"This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Roberts told PEOPLE on Thursday

By Maggie Coughlan and Michele Corriston
Updated January 16, 2014 12:00 PM
Credit: Francois Duhamel; Claire Folger

It’s time to start penning the perfect acceptance speech.

Following Thursday’s Oscar nominations, the reactions from actors, actresses, directors and others poured in – but one thing connected all the responses: a feeling of elation.

“This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Julia Roberts told PEOPLE shortly after learning of her nod. “And the recognition from it is an absolutely thrilling bonus. I simply could not be more excited right now.”

Meryl Streep, also nominated for August, congratulated Roberts and said both are proud of their work.

“This honor from the Academy, for which we are truly grateful, will help bring attention to our film from audiences across the country, which is thrilling,” said Streep, an 18-time nominee who has already won three Oscars – something not lost on her fellow nominees.

“I’m very honored to be nominated alongside such inspiring actresses, said American Hustle Best Actress nominee Amy Adams. “Congratulations to the cast and crew of American Hustle and Her, two films that I’m incredibly proud to be a part of,” she said.

Her costar Bradley Cooper called the experience “special and surreal.”

“The nominations by the Academy for my fellow cast members, David and the film are a true tribute to David O. Russell, our mentor. I feel very lucky and humbled today,” he said.

Here’s what other stars had to say about being nominated for Hollywood’s top honor:

Sandra Bullock, Gravity: “I had already felt overwhelmingly blessed to have had the creative ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity that I did on Gravity. The life experience I garnered on this journey is something for which I will forever be grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Academy for including all of us amongst nominees that have left us in awe with their work this year.”

Alfonso Cuarén, Gravity: “Thank you Academy for this incredible recognition. These nominations are not just about single achievements, but rather the collective effort of hundreds of dedicated artists who made this dream a reality … I am particularly moved by Sandy’s nomination. She is the heartbeat of our film. She immersed herself in the part. And I thank her for her grace, her trust and her dedication to finding the truth of this character.”

Judi Dench, Philomena: “This is just the loveliest news. I’m so happy for everybody involved, and so proud to have been part of the wonderful experience that Philomena has been.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave: “At no point during filming, in the sweltering heat of New Orleans, did any of us ever foresee the journey this film would take us all on. Steve McQueen created an entire family to tell one man’s tale and I am delighted that so many of this family have also been recognized today. I am hugely grateful to the Academy for this great honor, and, of course, to Solomon Northup for sharing his story through his breathtaking book.”

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave: “I’m really chuffed with the Oscar nomination especially being recognized alongside such great actors. It’s a real honor.”

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave: “I’m extraordinarily happy for all the cast and crew of our 12 Years a Slave family. This has been an amazing ride, and to receive nine nominations from the Academy is testament to all of the hard work. And for that I am truly grateful.”

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine: “I am so delighted and overwhelmed, thank you so much to the Academy for this huge honor. To be given this for being in a Woody Allen film – it’s simply an amazing privilege. I am incredibly proud and delighted for us all. I am so thrilled for Woody for his nomination and, of course, for Cate (who I really can’t praise enough); I am delighted for them both as it’s so incredibly deserved. Thank you.” // the story “Academy Awards 2014: Nominees React” on Storify