Early in the evening, just at the beginning of the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, it appeared as if “Hugo,” the much-acclaimed 3-D movie created by legendary film director Martin Scorsese, might just win the night. It quickly picked up a couple awards. And although it would be one of the night’s big winners, “The Artist” picked up momentum and eventually walked away with the night’s biggest Oscars, including Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), and Best Picture.
“The Artist” eventually won five awards in all, half of its total nominations, taking in Best Costume Design and Best Original Score (although critics note the score being very derivative of “Vertigo”) as well. “Hugo” would also win five awards, including Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, of the 11 for which it was nominated.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was Meryl Streep’s win for Best Actress for her role as “Margaret Thatcher” in “The Iron Lady.” In her acceptance speech, she said when she heard her name announced, she could imagine half of America groaning. It was her third Oscar win (from her record 17th nomination).
A tearful Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for her part in “The Help,” while a spry and joking Christopher Plummer became the oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actor trophy at 82 for his role in “The Beginners.”
The “In Memoriam” segment, where the Academy Awards takes a few moments to honor those that have passed away in the past year, was beautifully rendered as pictures of acting greats like Jane Russell, Ben Gezara, and Elizabeth Taylor filled the screen at center stage. Esperanza Spaulding, the winner of the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist, sang the Louis Armstrong classic “What A Wonderful World.”
Billy Crystal emceed the event without a hitch, hosting the Oscars for the ninth time (and for which he’s won several Emmy Awards). As has been his wont over the years, he performed a song composed to reflect the nine Best Picture nominees. The number was highlighted with an homage — sang to the tune of “That’s Amore” — to Martin Scorsese’s restraint in filming “Hugo,” which was geared toward a more general audience, and poked fun at the absence of killing and maiming that Scorsese’s more gang- and mob-related movies are known for.
“The Artist” was the first silent movie to win the Best Picture Oscar in 83 years. The silent film “Wings” won the first ever Oscar for Best Picture in 1929.
2012 Oscars Winners
Art Direction: “Hugo.”
Costume Design: “The Artist.”
Makeup: “The Iron Lady.”
Foreign Language Film: “A Separation,” Iran.
Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, “The Help.”
Film Editing: “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Sound Editing: “Hugo.”
Sound Mixing: “Hugo.”
Documentary Feature: “Undefeated.”
Animated Feature Film: “Rango.”
Visual Effects: “Hugo.”
Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.”
Original Score: “The Artist.”
Original Song: “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets.”
Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, “The Descendants.”
Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris.”
Live Action Short Film: “The Shore.”
Documentary (short subject): “Saving Face.”
Animated Short Film: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”
Directing: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist.”
Actor: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist.”
Actress: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady.”
Best Picture: “The Artist”