Oscars 2012: The 5 Most Memorable Moments

With silent film The Artist dominating the proceedings, it’s fitting that the funniest moment of the 84th annual Academy Awards came in the form of a wordless gesture: The Descendants co-writer and Community star Jim Rash, ridiculously jutting out his leg in imitation of Angelina Jolie, who’d purposefully displayed her right gam while presenting the Best Adapted Screeplay trophy to Rash, Alexander Payne, and Nat Faxon.

And while there weren’t too many surprises on the night — save for Viola Davis losing to Meryl Streep in the Best Actress race — the telecast as a whole chugged along professionally and amusingly under Billy Crystal’s veteran watch. Here are my picks for the Five Most Memorable Moments of the 2012 Oscars, along with a list of the major winners:

Emma Stone plays it perky in her Oscar-presenting debut | Handing out the Best Visual Effects prize with Ben Stiller, Stone was so fearlessly zany that it elevated what could’ve been a dubious bit of shtick into something unexpectedly entertaining. “Let’s not rush it: We should have some banter where you act cocky and I shut you down and you say I look pretty and I say ‘No chance funnyboy!’ and everybody laughs at you but you seem okay with it,” Stone breathlessly noted as she tried to brainstorm ways to spice up her first Oscar moment. But when the Zoolander actor told her “You don’t want to be the presenter who tries to hard,” Stone turned wonderfully icy. “What, like the guy who would dress up in full Avatar makeup or something? Or a green motion capture unitard or Joaquin Phoenix? I am surprised you’re not in a Planet of the Apes outfit,” she huffed. To which Stiller, who’d in fact rocked all those looks at Oscars ceremonies past, responded, “Wasn’t ready in time.”

Chris Rock turns his job presenting Best Animated Feature into an audition for a return engagement as Academy Awards host | Animated voiceover work allows a fat woman to play a skinny princess, a white man to play an Arabian prince, and a black man to play a donkey or a zebra, deadpanned Rock. And don’t believe actors who tell you how hard the job is, he added, noting that working for UPS or stripping wood are much more grueling professions. Rock then went on to hilariously describe the “easiest job in the world”: going into a sound booth, being fed lines like “It’s time to go to the store” or “It’s getting dark outside,” and earning $1 million. Here’s hoping some smart Oscar producer has already booked him for a much more strenuous role: Emceeing the 2013 ceremony.

Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne play the Martin Scorsese drinking game | It would’ve been delightful enough simply seeing the six hilarious stars of Bridesmaids — McCarthy and Byrne, along with Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ellie Kemper — get gussied up and get their due on cinema’s biggest night. But McCarthy and Byrne, presenting the award for Documentary Feature, got the biggest laughs when a “heckler” interrupted their spiel by shouting “Scorsese!”, forcing the duo to whip out their mini vodka bottles and swig.

Christopher Plummer accepts his Oscar with consummate style | “You’re only two years older than me, darling!” said Plummer, accepting the Best Supporting Actor statuette for his role in Beginners. “Where have you been all my life?” The 82-year-old, who became the oldest actor to ever take home an Academy Award, then joked that he’d been rehearsing his acceptance speech from the day he left his mother’s womb; kidded that he’d share his trophy with costar Ewan McGregor “if I had any decency, but I don’t”; and thanked his “long-suffering wife” for “coming to my rescue every day of my life.” Future Oscar winners, that’s how it’s done.

Meryl Streep gets her first Oscar win since 1983 | “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,” laughed Streep, collecting the Best Actress statuette for The Iron Lady. She then went on to thank her husband first (so her gratitude for him wouldn’t be drowned out by the orchestra, and he’d know “everything I value most in our lives, you’ve given me”); her longtime hair and makeup artist Roy Helland (a fellow winner during the ceremony for his work on The Iron Lady), who’s worked with Streep on every movie she’s done since Sophie’s Choice; and her friends and colleagues for “an inexplicably wonderful career.” A lovely and emotional climax to the evening — even for those of us who kinda wanted Viola Davis to win.

And now, the list of major winners…

Motion Picture: The Artist
Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep/The Iron Lady
Actor in a Leading Role: 
Jean Dujardin/The Artist
Actor in a Supporting Role:
 Christopher Plummer/Beginners
Actress in a Supporting Role:
 Octavia Spencer/The Help
Directing:
 Michel Hazanavicius/The Artist
Original Screenplay: Woody Allen/Midnight in Paris
Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash/The Descendants
Music (Original Song):
 “Man or Muppet”/Bret McKenzie
Music (Original Score):
 The Artist
Visual Effects:
 Hugo
Animated Feature Film:
 Rango
Sound Mixing:
 Hugo
Sound Editing:
 Hugo
Editing: 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Foreign Language Film:
 A Separation
Makeup: The Iron Lady
Costume Design: 
The Artist
Art Direction: Hugo
Cinematography: Hugo

What did you think of the 2012 Oscars? What were your favorite moments? Sound off in the comments!