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Silent romance 'TheArtist' won five Oscars

Feb 27, 2012

the artist

Silent romance 'The Artist' won five Oscars on Monday including best film, and Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' also took five of the world's top movie honours on a night where stories about movies felt the love of Hollywood.

'The Artist,' a black-and-white tale of a fading star who finds redemption through romance in the era when silent movies were overtaken by talkies, added to its best film victory with Oscars for its French star Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius, as well for musical score and costume design.

"I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that,"Hazanavicius told the audience of stars including George Clooney, Michelle Williams, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dujardin was equally excited, exclaiming "I love this country" before thanking the Academy, fellow filmmakers and his wife and recalling silent actor Douglas Fairbanks as an inspiration.

Meryl Streep won for her role as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who is slipping into dementia in 'The Iron Lady.' It was Streep's third Academy Award out of 17 nominations. She joked that the audience was probably tired of seeing her, then added, "whatever." But Streep couldn't hide her emotion as she choked up while thanking her husband and talking about her long career.

hugo 

Director Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo, 'which tells of a boy lost in a train station and serves as an ode to early filmmaking, came into the night with a leading 11 nominations and picked up five wins for cinematography, art direction, sound editing and mixing and visual effects.

the sound of music


Veteran Plummer, a star of classic film 'The Sound of Music,' won his first ever Oscar for his portrayal of an elderly gay man who comes out to his family in 'Beginners,' making Oscar history becoming the oldest ever Academy Award winner at age 82.

"You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life," he said, looking at his golden Oscar, which was celebrating its 84th awards ceremony.

Spencer, a relative newcomer in contrast to Plummer, had to hold back tears as she accepted her trophy for her portrayal of a black, southern made in civil rights drama 'The Help.'

"Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said holding her Oscar in her hand. She then went on to talk about her family in Alabama and could not hold back her tears as she joyously accepted her trophy.

In other major wins, the foreign language film award went to Iranian divorce drama 'A Separation.'

"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment," said its director Ashgar Farhadi.

'The Artist' won five Academy Awards on Sunday including best picture, becoming the first silent film to triumph at Hollywood's highest honors since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago.
Among other prizes for the black-and-white comic melodrama were best actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius.

The other top Oscars went to Meryl Streep as best actress for "The Iron Lady," Octavia Spencer as supporting actress for 'The Help' and Christopher Plummer as supporting actor for 'Beginners.'

'The Artist' is the first silent winner since the World War I saga 'Wings' was named outstanding picture at the first Oscars in 1929 had a silent film earned the top prize.

"I am the happiest director in the world," Havanavicius said, thanking the cast, crew and canine co-star Uggie. "I also want to thank the financier, the crazy person who put money in the movie."
The other wins for 'The Artist' were musical score and art direction. Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure 'Hugo' also won five Oscars, all in technical categories.

Streep's win was her first Oscar in 29 years, since she won best actress for 'Sophie's Choice.' She had lost 12 times in a row since then. Streep also has a supporting-actress Oscar for 1979's 'Kramer vs. Kramer.'

"When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America go, 'Oh, no, why her again?' But whatever," Streep said, laughing.

"I really understand I'll never be up here again. I really want to think all my colleagues, my friends. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends. Really, this is such a great honour but the think that counts the most with me is the friendship and the love and the sheer job we've shared making moves together," said Streep, the record-holder with 17 acting nominations. Streep is only the fifth performer to receive three Oscars. Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan all earned three, while Katharine Hepburn won four.

It was a night that went as expected, with front-runners claiming key prizes. Streep's triumph provided a bit of drama, since she had been in a two-woman race with Viola Davis for "The Help."

The biggest surprise may have been the length of the show, which clocked in at about three hours and 10 minutes, brisk for a ceremony that has run well over four hours some years. The 82-year-old Plummer became the oldest acting winner ever for his role as an elderly widower who comes out as gay in 'Beginners.' The previous oldest winner was best-actress recipient Jessica Tandy for 'Driving Miss Daisy,' at age 80.

