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The Artist Is Picture Perfect At The Oscars
The Artist has triumphed at the Oscars, winning a total of five of the film world's most prestigious awards on a night of firsts in Hollywood.
The silent black-and-white film, which had received 10 nominations, won Best Actor, Best Film and Best Director, as well as awards for musical score and costume design.
Best Actor went to Jean Dujardin, the first time a silent performance has won the award since the first time it was given out 83 years ago.
Beating the early favourites George Clooney and Brad Pitt, it also makes Dujardin the first Frenchman to win a Best Actor Oscar.
"I love this country," Dujardin told the audience of stars, including Pitt, Clooney, Michelle Williams and Angelina Jolie.
Meryl Streep won Best Actress for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Streep, 62, was favourite to win the top award at the 84th Academy Awards, having already carried off a Bafta and a Golden Globe for the role.
It is her third Oscar out of 17 nominations, and her first in 29 years since she won Best Actress for her role in the film Sophie's Choice.
She joked that the audience was probably tired of seeing her, then added, "whatever".
But Streep could not hide her emotion as she choked up while thanking her husband and talking about her long career.
Christopher Plummer became the oldest acting winner ever at 82, taking the Best Supporting Actor award.
The star of classic film The Sound Of Music earned his first-ever Oscar for his portrayal of an elderly gay man who comes out to his family in Beginners.
"You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life?" Plummer said, gazing at his golden statuette on stage.
Hollywood's biggest night got under way with Billy Crystal making his ninth appearance as Oscars host.
He opened the show with a comic video montage of scenes from films nominated for best picture and others from 2011 that earned warm applause from the A-list audience.
Ahead of the ceremony, some of the biggest names in Hollywood paraded down the red carpet outside the Hollywood Highland Centre in Los Angeles.
Stars including Clooney, Jessica Chastain and the star of The Artist, Berenice Bejo, greeted fans and posed for photographers.
Bejo, nominated for supporting actress for her role in the film, was accompanied on the red carpet by her husband - the film's director, Michel Hazanavicius.
Only one film - Hugo, Martin Scorsese's 3D ode to early cinema - had more nominations than The Artist, but many of its nods were in technical categories.
The film, which tells of a boy lost in a train station, picked up five wins for cinematography, art direction, sound editing and mixing and visual effects.
Octavia Spencer choked back tears as she accepted the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in civil rights drama The Help.
In other major wins, the foreign language film award went to Iranian divorce drama A Separation.
"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment," said its director Ashgar Farhadi.
Gary Oldman clinched his first nomination for his performance as a spymaster in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
And the list of presenters was full of heavy hitters - last year's best actress and actor, Natalie Portman and Colin Firth, joined Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Tom Hanks and Jolie, among others.