When Greer Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1943 for Mrs. Miniver, she set a Guinness World Record for "Longest Oscars Acceptance Speech" with a rant that clocked in at five and a half minutes. That’s more than twice as much time as Gwyneth Paltrow spent on her notoriously longwinded speech after she nabbed the same award for Shakespeare in Love in 1999.
Oscar producers imposed a 45-second time limit on speeches in 2010, but not every winner would have needed it. Some people thanked the Academy (or didn't) in 10 words or fewer.
1. Alfred Hitchcock (1968) // Total Words: 5
It took Alfred Hitchcock 20 seconds to make his way across the stage to accept the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award but only six seconds to offer his simple, “Thank you," before pausing and adding, "Very much indeed.” In true Hitchcock fashion, he effectively gave us all we needed without showing too much.
2. Joe Pesci (1991) // Total Words: 5
One gets the feeling that Joe Pesci had a lot more to say than, “It’s my privilege, thank you,” when he won Best Supporting Actor for Goodfellas, but no one wants to see one of cinema’s greatest tough guys cry. Now go home and get your f***ing shinebox.
3. Patty Duke (1963) // Total Words: 2
Hitchcock and Pesci may have given two of the most memorably truncated Oscar speeches ever, but Patty Duke makes them both look positively longwinded. When she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Miracle Worker, her response was a to-the-point, but clearly heartfelt, “Thank you.”
4. William Holden (1954) // Total Words: 4
When he won Best Actor for Stalag 17, William Holden offered his thanks—twice—with a simple, “Thank you. Thank you.”
5. Gloria Grahame (1953) // Total Words: 4
Gloria Grahame wasn’t fooling around when she breezed onto the stage to grab her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful, uttering a quick, “Thank you very much,” without so much as stopping at the microphone to savor the moment.
6. Louie Psihoyos (2010) // Total Words: 2
If The Cove director Louie Psihoyos had his way, he would have said a lot more than just, “Thank you,” when he took home an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Fellow producer Fisher Stevens ate up the bulk of their 45 seconds, so when the mic finally came around to Psihoyos, he could only mutter two words before that ominous sound of orchestral strings hushed him. Psihoyos posted a video online of his intended speech the next day.
7. Dimitri Tiomkin (1953) // Total words: 6
When you win two Oscars in one night like High Noon music director Dimitri Tiomkin did in 1953, it makes sense to keep one of your speeches brief. But Tiomkin kept it short and sweet for both, offering a simple, "Thank you very much. Thank you,” for his first win for Best Dramatic or Comedy Score and, “I feel like a mother of the wonderful twins,” when he was handed a second statue for Best Original Song.
8. Alfred Newman (1953) // Total Words: 4
The 1953 Oscars ceremony were a night full of succinctness. Right before Tiomkin accepted his second award, fellow musician Alfred Newman offered a modest, "Thank you very much," after receiving the Oscar for Best Musical Score.
9. Delbert Mann (1956) // Total words: 8
When Delbert Mann won his first and only Oscar for directing Marty, he made his appreciation clear: “Thank you. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.” And … scene!
10. Billy Wilder (1961) // Total words: 10
Billy Wilder won all three of the Oscars for which he was nominated for The Apartment—Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. While he allowed himself a full 70 words on that last award, his acceptances earlier in the night were much shorter. He and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond showcased their talent for brevity when they each thanked each other. And when Gina Lollobrigida handed Wilder the Oscar for Best Director, he quipped, “Thank you so much, you lovely discerning people. Thank you.”