Oscar Speeches: Joaquin Phoenix, Best Actor, Joker

“I’m full of so much gratitude right now and I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love — the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I’d be without it, but I think that the greatest gift that it’s given me and any of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless,” Phoenix began, before going on to talk about the connection all of us have when advocating for various oppressed groups.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively. And I think at times, we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. 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, or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.”

Phoenix went into more detail of how we take advantage of the Earth and its resources. You could feel everyone go tense once the cow came into the speech.

“I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. And many of us, what we’re guilty of, is an ego-centric worldview, the belief that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal,” he said. “I think we fear the idea of  personal change, because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up — but human beings that are best are so inventive and creative and ingenious. And I think that when we use love and compassion, as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.”

Then the actor rebounded with an honest confession about his past misgivings and how grateful he has been to be given a second chance in the eyes of Hollywood.

“I have been a scoundrel in my life. I have been selfish. I have 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. And I think that’s where we’re at our best when, we support each other — not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity.”