LOS ANGELES-Hollywood's elite used the 84th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night to celebrate cinematic history and make an extended pitch for the continued relevance of the movies.
Tributes to famous films of bygone eras-and the best-picture winner, "The Artist," set in the early days of the movie business-cast a warm spotlight on the industry's past. Emcee Billy Crystal also was a throwback of sorts, returning to a role he played many times in the 1990s but hadn't reprised since 2004.
"The Artist" star Jean Dujardin won the leading-actor Oscar for his performance as George Valentin, a silent-film actor who refuses to adjust his technique for the sound era. "I love your country," said the French actor in his speech, according to
"The Artist" swept the competition, winning five awards, including best picture, best directing for Michel Hazanavicius, and best actor for Jean Dujardin. 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.
Octavia Spencer was named best supporting actress for "The Help," in which she played a sassy southern maid who turned "chocolate" pie into a revenge piece de resistance. Christopher Plummer - 82 years old and still churning out movies at the rate of his "Sound of Music" heyday - won best supporting actor, for his role in "Beginners" as a dying man who comes out of the closet at age 75, says Washington Post.
Dujardin, 39, was the first French actor to be nominated for the best actor Oscar since Gerard Depardieu in 1990. French actress Marion Cotillard won the best actress Academy Award in 2008 for "La Vie en Rose."
With Hollywood hearthrobs Clooney and Pitt early favorites to win this year's best actor Academy Award, Dujardin overcame daunting odds and triumphed with his deft performance in the black-and-white silent film that has charmed critics, as well as audiences -- at least the relative few who have seen it.
Born and raised in the suburbs west of Paris, Dujardin won attention in his native country in 1996 after appearing on a talent show as part of comedy troupe called Nous C Nous, reports Reuters.