To kick off his ninth time emceeing the Academy Awards — and ensure people talk for the days and weeks that followed — host Billy Crystal really went for it in his opening film montage in which he placed himself into various scenes from the Best Picture nominees, such as The Artist and The Help. He made a special effort, however, to draw on male star power, first by swapping spit with George Clooney in a manufactured scene from The Descendants, and then giving Justin Bieber some air time to appeal to the younger demographic. Eat your heart out, ladies.
3 of 21 ABC
Don't know who Esperanza Spalding is?
You do now! She sang the haunting yet sweet version of "What a Wonderful World" during the Oscars In Memoriam segment. The 27-year-old is a singer and jazz bassist who won last year's Grammy award for Best New Artist.
4 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Coming to a Netflix near you
Who needs The Artist? To present the documentary category, Robert Downey Jr. introduced Iron Man co-star Gwyneth Paltrow, and the world, to his latest project when he brought a camera crew onstage with him to film his new live documentary called — what else? — The Presenter. "Please don't talk when I'm talking. It will make post[-production] a nightmare," he curtly told Paltrow before adding that he turned down the Oscar-nominated film The Descendants to do this project. Judging from the dailies, we're going to give the edge to Clooney on this one.
5 of 21 ABC
German with a side of … German
The Academy showed they don't only care about reaching the teen demographic (what up, Bieber!), they also care about reaching the 1.2 billion people in China. So when Sandra Bullock presented for Best Foreign Film, she's asked to say a little something in Mandarin Chinese, which Bullock, luckily, speaks fluently … or so she says. "Quick note, since my mother spoke German to us while we were growing up, my Chinese has a very slight German accent," Bullock warned before launching into full-on German. At least she had the accent down?
6 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Just let Octavia Spencer have her moment, pundits
Many have knocked her for over-thanking her agents during awards season. You know what? Before The Help, she did guest work on TNT's Hawthorne and Worst Week and played a pet psychic on Dinner for Schmucks. "Thank you to the Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said, clutching her golden man. And then she thanked the world, her agency and her publicity firm. They finally got it right!
7 of 21 ABC
We sure would have liked to hear "Muppet or Man" live
But in lieu of getting to hear live performances of the Oscar-nominated original songs, Cirque Du Soleil performed a dreamy and acrobatic take on the audience’s experience when they go to the movies: The movie theater seats glided silently on stage, and the aerial gymnastics represented the emotional heights they felt when watching a particularly thrilling scene. It was all just as strange as you'd expect from the circus group, but at least Kermit and Miss Piggy got to introduce it?
8 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Remember when Chris Rock hosted the Oscars?
The reviews were middling, but it wasn't so bad, was it? Even hearing him tell us why it's good to do voice work instantly perked up the night's so-so presenter patter. "In the world of animation you can be anyone you want to be… if you're a black man you can play a donkey or a zebra. Can't play white, my God!"
9 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
If ain't broke, do it every time you host
Crystal leaned on another faithful trick from his hosting repertoire, his traditional song and dance, but he was at least smart enough to poke fun at his own repeat gags. "You didn't think I wasn't going to do this, did ya?" Crystal asked before breaking out into a song about the Best Picture nominees. Although the sound was a little muffled (read: awful), Crystal gets points for invoking the Mr. Ed theme to sing about Hollywood's new leading stallion, War Horse, and turning "That's Amore" into "That's Marty" to honor the beloved Hugo director, Martin Scorsese.
10 of 21 ABC
Introducing… Angie's right leg!
Peeking out from a thigh-high slit, Angelina Jolie’s right leg decided to come out just before its owner presented the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and in a stunning debut performance, the quirky limb posed in the most exaggerated, unnatural way possible. Watch out, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara! Hollywood has another breakout star. Behold, the leg has already got a rabid Twitter following.
11 of 21 ABC
11. Crank it up Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis (or is it Gasavagabas?) donned white matching suits, as well as matching cymbals, to take a break from their day jobs as "serious musicians" to present for Best Original Song. "One of our nominees will join the ranks of previous winners ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’ ‘Moon River,’ ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp.’” It's a tough act to follow, but somebody's got to do it.
