The evening had a decidedly French accent, thanks to best-picture winner "The Artist," and one of its most charming moments was the acceptance speech by Jean Dujardin, best actor for his wordless (almost) turn as silent film star George Valentin. "I love your country," he exclaimed, adding that if Valentin could speak, he'd say: "Wow! Amazing! Great!" and a few other things, including a rather salty colloquialism. It was all still charming. He didn't seem too upset that a few days ago he was upset for best actor at the Cesar awards, France's equivalent to the Oscars.
Last year, the joke-starved Oscar audience was so thrilled to see Billy Crystal by the time he showed up that they gave him a standing ovation before he even said a word. (Many felt hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway lacked enough comic spark). Now back as host, Crystal was greeted warmly if less ecstatically as he launched into his timeworn routine: first the montage where he inserts himself into films he even got a kiss from George Clooney in his "Descendants" hospital bed and then his medley of songs. "You didn't think I wasn't gonna do this, did ya"? he quipped. No, we didn't.
LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS
It was a night that celebrated veterans and those of a certain age, which may be why Crystal, in a search for a bit o' youth, brought Justin Bieber into his "Midnight in Paris" bit. Later he was even blunter: "We're gonna slam the 78 to 84 demographic," he said. Next year, he added, we'd be in the Flomax Theater, referring to the prostate medication. The old-age reference became a running theme. After 82-year-old Christopher Plummer won the supporting actor prize, Crystal quipped: "The average age for winners has just jumped to 67."
MERYL AND MARRIAGE
From longevity in life to longevity in marriage: One of the most moving moments of the night came when Meryl Streep, winning best actress for "The Iron Lady," thanked her husband, Don Gummer not at the end, but at the beginning of her speech, so that the music wouldn't drown out the acknowledgement as it often does.
"Everything I value most in our lives, you gave me," Streep said tearfully.
Then she thanked a man she called her other partner: J. Roy Helland, her makeup artist on every movie for 37 years who had quite a night, also taking home a statuette for transforming Streep into Maggie Thatcher.
"Thanks Meryl, for keeping me employed for the last 37 years," said Helland, who won with Mark Coulier.
I'M FREAKING OUT!
The first emotional moment of the evening came with Octavia Spencer's expected yet still heartwarming supporting actress win for her turn as a tart-tongued maid in "The Help." From tart-tongued to a little tongue-tied: "Please wrap up ...I'm wrapping up!" she cried. "I'm freaking out!"
YES, ANOTHER ONE...
This could become a trend: For the second year in a row, a winner dropped an F-bomb. Last year it was supporting actress winner Melissa Leo; This year it was documentary feature winner TJ Martin, co-director of "Undefeated," which documents a high school football team.
Martin confessed he'd been, er, defeated by his excitement. "That was not the classiest thing in the world," Martin said backstage. "However, it did come from the heart."
THE CUTEST DOG IN THE WORLD
Uggie, the adorable dog in best-picture winner "The Artist," made a charming appearance onstage when the movie won best picture. However, his director allowed that the canine star does have his limits. "I don't think he understands what I'm saying," Michel Hazanavicius said when he won his own statuette. "He's not THAT good."
A MESS ON THE CARPET (NOT FROM UGGIE)
Sacha Baron Cohen always has something up his sleeve. This year, the comic actor spilled it all over Ryan Seacrest's sleeves and the red carpet, too.
Parodying the Moammar Gadhafi-type dictator he plays in his upcoming film, "The Dictator," Baron Cohen showed up carrying what he said were the ashes of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Then he spilled them all over the E! host's tuxedo.
Said Seacrest: "Anything can happen and it most certainly did, all over my lapel."
A CIRCUS IN THE HOUSE
Wait, was that Spider-Man flying up to the rafters? No, this wasn't the Tonys, it was the Oscars, and those were Cirque du Soleil aerialists in a lavish tribute to the movies. Crystal noted the circus-like atmosphere when he quipped: "We've got puppets, acrobats ... we're a pony away from a bar mitzvah!"
Jennifer Lopez doesn't shy away from sexy gowns remember the famously skin-baring Versace dress she wore to the 2000 Grammys? Well, this time, some viewers speculated on Twitter and elsewhere that a bit too much breast was visible in her Oscar gown with a plunging V-neck by Zuhair Murad. Her stylist hastened to report that it was an optical illusion. "While the dress did give the illusion of sheer-ness, (the) joke's on everyone who wishes they saw something!" Mariel Haenn said in a statement.