Joaquin Phoenix’s Emotional Oscars Speech

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: Joaquin Phoenix accepts the Actor In A Leading Role award for ‘Joker’ onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Joaquin Phoenix capped off an awards season sweep with his first-ever Oscar win at the 92nd Academy Awards. And true to form, he did so with a speech equal parts moving and kooky. Much like he did his viral BAFTAs speech, Phoenix used his platform to call for for change, asking those in the audience to take stock of their own role in perpetuating injustice.

“When we use love and compassion as our guiding principals, we can create systems of change. … Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we guide each other to grow, for redemption, that is the best of humanity,” he said.

There was also something about a cow, and a tirade against… milk?

Joaquin Phoenix is really out here at the #Oscars lecturing us about how we oppress cows for their milk pic.twitter.com/LmOmqVMXME

— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) February 10, 2020

Though Joker has been criticized for its sympathetic portrayal of white male rage, it’s nice to see Phoenix using his time on-stage to acknowledge his privilege, and vow to be an agent for change.

But the most emotional moment came towards the end, when the actor choked up talking about his older brother River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose outside a West Hollywood club in 1993.

“When he was 17 years old, my brother wrote this lyric,” Phoenix said. “He said: ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.'”

River, also an actor, began his career at the age of ten, before breaking out in 1986’s Stand By Me. He earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 1988’s Running on Empty, and co-starred with Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho in 1991.

“When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric, he said ‘run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.'” #Joker‘s Joaquin Phoenix shares a lyric from his late brother, River Phoenix while accepting best actor at the #Oscars https://t.co/ERIZdYiUX1 pic.twitter.com/mhIAd6bQCd

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 10, 2020

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