A look at what went down backstage at the 84th Annual Academy Awards:
Not Lost in Translation, Unfortunately for Him: A tweet from French-proficient Gilles Marini tipped us off to the possibility that Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin got an F-word by the TV censors by dropping a French F-bomb. When we asked the dapper star of The Artist to confirm his acceptance-speech gaffe, Dujardin thought we had asked him to offer a general translation. "I said it's amazing, it's incredible…" he began, before his translator leaned in, and explained. Dujardin paused. And then he confessed. "Uh, yeah," he said with a smile. "I'm sorry."
She Ain't Done Yet: Meryl Streep was glowing—and funny. The somewhat-unexpected Best Actress winner joked about drinking, winning and not winning, and a little more drinking. The Iron Lady lady seemed determined to have fun. What she didn't seem was anywhere near being done, something that her acceptance speech might have suggested. When informed she's still one Oscar shy of tying Katharine Hepburn for most career acting wins, she asked, "Did she have more? Oh, OK."
Even Meryl Streep Is Impressed by Meryl Streep Sometimes: "I thought I was so old and jaded, [but] it was just thrilling," the actress said of her win. "It's like I was a kid again. I was a kid [when I last won]. It was 30 years ago. Two of the nominees were not even conceived."
Even Meryl Streep Is Bored by Meryl Streep Sometimes: "I understand Streep fatigue," she said. "It shocked me it didn't override this tonight."
Only a Success Can Lose That Many Times: Her long Oscar dry spell over, Streep said she was never worried that that it might not ever end. "I have everything I've ever dreamed of in my life," she said, and she said it convincingly.
Well Played, Ms. Spencer, Well Played: One of the big stories going into tonight was the outing of Academy membership as more male, more white and more aged than imagined. Being the lone African-American star back here tonight, Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer predictably got the question: What can be done to make the Oscar voting ranks more diverse? Spencer was in no mood to speechify—she was in too good a mood. "I can't tell the Academy what to do, honey," Spencer said. "They just gave me the Oscar."
Steady As She Goes: If Spencer looked like she had trouble getting to the stage during the show, maybe it's because she had trouble getting across the red carpet at the recent NAACP Image Awards. "I was trying not to fall down," The Help star said. "I had an incident where I fell at an awards show."
As Long as Brad Pitt Buys It…: Was the writing team for The Descendants mocking presenter Angelina Jolie and her leggy pose when they struck the same leggy pose? Nope, according to Jim Rash, the now-Oscar-winning star of Community. "It was a loving tribute," he said.
Capt. Von Trapp Fights Back: Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer told us awards season recharged him. True to his words, he was feisty, funny and refusing to act his age—at 82, he's now the oldest-ever acting winner. "I don't believe that for a second," the Beginners star said when asked about the record. "I think Charlie Chaplin…Wasn't he 83?"
Fact Check: True, Chaplin was just shy of 83. But, as pointed out by Plummer himself, Chaplin was an honorary recipient. The Academy only keeps records—and birthdays—on acting winners. As much as Plummer might not want the record, he's got it, out-olding Jessica Tandy, who was 80 when she won for Driving Miss Daisy.
Um, We Guess This Is a Good Thing: "I hope I can do it [acting] for another 10 years at least," Plummer pledged. "I'm going to drop dead on the stage or the set."
Couple Watch: On stage, Plummer talked about wanting to win an Oscar all his life. Backstage, it was clear that wasn't just talk. He gripped the statuette with both of his hands the entire time he was back here. Does he love Oscar, he was finally asked? Quipped Plummer: "If the Oscar's gay, of course."
Next Time He Should Swear in French: Best Documentary Feature winner T.J. Martin (The Undefeated) seemed taken aback —in a surprised or embarrassed way, not an offended way—that the first questions he and his crew fielded were about his own on-air F-bomb, the first of the evening. "I actually would like to apologize for that," a sheepish Martin said. "However, it did come from the heart. It was absolutely spontaneous."
He Brought the Champagne: Sean Combs didn't win an Oscar, but he was an executive producer of The Undefeated, and he did put in a cameo in the press-conference room, briefly (and wordlessly) hopping up on stage, and raising a glass.
The Perks of Winning, or How to Network: Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy aren't stars, but upon their win for Documentary Short (for "Saving Face") they got to brush past two of the biggest: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. "That was not bad," Junge said. Obaid-Chinoy said Jolie was especially interested in the film's Pakistani setting. "It was really nice to chat with her about that," she said, "and give her a copy of my film."
Next Time, Just Please Remind Telecast Producers of That Fact: Was Hugo's Best Cinematography winner Robert Richardson speaking for TV audiences at home when he questioned the wisdom of presenting his category first? Nope. He was just speaking from his own apprehension of facing the cameras. "We're behind the lens," Richardson said. "Not in front of the lens."
Next Time, Just Please Let the Guy Have Six Wigs: Best Makeup winner J. Roy Helland didn't get a big budget for The Iron Lady, and he still doesn't seem happy about it. He made no bones that money, or lack of it, was his biggest challenge on the film.
And in Those Markets It Wouldn't Have Had a Shot at Best Picture: Asked what considerations or concessions were made in creating the garb for the black-and-white The Artist, Best Costume design winner Mark Bridges dropped a cool little factoid: "It was filmed in color," he said. "It was filmed in color because there was a chance in some markets it would be shown in color."
Some Tips for Your Netflix Queue: Bridges said for inspiration he studied some classic silents, including Our Dancing Daughters and Sunrise.
Good Thing He Doesn't Collaborate with Meryl Streep: Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, Original Song winner for The Muppets' "Man or Muppet," is looking forward to how his new statuette will change his old musical-comedy partnership with Jemaine Clement. Said McKenzie: "I'll be able to pull out the Oscar card, and say I think we ought to use this chord."
He Probably Already Has an iPad: "Today is my birthday," Hugo Art Direction winner Dante Ferretti told reporters. "This is the most incredible present I receive."
Imagine How Oscar Geeks Felt: Conventional widsom has long said the Best Film Editing winner goes onto win Best Picture. Then The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which wasn't even nominated for Best Picture, won, and ruined everything we thought we knew. Said winner Angus Wall: "I was never more surprised."
Everybody's Just a Little Bit of an Oscar Fan: When the Best Actor category came up on the TV screens, Best Live Action Short winner Terry George ("The Shore") called a halt to his own press conference—the better to watch with his own eyes. "Surprise, surprise," he exclaimed when Dujardin won.
(Originally published on Feb. 26, 2012 at 10:56 p.m. PT)