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February 26, 2012

'The Artist' Grabs Key Honors at Academy Awards

The Artist, a film that pays homage to early Hollywood, earned top honors at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday evening. The French film won five awards, including the key Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.

French filmmaker Michel Hazavanicius earned the Oscar for directing The Artist, while Jean Dujardin, who plays a fading silent film star, earned the award for Best Actor. The film is almost entirely silent and the star said that if his character could speak, he would react this way to the Oscar:

“Merci beaucoup, I love you,” said Dujardin.

The film also was honored for its Costume Design and Original Score.

It was the first silent film since 1929 to earn an Oscar as Best Picture.

Oscar Winners

Meryl Streep was named Best Actress for her role as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The film also won an Oscar for Makeup. This was Streep's 17th Oscar nomination and her third win. The last was in 1983 for Sophie's Choice.

Backstage, the 62-year-old actress described her emotions at winning the Oscar in a competitive year, against younger actresses.

“It was just thrilling. It was like I was a kid again. I mean, I was a kid when I won this, like 30 years ago. Two of the nominees were not even conceived,” she said.

Christopher Plummer was named Best Supporting Actor in Beginners for his role as an aging father who announces after the death of his wife that he is gay. Plummer, at 82, is the oldest performer ever to earn an Oscar. He noted backstage that he's just two years younger than the famous Oscar statuette, which was first awarded in 1929.

“Where have you been all my life?  I have a confession to make," he said.  "When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy 'thank you' speech.”

Octavia Spencer was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Help as an African-American maid in the southern United States of the 1960s. Backstage, Spencer said she hopes her win will open doors for other actresses of color.

“And, by color, I don't mean just African American. I mean Indian, Native American, Latin American, Asian-American. I hope that in some way that I can be some sort of beacon of hope,” she said.

Martin Scorsese's fantasy Hugo earned five Oscars - all in technical categories - for its Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Special Effects.

The Iranian film A Separation was named Best Foreign Film. Backstage, filmmaker Asghar Farhadi said that when his family drama was first nominated, some in the Iranian government were pleased, while others were silent and some were unhappy.

He said that what matters to him is that the people of Iran are happy with his Oscar win.

The Oscar for Best Short Documentary went to Saving Face, a film about efforts to help women in Pakistan who have been disfigured in acid attacks. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who produced the documentary with Daniel Junge, dedicated the award to the surgeon and women it profiles.

“And to all the women in Pakistan who are working for change, don't give up on your dreams. This is for you,” said Obaid-Chinoy.

Woody Allen's romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and The Descendants, a family drama set in Hawaii, earned the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Comedian Billy Crystal hosted the Oscar presentation for the ninth time.

*Check out our Oscars Special Report