Meryl Streep and Octavia Spencer took home some of the top prizes for women at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday night. The women won for best actress and best supporting actress, respectively.

It was the first such honor for Spencer, who played the maid Minny Jackson in “The Help,” and the actress and audience were visibly excited by the announcement, says Sarah Anne Hughes of Celebritology:

The clearly emotional actress was met with a standing ovation from the audience. Spencer first thanked the Academy for having Christian Bale — “the hottest guy in the room” — introduce her.

She also thanked her family in Alabama and in L.A., as well as Tate Taylor, her friend and the film’s director, and “Help” author Kathryn Stockett.

Streep was likewise emotional, though self-deprecating and aware of her monumental 17 nominations. While accepting the award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” Streep mixed several jokes along with seemingly sincere thanks to her husband and fellow actors, says Hughes:

“When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no. Come on,’ ” Streep joked of her third Oscar win. “But whatever.”

It was the actress’s 17th nomination. She is now one of only four actors to have three acting Oscars. (Katharine Hepburn won four.)

Streep thanked her husband — “Everything I value most in our lives you’ve given to me” — and her longtime makeup artist J. Roy Helland, who won an Oscar earlier in the night.

Despite her record nominations, it was the first time Streep had one since 1983, when she took the title of best actress for her role in “Sophie’s Choice.” Streep wore a strikingly similar gilded gown when she last accepted the award, noted Katherine Boyle of Celebritology:

It seems she’s channeling herself almost 30 years later, in a long-sleeved Oscar-gold gown by Lanvin.

She’s also part of a larger environmental movement among A-list celebrities. Streep is the Green Carpet Challenge’s  newest recruit, a contest sponsored by Eco Age, a London-based nonprofit where Livia Firth, wife of Colin Firth, is creative director. Firth started the Green Carpet Challenge three years ago, and has since recruited Viola Davis, Michael Fassbender and her husband (among others) to wear eco-friendly designs on various red carpets. Streep is wearing a custom-made Lanvin gown, the first eco-friendly design ever produced by the French fashion house.

The two actresses were seen chatting at the Oscar’s Governors Ball after the ceremony, as they took their statuettes to the bar to get their names affixed to the bottom of the trophies, says Jen Chaney of Celebritology:

But when Meryl Streep swooped in to get her Oscar Streeped, cameras flashed to a seizure-inducing degree to capture the moment. The intensity only increased when Octavia Spencer, supporting actress winner, scooted in right behind her, gave the Iron Lady some hugs and conversed happily with her colleague. (Overheard during this discussion: Spencer asking Streep how well the fabric of her dress — the one that so resembled the shimmer of a well-earned little gold man — breathes.)

More on the 2012 Oscars:

‘The Artist’ wins best picture; Streep takes home third career Oscar

TV review: Oscar’s wishful thinking

Academy Award winners 2012: Full list led by “The Artist”

At the Governors Ball, Meryl Streep, Billy Crystal, Melissa McCarthy and more

Oscars 2012: The comprehensive Academy Awards recap

Oscars red carpet Q&A