Brad Pitt's spent a lot of time accepting trophies this awards season, and he's made sure to have fun. He snagged a Golden Globe and worked a Titanic reference into his speech. He picked up a BAFTA and enlisted Margot Robbie to handle the acceptance for him. He's got good jokes!
All that momentum built rather naturally to Sunday night (February 9) at the Oscars, when he walked away with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his captivating, eternally cool turn as stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Since he only technically had less than a minute onstage for his speech, he went right to work.
"They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week," he said, referencing the anticlimactic final results of President Trump's impeachment. "I'm thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it, and in the end, the adults do the right thing."
Pitt grabbed attention for his smoldering, complex portrayal of Cliff, an aging stuntman whose California cool exterior masks a fiery internal rage that manifests itself at key moments in the action. Onstage, Pitt was cool as Cliff, while also visibly overcome with emotion accepting his first-ever Academy Award for acting. He shouted out stunt workers in Hollywood. He gave major props to both Tarantino and his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio: "I'll ride on your coattails any day, man. The view's fantastic."
Pitt beat out Tom Hanks for his warm Mister Rogers portrayal in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Anthony Hopkins for crusty and quite funny take on Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes, Al Pacino's complex rendering of doomed Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman, and Joe Pesci's world-weary, last-hurrah go at Russell Bufalino in the same film. It was Pitt's first nom in the category since 12 Monkeys in 1996.
Looking backward, Pitt thoughtfully brought it back to his own beginnings in the industry. "I'm not one to look back, but this has made me do so," he said. "I think of my folks taking me to the drive-in to see Butch [Cassidy] and [the] Sundance [Kid], and loading up my car and moving down here, and Geena [Davis] and Ridley [Scott] for giving me my first shot [in Thelma and Louise]."
"Once upon a time in Hollywood — ain't that the truth," he continued before giving one final heartfelt shout-out to the folks in his life who he said he does it for. "This is for my kids, who color everything I do. I adore you."