It took the presenters and winners themselves to liven up the program – and that includes Uggie, Dujardin's scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier in "The Artist," who performed some of his signature tricks on stage toward the end of the night.
Even Meryl Streep – the grand dame of them all who won for best actress in a drama for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady" – let an expletive slip during her acceptance speech. Streep got flustered when she realized she forgot her glasses at her table; instead she winged it, giving a rambling (but gracious) speech praising other actresses' performances, including some who hadn't even been nominated that night.
Two of Hollywood's most veteran and esteemed directors also were winners Sunday night, both of whom were venturing into 3-D for the first time: Martin Scorsese for best director for the family fantasy "Hugo" and Steven Spielberg for best animated film for "The Adventures of Tintin."
Meanwhile, Woody Allen won for his screenplay for "Midnight in Paris" – but naturally, he wasn't there to accept the statue in person. The comedy is his biggest hit in decades but he's typically reluctant to attend awards shows.
Things were much more fresh and inspired on the television side of the ceremony, with daring shows earning honors and longtime stars going home with statues for new roles.