Age was a constant theme. When Plummer won his supporting actor Oscar — the first of his career — he spoke to the statuette: "You're only two years older than me, darling." Crystal then quipped that Plummer's win had bumped the average age of winners up to 67.
And the night was young. Still to come: the 76-year-old Woody Allen's first Oscar since 1987, the original screenplay award for "Midnight in Paris." No, he wasn't there to accept it — he eschews award ceremonies — and there was something comfortably familiar about that, too.
Meryl Streep's award for "The Iron Lady," her third Oscar, was also a tribute to longevity — she'd been nominated 17 times and hadn't won in 29 years. But she chose to speak of longevity of another kind: marital. "Everything I value most in our lives, you gave me," Streep told husband Don, tearfully. She went on to give an equally emotional tribute to her makeup artist, J. Roy Helland, who had worked with her for 37 years.
Streep's minor upset aside — many had predicted Viola Davis to win for "The Help" — it was a predictable night. But a few moments stood out for entertainment value: An exaggerated flash of leg by Angelina Jolie, for example, in a high-slit dress got so much attention it had its own Twitter feed, Angie's Right Leg, which had more than 18,000 followers by Monday afternoon.
From Jolie's leg to Jennifer Lopez's, er, cleavage: Her stylist had to issue a statement officially denying speculation that too much of her breast had been revealed by the plunging V-neck of her Zuhair Murad gown.
And for all the talk of predictability, the unpredictability was in the details. If Octavia Spencer's supporting actress Oscar for "The Help" was expected, the spontaneous standing ovation she inspired was not, and it was a highlight of the night. "I'm sorry, I'm freaking out!" she gushed. "Thank you world!"
As for Jean Dujardin of "The Artist," his best-actor speech was a winning mix of Gallic charm, mangled English, and sheer ebullience. That French swear word that popped out at the end, when he tried to express what silent film star George Valentin would have said if he could talk?
"Wow! Amazing! Great!" he said, along with that much saltier word. "Thank you very much! I love you!"
Unadulterated bliss at the Oscars? That never gets old.
AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.
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