Sure Hugo also won five Oscars, but, just as predicted, The Artist had the last word at the 84th Annual Academy Awards.
The upbeat homage to cinema's silent age was named Best Motion Picture tonight, capping off a tight, three-hour ceremony that went pretty much as planned—though it made up with glamour and cheerful camaraderie what it may have lacked in suspense.
To answer the two questions people may have had heading into this evening, the French George Clooney outlasted the American George Clooney for Best Actor, and the Iron Lady proved unbeatable in the Best Actress category.
And, thanks to returning host Billy Crystal, it really felt like the Oscars this year.
"Oui!" shouted Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin, who picked up steam midseason and obviously didn't stop till he had steamrolled the actual Clooney.
"I love your country," continued the Frenchman, who also won the SAG, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award this year. "It's funny because, in 1929, it wasn't Billy Crystal, but Douglas Fairbanks who hosted the first Oscar ceremony. Tickets cost $5 and it lasted 15 minutes. Times have changed."
To conclude his speech, he yelled something in French that apparently included the F-word, but he closed with "merci beaucoup, I love you." And we understood that part.
The Artist's tally also included the Best Director win for Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, as well as Best Costume Design and Best Original Score.
"I have an Oscar, I forget my speech," Hazanavicius said in his charming broken English. "I am the happiest director in the world right now."
Meryl Streep, perceived as a bit of an underdog going against The Help's Viola Davis, won Best Actress for her inexplicably believable turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady—and we'd listen to her accept an award any day of the week.
"When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, 'Oh, come on, why? Her again?!' But, whatever," she quipped.
"First I'm going to thank Don, because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech, they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives," Streep said, turning to hubby Don Gummer, "you've given me."
She also thanked her "other partner" of 30 years, hair and makeup artist J. Roy Helland, already a winner tonight for Best Achievement in Makeup and the guy who turned her into Sophie and the ex-Mrs. Kramer so many years ago.
Beforehand, Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a fantastical passion project about turn-of-the-century filmmaking pioneer Georges Mélièr, won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Visual Effects, Cinematography, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
While it didn't score Clooney a second Oscar, The Descendants netted Alexander Payne his second win for Best Adapted Screenplay win, this time shared with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
Woody Allen wasn't there to accept Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris, as he hasn't been anywhere to accept similar awards all season. (Don't worry. He's fine. He just doesn't believe in attending the Oscars and prefers playing clarinet with his jazz outfit in New York.)
The Help's Octavia Spencer ran away with Best Supporting Actress to make it a clean awards-season sweep.
"Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," Spencer, already tearing up, said as she hoisted her little gold guy. "I have to thank my family, my family in Alabama, the state of Alabama, my L.A. family...my Help family."
It seemed a little odd when she got the dreaded "wrap it up" warning on the screen after a seemingly very brief minute, but maybe those long-winded cinematographers, costume designers and art directors—not to mention the standing ovation—had used up all her time.
Another standing-O was on tap, however, for Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer, who played a newly out-of-the-closet widower in Beginners and, at 82, became the oldest Oscar winner yet.
"You're only two years older than me, darling, where have you been all my life?" the dapper Canadian, who's got this acceptance thing down to a science by now, inquired of his statuette. "I have a confession to make, when I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy thank you speech."
In addition to the usual suspects (including costar Ewan McGregor, "who I would happily share this award with if I had any decency, but I don't"), he thanked daughter Amanda Plummer and his "long-suffering wife, Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day" of his life.
As tends to be the case, the hipness factor came in the Best Original Song department, with Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame winning for his "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.
"I grew up in New Zealand watching the Muppets on TV," he said. "I never dreamed I'd get to work with them. I was genuinely starstruck when I met Kermit the Frog. But when you get to know him, he's just a regular frog. And like many stars here tonight, he's shorter in person."
A bit of an upset occurred in, of all places, Best Achievement in Film Editing, which instead of to The Artist or Hugo went to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, making David Fincher team members Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter winners for the second year in a row.
Undefeated, about the rise of a small-town high school football team that counts Sean "Diddy" Combs as an executive producer, was named Best Documentary—and provided for the evening's most audible F-bomb during T.J. Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas' acceptance speech.
Alas, Johnny Depp wasn't in the house—the "Chapter 11 Theatre," as Crystal cracked about the venue, which lost the "Kodak" part recently—to see Gore Verbinski's Rango named Best Animated Feature Film, but the director made sure to thank the "real-world chameleon" first.