Plummer, Spencer win supporting-acting Oscars

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Christopher Plummer became the oldest acting winner ever at Sunday’s Academy Awards for his supporting performance in “Beginners,” while veteran bit player Octavia Spencer earned the supporting-actress prize for her breakout role in “The Help.”

The 82-year-old Plummer won 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.”

The previous oldest winner was best-actress recipient Jessica Tandy for “Driving Miss Daisy,” at age 80.

Completing an awards-season blitz that took her from Hollywood bit player to star, Spencer won for her role as a headstrong black maid whose willful ways continually land her in trouble with white employers in 1960s Mississippi.

Spencer wept throughout her breathless speech, in which she apologized between laughing and crying for running a bit long on her time limit.

“Thank you, academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room,” Spencer said, referring to last year’s supporting-actor winner Christian Bale, who presented her Oscar.

Her brash character holds a personal connection: “The Help” author Kathryn Stockett based some of the woman’s traits on Spencer, whom she met through childhood pal Tate Taylor, the director of the film.

Before taking the stage, Spencer got kisses from “The Help” co-stars Viola Davis, a best-actress nominee, and Jessica Chastain, a fellow supporting nominee.

Martin Scorsese’s Paris adventure “Hugo” won five Oscars, including the first two prizes of the night, for cinematography and art direction. It also won for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.

It was a great start for Scorsese’s film, which led contenders with 11 nominations.

“Marty, you’re a genius as usual,” said “Hugo” cinematographer Robert Richardson, who won his third Oscar after previous wins for “JFK” and Scorsese’s “The Aviator.”

The visual-effects prize had been the last chance for the “Harry Potter” franchise to win an Oscar. The finale, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” had been nominated for visual effects and two other Oscars but lost all three. Previous “Harry Potter” installments had lost on all nine of their nominations.

The teen wizard may never have struck Oscar gold, but he has a consolation prize: $7.7 billion at the box office worldwide, including $1.3 billion from “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” last year’s top-grossing movie.

“And yet they only paid 14 percent income tax,” Oscar host Billy Crystal joked about the “Potter” franchise.

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