'Argo' wins best picture on shared Oscars night (UPDATED)

by Michael Thurston

Hollywood, Feb 24, 2013 (AFP) - Ben Affleck's Iran hostage drama "Argo" won the coveted best film Oscar on Sunday, as other key prizes were shared among several films at the 85th Academy Awards, Hollywood's biggest night.

Taiwan-born Ang Lee won best director for spectacular 3D fantasy "Life of Pi," while Daniel Day-Lewis won a record third best actor trophy for "Lincoln" and Jennifer Lawrence was crowned best actress for "Silver Linings Playbook."

But veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg, whose presidential drama had the most nominations with 12 nods, went home from Hollywood's biggest awards show with only two awards, best actor and a technical prize for production design.

Overall, "Life of Pi" won the most Oscars with four, against three for "Argo" and "Les Miserables," two each for "Django Unchained" and "Lincoln," and one for "Zero Dark Thirty."

In a heavily musical show, Adele sang Oscar-winning 007 theme "Skyfall" as part of a segment feting 50 years of Bond films, while Shirley Bassey belted out "Goldfinger."

Legendary diva Barbra Streisand also gave her first Oscars performance for 36 years, singing "The Way We Were" as part of a tribute to late composer Marvin Hamlisch.

Affleck, whose movie had taken virtually all of the top prizes during Hollywood's awards season over the last two months, paid tribute to Spielberg in his acceptance speech.

"Steven Spielberg, I want to acknowledge, I feel is a genius and a towering talent among us," said Affleck, who was not nominated for best director or best actor at the Oscars, in a perceived snub.

In an unexpected move, the best picture winner was announced by First Lady Michelle Obama, addressing the Oscars show -- and final presenter, legend Jack Nicholson -- by videolink from the White House.

"I was hallucinating when that was happening. I was just asking... 'Was that Michelle Obama?' The whole thing overwhelmed me. It was an enormous honor. It was very cool," Affleck said backstage afterwards.

"Hunger Games" star Lawrence got a standing ovation as her award was announced, over fellow nominees Jessica Chastain, French star Emmanuelle Riva, Naomi Watts and nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest ever nominee.

Day-Lewis, who had been widely expected to win best actor, appeared to fight back tears as he took the stage -- and then joked as he was handed the golden statuette by Meryl Streep.

"Three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had been committed to play Margaret Thatcher," he said, referring to Streep's Oscar-winning performance as the former British premier in "The Iron Lady."

"Meryl was Steven (Spielberg)'s first choice for 'Lincoln," he said, to laughs from the assembled A-listers at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. "And I'd like to see that version."

Austrian director Michael Haneke's Cannes-winning "Amour" won the best foreign language film prize at the Oscars, widely seen as the most unpredictable for years.

Best supporting actor went to Austrian Christoph Waltz, who played a dentist turned bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino's blood-spattered spaghetti western tribute "Django Unchained." Tarantino won for best original screenplay.

Best supporting actress went to Anne Hathaway -- who joined fellow "Les Miserables" cast members in singing hits from the movie. The cast of "Chicago" also reunited in song, on the 10th anniversary of its best picture Oscar win.

The best animated feature film award went to Scottish-themed "Brave," which beat fellow nominees including video game adventure "Wreck-It Ralph," which had been tipped as the marginal frontrunner.

The star-studded show was preceded by a two-hour A-list fashion parade on the red carpet, with a healthy serving of old-school Hollywood glamour on display.

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane started off as Oscar host with a joke about Affleck, quipping about the lack of best director nomination by saying he was "unknown to the Academy."

Later one of his more recent creations, potty-mouthed bear Ted, appeared with his big screen buddy Mark Wahlberg and made some off-color jokes about an orgy at Nicholson's place afterwards, and being Jewish in Hollywood.

Affleck -- the first person to win best picture without being nominated as director since "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1990 -- had been given a diplomatic boost Saturday when new US Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted best wishes.

Afterwards the First Lady took to Twitter to congratulate him.

"It was a thrill to announce the #Oscars2013 best picture winner from the @WhiteHouse!," she wrote.

"Congratulations Argo! -mo," she signed off.

The following is a list of the winners so far at the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday:

  • Best picture: "Argo"
  • Best director: Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
  • Best leading actor: Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
  • Best leading actress: Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Best supporting actor: Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained"
  • Best supporting actress: Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables"
  • Best foreign language film: "Amour" (Love)
  • Best animated feature: "Brave"
  • Best original screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"
  • Best adapted screenplay: Chris Terrio, "Argo"
  • Best original score: "Life of Pi"
  • Best original song: "Skyfall," music and lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth
  • Best production design: "Lincoln"
  • Best cinematography: "Life of Pi"
  • Best costume design: "Anna Karenina"
  • Best documentary feature: "Searching for Sugar Man"
  • Best documentary short: "Inocente"
  • Best film editing: "Argo"
  • Best makeup: "Les Miserables"
  • Best short animated film: "Paperman"
  • Best short live action film: "Curfew"
  • Best sound editing: "Zero Dark Thirty"
  • Best sound mixing: "Les Miserables"
  • Best visual effects: "Life of Pi"