Completing an awards-season blitz that took her from Hollywood bit player to star, Spencer won for her role in 'The Help' as a headstrong black maid whose willful ways continually land her in trouble with white employers in 1960s Mississippi.

Spencer wept throughout her breathless speech, in which she apologized between laughing and crying for running a bit long on her time limit.

"Thank you, academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," Spencer said, referring to last year's supporting-actor winner Christian Bale, who presented her Oscar.

Dujardin became the first Frenchman to win an acting Oscar. French actresses have won before, including Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche.

The win is even more impressive given the type of film Hazanavicius made, a black-and-white silent movie that was a throwback to the early decades of cinema. Other than Charles Chaplin, who continued to make silent films into the 1930s, and Mel Brooks, who scored a hit with the 1976 comedy 'Silent Movie,' few people have tried it since talking pictures took over in the late 1920s.

The only other filmmaker from France to win the directing Oscar is 'The Pianist' creator Roman Polanski, who was born in France, moved to Poland as a child and has lived in France since fleeing Hollywood in the 1970s on charges he had sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Hazanavicius, known in his home country for the 'OSS 117' spy comedies but virtually unheard of in Hollywood previously, won a prize that eluded half a dozen of France's most-esteemed filmmakers, including Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut and Louis Malle, who all were nominated for directing Oscars but never won.

The visual-effects prize had been the last chance for the 'Harry Potter' franchise to win an Oscar. The finale, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,' had been nominated for visual effects and two other Oscars but lost all three. Previous 'Harry Potter' installments had lost on all nine of their nominations.

"And yet they only paid 14 percent income tax," Oscar host Billy Crystal joked about the 'Potter' franchise. Another beloved big-screen bunch, the Muppets, finally got their due at the Oscars. 'The Muppets' earned the best-song award for "Man or Muppet," the sweet comic duet sung by Jason Segel and his Muppet brother in the film, the first big- screen adventure in 12 years for Kermit the frog and company.

Earlier Muppet flicks had been nominated for four music Oscars but lost each time, including the song prize for 'The Rainbow Connection,' Kermit's signature tune from 1979's 'The Muppet Movie.' "I grew up in New Zealand watching the Muppets on TV. I never dreamed I'd get to work with them," said "Man or Muppet" writer Bret McKenzie of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords," who joked about meeting Kermit for the first time. "Like many stars here tonight, he's a lot shorter in real life."

Filmmaker Alexander Payne picked up his second writing Oscar, sharing the adapted-screenplay prize for the Hawaiian family drama 'The Descendants' with co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Payne, who also directed "The Descendants," previously won the same award for "Sideways."

Woody Allen earned his first Oscar in 25 years, winning for original screenplay for the romantic fantasy 'Midnight in Paris,' his biggest hit in decades. It's the fourth Oscar for Allen, who won for directing and screenplay on his 1977 best-picture winner 'Annie Hall' and for screenplay on 1986's 'Hannah and Her Sisters.' Allen also is the record-holder for writing nominations with 15, and his three writing Oscars ties the record shared by Charles Brackett, Paddy Chayefsky, Francis Ford Coppola and Billy Wilder.

No fan of awards shows, Allen predictably skipped Sunday's ceremony, where he also was up for best director and 'Midnight in Paris' was competing in vain for best picture.
'Rango,' with Johnny Depp providing the voice of a desert lizard that becomes a hero to a parched Western town, won for best animated feature.

"Someone asked me if this film was for kids, and I don't know. But it was certainly created by a bunch of grown-ups acting like children," said "Rango" director Gore Verbinski, who made the first three of Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Crystal got the show off to a lively start with a star-laden montage in which he hangs out with Justin Bieber and gets a nice wet kiss from George Clooney. Back as Oscar host for the first time in eight years, Crystal also did his signature introduction of the best- picture nominees with a goofy song medley.

Crystal's return as host seemed appropriate on a night that had Hollywood looking back fondly on more than a century of cinema history.