The Artist, a black and white silent movie enveloped in old Hollywood mythos, won Best Picture (the first to do so since Wings at the original Academy ceremony back in 1929). 17 time nominee Meryl Streep pulled the upset of the evening, walking away with the Best Actress statue that many believed was destined for Viola Davis. Christopher Plummer became the oldest man ever to win the coveted award (though there are arguments over the status of Charlie Chaplin and his honorary acknowledgement) and Woody Allen, who earned his first Oscar way back in 1978, took home another (his fourth) for Midnight in Paris. If it weren’t for newcomers Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting), Michel Hazanavicius (Best Director) and Jean Dujardin (Best Actor), the 84th Annual Academy Awards would have played like a complete flashback to Tinseltown’s past - even stalwart host Billy Crystal was there to guide it all.
There were other symbols that the movie industry isn’t completely and utterly lost, however. Alexander Payne and his script collaborators Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were acknowledged for their work on The Descendants, while Gore Verbinski and his delightful cartoon satire on the spaghetti western, Rango, took home the Best Animated Feature award. Flight of the Concords’ Bret McKenzie and the Muppets bested a tune from Rio to win Best Song, while Hugo‘s creative invention walked away a five time winner. Still, after the fiasco of the last few months, with original show producer Brett Ratner resigning over some homophobic comments (and taking his buddy and original host Eddie Murphy with him) and the questions over numbers and nods (Only two tunes were nominated? Only nine films???), Oscar needed a night like this. Sure, they still look out of touch, but at least tradition wasn’t trumped…at least, not totally.