Hollywood lost out to the French at the Oscars as silent film The Artist completed its clean sweep this awards season. Taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin became the first Frenchman to pick up the award), Best Costume Design and Best Original Score, the silent film, a vintage salute to cinema, rocked at the Academy Awards just as it had around the world, through the year.
The black and white film completed a weekend trio of triumphs after also winning gold at the Cesar Awards in Paris on 24 February and the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California on 25 February. It is also the first silent film in 84 years to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese's first 3D film Hugo picked up five of its 11 nominations in categories including Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
The Help lost out on Best Picture and Best Actress for Viola Davis but it did get Octavia Spencer a Best Supporting Actress nod.
Other big winners at the 84th Academy Awards included Meryl Streep (Best Actress), Woody Allen (Best Original Screenplay), Alexander Payne (Best Adapted Screenplay), Christopher Plummer, who, at 82, became the oldest actor ever to win an Academy Award, for his supporting role in Beginners, and A Separation, which became the first movie from Iran to win a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The show itself was pretty low-key this year, though Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin was so excited during his acceptance speech that he included words French which were the equivalent of dropping the 'f-bomb'. Asked about his swearing during a backstage press conference, Dujardin smiled as he admitted uttering the naughty word in front of millions of TV viewers and apologised for his behaviour, telling reporters, "Yeah. I'm sorry."
T.J. Martin, co-director of Best Documentary winner Undefeated, also went the bleeped out way when he said in his acceptance speech, "We would like to acknowledge our fellow nominees, they have inspired us. They have inspired us in so many ways, they should be up here with us, actually, that'd be f***ing amazing." Like Dujardin, Martin apologised as well, saying later, "First and foremost I'd actually like to apologise for this. I don't think it was the classiest thing. It did come from the heart. It was out of spontaneity, it was completely accidental."
Accidents of the wardrobe malfunction kind looked set to happen when presenters Jennifer Lopez (in a low-cut, cleavage revealing Zuhair Murad gown) and Cameron Diaz (in Gucci) took to the stage. J-Lo's dress,which looked like it might be in danger of revealing more than it should when she leaned over the podium at one pint, caused quite a stir. More so, when both Lopez and Diaz showed off their derrieres to the audience as they gave away the Best Costume Design and Makeup Oscars.
Even host Billy Crystal kept his monologue more PG-13 than Ricky Gervais-style risque though some of his jokes took a turn towards being racially explosive. In his opening montage, for a skit on Midnight in Paris, he was on stage in blackface portraying Sammy Davis Jr. Later, after Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as a maid in The Help, set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement in Sixties America, Crystal added, "After I saw The Help I just wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverly Hills is about a 45 minute drive."
He also took a dig at himself, describing himself as the War Horse as it was his ninth time hosting. But the biggest laughs came for Crystal's line on the Oscars renamed home. Known as The Kodak Theatre for years, the LA venue where the show takes place is now called the Hollywood & Highland Center because of the photography company's bankruptcy troubles. "We're here at the beautiful Chapter 11 Theater," Crystal said as the gathered A-listers cracked up.
Earlier, Angelina Jolie sizzled on the red carpet in a black Atelier Versace gown with a thigh-high slit, showing off her super-toned pins and Brad Pitt on her arm. While Brad lost out on the Best Actor trophy, he won even more attention than usual on the red rug, thanks to Ange's choice of outfit, which was topped off with Neil Lane jewels worth US$2.5 million including cushion cut diamond drop earrings, a diamond ring and a pair of diamond pins (worn on the back of her wrist)!
Check out the full list of winners right here:
Best Motion Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Art Direction: Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges, The Artist
Best Makeup: Mark Coulier & J Roy Helland, The Iron Lady
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation, Iran
Best Film Editing: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Best Sound Editing: Phillip Stockton & Eugene Gearty, Hugo
Best Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman & John Midgley, Hugo
Best Documentary Feature: Undefeated
Best Animated Feature Film: Rango
Best Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman & Alex Henning, Hugo
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie, Man or Muppet from The Muppets
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Live Action Short Film: The Shore
Best Documentary (short subject): Saving Face
Best Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards: James Earl Jones, Dick Smith and Oprah Winfrey