Oscar 2012 Winners: Meryl Streep Wins, but Silence Is Golden for 'The Artist'

PHOTO: "The Artist" starring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.PlayWeinstein Company
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"The Artist" was the big winner at the 84th annual Academy Awards, taking home Oscars for best picture, best director and star Jean Dujardin, who beat George Clooney in the battle of the charmers.

In the best actress race, considered by many to be the biggest tossup of the night, Meryl Streep beat Viola Davis for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

"When they called ... I had this feeling that I could hear half of America going 'Oh, no. Why her, again?' But, whatever," said Streep after winning her third Oscar. Streep has been nominated 17 times -- the most of any actor.

See photos of stars on the red carpet

In an emotional speech, Streep thanked her husband for "everything I value most in my life" and makeup artist Roy Helland, who has been with her since the start of her career and won his first Oscar Sunday night for "The Iron Lady."

Bringing tears to the eyes of many in the audience, Streep said what she values most is the friendship of the people sitting before her. "I look out here, and I see my life before my eyes -- my old friends and my new friends."

Dujardin also thanked the new friends he's made in America since "The Artist."

"I love your country," Dujardin said, accepting his trophy and doing a little soft shoe as he exited the stage.

"The Artist" won a total of five awards, including for costume design and best original score.

ABC News' Oscars Stock Market Index, a collaboration with Bluefin Labs, which provides a real-time snapshot of social sentiment, what's trending and the collective assessment of entertainment industry experts, proved pretty accurate in picking Sunday's winners.

Clooney had a slight edge over Dujardin on the index, and "Puss and Boots" had been expected to win for animated feature, not "Rango," which took home the Oscar, but otherwise the index got the other winners right.

There were no surprises in the supporting actor categories, as both Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer had been expected to win.

Spencer accepted the award for best supporting actress with tears, thanking the entire state of Alabama, her family, her "Help" family.

"I'm wrapping up, I'm sorry, I'm freaking out," she said, dissolving into tears before walking off stage.

Following Spencer's win, host Billy Crystal joked that after he saw "The Help," he wanted to "hug the first black woman that I saw. From Beverly Hills, that's about a 45-minute drive."

Plummer, at 82, became the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar. He won for "Beginners."

"You're only two years older than me, darling -- where have you been all my life?" he said to his Oscar.

It was one of the best speeches of the night. Plummer thanked his "long-suffering" wife whom he said deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for being with him.

"Hugo" was an early winner, claiming the first two prizes for cinematography and art direction. It tied with "The Artist," racking up a total of five Oscars, including two for sound and visual effects.

"The Descendants" won for best adapted screenplay, and, as expected, Woody Allen did not show up to collect his prize for best original screenplay for "Midnight in Paris."

"Undefeated," produced by Sean "Diddy" Combs, won for best feature documentary, while "Saving Face," about a plastic surgeon who aids Pakistani women who are victims of acid attacks, won for best documentary short.

"A Separation" gave Iran its first Oscar for best foreign language film.

Best song went to Bret McKenzie, the musician-comedian who is one half of the duo Flight of the Conchords, for his song "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets."

The show was a throwback to years past with heavyweight producer Brian Grazer at the helm and Billy Crystal as host. Grazer spoke on the red carpet before the show about keeping the show entertaining but classy.

Crystal, hosting for the ninth time, managed to do that, bringing back his song and dance medley of the best picture nominees and injecting himself into a montage of some of last year's most memorable films.

He poked mostly gentle fun at the movie industry and its stars but managed to get in a few zingers aimed mostly at the inflated bank accounts and ages of the Academy members.

"Nothing can take the sting out of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires presenting each other with golden statues," he joked.

In keeping with the classy, the evening included montages of A-list stars, including Brad Pitt, Barbra Streisand and Warren Beatty talking about their favorite movie memories.

But as with any live show, there were some unexpected surprises, like seeing a little more of Jennifer Lopez's cleavage than she may have intended.

One of the more exciting moments of the night happened before the show, on the red carpet, when Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as General Aladeen from his upcoming film "The Dictator" spilled what he said were the ashes of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Ryan Seacrest during an interview with Seacrest for E!

For more Oscars, check out the official Oscar.com