Many people love tuning in to annual award shows like the Oscars and the Emmys, eager to see their favorite stars and learn about the latest winners of the biggest prizes. These shows have given us countless memorable moments over the years, including some iconic celebrations and surprise wins.
But some moments mark history for all the wrong reasons – these are the awkward, cringe-worthy, uncomfortable moments that leave us wanting to turn off the TV but unable to take our eyes off the screen. This guide will take a look at some of the most awkward award show moments from history.
In the movie world, the Academy Award for Best Picture is pretty much the holy grail. It’s the one prize everyone wants to win. So, imagine how it feels to be told that you’ve won, only to have that dream shattered just moments later!
Back in 2017, the presenting team of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced that La La Land had won the award. Everyone came up to the stage, but moments later, La La Land’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, was informed that the whole thing was a mistake and instead announced Moonlight as the winner.
Kristen Stewart is an incredibly talented actress, making waves in recent years for her performances in various movies like Clouds of Sils Maria and Still Alice. But in real life, she has admitted to being a pretty awkward and clumsy person.
So it wasn’t surprising when, in 2009 at the MTV Movie Awards, she dropped and broke her Golden Popcorn trophy. “I was just about as awkward as you thought I was going to be. Bye!” she quipped before leaving the stage.
Various celebrities and star guests are often invited onto the stage to introduce the categories and hand out awards to the winners during award shows. And at the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta’s job was to welcome Idina Menzel onto the stage.
Unfortunately, Travolta hadn’t practiced his pronunciation beforehand. He ended up introducing Idina as “Adele Dazeem.” It was one of the most bizarre moments of the night, but Idina got her revenge a year later, jokingly introducing Travolta as “Glom Gazingo” at the 2015 Oscars.
Since she burst onto the scene back in the early 2000s, Katy Perry has been known as one of the wildest and unpredictable pop stars of all. So, at the 2008 MTV Latin America Awards, fans weren’t all that surprised when she dived into a giant cake and got covered in frosting.
Unfortunately for Katy, that frosting was slippery and made it super hard for her to walk around the stage afterward. She ended up falling over several times and probably learned an important lesson about stages and giant cakes.
Sometimes in life, we get asked deep, difficult questions when we aren’t expecting them, leaving us unsure exactly how to respond. That seems to be what happened to Bradley Cooper at a recent Oscars event. Giuliana Rancic was interviewing him.
She told him how his latest movie had helped her fall deeper in love with his husband and asked how he felt about making something like that. Cooper struggled to think of a decent response, saying that the team worked hard and “Other than that, I don’t know.”
Sofia Vergara is widely regarded as one of the most attractive women in the world. She’s famed for her beautiful looks and stunning body, but at the 2014 Emmys, audiences were given a rather creepy display of Sofia’s beauty.
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman Bruce Rosenblum decided it would be good to put Sofia on an actual rotating pedestal up on the stage. Many viewers thought this was a little too much, and the sequence felt very awkward and odd as Sofia rotated slowly around.
John Travolta has had several awkward award show moments throughout his career, but this one was downright creepy. At the 2015 Oscars, the Grease star spotted Scarlett Johansson posing for some pictures. He decided to sneak up behind her.
Travolta wrapped his arms around her and leaned in for a kiss on the cheek. The cameras captured the moment perfectly, with Travolta’s creepy uncle’s expression and Johansson’s total disgust. The actress has since spoken out several times about harassment and unwanted advances in the industry.
One of the most awkward award show moments of all time has to be this one, which happened at the 2015 SAG Awards. Rashida Jones was being interviewed on the red carpet. Suddenly, the interviewer complimented Jones on her “tan.”
Jones is famously the daughter of African American record producer and songwriter Quincy Jones, so her “tan” was the regular tone of her skin. She had to awkwardly respond, “Well, you know… I’m ethnic,” to the interviewer to set the record straight.
It’s always important to pick suitable hosts for a big awards show like the Oscars. The wrong hosts can bring the showdown, and unfortunately, that’s precisely what happened when James Franco and Anne Hathaway were chosen as the hosting duo for the 2011 Oscars.
