Oscars go back to the future
It may be 2012, but the two biggest winners at this year's Academy awards were rooted firmly in the early 20th century.
Hugo, Martin Scorsese's ode to early French filmmaker George Melies, and the French-made The Artist, a black-and-white, silent film about the introduction of 'talkies', each scooped five Oscars, with the French film taking the coveted best actor, best director and best picture prizes.
The Artist, which had been nominated for 10 awards, also won golden statuettes for costume design and original score.
Veteran American director Scorsese's masterpiece, which had led the field with 11 nominations, seized its awards early on for technical prowess: sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects, cinematography and art direction.
American comedian and actor Billy Crystal returned to host the show for the ninth time, after last year's more youthful presenters, actress Anne Hathaway and actor James Franco, failed to pull in the hoped-for ratings.
Yet Crystal acknowledged the need to appeal to younger viewers by appearing with teenage singer Justin Bieber in a parody of best picture nominee Midnight in Paris, with Bieber quipping: 'I'm here to get you the 18-to-24 demographic.'
There were few surprises on the night. Many recipients - such as Meryl Streep for best actress in The Lady, Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress in The Help, Jean Dujardin for best actor in The Artist, and Christopher Plummer, who at the age of 82, became the oldest best-supporting-actor for Beginners - repeated their wins of two weeks ago at the British Bafta awards.
Some of the night's other big prizes went to Rango for best animated film, Midnight in Paris for original screenplay - written by actor and director Woody Allen - The Descendants for adapted screenplay, and The Muppets for original song.