Oscars 2012: Most Memorable Moments

Octavia Spencer wins big, Chris Rock gets laughs and Viola Davis goes home empty-handed.

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The 84th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night were turning into a rather predictable affair until one stunning moment near the end.

That moment came when Meryl Streep beat Viola Davis for Best Actress. Davis, who was considered the front-runner for her role as maid Aibileen Clark in The Help, graciously kissed the actress on the cheek as Streep went up to accept her award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

"When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, 'Ah, no ... Why her, again?' But, whatever," Streep said. This was only her third win even though she's been nominated a record 17 times. Perhaps Hollywood wasn't prepared for what Davis might say if she won. Throughout the awards season, Davis has been outspoken about the lack of roles for women of color. 

As expected, Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress award for her stellar performance as strong-willed maid Minny Jackson in The Help. Black-and-white silent film The Artist won Best Picture, and Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor award for his role in the film. Christopher Plummer, 82, who was named Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners, became the oldest actor to win the award.

Host Billy Crystal stuck to the usual script, opening the show with a humorous montage and musical number that has been his trademark when he's hosted eight previous times. It left some wondering what Eddie Murphy would have done if he hadn't bowed out over the Brett Ratner fiasco.

Here are the night's most memorable moments:

Spencer received the night's first standing ovation, which shows that a win by black artists can still bring Hollywood to its feet. A tearful Spencer, who was a bit more composed when she won a Golden Globe, spent most of her speech thanking her family and colleagues from The Help. She was even grateful for presenter Christian Bale. "Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said.

Most Memorable Joke

Spencer's win inspired Crystal to quip, "That moment for Octavia is what the Oscars is all about. I love that movie a lot ... When I came out of The Help I wanted to hug the first black woman that I saw, which from Beverly Hills is a 45-minute drive."

The Second Most Memorable Joke

Black Academy Award Winners: Past and Present

Take a look back at previous black nominees who’ve won.

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