The Most Awkward Moments To Happen At Awards Shows



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Voting Rules

Vote up the most embarrassing moments that played out at award shows.

As some of the most anticipated events for Hollywood A-listers and their fans throughout the year, award shows never fail to provide copious amounts of entertainment. From the time stars exit their limos to walk the red carpet until the last award is given for the night, viewers excitedly gather around their TVs in anticipation of the engaging events that will undoubtedly unfold. 

Like any live performance, these shows rarely air from beginning to end without some commotion. Sometimes it's a controversial acceptance speech. And there's always the rare but highly plausible chance of a disastrous live performance. While those disturbances do make an imprint in our minds, it's somehow the unintentional, incredibly awkward moments that tend to leave the most lasting impressions.

This list features some of the most cringe-worthy moments ever witnessed at awards shows. Vote up the most infamous!

Photo: Alan Light / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

  • Kanye West Stormed The Stage To Interrupt Taylor Swift Accepting Her 2009 VMA
    Video: YouTube

    Taylor Swift's night was off to a promising start at the 2009 Video Music Awards. She performed live from a New York subway earlier in the show. Later, her video “You Belong With Me” won the award for Best Female Video. 

    While the crowd cheered for Swift, Kanye West felt that his friend Beyoncé had been snubbed. The rapper took to the stage and stole the mic from Swift, arguing: 

    Yo, Taylor. I'm really happy for you. I'm gonna let you finish. But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time! 

    Once West exited the stage, a bewildered Swift shyly accepted the award before also walking away.

    496 votes
  • A Joke About His Wife Jada Caused Will Smith To Slap Oscars Host Chris Rock
    Video: YouTube

    Will Smith stunned Chris Rock and viewers around the world when he unceremoniously walked up to the stage and hit the comedian in the face during the 2022 Oscars. 

    Moments before, Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's baldness, calling her “G.I. Jane.” (She has alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder). Although cameras show Will initially laughing at the quip, Jada appeared unamused. As Rock struggled to regain his composure after the blow, Smith could be heard yelling from his seat, “Keep my wife's name out of your f*cking mouth.”

    Later that night, Will won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard. As he accepted, he used his speech to portray himself as a family man who was looking out for his wife. 

    Despite Smith reaching out to publicly apologize to Rock, Rock did not respond. In an interview with Trevor Noah, Smith admitted

    That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There’s many nuances and complexities to it. But at the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know?…

    It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know? All of that just bubbled up in that moment. That is not who I want to be.

    He also claims that he has no recollection of the events. 

    461 votes
  • Warren Beatty Grabbed The Wrong Envelope When He And Faye Dunaway Presented The 2017 Best Picture Award
    Video: YouTube

    With the night coming to a close, audiences eagerly anticipated the announcement of who would win the Best Picture Oscar for 2017. As presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage and opened the prize envelope, a look of confusion washed over the duo. 

    Eventually, Dunaway took the envelope from Beatty's hands and read the name of the winner, La La Land. The only problem? Moonlight was the actual winner. Somehow, Beatty had opened the envelope for Best Actress, an award that La La Land's Emma Stone had received earlier in the evening. 

    As La La Land's production staff and actors took the stage to give congratulatory speeches, more confusion and chaos emerged. After onlookers witnessed the befuddled and flabbergasted faces on stage, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz cleared the air

    Sorry, guys, hold on. There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke.

    Once it was confirmed that Beatty had picked up the wrong envelope and Moonlight was indeed the winner, the audience broke into applause, and the new winners took the stage. As host Jimmy Kimmel prodded Beatty for an answer as to what happened, the Dick Tracy star retorted: 

    I wanted to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope, and it said, “Emma Stone, La La Land.” That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.

    269 votes
  • When Crowning Miss Universe 2015, Steve Harvey Read The First Runner-Up’s Name Instead Of The Winner’s, Due To A Last-Minute Change
    Video: YouTube

    As the two remaining Miss Universe contestants, Miss Colombia (Paulina Vega) and Miss Philippines (Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach), stood on the stage holding hands, the world anticipated whose name Steve Harvey would read off the 2015 winner card. As he excitedly announced Miss Colombia, crew members crowned her, presented her with a sash and a bouquet of flowers, then encouraged her to walk the runway as the 2015 Miss Universe. 

    Then, just as quickly as she had been crowned, Miss Colombia lost her title. An exasperated Harvey acknowledged to the crowd that he had announced the wrong woman, and that the crown actually belonged to Miss Philippines.

    Although the Family Feud host initially took responsibility for the error, he later said on a podcast that he didn't believe he was at fault. Instead, he blamed a change in the script. According to Harvey, he was only supposed to announce the second runner-up and the winner, but show producers made a last-minute change without alerting him:

    It was a painful [expletive] night there... Oh God. I didn't know the pain I was in. I didn't know how bad the mistake was… 

    Well, in the teleprompter after I announced the second runner-up, the teleprompter said “And the new 2015 Miss Universe is…” The dude in my ear, said, “Read the next name on the card, Steve. Hold, hold, hold.” I looked at the next card. I said, “Miss Colombia!”

    Harvey also said that had he not walked back on stage to correct the error, the crucial mistake would've been blamed on the show:

    I took my stupid [expletive] back out there… I should have let them announce it the next day in the newspaper. I wouldn't have caught none of the hell I caught…

    I really didn't make no [expletive] mistake. I did what they told me in my ear and I read that teleprompter. I took the card out there and showed the third name that they handed to me from the stage, but I had my thumb on it, it wasn't no third name… It was the worst week of my life.

    250 votes
  • Rob Lowe’s Infamous Opening Number With Snow White At The 1989 Oscars Was One Of The Most Embarrassing Events In Oscars History
    Video: YouTube

    When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed over the planning of the 1989 Oscars to Grease producer Allan Carr, everyone assumed it would be a memorable night. Whether attending live or watching from home, what audiences weren't expecting was a bizarre display of what has been subsequently dubbed “the worst Oscars ever.”

    Carr made numerous changes to the ceremony, including adding extended red-carpet TV coverage, a fashion show, and the now-famous line “and the Oscar goes to…” While these changes became Academy Award night routine, his decision to forgo a traditional host and instead let - in his own words - famous “couples, companions, costars, and compadres” present the awards set the tone for a very odd evening. 

    The first “famous” presenter proved not to be famous. Instead, a then-unknown performer named Eileen Bowman entered the auditorium dressed as Disney's Snow White to perform and present alongside Rob Lowe, whom Carr chose as her blind date for the night. Lowe, who starred in St. Elmo's Fire, had recently come under fire in his own right for a leaked sex tape with a teenage girl.

    Performers dressed as literal stars facelessly danced on stage while Bowman unsuccessfully worked to woo the less-than-enthusiastic A-list crowd. Samba partners danced to Merv Griffin singing “I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts." To cap the entrance, Bowman and Lowe sang “Rolling, rolling, keep the cameras rolling” to the tune of “Proud Mary,” and staged furniture came to life to dance along to the tunes. 

    Following the show, Disney sued over the use of Snow White, and a number of prominent actors penned letters of complaint to the Academy. Rather than serving as a launching pad for Bowman's career, she faded into obscurity. Carr never worked as a producer in Hollywood again.

    170 votes
  • A Reporter At The 2015 SAG Awards Complimenting Rashida Jones On Her 'Tan' Made For A Very Awkward Moment
    Video: YouTube

    As Rashida Jones gracefully navigated the swarms of people to have a moment with reporters on the red carpet at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, host Danielle Demski remarked on how “tan” Jones was: 

    You look like you've just come off like an island or something, you're very tan, very tropical…

    Fortunately for Demski, The Office star and daughter of music producer Quincy Jones quickly stepped in to make light of the awkward situation:

    I mean, you know, I'm ethnic.

    Jones has a varied ethnic background. On her father's side, she has mostly Black heritage, plus small amounts of Welsh, Scottish, and English. Her heritage on her mother's side is Russian and Latvian Ashkenazi Jewish.

    202 votes