clarification, Warren Beatty was forced to explain what had gone wrong, revealing that he'd been handed the wrong envelope which revealed Emma Stone as Best Actress for her performance in La La Land, rather than the card for Best Picture. 

2017 - Nicole Kidman becomes a meme for clapping

Nicole Kidman became a viral meme in 2017 after she was filmed clapping with the heels of her palms. Later addressing the moment in an interview with Australian radio station KIIS1065, she said: "It was really difficult because I had a huge ring on which was not my own but was absolutely gorgeous and I was terrified of damaging it.

nicole kidman clapping

Nicole Kidman became a meme for "seal clapping" with the heels of her palms

She added: "It was really awkward and I was like gosh, I want to clap. I don't want to not be clapping, which is worse, right - 'why isn't Nicole clapping?'"

2013 - Jennifer Lawrence stumbles up the stairs

In 2013, Jennifer Lawrence took a tumble up the stairs as she headed to the stage to collect her Best Actress Award for Silver Linings Playbook. Admired for her hilarious sense of humour, the actress tactfully styled it out with a joke, telling the cheering crowd: "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that's really embarrassing, but thank you." Just when we thought we couldn't love her more! 

jennifer lawrence stumbling© Photo: Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence accidentally tripped while collecting her Best Actress award in 2013

2014 - John Travolta struggles to pronounce Idina Menzel's name

John Travolta was tasked with introducing Idina Menzel at the 2014 Academy Awards, but things quickly turned awkward after he struggled to pronounce the singer's name. After referring to Idina as "Adele Dazeem," the Grease star opted to keep his cool and carry on with the show – but viewers couldn't get over the slip-up, and parodies of the moment immediately went viral. 

john travolta oscars 2014© Photo: Getty Images

John Travolta struggles to pronounce Idina Menzel's name during the 2014 Oscars

Just one year after the mishap, Idina was hilariously offered the chance to introduce John at the 2015 Oscars, and she certainly made the most of it. "I'd like to welcome to the stage, my very dear friend, Glom Gazingo," she joked. 

2012 - Sacha Baron Cohen spills ashes on Ryan Seacrest

Sacha Baron Cohen played the most epic prank on Ryan Seacrest during the 2012 Oscars. While in character as Admiral General Aladeen from his movie, The Dictator, the actor headed over for an interview, where he later spilt ashes all over Ryan's tuxedo on the red carpet. Sacha then told him, "If somebody asks you what you are wearing, you will say Kim Jong-il," before being dragged off by security guards. 

sacha baron cohen ryan seacrest© Photo: Getty Images

Sacha Baron Cohen attended the 2012 Oscars as his character Aladeen and spilt ashes on Ryan Seacrest 

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