28 Feb 2012

McKenzie wins Oscar, The Artist shines at awards

5:37 am on 28 February 2012

New Zealander Bret McKenzie won the Oscar for best original song at the 84th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The actor, singer and songwriter won for Man or Muppet, which features in the latest Muppets movie.

McKenzie, from Wellington, is best known as one half of the Flight of the Conchords comedy duo and appeared in the Lord of the Rings' first film.

"I grew up in New Zealand watching The Muppets on TV; I never dreamed I'd get to work with them and I was genuinely star-struck when I finally met Kermit the Frog," he said when accepting his award at the Kodak Theatre.

"But once you get to know him, he's just a normal frog. And, like many stars here tonight, he's a lot shorter in real life."

McKenzie thanked his colleagues, family and the creator of The Muppets, the late Jim Henson, saying it was a true honour to work in the shadow of such a legend.

Only two songs were nominated in the best original song category; the other being Real in Rio from the animated film Rio.

Bret McKenzie's mother Deirdre Tarrant is in Los Angeles babysitting his children and told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme her son was feeling the pressure before the ceremony.

"It's a lot of pressure, it's just so far from home and it's a very American event ... It's fabulous, fantastic. And the kids are like 'Daddy!, Daddy!, Daddy!' - so that was lovely."

His father, Peter McKenzie, watched the ceremony at a cinema in the Wellington suburb of Miramar and says he is incredibly proud.

Bret McKenzie is the second New Zealander to win an Academy Award for best song. In 2004, Fran Walsh, the partner of director Sir Peter Jackson, won the Oscar for co-writing Lord of the Rings song Into the West.

Silent movie scoops top Oscars

Silent movie The Artist won five Oscars including best picture, best director for Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for Jean Dujardin.

French composer Ludovic Bource on Sunday also won the award for original score for his work on the black and white romance set in Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s.

Dujardin broke into his native French language in celebration shouting: "Wow, victory!"

Meryl Streep won best actress for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.

It was Streep's third Oscar, and her first in 30 years, although she has a record 17 nominations for the most coveted prize in the film industry.

Her previous Oscars were for the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer and 1982's Sophie's Choice.

Streep thanked the Academy "for this inexplicably wonderful career".

"When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going: 'Aww no. Not her again'. But, you know, whatever."

Christopher Plummer became the oldest Oscar winner at 82 for his performance in Beginners.

The Canadian, who starred in The Sound of Music more than 40 years ago, was widely tipped to pick up the best supporting actor award for his portrayal of a father who comes out as a gay man after his wife dies.

Octavia Spencer won best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of a mouthy, endearing housemaid who reluctantly tells her story in the US civil-rights era film The Help. The tearful actress earned a standing ovation from the audience.

A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film, becoming the first Iranian movie to clinch the honour. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, the film focuses on a couple going through a divorce and touches on traditions, justice and male-female relationships in modern Iran.

Martin Scorsese's Hugo, which tells of a boy lost in a train station and also serves as an ode to the early days of film-making, picked up Oscars for cinematography, art direction, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.