The show was a mess from start to finish, primarily because of Franco. He seemed to be sleepwalking through most of the show, barely responding to Hathaway’s comments and struggling to deliver his lines and gags, leading to countless awkward moments.
c hasn’t exactly been one of the biggest names in Hollywood in recent years, but he still has countless fans around the world, thanks to his work in classic action-adventure movies of the past, like The Mummy and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
At the 2010 Golden Globes, Fraser was involved in a slightly awkward but cute moment when cameras caught him doing this weird clap/self-high-five movement. We’re not sure exactly what he’s doing, but the clip became a viral meme in the days that followed.
In recent years, several stars have spoken out about some of the injustice and inequality they’ve seen and experienced in the entertainment industry, especially at awards shows. Stars have highlighted the lack of female or minority nominees and winners, for example.
This has helped to trigger some positive change, and at the 2018 Golden Globes, Natalie Portman was ready to play her part. Called to the stage to introduce the Best Director category, Portman stunned the room with her announcement, “And here are the all-male nominees,” leaving her hosting partner, Ron Howard, laughing awkwardly.
The moments right before an award is announced must be very stressful and nervous for the people involved. They have to sit there, waiting and to hope to hear their name. Poor Taylor Swift was at the 2014 Grammys, waiting for the announcement of Album of the Year.
Her album, Red, was up for the prize. And the winner of the trophy also began with the letter R. So, when the title was announced, Taylor thought for a moment that she’d won and begun reacting. She realized that Daft Punk had won the award only a second later, leaving her a little red-faced.
Nicki Minaj isn’t exactly the sort of person to hold her tongue or keep her feelings bottled up inside. So, when she read an interview with Miley Cyrus where Miley said that Nicki isn’t “too kind,” she wasn’t going to let that comment slide.
And she picked a big stage to get her revenge: the 2015 VMAs. The rapper won Best Hip Hop Video and stepped up to accept the award. On stage, she took her moment, saying, “Miley, what’s good?” with an angry expression.
Madonna is another outspoken star with a big personality. And at a recent VMAs after the passing of iconic singer Aretha Franklin, Madonna decided to honor the late Queen of Soul with a speech up on the stage.
Unfortunately, Madonna’s “tribute” to Franklin quickly turned into a speech all about herself. She talked at length about her journey and her success rather than speaking about Franklin. Fans and viewers weren’t happy, and in response, Madonna later said that the whole thing hadn’t been intended as a tribute at all.
What is it with celebrities and clapping? We’ve already seen Brendan Fraser struggling to make it work in a previous gif, but now here’s Nicole Kidman, going to a whole new level of weird with her bent back fingers and half-hand clap.
We have no idea what she’s doing here. It’s possible that she does this as a way to applaud without the risk of messing up her manicure, but it looks odd and quickly went viral online after the clip was captured on TV cameras.
Johnny Depp is known for being a very talented actor, but he has also made headlines over the years for his behind-the-scenes lifestyle and antics. And, at the 2014 Hollywood Film Awards, audiences got to see a different side of the Pirates of the Caribbean star.
Depp was called up to the stage to introduce a documentary. But as soon as he took to the stage, something seemed off. He made a quip about the weird shape of the microphone and then started slurring his words as though he’d had a lot to drink before stepping onto the stage.
At the 2016 Golden Globes, Lady Gaga won an award for her memorable American Horror Story: Hotel performance. As she was making her way up to the stage, she had to walk past Leonardo DiCaprio’s table, and here’s what happened next.
DiCaprio moved his arm away from Lady Gaga very quickly and strangely, as well as pulling a face at her as she stepped past. Viewers online started discussing what his reaction meant and whether he was mean about Gaga. DiCaprio has denied any malicious intent, but many fans remain unconvinced.
The 2013 MTV Movie Awards witnessed a genuinely awkward and unexpected moment when Will Ferrell stepped up to collect the “Comedic Genius” award. Aubrey Plaza, star of Parks and Recreation, climbed up onto the stage and started to try and take the award away from Ferrell!
