The Hollywood film industry's award season provides ample opportunity for stars to deliver heartfelt speeches, but no ceremony can compete with the Oscars for pure drama, spectacle and gravitas.

Here, ahead of the The 89th Academy Awards on Sunday (26 February), IBTimes UK takes a look at 10 of the most memorable speeches from throughout the history of the Oscars.

Be warned, the sense of occasion upon achieving a lifelong dream can do strange things, to even the most composed actors and actresses, as their true personalities are fleetingly revealed.

Sacheen Littlefeather declines Marlon Brando's Oscar on his behalf (1973)

Marlon Brando refused to attend the 1973 Oscars ceremony in protest at the treatment of Native Americans in cinema.

Instead, the late star sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a member of the American Indian Movement, in his place.

When Brando won the Best Actor Oscar, Littlefeather went up to reject the award on his behalf, in protest against the "treatment of American Indians in the movie industry".

Her statement, met with loud boos and even louder clapping, was intensified by a recent standoff at the historic town of Wounded Knee between Native Americans and law enforcement agencies in February 1973.

Brando wrote a 15-page letter explaining his decision that he initially hoped Littlefeather could read out, however production staff threatened to have her arrested should she speak for over a minute.

Fortunately, the letter was later read to the press in its entirety and can be viewed here.

Key quote: "He [Marlon Brando] very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry".

Cuba Gooding Jr. spreads the love (1997)

Self-absorption is a common charge levelled at actors, so when Cuba Gooding Jr jumped up on stage in genuine excitement and declared his love for everyone after winning Best Supporting Actor for Jerry McGuire (long before co-star Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah Winfrey's sofa), it was impossible not to grin manically.

Even better, he ignored the backing music — hastily introduced after 32 seconds to prompt his exit — and instead decided to just keep on going.

The belligerence proved inspiring, as the emotion, inadvertently backed by the dramatic music, added to the impact of the speech.

Key quote: "I know I have a little bit of time so I'm gonna rush and say everybody, and you cut away, I won't be mad at you. Tom said don't forget to thank your wife… I love you!"

Heath Ledger posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor Oscar (2009)

There can be little denying that Heath Ledger deserved his posthumous award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.

His sensational turn as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's Batman: The Dark Knight left audiences in awe, but, just the film world anticipated a great future, Ledger tragically lost his life after accidentally overdosing on sleeping pills.

The humble, grief-stricken acceptance speech from the 28-year-old's family, including his father, Kim, touched hearts around the globe.

"Bittersweet is probably the best way I can describe that night. It was only a year and a month since his passing," Kim retrospectively explained to People in 2016. "We hadn't got our heads around the tragedy of losing him, but at the same time, he was receiving such accolades for what he knew was his best work."

Key quote: "This award tonight would've humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, within an industry he so loved. Thank you."

Jack Nicholson accepts the 22nd AFI Life Achievement Award (1994)

Jack Nicholson is known for his cool demeanour, irresistible charm and party boy antics.

He has been a heartthrob for many years, but, most importantly, remains a fantastic actor – securing Oscar nominations over five decades; winning three.

So, when he stepped up to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, people listened. Although not strictly an Oscars speech, the reflective tones, looking back on his Oscar success, set the benchmark for authentic acceptance speeches.

As much as the jokes flew off the tongue, a clearly emotional Nicholson, scrapped his speech to display a vulnerable side that was heart-warming to see.

His words proved a masterclass in how to lose it completely, and yet somehow keep it all together.

Key quote: "My work motto is everything counts, my life motto is more good times… so I guess the only real danger is that after this I'll fall in love with myself!"

Leonardo DiCaprio breaks his Oscar curse (2016)

After five Oscar nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio finally walked off stage with the trophy that had eluded him for decades.

But rather than toast his success for his role in The Revenant, DiCaprio took the opportunity to focus on the threat of climate change.

"Making 'The Revenant' was about man's relationship to the natural world… climate change is real," he said in his acceptance speech.

Hitting out at corporate and political greed, he continued "it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating".

A year on, the election of climate change sceptic Donald Trump as US president, makes the 42-year-old's words even more pertinent.

Key quote: "Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take this night for granted."

Gwyneth Paltrow semi-cries (1999)

Paltrow really wanted to appear sincere after picking up the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in 1999's Shakespeare In Love.

Unfortunately for her, the acceptance speech turned into one of the most forced, hysterical pieces of acting she has ever produced.

Where is Kanye West when you need him?

Key quote: "[Sob]… I… I… want to thank…"

Roberto Benigni goes wild (1999)

Clearly, something was in the air in 1999, as the ceremony also saw Roberto Benigni act out Italian passion in its fullest form after winning Best Foreign Language Film for Life is Beautiful.

Throwing caution to the wind, he stood up on the auditorium seats, literally bounded on to the stage and made a speech in his inimitable English. It did, however, include wonderful metaphors and references to kissing, love and joy.

The thick Italian accent, complete with wild black hair, also gave the impression he could be Mario in another life.

Key quote: The whole damn thing.

Anna Paquin left speechless (1994)

Anna Paquin scooped the award for Best Supporting Actress for The Piano at only 11-years-old.

Initially too shocked to make a speech, she let her facial expressions, and gasps, say 1,000 words in ways that Winona Ryder could only dream of.

Key quote: Her face says more than any written speech.

Sydney Poitier accepts honorary Oscar for his body of work (2002)

Sydney Poitier had already broken much ground when he accepted this honour, having been the first black man to receive an Academy Award in 1964.

Yet, even back then, he was still walking on egg shells. America proved too shaken by the congratulatory kiss on the cheek he received from Ann Bancroft, to truly listen to anything he said.

But, in 2002, thirty-eight years later, Poitier, upon being bestowed with an Honorary Oscar, was finally granted the chance to reflect and fully express himself.

"I arrived in Hollywood at the age of 22 in a time different than today's," the moving acceptance speech began, "a time in which the odds against my standing here tonight 53 years later would not have fallen in my favour," he continued.

His words paid tribute to his few enlightened peers, including Joe Mankiewicz and Richard Brooks, who paved the narrow, treacherous road for his place in the industry. Poitier also commended the brave few directors who, working against the conventions of a racist society, gave him an opportunity to become a pioneer in the US — a star irrespective of his skin colour.

"I accept this award in memory of all the African-American actors and actresses who went before me in the difficult years, on whose shoulders I was privileged to stand to see where I might go," he concluded.

Key quote: "Here I am at the end of the journey that, in 1949, would have been considered almost impossible".

Matthew McConaughey wins Best Actor (2013)

"There's three things to my count, that I need each day, something to look up to, something to look forward to and somebody to chase," began McConaughey, as he accepted an Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club.

After thanking God and his family, the 44-year-old finally turned to the figure he looked up to and announced an unexpected choice – his future self.

An unattainable figure, McConaughey admitted persistently falling short of becoming the man he wished to be but nonetheless promised to keep trying.

"When I was 15 years old someone asked me, 'Who's your hero'? I said 'It's me in 10 years'.

"So I turn 25, 10 years later that same person comes to me and goes 'so are you a hero?' And I was like, not even close. No, no, no. She said 'Why?' I said because my hero is me at 35. So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away.

"I'm never going to beat my hero. I'm not going to obtain that, I know I'm not. And that's just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing."

Key quote: "To any of us… whoever it is we are chasing to that I say amen. To that I say alright, alright, alright. And to that I say just keep living huh. Thank you."