At the 84th Academy awards ceremony Sunday, Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor to win an Oscar.
Plummer, 82, won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Beginners as an elderly widower who embraces his homosexuality.
Actress Octavia Spencer Octavia Spencer received a standing ovation when she won the award for best supporting actress for her role in The Help. She was one of two actresses nominated in the category from the film, which tells the story of African American maids in the racially segregated southern United States.
The big winner early on was Hugo, a visually rich 3D tribute to a French film pioneer. It won five awards, including cinematography, art direction and sound editing.
Hugo, which features British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, is one of nine movies nominated for Best Picture.
Other nominees in this category include Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, Moneyball, which tells the story of Oakland Athletics baseball executive Billy Beane, and The Artist, a black-and-white film about a struggling silent-era movie star.
Michel Hazanavicius won the best director Oscar for his work on The Artist.
In the best foreign language film category, the prize went as expected to Iran's A Separation. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, it tells the story of the difficult lives of a couple seeking a divorce. It already has won numerous awards this year.
The award ceremony by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood honors last year's best films, actors, directors and producers, and is viewed by hundreds of millions around the world.
Meryl Streep has once again been nominated for Best Actress for Iron Lady, about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are competing for the Best Actor Oscar.