Argo storms to Oscar victory
Argo stormed to best picture victory at the Oscars on a night of surprises that ended in disappointment for front-runner Lincoln and handed the most overall wins – four – to Life of Pi.
The honours for the Iran hostage drama marked a triumphant comeback into Hollywood’s mainstream for director Ben Affleck, who failed to get a nomination in the directing category six weeks ago, and who struggled for years to rebuild his reputation after tabloid ridicule over his 2002-2004 romance with Jennifer Lopez.
Argo also won best film editing and best adapted screenplay for its gripping and often comedic tale of the CIA mission to rescue six US diplomats from Tehran shortly after the Islamic Revolution.
“So many wonderful people extended their help to me when they had nothing to benefit from it ... you can’t hold grudges. It’s hard, but you can’t hold grudges. It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, because it happens. All that matters is that you get up,” the 40-year-old Affleck, who also produced the film, said in an emotional acceptance speech.
Ang Lee was an upset choice for best director for his lavish shipwreck tale Life of Pi, beating the respected Steven Spielberg, whose presidential drama Lincoln took home just two Oscars from a leading 12 nominations. The other three wins for Life of Pi came for original score, visual effects and cinematography.
The best picture Oscar for Argo was announced in one of the best-kept secrets in the history of Oscar telecasts when First Lady Michelle Obama made an unprecedented video appearance from the White House to open the winning envelope.
Daniel Day-Lewis, as expected, made Oscar history and won a long standing ovation on becoming the first man to win three best-actor Oscars. He collected the golden statuette for his intense performance as US President Abraham Lincoln battling to abolish slavery and end the Civil War in Lincoln.
“I really don’t know how any of this happened,” said Day-Lewis, who has dual Anglo-Irish citizenship.
Jennifer Lawrence was named best actress for playing a feisty young widow in comedy Silver Linings Playbook, tripping up on her Dior dress while going up on the stage. She beat Zero Dark Thirty actress Jessica Chastain and France’s Emmanuelle Riva, 86, the star of Austrian foreign-language winner Amour, in one of the closest Oscar contests this year.
The 5,800 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who chose the Oscar winners in secret ballots, dealt a stinging blow to Zero Dark Thirty.
The film, about the 10-year-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, which has been attacked by Washington politicians and some human rights groups for its depiction of torture, came away with just one Academy Award out of five nominations.
Even that Oscar – for sound editing – had to be shared as it was a tie with James Bond blockbuster Skyfall.
Sunday’s show will also be remembered for the provocative performance given by Seth MacFarlane, creator of animated television series Family Guy, in his debut as Oscars host.
MacFarlane, 39, pushed the envelope with cheeky songs like We Saw Your Boobs about actresses who have stripped down for movie roles, and jokes about Hollywood’s large Jewish and gay communities.
Anne Hathaway was a popular first-time Oscar winner for her supporting turn in musical Les Misérables.
Austrian Christoph Waltz, seemed shocked to win the closest contest going into the ceremony. He took best supporting actor honours for his turn as an eccentric dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s slavery revenge fantasy Django Unchained.
It was Waltz’s second Oscar, after winning for the Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds in 2010.
A jubilant Tarantino also won the Oscar for best original screenplay, and credited the actors who brought the characters in all his films to life. “And boy this time, did I do it!,” he said.
Brave, the Pixar movie about a feisty Scottish princess, took home the golden statuette for best animated feature.
Ang Lee, winner, best director, Life of Pi
“Thank you movie god,” Lee said to a big laugh from the audience. “I really need to share this with all 3,000 – everybody who worked with me on Life of Pi.”
Ben Affleck, winner, best picture, Argo
“I thank everyone in the movie. I want to thank Canada. I want to thank our friends in Iran living in terrible circumstances right now. I want to thank my wife, who I don’t normally associate with Iran, but I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It is work but it is the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.
“I was here 15 years ago and had no idea what I was doing... I was really just a kid, and I went out and never thought I’d be back here,” said Affleck, who directed and co-produced Argo.
Daniel Day-Lewis, winner, best actor, Lincoln
“I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher and Meryl (Streep) was Steven (Spielberg’s) first choice for Lincoln... Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln but I had to persuade him that perhaps if I was going to do it, that Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical,” Day-Lewis joked, taking a poke at Streep, who presented his Oscar.
“There are three men to whom I owe this and a great deal more. Tony Kushner, our beloved skipper (director) Steven Spielberg and the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln,” said Day-Lewis who dedicated his win to his mother.
Jennifer Lawrence, winner, best actress, Silver Linings Playbook
“Thank you. You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you. This is nuts!
“I’m just cross-eyed. The process today was so stressful. I felt like Steve Martin from Father of the Bride watching my whole house being torn apart.” When asked if she is worried that her career may be peaking early, she said: “I mean, who knows? I guess we’ll see. Well, now I am.”
Anne Hathaway, winner, best supporting actress, Les Misérables
“I had a dream. And it came true,” said Hathaway. “This film changed me because it made me more compassionate and more aware.”
“Here’s hoping that someday, in the not-too-distant future, the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never more in real life,” Hathaway said, referring to her Les Misérables character who was a starving young mother forced into prostitution.
US First Lady Michelle Obama, presenter, best picture
This year’s nominated films “made us laugh, made us weep and grip our armrests just a little bit tighter,” Obama said in a surprise appearance.
“They reminded us we can overcome any obstacles if we dig deep enough and hard enough. They are especially important for young people. Everyday they engage in the arts, they learn to open their imaginations... and strive to reach those dreams.”