Ferrell tried to make the scene look like a pre-rehearsed bit, to no avail, and it quickly became apparent that Plaza had probably been drinking a little too much and was having some sort of meltdown. She finally went back to her seat but was then kicked out of the venue by security.
Ryan Seacrest is a pretty successful guy. He’s been the host of shows like American Idol and American Top 40, winning awards and earning a lot of money over the years. But, for some reason, he feels the need to try and sell his suit line every chance he gets!
Of course, there’s nothing with a businessman selling his products. Still, many fans were pretty sick of Seacrest’s suit-shilling after a recent Oscars event where he wouldn’t stop mentioning them and even brought up the fact that the collection was on sale at Macy’s.
Rami Malek has been one of the breakout stars of recent years, first on TV in shows like Mr. Robot and then on the big screen with his award-winning performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. And it was while collecting his Bohemian Rhapsody Best Actor award that this moment occurred.
Malek was just getting ready to leave the stage and rejoin his girlfriend, Lucy Boynton, at their table when he suddenly fell from the stage. The paramedics rushed over, and, luckily, Malek was alright, but his pride certainly took a hit that night.
Reese Witherspoon is one of America’s most beloved stars, famed for playing very sweet and charming characters. According to many reports, she’s a lot like that in real life, but she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and lay down some profound truths.
At the MTV Movie Awards in 2011, she took a swipe at reality TV stars like Kim Kardashian, sending a message to young girls that you don’t need sex tapes or reality shows to have success in Hollywood. She didn’t mention Kim by name, but it was pretty clear who she was referring to.
Jennifer Lawrence made waves at the 2013 Golden Globes. She won her first Golden Globe and started her speech with the phrase “I beat Meryl!” Instantly, audiences online began to criticize the Hunger Games star, calling out her tasteless comment about Meryl Streep.
In actuality, Jennifer Lawrence was referring to the film First Wives Club. Unfortunately, the reference went over a low of viewers’ heads and resulted in unnecessary backlash for the star, with many people completely misunderstanding her intentions.
Cardi B and Offset have had one of the most tumultuous relationships in the rap world for some time now. They’ve had plenty of ups and downs but are still together and have managed to get through it all, appearing at the 2019 Grammy Awards side by side.
However, fans of the duo were a little frustrated when Cardi won the esteemed Best Rap Album award and Offset decided to get up on the stage beside her. Many fans called it a bad taste move and felt Offset should have simply given Cardi time in the spotlight alone.
Yes, Madonna is back on the list once again. But this time, it’s not actually for something she said or even something she intended to do. This moment was a total accident that occurred at the 2015 Brit Awards.
Madonna was putting on a show for the audience, dressed up in a grand outfit with a huge cape flowing behind her. Part of the routine involved the cape being pulled off Madonna’s back as she stepped up onto the stage, but it didn’t detach properly, and she fell back down the stairs into a crowd of dancers.
One of the worst parts about being a celebrity has to be dealing with all those cameras pointing at you all the time. You need to look your best non-stop. Otherwise, the cameras might capture a moment that the internet will never let you forget. Like this one!
At the 2015 Golden Globes, Chrissy Teigen was in the audience. She got a little emotional when her husband, John Legend, was singing on stage. Unfortunately, cameras caught her “crying face” at a pretty awkward moment. She looks like she sees something utterly disgusting, and the moment quickly becomes a meme.
Throughout history, there have been many iconic boy bands. From N’Sync to One Direction, these groups of attractive young men have ruled the pop music world. And in the early 2000s, the Jonas Brothers were some of the biggest stars in town.
Unfortunately, they had a bad experience at the 2007 American Music Awards. While walking on stage, Joe Jonas slipped, and a big panel of glass shattered around him. He cut himself on the shards of glass, and the whole thing looked very painful and uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially poor Joe.
James Franco impressed audiences with his performance as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. So much so that the actor won the Best Actor Golden Globe for the film. And, in a way, he owed a big part of that success to the real-life director and actor, Tommy Wiseau.
So, as he accepted his award at the ceremony, Franco invited Wiseau up onto the stage to share the spotlight. Wiseau reached over to grab the mic and say a few words, but Franco pulled it away, preventing Tommy from speaking in a pretty awkward encounter.
