Halle Berry: Queen of the Speech

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry star in Tom Tyker, Andy and Lana Wachowski’s “Cloud Atlas.” Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

In light of the recent rave review from Variety, my expectations have soared all the higher for “Cloud Atlas,” the astoundingly ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s sprawling novel, which has been cited as one of the top books of the new millennium. This project could mark a much-needed comeback for co-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (who haven’t lived up to the promise of their first “Matrix” installment), as well as for star Tom Hanks, who hasn’t delivered an interesting performance since 2002’s “Road to Perdition.” Yet the star I’m most excited to see deliver the goods is Halle Berry, who is not only a fine actress but a very entertaining individual in her own right.

Out of all the acceptance speeches I’ve ever seen, Berry has delivered two of the most memorable. Let’s flash back to the 2001 Academy Awards when Berry became the first black performer to win the Best Actress Oscar for her galvanizing work in “Monster’s Ball.” Though the calculation of this landmark moment (coupled with Sidney Poitier’s Lifetime Achievement accolade and Denzel Washington’s Best Actor Oscar awarded the same night) diminished some of its power, its profundity was inarguable. Berry wasn’t able to contain her raw emotion and somehow managed to find the exact right words to open her speech. The video below ends before the speech does, but it’s really the opening few minutes that are worth watching, as Berry turns the Kodak Theatre into a whirlpool of tears…

Three years later, Berry topped herself by graciously accepting her Razzie Award for Worst Actress of the Year after the spectacular failure of her would-be blockbuster, “Catwoman.” Here is her speech in its entirety. It’s both uproariously funny and immensely classy (her parody of her own Oscar speech is priceless)…

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