Jean Dujardin and his film, “The Artist, took top honors–Best Actor and Best Picture, respectively– at the 84th Academy Awards on a night that had enough surprises mixed with predictability to keep the awards show interesting.
“I love your country,” the French-born Dujardin shouted. He thanked silent star Douglas Fairbanks. The actor’s joie de vivre inspired his performance, he added.
“The Artist,” about a 1920s film star who sees his career fade as talkie movies sweep Hollywood, was a heavy favorite going into the show.
The 2011 Academy Award Winners
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Michel Hazanivicus, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanivicius, The Artist
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo, Bridesmaids
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov, The Ides of March
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, Moneyball
Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Foreign Feature
Best Animated Feature
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
It took five Oscars, including Michel Hazanavicius’ win for Best Director. Hazanavicius thanked the film’s cast, including its canine star Uggie.
Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo,” which was expected to give “The Artist” a run for its money, also won five awards, including cinematography, art direction and other technical achievements.
Newcomer Octavia Spencer won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in “The Help,” as Minny Jackson, a maid with a fiery temperament and little tolerance for the social injustice of her era.
“I share this with everybody,” Spencer said. “Thank you world,” Spencer said.
Although nominated in every major category, the film was a surprise shut-out for major awards.
She was joined in the best supporting actor category by Christopher Plummer for his stirring performance in “The Beginners.” He played Hal, the gay father of Ewan McGregor’s character, Oliver. He’s dying of cancer and must come to terms with his son.
Plummer, 82, became the oldest person ever to win an acting Oscar. “When I first emerged from my mother’s womb I was already rehersing my Oscar acceptance speech, but it was so long ago…mercifully I forgot it,” Plummer said.
The largely unknown Dujardin topped the favorite, George Clooney in “The Descendants” and Brad Pitt in “Moneyball.”
Streep, an actress of unquestioned talent, still turned out to be one of the surprise winners. She was going up against Viola Davis for “The Help” and Michelle Williams for “My Week With Marilyn.”
Industry veteran Glenn Close was also nominated for playing a man in the movie “Albert Nobbs,” as well as newcomer Rooney Mara for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
The announcement drew a standing ovation from the audience for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
“This is such a great honor but the thing that counts the most to me is the love and the joy…we have shared making movies together,” Streep said.
Woody Allen also won an Oscar for best screenplay for “Midnight in Paris.” It was also his first win in almost 30 years. He last won for the 1986 film, “Hannah and Her Sisters”
Although Clooney was aced out of an Oscar, his film won for Best Adapted Screenplay for the directors, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
Gore Verbinski won for Best Animated Feature award for “Rango,” a spoof on old westerns. “I want to thank the real world comedian Johnny Depp,” Verbinski said. The actor voiced the lead character.
“A Separation” captured Best Foreign Language Film. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi thanked his fellow countrymen, noting that many were “…people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”
Bret McKenzie won the Oscar for best original score for “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets.” “I was genuinely starstruck when I met Kermit the Frog, but once you get to know him, he’s a regular frog,” McKenzie said.