There’s a lot of hard work that goes into awards shows. As audiences, we only tend to see the glitz and glamour of the show, with all the pretty celebrity faces on stage and in the audience. But there are lots of behind-the-scenes workers helping to keep everything going smoothly.
At the 2013 Emmy Awards, one of those workers ended up on the stage, right behind the night’s host, Neil Patrick Harris. Realizing that he was live on TV, the guy froze on the spot before slowly sidestepping out of the camera’s line of sight in an awkward but hilarious moment.
At awards shows, most of the focus is naturally on the winners of the awards. But it’s also interesting to observe the nominees who missed out and watch their reactions. Most of them try to react gracefully and applaud the eventual winner, but their real feelings come out now and then.
Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood were up for the same prize at the Country Music Awards a few years back. Carrie won, and Faith Hill was not happy! The cameras caught her throwing her hands in the air and yelling, “What?!”
No list of awkward award show moments could be complete without this one! Kanye West and Taylor Swift were involved in one of the most memorable and painfully uncomfortable moments ever at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards.
Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video and got up on stage to accept her prize. She’d barely had time to talk when Kanye marched up, took the mic, and then started saying that Beyoncé should have won instead. Poor Taylor was left standing there, feeling very embarrassed, and a long feud with Kanye began at that moment.
Dakota Johnson is famous for starring in 50 Shades of Grey, among other films, but she’s also part of a famous family, the daughter of actress Melanie Griffith. And at the 2015 Oscars, mom and daughter were interviewed together, with the 50 Shades film coming up as a topic of discussion.
The interviewer asked Griffith if she’d seen the film, which is known for having some pretty intense sexual scenes involving her daughter. Griffith said she hadn’t seen it and didn’t plan to. This led to a little outburst from Dakota, who angrily said, “Alright! You don’t have to see it!” and made audiences around the world cringe.
Have you ever called out to someone or said “Hello” when you thought you saw a family member or friend in public, only later realizing that you made a mistake and got the wrong person? Well, that’s pretty much what happened to John Travolta at the 2019 VMAs.
He was called up to give an award to Taylor Swift, who stepped up to the stage with the full cast of her “You Need to Calm Down” video onto the stage, including drag queen Josh Green/Jade Jolie. Green looked so much like Swift that Travolta nearly handed him the award instead of the actual singer.
Names aren’t always the easiest things to pronounce, especially if you have to read out a name for the first time that you’ve never heard before or that comes from a different culture to your own. Maybe that helps to excuse Tiffany Haddish after her terrible pronunciation of Camila Cabello at the 2018 VMAs.
Haddish struggled to introduce Cabello, nominated for five awards at the show, and had a big problem pronouncing the Cuban-born singer’s name. Fortunately, Cabello didn’t seem to take any offense and laughed the whole thing off.
Michael Jackson was one of the most incredible performers of all time. So, the idea of him being given an Artist of the Millennium award at the 2002 VMA Awards might not seem all that strange. The only problem is that the award didn’t exist.
Britney Spears introduced Jackson, saying that, in her opinion, he had been the “artist of the millennium.” MJ misheard and thought he was winning an actual Artist of the Millennium award and started giving an acceptance speech about it.
The 2009 VMA Awards gave us a real show to remember. We not only had the infamous Kanye West and Taylor Swift moment, but we also got an unexpected stage crash from Lil Mama. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were up on stage at the time, performing Empire State of Mind.
In the end, the two artists posed to finish off the song in style. For some reason, Lil Mama climbed up onto the stage to join them and posed right beside Jay-Z, staring into the camera like part of the act. Jay-Z later called Lil Mama “outta line” for her antics.
Angelina Jolie stole the show at the 2000 Academy Awards, but it wasn’t for her beautiful outfit or impressive acceptance speech. Nope, she made headlines for a bizarre thing: kissing her brother right on the lips.
The unexpected display of intimacy occurred right on the red carpet. Later that night, Jolie added a little extra confusion to the mix when she stepped up on stage to accept the Best Actress award and said, “I’m in love with my brother right now,” as part of her speech.
