“It may be the quirkiest feature in years to find favor with the showbiz establishment here — black-and-white, French, and did we mention it’s a silent movie? But the charming tribute to Hollywood’s early days had scooped up so many other awards this year it was considered a lock for the Oscar,” wrote Monica Hesse and Amy Argetsinger in their review of the Oscar ceremony.
BEST DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
“I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that,” Hazanavicius said in his acceptance speech. He also thanked Uggie, the dog who starred in his film.
BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Wrote Hesse and Argetsinger:
Meryl Streep knew what you were thinking Sunday when they called her name at the 84th annual Academy Awards:
“ ‘Awwww, come on, her again?!?’ ” she joked, accepting a historic third career Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” (Only three other actors, Jack Nicholson and the late Walter Brennan and Ingrid Bergman, have won three Oscars; only one, the late Katharine Hepburn, has won four.) It was a classic Streepian moment — wittily self-deprecating and self-aware — and, for all her long track record of vacuuming up awards, one of the bigger surprises of a mostly unsurprising night.
BEST ACTOR: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
One of the less-surprising winners: Dujardin, whose widely praised performance in “The Artist” was a shoo-in for the award. “Clearly excited, Dujardin finished his speech with an ecstatic — and difficult to understand — statement: ‘If George Valentin could speak, he’d say, ‘Merci beaucoup, formidable!’ ” reports Sarah Anne Hughes.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
Spencer has been scooping up awards for her turn in “The Help” all year, so this came as no surprise. Still, the actress — only the fifth African American in history to win a supporting actress Oscar — seemed genuinely taken aback. Reports Sarah Anne Hughes:
The clearly emotional actress was met with a standing ovation from the audience. Spencer first thanked the Academy for having Christian Bale — “the hottest guy in the room” — introduce her.
She also thanked her family in Alabama and in L.A., as well as Tate Taylor, her friend and the film’s director, and “Help” author Kathryn Stockett.
Choking back tears, Spencer was cut off before she was able to finish her speech: “I’m wrapping up. I’m sorry. I am freaking out. Thank you, world.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
“If it’s become an Oscar-night cliche to reward previously overlooked seniors, and yet another Oscar-night cliche to honor straight actors who play gay — oh, and don’t even get us started on the vote-clinching power of a great death scene — Plummer’s trifecta-style win nonetheless felt fresh,” wrote Argetsinger and Hesse.