After the 84th Academy Awards were handed out on February 26, 2012, several actors and filmmakers achieved personal and historic bests. Two Frenchmen used a silent film to make Oscar history, an actress finally broke a long losing streak, and a legendary actor of stage & screen finally earned a statuette – but not before setting a record. Here were ten great storylines that were fulfilled and realized on Oscar Night 2012:
THE FRENCH STORM THE OSCAR CASTLE, OH SO SILENTLY: The Artist won 5 Oscars including the big prize of Best Picture. Jean Dujardin also made history by becoming the first French-born actor to win an acting prize, and also the first of them to win Best Actor. Director Michel Hazanavicius became the second Frenchman to win Best Director, the first being the French-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski (2002’s The Pianist).
THE WEINSTEINS RULE THE SHOW: Seven years after leaving the company they co-founded in Miramax, Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s self-glossed studio gave them one of their biggest Oscar bashes yet. Besides The Artist‘s 5 victories, they also gained two statuettes for the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady and the Best Documentary Feature award for Undefeated. For the inspirational football story, the Weinsteins defeated Wim Wenders’ Pina and the true-life crime drama Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory to help secure Undefeated‘s filmmakers their statuettes.
MERYL BREAKS THROUGH FOR THREE: While she had won two Oscars previously, Meryl Streep seemed to need a win. For 29 years, she had been nominated many more times and somehow could never get that elusive third win. She finally got it with her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and now stands one behind Katharine Hepburn for the most statuettes ever awarded to an actress.
PLUMMER’S TIME IN THE SUN: It took him over 50 years and a big-budget blockbuster musical (The Sound of Music) along the way, but Christopher Plummer had his big historic moment at the 84th Oscars. Even though he was nominated two years ago for The Last Station, his performance as a man who declares his homosexuality to his son in Beginners landed him his first Oscar. He also passed Driving Miss Daisy‘s Jessica Tandy to become the oldest person to win an Academy Award – at age 82.
OCTAVIA’S SPOTLIGHT: By delivering a scene-stealing performance in The Help, Octavia Spencer became the sixth African-American female (and fourth since 2006) to earn an Academy Award. Spencer’s Supporting Actress win was also the third in six years for an African-American to win in that category – following Dreamgirls‘ Jennifer Hudson and Precious‘ Mo’Nique.
GEORGE AND BRAD GO 0-FER: These best buddies now have another thing in common – they were both shut-outs for statuettes at this year’s ceremony. George Clooney was up for Best Actor (The Descendants) & Best Adapted Screenplay (The Ides of March), but he lost both categories. Brad Pitt had Best Picture and Actor hopes for Moneyball, but walked away empty-handed. At least Clooney had an Oscar win under his belt (2002’s Syriana); Pitt, meanwhile, is still chasing his first.
WOODY SCORES FOUR: Woody Allen pulled off a critical and commercial comeback with his love letter to the City of Lights, Midnight in Paris. He would pull off the Best Original Screenplay win, earning him his fourth Oscar – and first since his writing win for the 1986 dramedy Hannah and Her Sisters. Allen kept a personal tradition for this year’s Oscars – he was a no-show at the ceremony.
‘HUGO’ SCORES HALF A BIG NIGHT: Even though Martin Scorsese’s visual drama Hugo led the ceremony with 11 nominations, the big Best Picture prize would be elusive. Yet it would score well in the technical awards, taking five of them – including wins for long-time Scorsese collaborators Dante Ferretti (art direction) & Robert Richardson (cinematography). Scorsese would also walk out empty-handed, but unlike many times before, he didn’t have to leave about chasing that elusive first win – thanks to The Departed.
A RARE OFF YEAR FOR PIXAR: Even though the full-length Cars 2 was nowhere to be seen on Oscar night (mostly harmed by its critical & commercial dismissal), Pixar didn’t have much going for it this year. They did have a nomination in Best Animated Short Film for La Luna, but it would lose to the adventurous tale The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lensmore. This year may have been the first since 2006 (when Cars was their driving force for Oscar) in which Pixar didn’t win a single statuette.
THE MUPPETS FINALLY WIN: Movies starring The Muppets never seemed to catch a break at Oscar night. Three films, four nominations previous…zero victories. Then Bret McKenzie’s song “Man or Muppet” walked home with the Best Original Song award. Yes, it’s true the Muppets themselves didn’t win any statuettes – but it certainly sealed their comeback, and made them an award-worthy franchise. Somewhere, the Muppets’ beloved creator Jim Henson had to be smiling.