Veteran Oscar Host Billy Crystal opened the 84th Oscar awards ceremony Sunday with jokes about his age and attempts to attract a younger audience to the annual show.
The segment included a long pause while Crystal, who has hosted the awards show nine times previously, sat silently next to teen music sensation Justin Bieber.
The first two awards of the night went to Hugo, a visually rich 3-D tribute to a French film pioneer. it won for its cinematography and art direction.
Hugo, which features British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, is one of nine movies nominated for Best Picture.
Another early winner Sunday night was The Artist, for its costumes. The highly unusual silent black-and-white film also is nominated for the top prize and is among the favorites to win. It tells the story of a struggling silent-era movie star.
Other nominees in this category include Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, Moneyball, which tells the story of Oakland Athletics baseball executive Billy Beane, and The Help, a movie about the plight of black maids serving white families in southern U.S. states decades ago.
Octavia Spencer received a standing ovation when she won the award for best supporting actress for her role in The Help. She was one of two actresses nominated in the category from the film, which tells the story of African American maids in the racially segregated southern United States.
In the best foreign language film category, the prize went as expected to Iran’s A Separation. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, it tells the story of the difficult lives of a couple seeking a divorce. It already has won numerous awards this year.
The award ceremony by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood honors last year’s best films, actors, directors and producers, and is viewed by hundreds of millions around the world.
Meryl Streep has once again been nominated for Best Actress for Iron Lady, about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are competing for the Best Actor Oscar.