Movies are full of powerful speeches, but some stand out above the rest. Whether it’s a world leader encouraging his nation to fight back, a coach finding just the right words to motivate his team, or a commander inspiring his squadron to complete its mission, some movie speeches become as recognizable as the movie itself.
In advance of the Academy Awards, Toastmasters International, the global organization devoted to communication and leadership skills development, selects five speeches as the most memorable in movie history (listed below by release date).
In Hoosiers, Coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) appeals to his basketball team’s emotions with his inspiring pregame speech, urging them not to get caught up in the outcome of the game. “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game. In my book we’re gonna be winners.”
In what is perhaps the most remembered Wall Street scene, Gordon Gekko confidently delivers his discourse on the value of greed. The speech helped Michael Douglas earn the Best Actor Oscar in 1988. “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.”
The Shawshank Redemption
In The Shawshank Redemption, convicts Andy and Red have opposing views of what life outside of prison would hold. Red (played by Morgan Freeman) is resigned to living the rest of his life behind bars, while Andy (played by Tim Robbins) keeps it simple as he explains his hopefulness despite the grim circumstances. “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
As the leader of the rebel Scots, William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) in Braveheart, connects with his audience as he challenges the Scottish army to stop running and fight for their independence from England. “And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
In Independence Day, President Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman) speaks with passion while motivating U.S. fighter pilots to join other forces from around the world to battle against aliens attempting to destroy the human race. “We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist and should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice, ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.’ Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”