On stage, Oscar winners are often flustered or overflowing with scripted thank-yous. But by the time they get backstage to meet reporters, they have their wits and words together. Some highlights, from our colleague Monica Hesse who was there, and from wire reports and official press conference transcripts:

(Joel Ryan/AP)

“I can’t tell the Academy what to do, honey, they just gave me an Oscar.”

Octavia Spencer, when asked about a Los Angeles Times investigation finding that academy voters are predominently white and male. (She was in a chipper mood: “Oscar nomineeeeee,” she crooned, in a tune of her own invention. “But now I’m a winnerrrrrr.”)

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

(Chris Pizzello/AP)

“Of course, I’m a naughty boy. I’ve been bad all my life, and she always puts me in line. . . . What could be clearer?”

Christopher Plummer, when asked by a reporter what he meant on stage when he thanked his wife “for rescuing every day of my life.”

Backstage with Natalie Portman. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

(Chris Pizzello/AP)

— A translator conveying composer Ludovic Bource’s story about why winning best score for “The Artist,” after so many other accolades, was important.

(Chris Pizzello/AP)

“For Meryl and me it’s all about not having it be her, but having it be whomever the character is.”

J. Roy Helland, who won best makeup for “The Iron Lady” and who has worked with Streep for nearly 40 years — bleaching her for “Sophie’s Choice,” mulletting her in “Silkwood,”and creating the chilly fashionista bob of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Backstage with Melissa Leo. (Joel Ryan/AP)

Christopher Plummer on why “a gay actor can play a straight guy beautifully and vice versa.”

Meryl Streep in 1983, accepting the best actress award for “Sophie’s Choice.” ( AP file image / )

“It’s as strange to be here once as it is to return,”

Meryl Streep, quoting a poem to describe how it feels to win another Academy Award, 29 years after her last.

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List of 2012 Academy Award winners

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Oscar ceremony photos