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Oscars 2012: The Artist triumphs along with Meryl Streep

The Artist

Story by Jack Foley

SILENT movie The Artist has triumphed at the Oscars, winning five awards including best picture, best director and best actor for Jean Dujardin.

The film also won awards for best original scrore and best costumes on a night when the main categories failed to deliver a single surprise victory.

Meryl Streep was crowned best actress for the third time in her career for her portrayal of Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

And true to awards ceremony form, Christopher Plummer became the oldest Oscar winner at 82 by winning best supporting actor for his portrayal of a gay man who comes out in his elderly years in Beginners.

Octavia Spencer took home the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as a feisty maid in The Help – again in line with pre-awards night expectation.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which had entered the evening with the most nominations, also won five Oscars, mainly in technical categories.

The night, though, belonged to The Artist, with the cast and crew of the film in jubilant, jokey mood every time they reached the podium.

As part of his victory speech, director Hazanavicius – winning on his first ever nomination – thanked the film’s dog, Uggie (who attended), but added: “I don’t think he cares.”

While Dujardin – who pipped George Clooney and Brad Pitt to the statuette – said of his character: “If George Valentin could speak, he would say ‘Wow! Victorie! Genial! Merci!’”

He also broke into his native French language in celebration shouting: “Wow, victory!”

Before adding: “Thank you to the Academy. It’s funny because in 1929, it wasn’t Billy Crystal but Douglas Fairbanks who hosted the first Oscars ceremony. Tickets cost $5 and it lasted 15 minutes. Times have changed.”

Speaking at a press conference after the ceremony, meanwhile, Hazanavicius told the world’s assembled press that once he realised people loved the movie, promotion was not difficult.

“We started promoting it in August; I went to three film festivals: Telluride, New York and Toronto. The only thing difficult about it was that my kids were in Paris, and I had to fly back and forth a lot – but that’s a personal issue, not a professional one.”

His fellow collaborator and one of the film’s producers, Thomas Langmann, added: “When we started the movie, all the meetings were very short. No one wanted to help us making a black-and-white silent movie. I knew that it would be different, that it would be original. All the weaknesses that were at the beginning became strengths.… I’ll never forget this evening!”

Streep’s victory comments

Although Streep’s Oscar win – her third from 17 nominations throughout her career – is being touted as a ‘surprise’ by some (who had expected Viola Davis to win for The Help), her victory was true to form with all the other major award ceremonies she has attended while in the running for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher.

Indeed, she almost appeared to acknowledge this fact by saying as part of her speech: “When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going: ‘Aww no. Not her again’. But, you know, whatever.”

She went on to say: “I look out here and I see my life before my eyes. My old friends, my new friends. This is such a great honour but the thing that counts the most for me is the friendships… Thank you. All of you, departed and here.”

She also thanked the Academy “for this inexplicably wonderful career”.

Veteran actor Plummer thanked his real-life wife who, he said, deserved “the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day”.

While The Help‘s Octavia Spencer received a standing ovation after giving an emotional acceptance speech upon receiving the best supporting actress Oscar .

The fifth African-American actress to win in the category, she was was visibly overcome and quickly moved to tears as she spoke of her various families in Alabama, Los Angeles and among those who had fought to bring The Help to the screen.

She also thanked “Steven Spielberg for changing my life”, before adding: “Oh my God, thank you… I’m freaking out!”

Other Academy Award winners

Of the remaining awards not handed out to either The Artist or Hugo, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash took home the best adapted screenplay for The Descendants, starring George Clooney.

And veteran screenwriter and director Woody Allen collected the best original screenplay for Midnight in Paris despite being absent to collect the award.

Rango – featuring the voice of Johnny Depp as a chameleon undergoing an existential crisis – won best animation, a first Academy award and nomination for director Gore Verbinski, who said it was “made by grown-ups acting like a bunch of children”.

While marriage break-down drama A Separation became the first Iranian film to win an Oscar when Sandra Bullock presented director Asghar Farhadi with best foreign language film.

The Oscar for best original song was won by Bret Mackenzie for Man or Muppet from the soundtrack to The Muppets.

And best film editing went to Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to complete a rare double for the duo, who also won last year for The Social Network.

British artist Mark Coulier and J Roy Helland won the award for best make-up for The Iron Lady.

While Hugo‘s five wins were shared between Robert Richardson (for best cinematography), Francesca Lo Schiavo (as art director), Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty (best sound editing), Tom Fleishman and John Midgley (for sound mixing) and best visual effects.

Stories outside of the awards

The main two stories outside of the awards winners belonged to Angelina Jolie and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Jolie set Twitter ablaze by wearing a revealing Versace dress, which allowed for plenty of her right leg to be on show.

It even prompted its own Twitter account to be created at @AngiesRightLeg, which began Tweeting messages from the ceremony and attracted over 2,000 followers before Dujardin had been crowned best actor.

While Sacha Baron Cohen, who hit the red carpet dressed as Admiral General Aladeen, his character from The Dictator, also set Twitter ablaze following his prank on E! presenter Ryan Seacrest.

The comedian appeared to dump the ashes of ‘Kim Jong Il’ on Seacrest’s jacket as he was being interviewed in what looked like a surprise moment for the presenter.

A poll conducted by The Hollywood Reporter following the stunt suggested that 32% of people who saw it thought it was ‘so not funny’, while 57% described it as ‘hilarious’.

The gag also divided opinion on Twitter, where Kelly Osbourne, Seacrest’s E! red carpet co-host, Tweeted: “I’m sorry @RyanSeacrest this was the moment of the night!”

While Piers Morgan Tweeted: “This is just not funny. At all. Really.”

Seacrest himself Tweeted: “My mom always told me to pack two jackets for red carpets, always wondered why. Now I know…”

View the winners at a glance