Makers of The Artist took home best film, best director, best actor, best music and best costume design trophies.
It was a vintage night in other respects, too. Christopher Plummer became the oldest person to win an Oscar when he won the award for Best Supporting Actor in Beginners. Youre two years older than me, darlingwhere have you been all my life? the 82-year-old Plummer queried his Oscar statuette.
Octavia Spencer took home best supporting actress honours for her role as a spirited maid in The Help, while The Descendants and Midnight in Paris won writing awards.
By the time Colin Firth took to the podium to present the best actress Oscar, grins were fixed on the faces of nominees Michelle Williams (wearing Louis Vuitton), Rooney Mara (in Givenchy Couture), Glenn Close (Zac Posen), Viola Davis (Vera Wang) and Meryl Streep (Lanvin).
Streep won for her portrayal of Baroness Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, completing a hat trick of wins that started with Kramer Vs Kramer in 1979. Crucially to Firth, she also co-starred in Mamma Mia. We were in Greece, we danced, I was gay, and we were happy, Firth said.
Although Streep holds the record for the most nominations in the history of the Awards, with 17 in total, she had not won an Oscar since 1983. When she first won, she pointed out to WWD during a post-Oscars interview, two of the nominees werent even conceived.
Back on the winners podium, Streeps excitement and gratitude left room for no such distinctions.
Really, this is such a great honour. But the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together, Streep said after thanking her husband. My friends, thank you, all of you... for this inexplicably wonderful career. Thank you so much.