On a night when an acting Oscar could go to a 9-year-old kid or the guy from "Alias," the supporting actor category is where experience is a given. Every one of the nominees already has an Oscar (or two), so winning this one means not just validation, but also a second chance.
Giving a follow-up Oscar speech is an opportunity to redefine oneself and make up for the oversights of the first one. Here's how the nominees handled their earlier victories, and a little advice if another one happens Sunday.
Christoph Waltz: You went poetic after the "Inglourious Basterds" win, so you get a pass to play it straight this time. Throw a bone to your mom, or God, or the poor losing nominees. Oh, and when Octavia Spencer or whoever hands over the gold, go easy on the lascivious cracks, please.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Did you just ad lib that "Capote" speech? Or are you really good at acting like you did? Either way, this is when you switch it up to dignified and stately. And if anyone questions your worthiness, keep the motif going with another Van Morrison quote: "There's no need for argument/There's no argument at all."
Alan Arkin: You made your name as a master improviser at Second City, so this time, skip the notes and wing it. You can't help but be funny. Your earnest endorsement of acting as a "team sport" applies just as much to "Argo" as it did for "Little Miss Sunshine," so switch it up this time to bemusement, perhaps about your director being snubbed.
Tommy Lee Jones: Let's hope you learned your lesson after shaving your head for "Cobb" and having to accept your "Fugitive" prize with a shiny pate. No drastic makeovers on Oscar eve! But your warm demeanor back then helped thaw your reputation, which could use some defrosting again after your stone-faced night at the Globes.
Robert De Niro: A two-time winner but only a one-time accepter (absent the night of the "Godfather II" victory), you had good instincts even back when the "Raging Bull" honors were pouring in 32 years ago. Even if you went the wrong way off stage, you knew enough to thank your parents and your director, and that goes a long way. If Oscar shines on you again, throw some love to your co-stars and maybe cop to doing some parts far from award-worthy. ("New Year's Eve," anyone?)