Oscars: Joaquin Phoenix pays emotional tribute to late brother River as he accepts Best Actor award

Actor rarely speaks about his brother in public

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 10 February 2020 05:11 GMT
Oscars 2020: Joaquin Phoenix makes emotional speech about injustice

Joaquin Phoenix paid an emotional tribute to his late brother, River, in his acceptance speech for Best Actor at the 2020 Oscars.

River Phoenix died aged 23 in 1993 of a drug overdose, and Joaquin rarely speaks about him in public.

“I’m full of so much gratitude right now,” he began. “I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees because we share the same love – the love of film. This form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know what I would be without it.”

He continued: “The greatest gift it’s given me is the opportunity to use your voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the frustrating issues that we are facing collectively and 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 and inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights – we’re talking about the fight against injustice.”

“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources – we feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”

To close, he quoted a lyric he said that River had written when he was 17 years old: ”He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.’”

South Korean black comedy Parasite was the evening’s biggest winner, making history by becoming the first ever foreign language film to win Best Picture.

Other winners at the 2020 ceremony included Brad Pitt, who delivered an emotional acceptance speech that saw him praise Leonardo DiCaprio and criticise the verdict of Trump’s impeachment trial, while Laura Dern took home the prize for Best Supporting Actress.

Meanwhile, Olivia Colman had the audience in stitches before presenting Phoenix with his award.

Find a full list of the 2020 Oscar winners here.

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