Oscar's winning words

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"An Oscar acceptance great speech resonates and a bad one leaves a bad odor," says Barbara Laskin, a top media consultant and communications trainer.

"Do you ever wonder if a bad Oscar acceptance speech can wreck a career? We don't really know. But we do know that terrific speeches in years past -- by Tom Hanks and Jodie Foster -- are still remembered today and are part of their stardom."

Laskin is one of three media pros The Envelope asked to critique the acceptance speeches of five Oscar champs: four actors plus Martin Scorsese as best director.

Laskin, TV veteran Leeza Gibbons and Oscar guru Pete Hammond of Maxim and HollywoodWiretap.com all gave high marks to Helen Mirren and low-to-midling ones to Alan Arkin.

Other champs got a mix of various views.

But all three judges agreed on how important it is for champs to give a truly winning performance while winning an Oscar.

"There's a parallel course for success," notes Gibbons. "One is being intimate and communicating with your peers in that room and the other is serving the television program. They're two different skill sets. The really smart winners are aware that people watch the show, but more people watch the clips from the show that are replayed over and over on the TV news. They must have a memorable excerpt, that byte-able moment."

"For most people you get one chance at an Oscar acceptance, one chance to make your 45 seconds count," adds Hammond.

"The ingredients for a good speech are simple: speak from the heart, don't list a bunch of names that are meaningless to the audience, and say something that is actually worthy of your status as a winner. The best speeches -- Louise Fletcher's memorable acceptance and thank-you to her deaf parents in 1976 to George Clooney last year -- are ABOUT something. Use the moment up there not to stutter around like you have never been in front of a crowd before, but rather to say something that will connect with people watching."

First: Helen Mirren

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