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Crystal’s return as host seemed appropriate on a night that had Hollywood looking back fondly on more than a century of cinema history.

The top two nominees — “Hugo” and “The Artist” — are both love songs to early cinema.

Add the Marilyn Monroe tale “My Week with Marilyn” — which earned Michelle Williams a best-actress nomination as the Hollywood’s greatest sex goddess and Kenneth Branagh a supporting-actor nomination as Oscar winner Laurence Olivier — and the show’s producers had a ready-made script for a night of fond recollection and backslapping about show business.

Associated Press entertainment writers Lynn Elber and Christy Lemire contributed to this report.