Katy Perry is making another entry on this list, and once again, her extravagant personality and eye-catching sense of style nearly caused chaos. It was at the Met Gala of 2018. Perry turned up dressed as an angel, with giant fluffy wings sprouting out of her back.
The wings certainly had the intended effect, with countless camera operators snapping photos of Perry to put on the front pages. Unfortunately, the wings were so enormous that the singer struggled to move with them without bumping into other people. At one point, she accidentally bashed her assistant with the wings, nearly sending the assistant to the ground.
David Letterman was the first-time host of the Academy Awards back in 1995, and he got off to a terrible start with one of the worst jokes in Oscar’s history. The joke was so infamously bad that it is still being talked about all these years later.
Letterman decided to make fun of celebrities he felt had strange names, mentioning Oprah Winfrey, Uma Thurman, and Keanu Reeves. The audience laughed politely, but nobody seemed to enjoy Letterman’s attempt at humor. Instead, it all seemed pretty awkward.
There are bad Oscar moments, and there are horrible Oscar moments. Then, there are the so-bad-you’ll-never-live-them-down Oscar moments that get talked about time and time again and regularly appear in lists like these. Rob Lowe had one of those moments at the 1989 Academy Awards.
For some bizarre reason, Lowe and a woman dressed as Snow White came onto the stage and performed a bizarre duet that nobody could have possibly enjoyed. Disney hated it so much that they sued the Oscars for including Snow White without their permission.
We’ve seen a few examples of celebrities falling as they made their way to or from the stage to accept the awards. Maybe Jon Hamm was distraught and didn’t want to suffer a similar fate. So, at the 2015 Emmys, he decided to crawl up onto the stage on all fours.
He accepted the Emmy award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series and was thrilled to claim the prize, but nobody could understand why he’d decided to crawl instead of walk. Later on, Hamm admitted that he was “mortified” when watching the scene back and had no explanation for his actions.
A lot of technology is used for awards shows, and even though these shows have some of the best people in the business behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly, little bugs and glitches can sometimes happen. Beyoncé fell victim to one of these technological hiccups at the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards.
She was on stage, performing alongside rapper Sean Paul. Everything was going well at first, but then the backing vocals suddenly started looping the same segment over and over. Beyoncé, clearly confused and embarrassed, had to simply stop performing, waved awkwardly to the crowd, and then walked off stage.
Many people love to watch awards shows purely to admire the fantastic outfits and fancy dresses worn by the various stars and celebrity guests in attendance. The female stars, in particular, usually get a lot of attention with their flowing gowns and robes.
Unfortunately, one of those gowns caused some problems at the 2015 SAG Awards! On the night, Emma Stone was wearing a black dress with a long train. She walked up to the stage alongside Naomi Watts. Watts’ shoe got caught on the train of Stone’s dress, and she almost fell flat on her face, but she just managed to catch herself.
Streakers – people who run naked through public areas or events to get attention – are always a threat at awards shows, and special security measures are put in place to try and prevent them from getting on stage or in front of any cameras. But back at the 1974 Oscars, one male streaker made it through.
Actor David Niven was just getting ready to introduce Elizabeth Taylor to the stage when the naked man appeared behind him and ran across. Niven reacted perfectly, joking, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by showing his shortcomings?”
Jennifer Lopez gave a memorable but unusual performance at the 2009 American Music Awards. She was performing her song, Louboutins, with a boxing theme. Famed ring announcer Michael Buffer even opened up the performance, and the dancers around J-Lo were wearing boxing shorts and gear.
The performance was quite powerful and exciting, with J-Lo walking up a human pyramid of her dancers. But when she got to the top, she jumped off and landed right on her butt. For a split second, it looked like the impact might have knocked her out, but she stood up a moment later.
In 2003, Adrien Brody was on top of the entertainment world. He’d wowed audiences in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and was set to win the Best Actor Academy Award, becoming the youngest man ever to win the award and setting a new record at the time. However, he decided to celebrate the win is still being talked about as one of the Oscars’ most shocking moments.
