2023 Critics Choice Awards Best Moments and Most Memorable Speeches

Check out some of the brightest highlights from Sunday's star-studded awards show.

Some of the biggest celebs and most acclaimed film and television projects were honored at this year's 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards, and the star-studded show was filled with some truly memorable moments and exciting surprises.

From host Chelsea Handler's fun and hilarious opening monologue to a slew of delightful presenters and heartfelt acceptance speeches, there was no shortage of highlights from the big show at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Here's a look at all the best moments and most memorable speeches from Sunday's big show.

Chelsea Handles Strikes the Perfect Tone

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While being an awards show host can be a thankless job, Chelsea Handler dealt with the monologue like a pro. "I know I have a reputation that precedes me, but you should all know that I've been to two years of therapy, so everyone is safe now," Handler opened her monologue, assuaging the fears of any nervous celebs. "Between covid, monkeypox, the Don't Worry Darling press tour, it's been a lot. I'm just happy to be here tonight supporting the critics' right to choose," Handler quipped. "At least someone still has a choice, unless they're a female critic, then it depends on what state they're in." 

She also poked fun at Nick Cannon, sexism in the film industry, and Prince Harry's long press tour. "Dahmer became the third-highest viewed show on Netflix with a combined watch time of 1 billion hours, which apparently is the same amount of time we're going to have to listen to prince Harry talk about his frostbitten penis," Handler joked. "It's enough, already."

RRR Director S.S. Rajamouli Makes Us Beam

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In one of the early surprise moments, RRR beat out more traditional awards show fare to take home the award for Best Foreign Language Film, and director S.S. Rajamouli delivered a heartfelt speech where he thanked his mother for encouraging him to read comics when he was a kid and to be creative, and his wife (who is also his costume designer on his films) for being "the designer of my life." He also gave a shoutout to his daughters, whose smiles are "enough to light my life up."

Quinta Brunson and Sarah Hyland Give Good Advice

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It can be hard to be a celeb presenter and have to do some sort of scripted skit, but comedy queens Quinta Brunson and Sarah Hyland had no problem sharing some advice for the nominees. "Now, the rules for prestigious award shows are a lot like rules for school, so if this is your first time, let's get some things straight," Hyland shared.

"Yes, you've got to listen carefully when your name is called. If you win but you're in the bathroom, the trophy goes directly to the lost and found," Brunson shared. "

"Keep your hands, feet, and mouths to yourselves," Hyland said. "We're all very excited, but this isn't the omicron variant awards."

"If you have one too many and you get a little messy, and you thank your girlfriend instead of your wife or something, that's on you," Brunson concluded. "This is live TV and that's your burden to bear. No takebacks." 

Niecy Nash-Betts Tugs the Heartstrings

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When she took home the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television -- for her role in Netflix's Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Niecy Nash was overcome with emotion and delivered a touching and inspiring speech about wanting to make a change in her life and start taking dramatic roles. 

"When I decided to become an actor. I saw myself doing drama, and the industry was kind but they said, 'Stay in your comedy lane.' Sometimes people want to leave you where they meet you," Nash-Betts recalled. "I didn't know what to do and I cried. And I called my mother, I said, 'Mama, don't you think I'm a good dramatic actress?' And she said, 'Girl, I don't.' She said, 'But you can be. You find the best class in this town and I'm going to work overtime to pay for it.' Thank you, mama."

Sheryl Lee Ralph Inspires America

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There are few actors more inspiring and joyful than Sheryl Lee Ralph, and she proved that yet again with her win for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Abbot Elementary. After emphatically and emotionally sharing thanks with her co-stars, Ralph shared an impassioned message for viewers at home, pointing directly into the camera, which slowly moved in on her for brilliant dramatic effect.

"All of you watching here, come close to the screen and listen," Ralph implored. "People don't have to like you. People don't have to love you. They don't even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see. You better love what you see."

Janelle Monae Makes the Most of SeeHer Award Speech

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Winning the SeeHer Award -- which was presented by her Glass Onion co-star Kate Hudson -- Janelle Monae shared an impassioned speech about how each character she's portrayed has resonated with her, and how her characters mean more to her than just another performance.

