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afterlife of a milkshake
top 10 oscar-winning catchphrases
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)

We already did milkshakes a few years ago. They brought all the boys to the yard. They were replaced by the wee-yoo from "Sweet Escape", by Rihanna's umb-a-rella-ella-ella, by the patented Winehouse no, ahno, ahno.

And yet, milkshakes are back in the public eye, only this time instead of a ubiquitous pop music hook, it's a ubiquitous pop culture catchphrase.

"I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

Now, I have not yet seen There Will Be Blood, but I have no doubt that we are all sullying the seriousness of some kind of emotionally wrenching scene when we giggle about people's milkshakes, and for that, I would personally apologize to Paul Thomas Anderson, except that he already owes me for wasting several hours of my life with frog-rain and frowny-Sandler, so let's just go ahead and call that one even.


Ten years from now, will we still be drinking each other's milkshakes? I doubt it. But then again, maybe we didn't think these Oscar-winning catchphrases would last very long either:

10. "I wish I knew how to quit you." Brokeback Mountain, 8 noms, 3 wins, 2006. Much like the milkshake line, this one utterly pervaded the culture and got its claws in us but good. Fading some now, but every once in a while you'll hear people bemoaning their ability to quit someone. Or chocolate. Or World of Warcraft.

9. "I'm the king of the world!" Titanic, 14 nominations and 11 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director, 1998. Still a good touchstone for hubris. Deployed here and there, hopefully never in sincerity. Because that just... doesn't work. Unless you're the actual king of the actual world. Don't hold your breath.

8. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Casablanca, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, 5 other nominations, 1944. There are more recognizable lines, not to mention the Greatest Misquote of All Time, but this one has relevance. It's the "dark and stormy night" of Oscar catchphrases.

7. "Life is like a box of chocolates." Forrest Gump, 13 nominations and 6 wins, including Picture, Actor, all the biggies, 1995. Treated now like more of a punchline ("this office is like a box of chocolates, full of nuts!") but still heard more frequently than you'd expect.

6. "I see dead people." The Sixth Sense, nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, & 3 other awards, 2000. Still heard and co-opted for pop culture headlines on a regular basis, generally with substitutions for "dead": I see fat people, I see short people, etc. etc. We don't see Haley Joel Osment, but the dead people, they're still with us.

5. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Network, 10 nominations, 4 wins, including three acting prizes and Writing, 1977. Who gets mad as hell? We all do. It's handy to have this to shout when it happens.

4. "[He's] a bad mutha... shut yo' mouth!" Yes, Shaft is an Oscar winner too: Best Original Song, 1972. People who don't even say "It's hard out here for a pimp" anymore are still calling back to the master, Mr. Isaac Hayes. Thanks for playing, Number Number Mafia.

[Yes, I know what the numbers are. I'm trying to make a point.]

3. "Show me the money!" Jerry Maguire, Best Supporting Actor plus nominations for Best Picture and Best Writing, 1997. Still heard on occasion, generally separated from context (i.e. it's about actual money, not the movie) and also remembered as the last thing Cuba Gooding said onscreen that we a) saw, b) liked, and c) didn't feel a little sad about afterward.

2. "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." The Godfather, Part III, 7 nominations including Picture and Director, no wins, 1991. Yes, other movies in the Godfather franchise are responsible for some of the most memorable and enduring lines -- "Leave the gun, take the cannoli", "You come to me on the day of my daughter's wedding", "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes", and so on -- but no other line endures like this one. Seriously? I hear this once a month. Maybe it's the people I hang out with. But few of us have seen the movie, and all of us know the line. It lasts.

1. "STELLLAAAA!" A Streetcar Named Desire, 12 nominations and 4 wins, 1952. Ruined it for kids named Stella pretty much forever.

Kids named Johnny can at least take comfort in the fact that all The Shining won in 1981 was a pair of Razzies.


Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

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todd bush
3.5.08 @ 6:14p

Not only can I hear every single line being uttered from the movie, you are right, I hear these lines a lot.

Maybe it'e the people *I* hang out with, but I hear more Ghostbusters, Anchorman, and Top Gun lines than anything else.

beth clement
3.5.08 @ 9:51p

I have a friend who worked for CSI in Florida and when asked what she did for work she said, "I see dead people".
It still cracks me up to this day.

mike julianelle
3.6.08 @ 10:17a

Jael, you're not entirely right about the milkshake line in the movie. The scene is intense but it's, intentionally I'm sure, a bit comical as well.

And while I really like Magnolia - flaws and all - I have to save I kind of LOVE Punch Drunk Love.

And There Will Be Blood doesn't feel an iota like them. Not for a SECOND. Really quite amazing. If only Wes Anderson could leave his idiosyncratic personal style behind and evolve a bit like PTA has with Blood...

jael mchenry
3.6.08 @ 4:03p

I definitely want to see Blood, and I'm sure it isn't anything like his previous work, I'm just saying, the man has done me wrong in the past.

By the way, I just read an interview with the Fug Girls over on TWoP and one of them uses #10 re:TV.

Todd, the non-Oscar-winning catchphrases definitely have a strong afterlife as well. It's an unusual week for me if no one says "You keep using that word -- I do not think it means what you think it means."

russ carr
3.6.08 @ 10:50p

Honorable mention:

11. "Houston, we have a problem." Apollo 13, 9 noms, 2 wins, 1996. Tom Hanks' nearly monotone delivery of Jim Lovell's announcement that the titular moon mission was FUBAR has become a regular declaration whenever anything around the workplace goes legs-up.

Also, if I ever form a bowling team, I'm calling it the 7-10 Mafia.

juli mccarthy
3.6.08 @ 11:50p

I humbly submit, Russ, that that line, much like The Shining's "Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" was in common usage long before the movie version of the Apollo 13 mission.

jael mchenry
3.7.08 @ 11:28a

Hmmm... I definiltely only associate "Houston, we have a problem" with Apollo 13, but then again, before that my primary association with the space program was Space Camp. The movie, not the camp.

adam kraemer
3.7.08 @ 11:47a

I still have trouble not yelling "Stelllaaa!" after I order a Stella Artois.

jason gilmore
3.7.08 @ 4:54p

I say #2 ALL THE TIME. Especially at work, or when I'm talking about work.

I liked There Will Be Blood a lot more than my wife did, but I think I need to see it again. And I echo everything Mike says -- even the Wes Anderson comment -- except that Punch Drunk Love is the only PTA film I haven't seen. (I'll get to it.)

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