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Al Pacino’s best picture presentation was ‘peak performance’ and you can’t convince us otherwise

Though some were peeved, the great actor gave the 96th Oscars the anticlimax it deserved (c'mon — we all knew Oppenheimer would win)

By Jon Blistein

Al Pacino at the 2024 Oscars (Picture: Getty)

Al Pacino, known for his absolutely seismic performances, turned in one at the Oscars so brilliant it seems unfair to call it understated instead of barely interested. The actor was tapped to announce the night’s biggest prize, Best Picture, and did so with such anticlimactic energy it seemed to confuse not only everyone watching, but the people running the Academy Awards telecast.

Pacino seemed to totally ad-lib his category introduction, joking about doing some Shakespeare before slipping into a boilerplate spiel about how “10 wonderful films were nominated, but only one will take the award for Best Picture.” Normally, this is probably where a presenter would remind everyone in attendance the names of those 10 films, but not Pacino (we have to assume that he, too, was aware that this year’s show was on track to end a stunning five minutes ahead of schedule).

Instead, Pacino uttered a sentence that will surely go down in Oscars history: “And, I have to go to the envelope for that… and I will… here it comes… and my eyes see Oppenheimer.” 

The fact that Pacino sounded like he was asking a question led to a brief bit of uncertainty — we are still living in a post-La La Land/Moonlight world, after all — as some scattered claps arose from the crowd. By way of confirmation, Pacino took a careful look at the card and declared, “Yes, yes.”  Only then was there enough confidence for the orchestra to start to swell and the cameras to cut to the Oppenheimer cast and crew. 

Sadly, some online were befuddled by Pacino, especially his decision to not list all the nominees. This was described by many media outlets and individuals as awkward, while the Daily Mail even went so far as to declare it a “blunder.” Others were dismayed at Pacino’s apparent failure to inject a bit of verve and suspense into the proceedings (as if everyone in the world didn’t know Oppenheimer was about to win, anyway).

“Think of how amazing Jane Fonda was at presenting Best Picture—how well she understood the gravity of the moment and gave the appropriate pause before announcing Parasite as the winner,” one X user stated. “And now think about Al Pacino presenting the award.”

Others, however, recognized the genius on display. They celebrated the chaos and confusion, lauded Pacino for not giving a single shit, and pointed out that one of the greatest actor’s of his generation is under no obligation to treat the Academy Awards with undying reverence: “if I was al pacino and my only oscar was for scent of a woman I also wouldn’t take that shit serious.”

Or, as another user put it, “Al Pacino stumbled out of bed, walked onstage, opened an envelope, and said the name of the winner. This is the ideal award presenter. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.”

This is also a good excuse to return to what Al Pacino once said about attending the Oscars in an interview years ago. We won’t print it out here because it’s better to just watch the video of John Mulaney reading it in full at this year’s Academy Governor’s Awards. Just as a teaser, though, it’s a story that does not involve artistic glory or grandeur but valium, confusion over how long the Oscars actually are, and really needing to use the bathroom. 

From Rolling Stone.