LOS ANGELES — “The Artist” won five Academy Awards on Sunday including best picture, becoming the first silent film to triumph at Hollywood’s highest honors since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago.
Among other prizes for the black-and-white comic melodrama were best actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius.
The other top Oscars went to Meryl Streep as best actress for “The Iron Lady,” Octavia Spencer as supporting actress for “The Help” and Christopher Plummer as supporting actor for “Beginners.”
“The Artist” is the first silent winner since the World War I saga “Wings” was named outstanding picture at the first Oscars in 1929 had a silent film earned the top prize.
“I am the happiest director in the world,” Havanavicius said, thanking the cast, crew and canine co-star Uggie. “I also want to thank the financier, the crazy person who put money in the movie.”
The other wins for “The Artist” were musical score and art direction. Martin Scorsese’s Paris adventure “Hugo” also won five Oscars, all in technical categories.
Streep’s win was her first Oscar in 29 years, since she won best actress for “Sophie’s Choice.” She had lost 12 times in a row since then. Streep also has a supporting-actress Oscar for 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer.”
“When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America go, ‘Oh, no, why her again?’ But whatever,” Streep said, laughing.
“I really understand I’ll never be up here again. I really want to think all my colleagues, my friends. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends. Really, this is such a great honor but the think that counts the most with me is the friendship and the love and the sheer job we’ve shared making moves together,” said Streep, the record-holder with 17 acting nominations.
Streep is only the fifth performer to receive three Oscars. Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan all earned three, while Katharine Hepburn won four.
It was a night that went as expected, with front-runners claiming key prizes. Streep’s triumph provided a bit of drama, since she had been in a two-woman race with Viola Davis for “The Help.”
The biggest surprise may have been the length of the show, which clocked in at about three hours and 10 minutes, brisk for a ceremony that has run well over four hours some years.
The 82-year-old Plummer became the oldest acting winner ever for his role as an elderly widower who comes out as gay in “Beginners.”
“You’re only two years older than me, darling,” Plummer said, addressing his Oscar statue in this 84th year of the awards. “Where have you been all my life? I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother’s womb, I was already rehearsing my Oscar speech.”