12 of 21 Mark Davis/WireImage
Is honesty really the best policy?
Michel Hazanivicius may have won the Oscar for Best Director for The Artist, but he lost a lot of goodwill with viewers when he thanked Uggie the dog, but said he didn't believe Hollywood's It Canine was that good. Someone is going to be sorry when Uggie buries their Oscar statue in the backyard.
13 of 21 ABC
9. More monkeys! The Oscars relied a little too heavily on old fan favorites, but the show hit the right notes when it went back into the vaults to show a test screening for the classic The Wizard of Oz, featuring comic greats like Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Fred Williard and Catherine O'Hara. The comments range from logical head-scratchers (why were children used instead of adult actors for the munchkins?) to hilariously inaccurate (cut the "Rainbow" song! Less Dorothy!). Any way we can get our hands on the footage from the Gone with the Wind test screening?
14 of 21 Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
8. It's the accent, not the thought, that countsFrenchman Jean Dujardin delivered a heartfelt, very articulate and pre-written thank you speech when he won Best Actor. But it was what he did once he went off book, and let his inner euphoria come out through some unintelligible French yelling and some very nice dancing that really charmed the crowd before he left the stage. Who knows what he said? Who cares!
15 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
7. That's what friends are for No one looked more surprised to hear Meryl Streep beat odds-on favorite, and friend, Viola Davis for Best Actress than Streep herself, who patted Davis affectionately on the cheek before she made her way to the stage "When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh, no. Oh, come on. Why her, again?’ But … whatever!” She gave a gracious speech about friendships before waving to Davis one last time as she left the stage.
16 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
6. Emma Stone gives good banter As far as virgins go, Emma Stone made the most of her first time presenting at the Oscars alongside old pro Ben Stiller. She waved to the crowd awkwardly and stopped the show cold to pitch cute banter ideas like having Stiller hit on her or asking her Superbad co-star Jonah Hill onstage to dance before the camera panned to Hill motioning for her to cut it out. Now, now, kids, remember: it's not always that smooth and well received the first time … presenting.
17 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
5. Christopher Plummer becomes the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar
And so the 82-year-old greeted his trophy as such: "You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?" Plummer, who picked up the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in The Beginners, said he'd been waiting for this moment a long while. "I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy Award thank-you speech." It was well worth the wait.
18 of 21 ABC
4. How does she do it? Melissa McCarthy took her Oscar loss to Octavia Spencer like a pro, and instead set her sights on the "host with the most," and bombarded Billy Crystal with an re-enactment of her hilarious mile-high proposal from Bridesmaids. "How about we make this dressing room an undressing room?" she asked before lifting not one, but both legs in the air. Humble, hilarious and flexible? Why can't we all be Melissa McCarthy?
19 of 21 Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
3. The Artist wins Best PictureThe silent, black-and-white film about the dawn of talking pictures won five awards total including Best Picture. Director Michel Hazanavicius thanked his wife and Artist star Berenice Bejo. "You inspired the movie. You're the soul of the movie and the positive feeling of the movie," he said. But perhaps he's even more grateful to someone else? "I want to thank Billy Wilder, I want to thank Billy Wilder, and I want to thank Billy Wilder."
20 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
It's official: Size matters
In a double-entendre-laden exchange to introduce the short film category, Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph discussed the relative length of films. According to Maya Rudolph's grandma, "It can be short and still make your toes curl.” Kristen Wiig, however, added, "See, I'd rather have a short film with some heft. That's nice to me."
21 of 21 Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Line of the night
Billy Crystal, using his best impersonation skills, provided what he imagined to be the inner monologues of the various celebrities as the camera landed on them. After an uncanny March of the Penguins narration a la Morgan Freeman, Crystal then “read” the mind of the often drunk Nick Nolte with this articulate take: *growl, groan, gargle, growl*