11:40 p.m. — “The Artist” wins Best Picture, capping off an incredible night for the first big silent movie in ages.

It took home many of the largest awards, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. It’s the first silent film in 83 years — since the first Academy Awards — to win Best Picture.

Producer Thomas Langmann offered a thank you “from the bottom of my heart” and tells his kids to go to bed. Uggie the dog makes his first stage appearance of the night.

Below, Jean Dujardin and Uggie the dog in a scene from “The Artist.”

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11:31 p.m. —  In a major upset, Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for her role in “The Iron Lady.”

It was Streep’s 17th nomination, but she hadn’t won in 29 years, since 1983’s “Sophie’s Choice.”

Viola Davis, of “The Help”, was definitely the favorite in this category. “The Iron Lady”, about Margaret Thatcher, received very mediocre reviews, and Davis has received a lot of buzz in recent years.

But Ms. Streep wins her third Academy Award, once again regaining her throne as queen of Hollywood.

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11:20 p.m. — French actor Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor, adding to the momentum of “The Artist”. It appears silence will dominate the night.

Just a quick aside: Best Actor was the strongest category at the Academy Awards this year.

In most other years, George Clooney of “The Descendants”, Brad Pitt of “Moneyball” and Gary Oldman of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” could have been shoe-ins to win this award. They all gave career-defining performances.

But Dujardin was equally deserving and had the zeitgeist behind him. All hail “The Artist.”

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11:05 p.m. — The Oscars telecast and host Billy Crystal are receiving rave reviews on the Internet.

“This is by far the most streamlined and elegant, best produced, and the simplest Oscar telecast that I’ve ever seen. The way it should be,” tweets novelist Bret Easton Ellis.

Ben Gazzara, Liz Taylor and Whitney Houston just highlighted the always-touching video tribute to those in the industry who died during the past 12 months.

Below, Ben Gazzarra in “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959), one of his many great films.

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10:54 p.m. — In what’s probably a sign of things to come, Michel Hazanavicius of “The Artist” just won Best Director.

That likely means “The Artist” will also win Best Picture. There’s a strong correlation between the two awards, especially when their nominees are the same.

Hazanavicius, of France, gave a short but heart-warming speech.

“Sometimes life is wonderful,” he said. “Today is one of those days.”

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10:48 p.m. — “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” wins Best Animated Short Film. That’s unfortunate, it was the worst of the five nominees in my opinion.

Despite it’s long odds, I was pulling for “A Morning Stroll” — it had zombies, chickens and covered a 100-year span in 7 minutes. Now that’s ambition.

Below, a scene from “The Fantastic Flying Books.”

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10:40 p.m. — “The Shore” wins Best Live Action Short Film.

It’s about best friends reunited after 25 years, who were separated by the Northern Ireland Troubles.

“Saving Face”, about acid attacks on women in Pakistan, wins Best Documentary (Short Subject).

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10:27 p.m. — “The Descendants” wins Best Adapted Screenplay. That could be a sign of things to come as we get closer to the Best Picture award.

And in a minor upset, Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” beats “The Artist” for Best Original Screenplay.

It may be an upset, but it was well-deserved. “Midnight in Paris” was about as enjoyable of an experience as you could have at the movies this year.

Below, a scene from “Midnight in Paris”, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.

(For the record, that’s not Rachel McAdams. That’s Marion Cotillard, another actress in the film).

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10:15 p.m. — “The Artist” wins Best Original Score. It’s no surprise since it didn’t have words — the music was pretty important.

Ludovic Bource was the composer. It’s his first Oscar.

“The Muppets” also grabbed an Oscar for Best Original Song, meaning it’s “The Muppets” 1, “Moneyball” 0 if you’re counting total awards.

“I have to admit, I was pretty star-struck when I first met Kermit the Frog,”  said Bret McKenzie, the songwriter. “But once you get to know him, he’s pretty much like any other frog.”

McKenzie added a few other Kermit jokes. “Like most people here, he’s much shorter in person.”

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10:06 p.m. — 82-year-old Christopher Plummer just became the oldest actor to win an award, winning Best Supporting Actor for “Beginners.”

