5 Oscar Winners Who Forgot to Thank Their Significant Others in Their Acceptance Speeches

by Emily Krauser 8:31 AM PST, February 27, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

We've all experienced an adrenaline rush during a major life event -- you know the kind, where your heart speeds up but your brain slows to a screeching, blank halt?

That's what we imagine happens after one hears they've just won a massive award like, say, an Oscar. Sure, there are speeches prepared, but oftentimes, celebs forego those to wing it or just straight up forget what they were going to say. It doesn't matter if memorization is what they do for a living -- bright lights and sheer shock can overcwhelm anyone.

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That means some Oscar winners have forgotten to thank a very important person in their life -- their spouse. These five actors have fallen victim to the bright lights and sheer shock while accepting an Academy Award. Interestingly, almost every one of these stars eventually found themselves divorced. A coincidence? We doubt it, but it sure seems telling.

1. Hilary Swank

One of the most famous moments of forgetfulness came when the actress forgot to mention her then-husband, Chad Lowe, in 2000 after she nabbed an Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role in Boys Don't Cry. Swank made up for it with a nod to him when she scored her second Oscar in 2005, also for Best Actress, for Million Dollar Baby. Alas, this was a temporary happy ending -- the pair, who wed in 1997, divorced the following year.

Years later, Lena Dunham scored a completely unrelated Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series for her HBO show, Girls, and she made sure to reference the old flub. "I also promised myself that if I ever got this chance, I would thank Chad Lowe," Dunham said. "I'm sorry! I just promised. And I promised my mom."

2. Sean Penn

The actor seemed to touch on everything when he took home a gold statue for Best Actor for his role as the titular character in Milk in 2008. Penn mentioned equal marriage rights, his career resurgence and his fellow best actor nominee, Mickey Rourke, in a win he said he had "hoped for… enough that I did want to scribble down so I had the names..." He even thanked his best friend and a longtime circle of support, but his wife, Robin Wright, was not one of the names uttered. Penn and Wright -- who wed in 1996 and share two children, Dylan and Hopper -- would be divorced by 2010.

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3. Sandra Bullock

When she accepted an Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role in The Blind Side in 2010 -- her first Academy Award -- all seemed well between her and husband Jesse James. Even though Bullock forgot to mention her beau by name (while calling out all four of her fellow nominees!), James proudly smiled at her and whispered into her ear before she walked up to the podium, and, while tearfully thanking her mother, Helga Meyer, for all of her support through the years, the Gravity star gestured into the audience while saying her mom "allowed me to have that." Presumably, "that" was James. Shortly after the win, however, news of her husband's affair with tattoo model and stripper Michelle McGee emerged, and Bullock and James divorced in June 2010.

4. Emma Thompson

The British actress gave a gorgeous, eloquent speech when she scored an Oscar for Best Actress in 1993 for her role in Howard's End. She even thanked her co-star, Sir Anthony Hopkins, for being the "knight of [her] life." The one man she didn't knight? Her husband of four years, Kenneth Branagh. The two would end up divorcing in 1995.

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5. Philip Seymour Hoffman

In 2006, the late actor earned his first Oscar nomination for his role as Truman Capote in the biopic, Capote. When he won, he graciously thanked his mother, but his longtime girlfriend, Mimi O'Donnell, was left out of the speech. Ironically, it was Swank who presented Hoffman with his award.

Bonus! Ben Affleck

The actor-director didn't forget to mention his now-estranged wife, Jennifer Garner, when Argo won Best Picture in 2013, but it was hard to tell if, in this case, it was better or worse that he remembered to address his spouse. "I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It's good," he said on stage. "It is work but the best kind of work and there's no one I'd rather work with." Should Garner have been offended? Said thank you? Appreciated his creativity? Three years later, it's still tough to deconstruct.

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Affleck later clarified his comments. "I barely remember the Oscar speech," the Boston native told the Associated Press in February 2013. "Certainly, the most important thing for me, in a way, was to honor my wife and to let people know how much I love her." Well, hard work is honorable and does pay off -- but the couple announced they were divorcing in June 2015, one day after their 10-year wedding anniversary.

That's not the first Affleck faux pas at the Oscars. Let's flashback to 1998, when he tried to answer his phone in the press room after taking home the award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting.

Don't miss ET's live Academy Awards pre-show on Pop this Sunday, Feb. 28., starting at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. Go to to find out where to watch.