‘The Artist’, Streep, Dujardin triumph at Oscars

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Hollywood showed some love for its history at the Oscars, giving its best film award and four others to silent movie ‘The Artist’ in a ceremony that recalled why cinema is special to so many people. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also gave Oscars to Meryl Streep playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady,’ marking Streep’s third Academy Award in 17 nominations, and veteran Christopher Plummer made history by becoming the oldest winner ever at age 82 with his role as an elderly gay man in ‘Beginners.’ ‘The Artist’ collected Oscars for its star Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius. “I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that,” Hazanavicius told the audience of stars including George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and members of the Academy. Streep’s victory surprised Oscar pundits who thought Viola Davis would win the Academy Award with her work in ‘The Help’. But Streep’s turn as an elderly Thatcher who is slipping into dementia was too good to be ignored. 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.’ Octavia Spencer had to hold back tears as she accepted her trophy for her portrayal of a black, southern maid in civil rights drama ‘The Help.’ Director Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’, which like ‘The Artist’ pays tribute to early filmmaking, came into the night with a leading 11 nominations-one more than ‘Artist’-and also picked up five wins. ‘The Descendants,’ walked off with only one Oscar, adapted screenplay for its writer and director Alexander Payne and co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Comedian Billy Crystal, who returned to emcee the show for the ninth time, had the crowd laughing loudly with an opening video in which he was edited into the year’s top movies. He was kissed by George Clooney in a scene out of ‘The Descendants’ and even ate a tainted pie from ‘The Help.’ He opened with a monologue in which he joked: “There’s nothing like watching a bunch of millionaires present each other with golden statues”. Hollywood’s biggest fashion parade on the Oscar red carpet heated up with Michelle Williams in a stunning red dress from Louis Vuitton, ‘The Help’ star Jessica Chastain in a dazzling Alexander McQueen black and gold embroidered gown, while Gwyneth Paltrow chose Tom Ford and white, a popular colour.