Last night, Hollywood came together to celebrate itself in the annual culmination of the interminable season of awards shows known as the Oscars. The ceremony’s biggest story may be its lack of incident, given the abrupt dismissal of Brett Ratner as producer back in November, resulting in a tedious and largely lifeless event whose biggest surprise was Meryl Streep’s win for Best Actress. As always, the brightest human moments came in the rare unscripted bits, as award winners took to the stage to claim their trophies. Here, we present our very own awards from last night for the Best Acceptance Speeches, from the stately to the snarky.
Best (Non-)Political Commentary
Asghar Farhadi, the director and writer of A Separation, the first Iranian film to win Best Foreign Language Film, touched lightly on his home nation’s authoritarian government and its troubled relationship with the United States in a way that was both subtle and moving. Speaking of his fellow Iranians, he said, “They are happy…because at a time of talk of war, intimidation, and aggressions exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”
Best Emotional Breakdown
Octavia Spencer expressed the most genuine surprise of the evening at her win for Best Supporting Actress, despite being one of the most heavily favored throughout the race. The Help actress barely pulled through her adorable tears and whimpers to thank her family and costars and crew before bawling, “‘Please wrap up.’ I’m wrapping up! I’m sorry, I’m freaking out!” and apologizing her way into the wings.
Best in Show
Christopher Plummer, who at 82 became the oldest person to ever win an acting Oscar, showed everyone the correct way to give a proper acceptance speech, mixing together just the right amounts of humility and humor. Plummer moved smoothly through his surely well-rehearsed words, proving that the old-fashioned might be unsurprising, but still come out pitch-perfect.
Best Gentle Mockery
Jim Rash, a co-winner with Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, cocked his hip and stuck out his right leg à la presenter Angelina Jolie, stealing the show while Payne worked through his obligatory platitudes. Rash told Entertainment Weekly afterwards of Jolie’s attention-grabbing vamping, “Honestly, as soon as I saw her pose like that, I was like, ‘I’m going to do that.'”
Best Variety Show
Jean Dujardin, whose acceptance speech for Best Actor opened with a winning blast of pandering (“I love your country!”), raced through lessons in film history and French before closing with a charming tap dance. Dujardin managed to sneak in a curse—”Merde!”—that went unchallenged by censors because, presumably, they assumed most Americans wouldn’t understand it.
Meryl Streep, who pulled off a minor upset over Viola Davis for Best Actress, acknowledged her third win and record seventeenth nomination thus: “When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no…oh come on. Why her? Again?’ But, you know, whatever!” Few but Streep could pull out a line like that and get away with it.
Best Last Line
In a ceremony that was even more self-congratulatory and nostalgic than usual, it was only fitting that the director Michel Hazanavicius ended his speech for The Artist‘s Best Picture win (the first for a silent film since Wings at the very first Oscars in 1929) with a thank you not to God or his family or the Academy, but to the legendary director Billy Wilder.