Best moments of Oscars 2012

Here's a running look at some of this year's best Oscar moments.

Actor Billy Crystal hosts onstage the ceremony of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. AFP
Powered by automated translation

And he's back

Last year, the joke-starved Oscar audience was so thrilled to see Billy Crystal by the time he showed up, they gave him a standing ovation before he even said a word. This time, now back as host, he was greeted warmly if less ecstatically as he launched into his timeworn routine: first the montage where he inserts himself into films - he even got a kiss from George Clooney in his Descendants hospital bed - and then his medley of songs. "You didn't think I wasn't gonna do this, did ya"? he quipped. No, we didn't.

In a clever nod to the need for a bit o' youth, Crystal brought Justin Bieber into his Midnight in Paris bit. Later he was even blunter: "We're gonna slam the 78 to 84 demographic," he said. Next year, he added, we'd be in the Flomax Theater, referring to the prostate medication. The old-age reference became a running theme of the night. After 82-year-old Christopher Plummer won the supporting actor prize, Crystal quipped: "The average age for winners has just jumped to 67."

Meryl and marriage

From longevity in life to longevity in marriage: One of the most moving moments of the night came when Meryl Streep, winning best actress for The Iron Lady, thanked her husband, Don Gummer - not at the end, but at the beginning of her speech, so that the music wouldn't drown out the acknowledgement as it often does.

"Everything I value most in our lives, you gave me," Streep said tearfully.

Then she thanked her other partner: J. Roy Helland, her makeup artist on every movie for 37 years - who had quite a night, also taking home a statuette for transforming Streep into Maggie Thatcher.

"Thanks Meryl, for keeping me employed for the last 37 years," said Helland, who won with Mark Coulier.

I'm freaking out!

The first emotional moment of the evening came with Octavia Spencer's expected yet still heartwarming supporting actress win for her turn as a tart-tongued maid in The Help. From tart-tongued to a little tongue-tied: "Please wrap up ...I'm wrapping up!" she cried. "I'm freaking out!"

The cutest dog in the world

Uggie, the adorable dog in best-picture winner The Artist, got a deserved shout-out from the best director winner, Michel Hazanavicius, and made an appearance onstage when the movie won best picture. However, the director allowed that the canine star does have his limits. "I don't think he understands what I'm saying," Hazanavicius said. "He's not THAT good."

A mess on the carpet

Sacha Baron Cohen always has something up his sleeve. This year, the comic actor spilled it all over Ryan Seacrest's sleeves - and the red carpet, too.

Parodying the Moammar Gadhafi-type dictator he plays in his upcoming film, The Dictator, Baron Cohen showed up carrying what he said were the ashes of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Then he spilled them all over the E! host's tuxedo.

Seacrest said, "Anything can happen and it most certainly did, all over my lapel."

A circus in the house

Wait, was that Spider-Man flying up to the rafters? No, this wasn't the Tonys, it was the Oscars, and those were Cirque du Soleil aerialists in a lavish tribute to the movies.

* AP

Were you sleeping while the Oscars 2012 was taking place? Click here to see our step-by-step recount: Oscars live blog