“Beginners” is about a man who learns that his terminally ill father is gay.

Plummer, one of the great actors in Hollywood, gave the best acceptance speech of the night.

“I have a confession to make: When I first emerged from my mother’s womb, I was already rehearsing my Oscar speech,” he said. “That was so long ago, mercifully for you I’ve forgotten it.”

In his speech, he also gave a touching thanks to his wife of 42 years.

“I’d also like to thank my long-suffering wife Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life.”

Random fact: Plummer is only two years younger than the Academy Awards, which are 84 years old.

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9:58 p.m. — Rob Legato, Joss Williams and Ben Grossmann wins the Best Visual Effects award for “Hugo.” Hugo has now won five awards, no other film has yet to win two.

“I know it’s a huge thrill to be nominated, but it’s awesome to win,” Legato said. “It’s really under-rated.”

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9:47 p.m. — “Rango” wins Best Animated Feature. It was possibly the most overrated movie this year, but the category was one of the weakest of the night.

Below, a scene from Rango.

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9:43 p.m. — “Undefeated” wins Best Documentary.

“Undefeated” is about a struggling Memphis football team trying to have a winning season.

The producers said one year ago, they were in the editing room, frustrated no one would ever see their film. But a friend said “Don’t worry, you’ll be at the Oscars next year.”

“You’re an idiot, we told him,” said director T.J. Martin in his acceptance speech. “But now we’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to him and say, ‘You’re a lot smarter than we thought.”

Below, a secene from “Undefeated.”

ed”.

 

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9:40 p.m. — Cirque du Soleil just made its first Oscars appearance, where the performers re-imagined famous films from “North by Northwest” to “King Kong” to “Titanic”.

They summersaulted, flipped, flew and tight-roped all over the theater.

“I pulled a hamstring just watching that,” Billy Crystal said.

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9:35 p.m. — One correction from earlier: Feature editor Rod Harmon’s Twitter handle is @RHarmonPPH. He’s live Tweeting the Oscars. Check it out!

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9:25 p.m. — Kurt Baxter just won Best FIlm Editing for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

“Hugo” won two more awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, giving it four awards for the night. No other movie has yet to win two.

Below, a photo of a very grateful Octavia Spencer accepting her Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

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9:15 p.m. — Octavia Spencer just won Best Supporting Actress award for “The Help,” and was crying so hard she could barely begin to speak. She received a long standing ovation from the crowd.

Spencer thanked her real family and her home state of Alabama, which may be a first for the Oscars.

Billy Crystal said he loved the movie, and then possibly delivered his funniest joke of the night.

“When I left the theater, I wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverely Hills, is about a 45-minute drive.”

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9:07 p.m. — In the least suspensful award of the night, “A Separation” won Best Foreign Language FIlm.

“A Separation” was the best reviewed movie of the year. It’s also the first movie from Iran ever to win this award.

Asghar Farhadi, the director, gave a short but beautiful speech about how politics have clouded the beautifully rich culture of Iran and its people.

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9:02 p.m. — The Oscars just played a nice video feature, where famous actors and actresses discussed the first movies they ever saw in theaters, and what drew them to the Silver Screen.

“I could dream there, I could become anything I want, I could be part of the movie, I could be anybody, said Barbara Streisand.

Adam Sandler said the first film he ever saw was ‘Diamons are Forever”, the James Bond movie. Recalled Sandler: “I rembember thinking about Sean Connery’s performance and his chest hair and saying, “Can I please do that?”

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8:57 p.m. — Billy Crystal’s latest quip, “Please welcome a recurring dream of mine: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez!”

The beautiful duo presents Best Costume Design, which goes to Mark Bridges for “The Arist.” It’s a well-deserved Oscar.

Afterward, “The Iron Lady” wins for Best Makeup. Mark Coulier, the makeup artist, thanks Meryl Streep “for keeping me employed for 37 years.” 

Above, a scene from “The Artist”, which displays the phenomenal costumes.

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8:43 p.m. — After Billy Crystal’s typical song-and-dance routine, they start handing out awards.

Robert Richardson won Best Cinematography for “Hugo,” which may be a sign of things to come. “Hugo” also won for Best Art Direction, giving it the first two awards.

