It was a silent night at the 2012 Oscars, with The Artist winning most of the major gongs, including Best Film.
The French silent flick, which tells the story of a pre-talkie superstar who struggles to adapt to the invention of sound, also scooped Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin, Best Costume Design and Best Score.
It was a night where genuine shocks were thin on the ground, but Meryl Streep's Best Actress triumph — she won for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady' — wasn't seen as a foregone conclusion by bookies. Some had Viola Davis as favourite for her performance in 'The Help'.
Streep kept her shoe on this time to collect her award, and said in her speech "I'll never be up here again!". This was her third Oscar victory after a colossal 17 nominations throughout her career.
Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo', which also focuses on early cinema — specifically the career of movie pioneer Georges Méliès — dominated the technical categories. It won for Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.
Veteran star Christopher Plummer, 82, won for Best Supporting Actor ('Beginners') and received a standing ovation from the crowd. "Where have you been all my life?!" he asked the statuette.
Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in 'The Help' - "I'm freaking out" she said.
Woody Allen picked up his fourth Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 'Midnight In Paris'.
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's 'The Descendants' scooped the Best Adapted Screenplay award. The movie follows a land baron who tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident and is based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
Iranian Drama 'A Separation' was heavily tipped to win Best Foreign Film and duly won.
Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow handed out the gong for Best Documentary to 'Undefeated'. The victorious team behind the American Football doc were unceremoniously cut off mid-speech.
The Best Editing prize surprisingly went to 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'.
The short film awards went to 'The Shore' (Best Live Action Short), 'Saving Face' (Best Documentary Short) and 'The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr Morris Lessmore' (Best Animated Short).
Before the ceremony Sacha Baron Cohen caused the biggest stir on the red carpet.
Dressed as fictional alter ego Admiral Aladeen - aka 'The Dictator' - he arrived on the red carpet carrying an urn supposedly holding 'the ashes of Kim Jong Il'.
During his interview with host Ryan Seacrest he dropped the ashes on the E! News presenter, before he was seemingly bundled away by security.
He said it was the dead North Korean dictator's "dream to come to the Oscars and to be sprinkled on the red carpet - and on Halle Berry's chest again".
Meanwhile George Clooney was in philosophical mood on the carpet, saying: "You don't want to leave here thinking 'you know what I should have done?' If I get hit by a bus today, then I did OK."
Jessica Chastain, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, said she felt like she "was walking around in a fog".
Michelle Williams said she learnt a lot about Marilyn Monroe from playing her: "She was funnier than you can imagine and sadder than you could imagine"
Nominee Rooney Mara (up for Best Actress for 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo') said she left it until the last minute to pick her white Givenchy gown. "I only picked it this morning," she said.
Billy Crystal hosted the show at the Kodak Theatre.