Best Picture goes to 'The Artist'

Jean Dujardin holds Uggie the dog after "The Artist" won the Oscar for best picture during the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday.

Jean Dujardin holds Uggie the dog after "The Artist" won the Oscar for best picture during the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday. Photo by The Associated Press.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Academy Awards voters have spoken up for “The Artist,” the first silent film to triumph at Hollywood’s highest honors since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago.

The black-and-white comic melodrama took four prizes Sunday, including best picture, actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius. Not 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.

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.”

Martin Scorsese’s Paris adventure “Hugo” won five Oscars, including the first two prizes of the night, for cinematography and art direction. It also won for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.

It was a great start for Scorsese’s film, which led contenders with 11 nominations.

“Marty, you’re a genius as usual,” said “Hugo” cinematographer Robert Richardson, who won his third Oscar after previous wins for “JFK” and Scorsese’s “The Aviator.”

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.

The teen wizard may never have struck Oscar gold, but he has a consolation prize: $7.7 billion at the box office worldwide, including $1.3 billion from “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” last year’s top-grossing movie.

“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.”

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.

Before his monologue, Crystal appeared in a collection of clips inserting him in scenes from key nominees. The montage included re-creations from some 2011 films featuring Tom Cruise of “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and Clooney’s best-picture contender “The Descendants,” with the actor planting a kiss on Crystal.

Spoofing a scene from nominee “Midnight in Paris,” Bieber told Crystal he was there to bring in the 18-to-24-year-old demographic for the 63-year-old host.

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

The top two nominees — “Hugo” and “The Artist” — are both love songs to early cinema.

“Hugo” centers on a mystery connected to French cinema pioneer Georges Melies, who made groundbreaking fantastical short films in the early 1900s. “The Artist” traces the downfall of a 1920s movie star and is favored to become the first silent film to win best picture since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago.

Add the Marilyn Monroe tale “My Week with Marilyn” — which earned Michelle Williams a best-actress nomination as the Hollywood’s greatest sex goddess and Kenneth Branagh a supporting-actor nomination as Oscar winner Laurence Olivier — and the show’s producers had a ready-made script for a night of fond recollection and backslapping about show business.

84th Academy Award 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.

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