In truth, Chibo Lubezki deserved the cinematography award for “The Tree of Life,” which had some of the best cinematography of the past 20 years. But few people saw it, and Martin Scorsese has a lot of cache with Academy voters.

That being said, “Hugo” was a terrific film. Above, a scene from the movie.

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8:35 p.m. — As always with Billy Crystal, he opened the show with a video spoof of all nine Best Picture nominees, plus “Bridesmaids” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”.

For Hugo, a PG film by Martin Scorsese, he quipped, “Are you sure this is a Scorsese movie? No one’s been whacked yet.”

In “The Descendants” spoof, he played George Clooney’s dying wife and they shared a kiss, which drew a big applause.

When discussing “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a 9/11 film, Crystal said, “Extremely loud and incredibly close — that’s how my relatives are watching this broadcast.”

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8:19 p.m. — Pretty much everyone has arrived. Some more quick facts before the show begins:

• Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress for the little-watched “The Iron Lady.” It’s her 17th acting nomination, the most ever. But she hasn’t won since 1983’s “Sophie Choice.”

• This is the first time since 2001 Pixar hasn’t had a movie nominated for Best Animated Picture. It did release “Cars 2″ this year, but critics felt it was underwhelming compared to “Toy Story 3″, “WALL-E”, “Up” and other recent Pixar movies.

• Legendary composer John Williams celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this month in grand style — by nabbing two more Oscar nominations for “War Horse” and “Tintin.” That brings his lifetime total to 47 Oscar nominations. Even more amazing? He’s still only in second place, behind the 59 nominations earned by Walt Disney.

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8:06 p.m. — Sacha Baron Cohen showed up in full character for his upcoming film, “The Dictator.” He was flanked by two serious beautiful guards in red berets, and carrying the “ashes” of Noth Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Il.

In what hopefully won’t start World War III, Cohen “accidently” spilled Kim Jong-il’s ashes all over E! red-carpet host Ryan Seacrest.

It’s obviously a joke, but if Kim Jong-il’s son is even half as crazy as his father, North Korea could fire a nuke at us over this incident.

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7:55 p.m. — Some interesting facts about tonight’s 84th annual Academy Awards:

• “The Artist” has a chance to become the second-ever silent movie to win Best Picture.

• Billy Crystal is hosting the Oscars for the 9th time. It’s been about 25 years since Crystal did his best movies (“The Princess Bride”, “When Harry Met Sally”), but we’re holding out hope he’s still got some magic up his sleeve.

• “The Artist” is the 10th predominantly black-and-white film to be nominated for cinematography since 1967, when the black-and-white category was eliminated. Previously nominated: “In Cold Blood” (1967), “The Last Picture Show” (1971), “Lenny” (1974), “Raging Bull” (1981), “Zelig”(1983), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (2001), “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005), and “The White Ribbon” (2009).

• George Clooney is up for awards in two seperate categories for two different films: Best Actor for “The Descendants”, and Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Ides of March.”

Clooney also accomplished this in 2005, when he won Best Supporting Actor for “Syriana” and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “Good Night, and Good Luck”.

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7:42 p.m. — Emma Stone, of “The Help” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, has just arrived in a red Giambattista Valli dress with a giant bow on her shoulder.

 

Best fantasy birthday present ever? Emma Stone in a bow.

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7:34 p.m. — One award has already been decided: James Cromwell, who was in “The Artist,” wins the Best Beard award.

“The Artist” is a terrific movie and up for Best Picture tonight. But if anyone has the sudden urge to catch up on worthy James Cromwell films, check out 1997’s L.A. Confidential. Definitely one of my favorite neo-noirs.

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7:15 p.m. — And they’re off! All the stars have begun arriving for the 84th annual Academy Awards, which begins tonight at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

Maine’s very own Glenn Close showed up wearing a green Zac Posen dress.

For a great story on how local Maine designers would have dressed Ms. Close, click here. For a PPH interview with the actress about her life in Maine and chances tonight, click here.

Also, check out PPH features editor @RHarmonPPH, who’s Tweeting the Oscars all night long! 

And for Red Carpet photos of all the celebrities, click here.