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'The Artist' cleans up at the Oscars

Canada’s Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in Beginners, but the big story of the show was The Artist, which won five awards, including best picture, director and actor.

The black and white French film is the first silent movie to win the best picture award since the first Oscars 83 years ago. Wings, a film about the First World War, was the first silent picture winner back in 1929.

“I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that,” director Michel Hazanavicius said as he claimed his prize. The Artist follows a young film star played by Jean Dujardin whose career suffers because he fails to embrace the talkies, and his romance with a rising young female dancer.

Dujardin took home the Oscar for best actor.

During his acceptance speech, the 82-year-old Plummer joked, “You’re only two years older than me darling. Where have you been all my life?”

In Beginners, Plummer plays a terminally ill and recently widowed man who decides to come out of the closet, a revelation that shakes his son, played by Ewan McGregor.

Plummer has been working steadily since the 1950s and won numerous awards for his illustrious career, including two Emmys and two Tonys.

The other big winner of the evening was Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which captured five Oscars, including best cinematography and best visual effects.

The best actress award went to Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady. It’s her third Oscar.

Other winners, The Descendants for best adapted screenplay, and Rango for best animated film.

Woody Allen won best original screenplay for Midnight in Paris. 

Click here to see the full list of nominees and winners.

Click here to read CityNews’ live blog of the Oscars.

Earlier in the night, Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in The Help. Spencer, who was considered the favorite to win the Academy Award, plays an outspoken maid in the 1960s drama about African-Americans working for rich white families in Mississippi in the early years of the civil rights era.

Accepting her award, an overly emotional Spencer had to collect herself frequently.

“Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room,” said Spencer, accepting her Oscar.

“Please wrap up. I’m wrapping up, I’m sorry.  I’m freaking out. Thank you world,” she said, as the teleprompter pushed her to wrap her speech.

It was the first Oscar for the 39-year-old American actress, who had never been nominated previously for an Academy Award.