West Wing fans are used to seeing Allison Janney at a podium, but this public address is really something special. Allison Janney's Oscars acceptance speech for I, Tonya started off with a bang. "I did it all by myself," she joked, before beginning her thanks. Don't you kind of wish that she had just walked off the stage and left it at that?!
Janney was up against Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird, Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, Lesley Manville for Phantom Thread, and Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water. This is Janney's first Oscar nomination, and she previously took home the Golden Globe, Screen Actor's Guild Award, and the BAFTA for her role as Harding's mother LaVona. The film takes a hard look at cycles of abuse — but, as somewhat of a satire, still delivers some amazing jokes. Every single one of Janney's dramatic and comedic chops were on display in I, Tonya.
While this win seemed somewhat inevitable, it is most certainly deserved. This is not only her first Academy Award nomination, but her first time ever attending Hollywood's biggest night. For such a legendary performer not only on the big screen, but also on the small screen and stage, it's pretty wild.
The award was presented by last year's Best Supporting Actor winner, Mahershala Ali. After the initial joke, Janney's speech was pretty standard, going through the various people who worked on the film and with her on her team. She thanked the bird who accompanied her character and low-key stole the film. She shouted out her fellow nominees and praised the humanity they brought to their roles. There were a lot of fierce women, and a lot of complicated mothers in film this year.
Here's the first part of her speech.
At the end of her speech, Janney dedicated the award to her late brother, Hal. “I lost my brother to addiction and other things," Janney said in a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post. "It was terrible, and I think that’s why when [Mom] came into my lap and I saw it was about people in recovery and addiction, I was like, ‘I’m doing it. I just want to do it. I just want to do it for him. I love it when people come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been in recovery for four years or 25 years, and I thank God this show is on TV.’”
As Vulture points out, that opening joke makes for an excellent GIF you can use in your everyday life. Unfortunately, C.J. Cregg fans did not get a performance of "The Jackal" during the speech, but this was pretty good.
“I have watched these awards — the Oscars — for the past 40 years on couches with friends and sweatpants,” Janney said in an interview with People. “And [being] here for the first time, with my friend Steven Rogers who wrote this role for me, it’s kind of a dream come true." She also told People that she was carrying a charm in honor of Rogers. “Whenever I was doing a performance," she said "he would always say to me ‘sparkle peanut’ and years ago he gave me a tiny, silver peanut. So I’m gonna have that in my purse.”
Known primarily as a television actor, Janney is a six-time Emmy winner for The West Wing, Mom, and Masters of Sex. For films, she won a Screen Actors Guild award along with the casts of American Beauty and The Help. The fact that she finally has a Oscar to add to that collection is beyond awesome.