Christopher Plummer accepts the supporting actor award for "Beginners" during the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 2012, in Hollywood, Calif.
(CBS/AP) Updated 10:27 p.m. ET
Christopher Plummer became the oldest Oscar winner in history on Sunday night, when he picked up the supporting actor prize for his role as an elderly widower who comes out as gay in "Beginners."
"You're only two years older than me, darling," the 82-year-old actor he crooned to his statuette at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony. "Where have you been all my life? I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Oscar speech."
Plummer and Octavia Spencer, the supporting actress winner for her breakout role in "The Help," both dominated in their categories at previous award shows this season, and were considered virtual locks for their Oscars.
Spencer wept throughout her breathless speech, in which she apologized, between laughing and crying, for running a bit long on her time limit.
"Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," Spencer said, referring to last year's supporting-actor winner Christian Bale, who presented her the Oscar.
Martin Scorsese's Paris adventure "Hugo" won five Oscars, including the first two prizes of the night, for cinematography and art direction. It also won for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. It was a great start for Scorsese's film, which led contenders with 11 nominations.
"The Artist," the night's other top contender with 10 nods, took the awards for costume design and original score. Other prizes went to "Rango" for animated feature film, Iran's "A Separation" for foreign language film and "The Iron Lady" for makeup.
Billy Crystal got the ceremony off to a lively start with a star-laden montage in which he hung out with Justin Bieber and got a wet kiss from George Clooney. Back as Oscar host for the ninth time, Crystal also did his signature introduction of the best-picture nominees with a goofy song.
Both "Hugo" and "The Artist" are nominated for the night's highest honor, best picture. Competing against them in the category are George Clooney's family drama "The Descendants"; the Deep South tale "The Help" (featuring best actress nominee Davis and supporting actress favorite Octavia Spencer); Woody Allen's romantic fantasy "Midnight in Paris"; Brad Pitt's baseball tale "Moneyball" and his family saga "The Tree of Life"; Steven Spielberg's World War I epic "War Horse"; and Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock's Sept. 11 story "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."
The lead-acting categories are where the drama lies. Best actress shapes up as a two-woman race between Davis as a courageous maid leading an effort to reveal the hardships of black housekeepers' lives in "The Help" and Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."
The record-holder with 17 acting nominations, Streep has won twice and would become only the fifth performer to receive three Oscars. Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan all earned three, while Katharine Hepburn won four.
It's been almost three decades since Streep last received an Oscar, for 1982's "Sophie's Choice." Though she has the most acting nominations, she also has the most losses - 14. Another loss would be her 13th in a row.
Best actor also looks like a two-person contest between Clooney as the distressed patriarch of a Hawaiian clan in "The Descendants" and Dujardin as a silent-era superstar whose career tanks as talking pictures take over in "The Artist."
It would be the second Oscar for Clooney, who won the supporting actor prize for 2005's "Syriana." While French actresses have won before, among them Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, Dujardin would be the first actor from France to receive an Oscar.
"The Artist" has dominated Hollywood honors this season, winning key prizes at the Golden Globes and awards shows held by the Directors, Producers and Screen Actors guilds. If the film comes away with the best-picture trophy, it would be the first win for a silent film since the war story "Wings" was named outstanding picture at the inaugural Oscars in 1929.
Which film will win best picture? Who will take the acting awards? Which stars will stun on the red carpet? Share all your Academy Awards predictions in the comments.