One of the most essential parts of any Oscar night is the speeches. If you win, your job is only halfway done. Now you have to get up onstage in front of a billion people and practice your public speaking.
Some are heartfelt, some are funny, and some will go down in history — for better or worse. With so much of the ceremony dedicated to acceptance speeches, it’s important to look back and decide who owned the night and who fell on their face.
Here are our best and worst speeches of the 2012 Academy Awards:
Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress
For as predictable as Spencer’s win for Best Supporting Actress was, her speech ended the long road to Oscar night in style. She went with the time-tested acceptance-speech traditions of emotion and honesty. Plus, she thanked the state of Alabama, the only state to get a shout-out during the night.
Meryl Streep for Best Actress
It came as a big surprise, and no one knew that better than Streep. Her “whatever” attitude almost had us forget the upset win over Viola Davis. It may not have been the most just outcome, but at the very least we got a funny speech instead.
Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor
As the oldest person to ever win an acting Oscar, Plummer outdid most everyone younger than him and delivered one of the most memorable speeches of the night. It was class all the way for Plummer, who sincerely thanked his wife, daughter and co-star Ewan McGregor. He joked that, in his mother’s womb, “I was already rehearsing my Academy acceptance speech, but it was so long ago, mercifully for you, I’ve forgotten it.”
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for Best Adapted Screenplay
You have to admit that Angelina Jolie was standing a little oddly, with her right leg out of the high slit in her dress, as she read the names of the nominees. Jim Rash, known for his role on “Community,” also took note and mimicked the strange posture after he won the award for his work on the “Descendants” screenplay.
Jean Dujardin for Best Actor
A good way to score points as a Frenchman winning an Academy Award in America is to open your speech with, “I love your country!” Dujardin read the rest of his speech to help with his English, but it was the outburst in French at the end of his acceptance that really won us over.
Bret McKenzie for Best Song
Listen, Bret. We love you, and we’re so happy you won. But there would be no Muppets movie without Jason Segel. He may not have written any of the songs, but he co-wrote the film, put his name on the line and sang “Man or Muppet,” the winning song. At the very least, you should have given the man a simple “thanks.”
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for Best Editing
It’s understandable that you were caught off guard — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” didn’t get a whole lot of nominations — but you need to be a little more prepared than you were. You’re still expected to give a speech. You won just a year ago, so you have enough experience with this kind of thing.
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland for Best Makeup
It’s OK if you write your speech down before you head onto the stage to accept your award. It’s even OK if you read your speech directly from the cards you wrote them on. But please make sure that the speech is a good one if you’re going to do so.
The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Keep it locked at MTV.com all night and beyond for updates on the night’s big winners and the best red-carpet fashion. Join the live conversation by tweeting @MTVNews with the hashtag #Oscars.