The Academy lets some Oscar winners talk longer—a lot longer—than others

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The long-snubbed Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home his first Oscar last night, crowned Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in The Revenant. Perhaps in deference to DiCaprio's four previous acting nominations without a win, his acceptance speech—in which he drew attention to the issue of climate change—was allowed to go on uninterrupted for two minutes and 22 seconds.


The producers of the ceremony technically limit acceptance speeches to 45 seconds, but just how strictly they enforce that rule (by blasting music—Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" proving to be a popular choice—to encourage the winners to get off stage) varies wildly.

We timed all 24 of this year's Academy Awards acceptance speeches from the moment the first person began speaking until the winners either wrapped up of their own volition or music began to play, whichever came first.

On average, the speeches ran 53 seconds. Leo's lasted 2.7 times as long. Here's how his remarks stack up.

The second-longest speech after DiCaprio's solo effort was for Best Picture—over the course of one minute and 18 seconds, three different people (Spotlight producers Michael Sugar, Nicole Rocklin, and Blye Pagon Faust) each took a turn on the mic.

Although scrolling text at the bottom of the screen was meant to serve as a "thank you" ticker for winners (and, by reducing the number of names they felt compelled to mention, theoretically shorten their speeches), the honorees largely ignored it. Slightly more than half of all Oscar winners (54%) were played off the stage before they could finish their speeches. Two-thirds of Oscar winners (in 16 of 24 categories) went over the prescribed time limit, yet half of those who did nevertheless concluded their speeches without music playing. For example, Best Original Score winner Ennio Morricone, the 87-year-old composer of legend, delivered his first-ever Oscar acceptance speech (with the help of an Italian-to-English translator) in 68 seconds.


Four sets of Oscar winners (Gabriel Osorio & Pato Escala for Animated Short Film, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington & Sara Bennett for Visual Effects, Asif Kapadia & James Gay-Rees for Documentary Feature, and Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff & Ben Osmo for Sound Mixing)—representing 17% of all categories—actually appear to have been played off the stage before they'd reached the 45-second limit. That said, in at least some of these multi-winner speeches, a pause between speakers may have mistakenly led Academy producers to believe that the remarks were over prematurely.

For what it's worth, Oscar acceptance speeches aren't necessarily terminated at intuitive stopping points. Documentary Short Subject winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was discussing honor killings in Pakistan when the music began to play. Costume Design winner Jenny Beavan, meanwhile, was cut off immediately after this line: "I just want to say one quite serious thing, and I've been thinking about this a lot."


Surprisingly, more than half of the winners of the eight most prestigious categories—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay—were played off the stage: director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, supporting actor Mark Rylance, supporting actress Alicia Vikander, writers Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, and writers Charles Randolph & Adam McKay.


Best Actress Brie Larson was the ceremony's only individual female winner whose speech wasn't cut short. Of the seven people of color to win Oscars last night, only Jonas Rivera (who shared Best Animated Feature Film with Inside Out director Pete Docter) and Emmanuel Lubezki (who won Best Cinematography for The Revenant) were able to finish their speeches without music playing.

Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.