In the end, the beautifully filmed screen epic missed out on the best picture award to a black-and-white silent movie, "The Artist".
"The Artist" became only the second silent movie to be named best picture in the history of the Oscars. The first was "Wings", in 1927.
"War Horse" was picked to be a strong contender in the best cinematography category, but missed out to "Hugo".
Its rich John Williams score was also considered a front-runner for best original score, but that honour went to "The Artist" also.
"War Horse" also missed the awards for best art direction, best sound mixing and best sound editing, all of which went to Hugo.
Critics have, on the whole, been lukewarm about Spielberg's "War Horse" tear-jerker.
While acknowledging the fine cinematography and John Williams' score, many felt it was too syrupy - "a little too Disney-fied" in the words of one critic.
However, in the world of Cyberspace, "War Horse" has been doing rather better.
An analysis of data from search directory Yahoo! reveals more searches across Britain for "War Horse" than all the other eight nominees.
It had three times as many searches as "The Artist", which was in second spot.
"War Horse" has grossed about $US80 million in the US to date.
And the winners are (in capitals): BEST PICTURE THE ARTIST War Horse The Descendants Moneyball The Tree of Life Midnight in Paris The Help Hugo Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close BEST DIRECTOR MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS, THE ARTIST Alexander Payne, The Descendants Martin Scorsese, Hugo Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life BEST ACTOR Demian Bichir, A Better Life George Clooney, The Descendants JEAN DUJARDIN, THE ARTIST Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Brad Pitt, Moneyball BEST ACTRESS Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs Viola Davis, The Help Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo MERYL STREEP, THE IRON LADY Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Jonah Hill, Moneyball Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Nick Nolte, Warrior CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, BEGINNERS BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Berenice Bejo, The Artist Jessica Chastain, The Help Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs OCTAVIA SPENCER, THE HELP BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY The Artist Bridesmaids Margin Call MIDNIGHT IN PARIS A Separation BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY THE DESCENDANTS Hugo The Ides of March Moneyball Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy BEST ANIMATED FEATURE A Cat in Paris Chico & Rita Kung Fu Panda 2 Puss in Boots RANGO BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM A SEPARATION Footnote In Darkness Bullhead Monsieur Lahzar BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Pina Hell and Back Again If A Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front Paradise Lost 3 UNDEFEATED BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY The Artist The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo HUGO The Tree of Life War Horse BEST ORIGINAL SCORE The Adventures of Tintin THE ARTIST Hugo Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy War Horse BEST ORIGINAL SONG "MAN OR MUPPET", FROM THE MUPPETS "Real in Rio" from Rio BEST EDITING The Artist The Descendants THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Hugo Moneyball BEST ART DIRECTION The Artist Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 HUGO Midnight in Paris War Horse BEST COSTUME DESIGN Anonymous The Artist HUGO Jane Eyre W.E. BEST MAKEUP Albert Nobbs Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 THE IRON LADY BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 HUGO Real Steel Rise of the Planet of the Apes Transformers: Dark of the Moon BEST SOUND MIXING The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Moneyball HUGO Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse BEST SOUND EDITING Drive The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo HUGO Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse BEST ANIMATED SHORT Dimanche/Sunday THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE La Luna A Morning Stroll Wild Life BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT Pentecost Raju THE SHORE Time Freak Tuba Atlantic BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement God Is the Bigger Elvis Incident in New Baghdad SAVING FACE The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom