The Artist, Meryl Streep top winners at Oscars

Los Angeles: French silent drama "The Artist" triumphed over Hollywood biggies to win five awards including best picture, director and leading actor honours at this year`s Oscars where Meryl Streep was crowned the best actress.

The black-and white movie, director Michel Hazanavicius`s tribute to the early days of Hollywood, became the first silent film to win best picture since "Wings" in 1929. It beat eight rivals for the top prize, including Martin Scorsese`s "Hugo", Woody Allen`s "Midnight in Paris" and "The Help". Scorsese`s "Hugo" won five trophies in technical categories on Sunday night.

Streep, the most nominated actress in the Academy history with 17 nods, looked dazzling as she accepted her third Oscar and her first in the last 30 years for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

Streep, 62, previously won for 1979 film "Kramer vs Kramer" and 1982`s "Sophie`s Choice". "Oh my God! thank you so much. When they called my name, I had the feeling I could hear half of America going, `oh, come on, her again," Streep said while accepting the trophy to a standing ovation.

"The Artist" stars Jean Dujardin plays silent hero George Valentin, who fades when Hollywood makes its transition to talkies from silent movies. "Oh! thank you. I love your country," said an overwhelmed Dujardin as he accepted the best actor trophy. The 39-year-old actor repeated his trademark dance before exiting the stage.

The 84-year-old Christopher Plummer won his long overdue Oscar in the best supporting actor category for his portrayal of a gay father in "The Beginners" while best actress honours went to Octavia Spencer for her role of sassy house maid in "The Help".

"The Artist", nominated in 10 categories, also won Oscars for best original score and best costume design.

"Hugo", with 11 nominations, won five trophies in the technical categories including the Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography and Art Direction.

Best supporting winner Plummer, 82, became the oldest actor to win the Oscar in a night where first timers rubbed shoulders with veterans.

"You`re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life? When I first emerged from my mother`s womb I was already rehearsing my Oscar speech," said an emotional Plummer as he held his trophy at the 84th Oscar awards. "…but it was so long ago…mercifully I forgot it," he added.

Plummer was competing with Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn", Jonah Hill in "Moneyball", Nick Nolte in "Warrior"and Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close".

Best supporting actress Spencer was out of breath as she thanked director Tate Taylor and her co-stars. "I share this with everybody. Thank you world," Spencer said. She beat Berenice Bejo in "The Artist", Jessica Chastain in "The Help" Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids" Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs".

George Clooney, who had turned in his career`s best performance in "The Descendants", was expected to get the best actor honour but was beaten by Dujardin. The film picked up its only Oscar in the best adapted screenplay category for director Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

Woody Allen won the original Screenplay Oscar for "Midnight In Paris", about a novelist adrift in a romantic re-imagining of 1920s Paris. Allen, 76, has been nominated for an Oscar 23 times and this was his fourth win. The filmmaker was not present at the event to accept the honour like always.

Johnny Depp voiced "Rango" defeated "A Cat in Paris", "Chico & Rita", "Kung Fu Panda 2", "Puss in Boots" to win Gore Verbinski an Oscar in the best animated category.

"A Separation", directed by Asghar Farhadi, became the first Iranian film to win the best foreign Oscar trophy. "At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy….when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, her rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics," Farhadi said in his acceptance speech.

Film editing honours went to Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

"Undefeated", by TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas, won the Oscar in the documentary feature category.

"Saving Face", by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, brought Pakistan its first Oscar in the documentary short category.

"Iron Lady" also won Mark Coulier and J Roy Helland Oscar trophies in the make-up category.

"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" won Bret McKenzie a trophy in the original song category.

"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore" by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg won in the short film animated category where as "The Shore" by Terry George and Oorlagh George took home the trophy in the short film live action category. The 84th Academy awards were hosted by funnyman Billy Crystal.