"This is a deeply personal choice for me because I grew up with working-class parents. My mother was a janitor, my father was a trash man, and my grandmother was a sharecropper in Aberdeen, MS. It's personal because I am nonbinary. I am queer and my identity influences my decisions and my work. I have always believed that through storytelling, we are able to shed light on the human experience, and experience that most people around this world won't get an opportunity to see," she shared. "I kind of keep this glimmer of hope in my heart that when someone meets a character like the ones that I've had an opportunity to play, you be more empathetic to their experience, more empathy. You want to be more like them. You want to be more kind, less judgmental, more eager to advocate for them."

 "To anyone out there like me watching right now, I just want you to know that I see you, I challenge you to see you. Thank you to SeeHer and thank you to the Critics Choice Association for recognizing me," she concluded. "I stand in the biggest puddle of gratitude and for making me the recipient of the 2023 SeeHer award. Thank you."

Jeff Bridges Shares Love For Late Father

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This year, John Goodman presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to his friend and Big Lebowski co-star Jeff Bridges, who proved just how delightful he is with his moving and heartfelt speech. The Dude dedicated much of the speech to his late father, actor Lloyd Bridges, who would have been 110 on Sunday. "Yeah, man. I wouldn't be up here without my dad. He's the reason I'm up here. I can remember him loving showbiz so much. He loved acting so much," he recalled. "As a kid, you know, I said, 'Dad, I'm not sure if I want to be an actor.' And he goes, 'What are you talking about?' I said, 'You know, maybe painting, maybe music.'"

"He said, 'Jeff, don't be ridiculous. Being an actor, they're going to call on you to do all those things that you're interested in. Besides that, get to tell all these wonderful stories from all these different perspectives and of people that are alive. This is a wonderful profession,' Bridges continued. "He is so right. I am so glad I listened to my old man."

Seth Rogen Mocks Critics Choice Awards

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Seth Rogen filled the room with laughter at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday Night by seemingly going off-script to roast the awards show itself -- brilliantly mocking the unusual choice to announce all the Supporting Actor categories two at a time. "Do they always give two awards out at the same time? That was weird! Why did they do that? Are we crunched for time?" Rogen quipped. "Get another hour! It can't be that expensive. You know how I know that? This show airs at 4:00 pm on The CW. That cannot be pricey. I'm not saying The CW is bad. What I will say is it is the one network to receive zero Critics Choice nominations. You are saying it's bad."

Brendan Fraser Brings All the Tears

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The Brendan Fraser Renaissance (a.k.a "Brenaissance) continued Sunday will a well-deserved win for Best Actor for his role in The Whale. An overwhelmed Fraser thanked his co-stars and the people most important in his life, before almost fully breaking down in tears as he delivered an impassioned thank you to director Darren Aronofsky.

"I was in the wilderness, and I probably should have left a trail of breadcrumbs. But you found me, and like all the best directors you merely showed me where to go to get to where I needed to be," Fraser said, before crying while sharing a message to those watching at home. "If you, like Charlie -- the guy I play in this movie -- struggle with obesity or you feel like you are in a dark sea, I want you to know that if you can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light, good things will happen!"

Cate Blanchett Shares the Glory

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When Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for her role in Tár, she used her acceptance speech to advocate for the end of awards shows in general -- and especially gender-divided acting categories. She said the system is set up as a "patriarchal pyramid, where someone stands up here. Why don't we just say there's a whole raft of female performances that are in concert and in dialog with one another."

"Stop the televised horse race of it all. Because, can I tell you, every single woman -- television, film, advertising, tampon commercials, whatever -- you're all out there doing amazing work that is inspiring me continually. So thank you, I share this with you all!" she added, sharing the glory with her fellow nominees -- including Viola Davis, Danielle Deadwyler, Margot Robbie, Michelle Williams and Michelle Yeoh.

Check here for a full list of winners at this year's 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards.