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Joaquin Phoenix's Oscars speech in full: "We’re at our best when we support each other"

(Image credit: Getty)

Of all the acceptance speeches at the Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix's was perhaps the most pointed. The actor, who picked up the Best Leading Actor award for his performance in Joker, took the opportunity to raise awareness of our need for equality, whether it be gender, race, or animal. He referenced the farming industry's practice of artificially inseminating cows to then use there milk for commercial purposes. He also paid tribute to his late brother, River, who passed away in 1993.

Below, watch or read Joaquin Phoenix's Oscars speech in full.

"I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love – that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it. But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. 

"I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively. I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.

"We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity.

"I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. 

"We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.

"We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.

"I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.

When he was 17, my brother [River] wrote this lyric. He said: “run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”

The Oscars ceremony was full of surprises, including a Best Picture win for Parasite. Here's the full Oscars 2020 winners list.

I'm the Entertainment Editor over here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. I look after all the Total Film and SFX articles that end up on the website