The Artist wins best picture at the most predictable Oscars ever

Five top awards for French silent film while host Billy Crystal gets his worst press for a long time

LAST UPDATED AT 07:49 ON Mon 27 Feb 2012

THE 84th Academy Awards ceremony, which came to an end in Hollywood just a few hours ago, will go down in history as one of the most predictable ever.

The Artist won best picture, best director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for Jean Dujardin (above) in a total five-Oscar haul. Meryl Streep, now a semi-official American national treasure, won best actress for her impersonation of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady while Octavia Spencer won best supporting actress for her role as a feisty maid in the Civil Rights era drama The Help. Every one of them a period film.

Accepting her award, Streep, who already has acting Oscars for Kramer vs Kramer (1979) and Sophie's Choice (1983), said: "When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no. Oh, come on. Why her? Again?'" Before adding: "But… Whatever.

She told journalists afterwards: "I understand Streep Fatigue."

Other awards were equally unsurprising. Christopher Plummer won best supporting actor for his role in Beginners, making him at 82 the oldest man ever to win an Oscar. Midnight in Paris won Woody Allen a best original screenplay award but nothing else, and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo picked up five technical awards.

As Nikki Finke wrote on her Deadline Hollywood site, given its staggeringly high cost of more than $200 million, Scorsese’s picture “probably employed every member of every craft guild in Hollywood and beyond - and they all voted for it.”

On the red carpet, Angelina Jolie made a bid for for the best dressed award with a dramatic dark velvet Atelier Versace gown with thigh-high split. Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Rooney Mara went for a much brighter, whiter look. The Help’s Emma Stone and The Artist’s Berenice Bejo both chose dresses that were seen on the Paris and New York couture catwalks in the last month.

The host – back for the ninth time after an eight-year hiatus - was Billy Crystal who at the age of 63 came in for some serious ribbing from Oscar-cynics.

First because of his increasingly evident use of plastic surgery and/or Botox injections -  “His face looks like it was ironed,” said Finke. Second, because he chose to sail dangerously close to the wind with a joke about Olivia Spencer. “After I saw The Help I just wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverly Hills is about a 45-minute drive.”

Coming after a skit in which he portrayed Sammy Davis Jnr in blackface, this provoked outrage on Twitter, according to the Daily Mail, including this: 'Well, I Happen To Be A Black Woman Who Resides In Beverly Hills. Should I Have My Assistant #Alert Billy Crystal?'

OSCARS 2012 - THE KEY WINNERS:

Best picture – The Artist

Best director – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best actor – Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best actress - Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best supporting actor – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best supporting actress – Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best foreign language film – A Separation, Iran

Best original screenplay – Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen

Best adapted screenplay – The Descendants, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

Cinematography – Hugo, Robert Richardson · 

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Billy Crystal was the reason I watched the Oscars (well maybe for Rango too) and I thought he was great.  Style, class, talent.  So why are people so snippy; jealous?

* snippy oldy peevish impede article writing...must take relax
 week-end

The Artist - what a poor film!

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