With the Oscars fast approaching, we imagine all the nominees are deep in preparation mode—last minute fittings in your couture, perfecting your gracious loser face (closed mouth smile, tip head slightly to the right, and nod approvingly as though you knew it would be them the whole time), and most importantly planning your speech in hopeful anticipation of a win. To help this year’s nominees, we scoured through videos upon videos of previous winners to find 10 tips for the perfect acceptance speech.
Step 1: Be articulate
After winning a Golden Globe for playing Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker delivered one of the most inarticulately endearing acceptance speeches to date. After 30 looong, tongue-tied seconds of unintelligible babble and more ‘and um’s than is acceptable for anyone who—for all intents and purposes—delivers speeches for a living, SJP managed to land a heartfelt and extremely gracious speech, giving love to everyone from her co-stars (Mr. Big in a tux, be still my heart) to the grips, caterers, and, of course, Mr. Ferris Bueller himself.
Step 2: Find some liquid courage
What is a Hollywood awards show if not one giant, over-publicized work function? And, if a celebrity-laden office party is anything like a Wildfang office party, it is as much about tossing a few back as it is about celebrating shared wins—with one caveat: Wildfang office parties are not usually recorded for live television (I can’t imagine why the general public isn’t more interested in witnessing us sing wildly off-key karaoke, but I digress). When accepting her Golden Globe for last year’s Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett had no qualms sharing her, ehrm, *merriment* with the rest of the world; Not to mention her thoughts on the Magic Castle, her biceps, and Judy Garland’s untimely barbiturate overdose. ¡Salud!
Step 3: Don’t forget to thank your co-stars
When a 72-year-old Jack Palance took the stage to accept his Oscar for 1992’s City Slickers, he used his moment of glory to highlight his physical prowess over his acting talents—namely his ability to produce bowel movements larger than a (albeit short) man and demonstrate his aptitude for the one-armed push up. It was a speech that could only be delivered by a coal miner turned professional boxer turned actor. You seriously can’t make this sh*t up. (Pun intended).
Step 4: Be humble and gracious
Only Meryl Streep could make a public display of vanity seem so friggin’ endearing. And why not? No one likes faux-modesty. You f*cking rocked that sh*t, Meryl! You should be proud! Hats off to the unofficial Queen of the Screen.
Step 5: Keep it short and sweet
No, that is not a truncated quote, that is quite literally Merritt Wever’s entire Emmy acceptance speech for her role in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. It was short and to the point—just the way us viewers at home hope for. Give the people what they want, we say!
Step 6: Give ’em hell—or at least tell them to go there
Imagine you were just handed the highest possible honor in your field; in the eyes of the world you are now seen as the best of the best. What would you say? Would you magnanimously thank those who bolstered you along the way? Or would you give in to your baser instincts, stand at that podium, look directly into the camera, and eloquently say, “SUCK IT” to everyone who gave you sh*t along the way? We’re leaning toward the latter.
Step 7: Remember those who are no longer with us
Though he was at the peak of his career renaissance when he received a 2009 Golden Globe for his role in The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke had spent the larger part of the previous two decades in Hollywood purgatory, opting to focus his efforts on reviving his boxing career rather than his acting. So who do you thank when you’ve been living in Hollywood obscurity for 20 years? Let’s go with your dogs, even the dead ones. They are man’s best friend, after all.
Step 8: Speak from the heart
Acceptance speech or Rod Tidwell impression? Either way, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Oscar win for Jerry Maguire is one of our all-time faves. C’mon! This is possibly one of the best moments of your life—f*ck playing it cool! Shout your love from the rooftops! And when they start that music to play you off the stage, just take that as your cue to shout louder.
Step 9: Consider future career opportunities
Meryl Streep has won so many damn awards we had to put her on this list twice. After taking the stage at the 2010 Golden Globes, she took the opportunity to announce the next phase of her career—T-Bone Streep, MC. Either that or she was giving a nod to fellow winner T-Bone Burnett, but we’ll keep our eye out for her debut album just in case.
Step 10: When in doubt, cover all your bases
Julia Roberts has been to enough award shows to know that there’s nothing worse than walking off stage after accepting your statue and realizing you forgot to thank your mom or your husband or your best friend’s aunt’s cousin’s ex-roommate who let you sleep on her couch when you first moved to Los Angeles. So when she won an Oscar for 2000’s Erin Brokovich, America’s Sweetheart erred on the side of caution and thanked everyone she’d ever come in contact with here on earth.
Tune in Sunday, February 22—we’ll be live tweeting the Oscars and looking out for this year’s best speeches.