“I would like to thank the Academy”

An acceptance speech is always a challenge. One must prove to the audience in less than three minutes they are worthy of an award. It’s a balance between pride and gratitude, humbleness and confidence, acceptance and disbelief, and in the past decade, finding ways to include the perfect amount of politics. In her 2020 Oscars speech, Renee Zellweger uses pathos, ethos, and logos while accepting her Oscar for playing Judy Garland in the 2019 movie, Judy, to find the balance and create an excellent example of an acceptance speech. Zellweger’s ethos is already developed. She is in actress accepting an Academy Award. The audience already knows she is talented, so therefore she does not need to and chose not to highlight her achievements in her speech. Instead, she took the time to thank the people that made her career possible, such as the director and her fellow actors in the movie, her parents, siblings, team, friends, and, of course, the Academy. This appears to the audience’s pathos, making her appear humble and like fame has not changed her, proving she is worthy of the Academy Award. After a minute of gratitude, the speech takes a turn. This is when Zellweger brings in a politics. Instead of focusing on an issue or believe that divides this country, like abortion or gun rights, Zellweger concentrates on what unites us, our heroes, or “the best among us, who inspire us to find the best in ourselves.” By concentrating on the unity, even going so far as to list some of the most common heroes in our society, finding a branch upon which everyone watching can connect to the speech, Zellweger appeals to the audience’s logos, especially since Zellweger won the Oscar for playing Judy Garland. Judy Garland is a hero that unites people, so, logically, Zellweger would concentrate on this unity during her speech, connecting her audience in the same way her character, Judy Garland, did and continues to do. To end her speech, Zellweger returns to gratitude, thanking Judy Garland and calling her award an “extension of the celebration of her legacy,” handing Judy Garland the credit for the award. By thanking and crediting her award to a historical figure and hero that unites so many people across generations, Zellweger unites her audience, making them agree she is worthy of winning the Academy Award for her role in Judy.


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