16. Sidney Poitier, Honorary Award (2002)
2002 provided a landmark Oscar ceremony: It was the first time two African-Americans both took home the year’s top acting prizes (and the only time an African-American woman has nabbed the Best Actress statuette. Way to go, Halle Berry!). It was also, appropriately enough, the same year that the Academy decided to give pioneering black actor Sidney Poitier an honorary award, and it was impossible not to be stirred by the man’s thanks. Much like Best Actor winner Denzel Washington tipping his hat to the venerable icon later on in the evening, Poitier paid homage to the directors and fellow craftsmen who broke down barriers in the industry so that he might break ground. He dedicated the moment to all of the “others who have had a hand in altering the odds, for me and for others.” An entire era of struggle and redemption was channeled in a single five-minute speech.