February 27, 2012

'The Artist' wins Best Picture, dominates the night

By DAVID GERMAIN The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — "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.

click image to enlarge

Best Picture: "The Artist"

Photos from The Associated Press

Clockwise from upper left: Best Actor, Jean Dujardin; Best Actress, Meryl Streep; Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer; Supporting Actress, Octavia Spencer.

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OSCAR WINNERS

List of the 84th Annual Academy Award winners announced Sunday:

1. Best Picture: "The Artist."

2. Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist."

3. Actress: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady."

4. Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners."

5. Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, "The Help."

6. Directing: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist."

7. Foreign Language Film: "A Separation," Iran.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants."

9. Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Rango."

11. Art Direction: "Hugo."

12. Cinematography: "Hugo."

13. Sound Mixing: "Hugo."

14. Sound Editing: "Hugo."

15. Original Score: "The Artist."

16. Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets."

17. Costume Design: "The Artist."

18. Documentary Feature: "Undefeated."

19. Documentary Short: "Saving Face."

20. Film Editing: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

21. Makeup: "The Iron Lady."

22. Animated Short Film: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."

23. Live Action Short Film: "The Shore."

24. Visual Effects: "Hugo."

Oscar winners previously presented this season:

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Oprah Winfrey.

Honorary Award: James Earl Jones.

Honorary Award: Dick Smith.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award: Douglas Trumbull.

Award of Merit: ARRI cameras.

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.

"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 honor but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendship and the love and the sheer job we've shared making movies 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."

"You're only two years older than me, darling," Plummer said, addressing his Oscar statue in this 84th year of the awards. "Where have you been all my life? I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Oscar speech."

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.

"Oh, thank you. Oui. I love your country!" said Dujardin, who plays George Valentin, a silent-film superstar fallen on hard times as the sound era takes over. If George Valentin could speak, Dujardin said, "he'd say ... 'Merci beaucoup, formidable!'"

(Continued on page 2)

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