Freeman and Crystal kick off Oscars
Morgan Freeman opened the 84th Academy Awards before host Billy Crystal appeared in a spoof showreel based on scenes from nominated films including The Descendants, The Help and hot favourite The Artist.
Tom Hanks presented the first awards of the night for cinematography and art direction to Martin Scorsese's Hugo. Next up were Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez to present the awards for costume design to The Artist. They also presented the award for make-up to the team behind The Iron Lady who transformed Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher.
The next award, for foreign-language film, was presented by Sandra Bullock to the Iranian film A Separation. Welsh-born actor Christian Bale then handed out the award for supporting actress to Octavia Spencer for The Help. The tearful actress, who was given a standing ovation, thanked her family in Los Angeles and Alabama before wrapping up, saying "I'm freaking out".
Melissa Leo, who won the supporting actress award last year, gave the supporting actor award to Christopher Plummer for Beginners. The 82-year-old, the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar, held up his statuette and said: "You're only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?"
The award for original score was presented by Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson to Ludovic Bource for The Artist. And Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis presented the award for original song to Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie for his song Man or Muppet from the latest Muppets film.
Angelina Jolie presented the award for adapted screenplay to the George Clooney film, The Descendants. The award for original screenplay went to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris - his tribute to the French capital in the 1920s when it was home to expat-American writers including F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Fatal Attraction star Michael Douglas gave the award for Best Director to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. He thanked the stars of the film including Uggie the Dog, adding: "I think he doesn't care, I'm not sure he understands me."
And in a further success for for The Artist, Natalie Portman presented the best actor award to Jean Dujardin. The French star told the audience "I love your country" and thanked swashbuckling screen idol Douglas Fairbanks Junior for inspiring his role as the silent film hero of the movie.
The best actress Oscar was presented by Colin Firth to Meryl Streep whom he described as "unreasonably good". The actress, picking up the third Oscar of her career, thanked her husband and also her friend, J Roy Helland, who picked up the make-up award earlier in the night.
Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise presented the best picture Oscar to The Artist - the first silent film to win in decades. Producer Thomas Langmann accepted the award as he was joined on stage by the cast and crew including Uggie the dog. Hazanavicius paid tribute to his wife, Bejo, saying: "You inspired the movie, you're the soul of the movie and the positive feeling of the movie" before going on to pay tribute to Hollywood legend Billy Wilder.