Oscars split awards among range of films

Billy Crystal kicks off the Academy Awards with comic video, song.

Billy Crystal on stage at the 84th Academy Awards 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Billy Crystal on stage at the 84th Academy Awards 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LOS ANGELES - "The Help" actress Octavia Spencer and history-making veteran Christopher Plummer in "Beginners" took two major acting Oscars on Sunday and were among a wide range of winners as the world's top film awards headed toward its conclusion.

Director Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which tells of a boy lost in a train station and also serves as an ode to the early days of film-making, came into the night with 11 nominations and picked up five early wins for cinematography, art direction, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.Silent movie romance "The Artist" was close behind with 10 nominations and nabbed two Oscars midway through the show for costume design and musical score.Another highly touted movie, family drama "The Descendants," walked off with adapted screenplay and Woody Allen won for original screenplay with "Midnight in Paris."But it was Plummer and Spencer who had the audience of A-list stars including George Clooney, Michelle Williams, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt standing on their feet and cheering.Plummer, who starred in "The Sound of Music," won his first ever Oscar for his portrayal of an elderly gay man who comes out to his family in "Beginners.""You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life," he said, looking at the golden Oscar, which is given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is now in its 84th year.Spencer, a relative newcomer in contrast to Plummer, had to hold back tears as she accepted her trophy for her portrayal of a black, southern made in civil rights drama "The Help.""Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said holding her Oscar in her hand. She then went on to talk about her family in Alabama and could not hold back her tears as she joyously accepted her trophy.In other major wins, the foreign language film award went to Iranian divorce drama "A Separation.""I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment," said its director Ashgar Farhadi."Rango" claimed best animated film, while "The Iron Lady," which starred Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher slipping into dementia won for makeup.Best documentary saw the night's first surprise victory for "Undefeated," a film about football players in a poor neighborhood who struggle to make their lives better. "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" had been widely picked to win by pundits.One of the film's makers, T.J. Martin, used an expletive onstage in a sign of his joy, but it was edited over for television audiences. He apologized backstage in the press room.