Walking onto the stage, Brody grabbed Halle Berry and pulled her in for a forced kiss. When the kiss ended, Berry laughed it off, and the audience joined in, but she later admitted that she was caught completely off guard and felt compelled to “go along with it.”
Steve Harvey is well-known as one of America’s most successful hosts and presenters, famed for his work on The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Family Feud, and the Miss Universe competitions. It was at the 2015 Miss Universe that he had his very own awkward moment.
All Steve had to do was name the runners-up and then announce the winner. Unfortunately, he got it all wrong, accidentally announcing the runner-up, Miss Colombia, as the big winner. Miss Philippines was the true winner and collected her tiara and sash from the unhappy 2nd place finisher.
There have been incidents of stars accidentally dropping or breaking their awards over the years, but how about a star who intentionally snapped her award in half? Well, that’s exactly what Adele did at the 2017 Grammys.
Stepping up to the stage, she began her speech by saying that she’d enjoyed Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade, and felt that Beyoncé was a more deserving winner of the prize. So, as a gesture of support, she snapped the Grammy in half and offered a piece of it to Queen Bey herself!
We’ve all been there. You go for a high five, but your buddy is already preparing a fist bump, and instead of looking cool, you both look like fools. It’s something that happens to everyone, but it was particularly awkward when it happened to Leo DiCaprio on live TV at the Golden Globes.
Leo had just won the award for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant. He turned to celebrate with a friend, who misread his intentions and slapped his hands against Leo’s closed fists. The guy then repeated the slap a second time, trying and failing to get it right.
Award acceptance speeches can be highly unpredictable. Sometimes, they’re super dull. Other times, they stand out and surprise us with bold statements or unexpected remarks. Then, there are speeches like Jacqueline Bisset’s at the 2014 Golden Globes.
After winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Bisset began by standing in silence for quite a while before finally going into a rambling and long-winded speech. She went on incoherently for ages, and even when the band started to play her off, she carried on talking.
Joaquin Phoenix had a good year in 2020, wowing audiences as the Joker and winning the Best Actor Academy Award and Golden Globe for his performance. It was at the Golden Globes when this awkward moment involving Phoenix occurred.
First, the cameras caught Beyoncé sitting down while everyone around her gave Phoenix a standing ovation. Then, when the actor made it to the stage, he launched into an expletive-laden acceptance speech that led to him getting played off the stage.
Ricky Gervais has been one of the most controversial and watchable awards show hosts of recent years, being called back several times to host the Golden Globes and consistently making headlines with his risque comments and tough jokes.
At the 2020 show, he began with a lengthy monologue, criticizing the Hollywood elite and making plenty of people in the room feel a little ashamed, awkward, and embarrassed. Tom Hanks summed up the mood with this hilarious facial expression that quickly became a meme on the internet.
It’s never fun when you look in a mirror at the end of the day and realize you had something stuck in between your teeth. You start thinking back to all the people you talked to and how silly you must have looked. Well, imagine if you appeared on live TV with something stuck in your teeth!
That’s what happened to Nick Jonas at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Jonas seemed to have some dark food stuck in between his teeth that were visible as he sang, but luckily, most viewers just felt like he made him even more relatable.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga amazed us all with their performances in A Star Are Born. They won several awards for the movie and showed incredible on-screen chemistry. Even off-screen, the pair seemed to have a special connection whenever they appeared together in public.
This allegedly caused some friction in the stars’ personal lives, with both of them having big breakups with their partners since the film’s release. And it may have been one of the reasons why the duo didn’t even turn up at the 2020 Grammys, despite being nominated three times and winning two awards.
It must feel incredible to win an award. It’s a moment that you would want to cherish and never forget, but all the perfection of that instant can be ruined in an instant if you happen to fall over on your way to the stage, which is exactly what Jennifer Lawrence did.
She was at the 2013 Oscars, collecting her Best Actress award for Silver Linings Playbook. She fell on the steps and had to clamber her way up to the stage. Fortunately, the audience showed a lot of sympathy and gave her a standing ovation.