Ben Affleck’s Iranian hostage drama Argo won the Best Picture Oscar while Ang Lee pulled off a big surprise by taking home the Best Director trophy for Life of Pi, the story of a shipwrecked Indian boy, at the 85th Academy Awards here.
British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, 55, scored a historic third Best Actor Oscar for his turn as the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s civil-war set drama Lincoln.
He has become the first actor to win the most number of Best Actor Oscars. His previous Oscars were for My Left Foot in 1989 and There Will Be Bloodin 2007.
22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence emerged a winner for Silver Linings Playbook in a tight best actress race by tripping strong contenders like Jessica Chastain, Emmanuelle Riva, Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis.
Argo saw off tough competition from eight other films — including Lincoln, Life of Pi Amour, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty — to walk away with the top award.
Argo was declared a winner by Jack Nicholson and First Lady Michelle Obama, who tuned in through a videolink, making an unprecedented appearance from White House in a shimmery silver gown.
The film, based on real incidents, narrates the near impossible escape story when CIA pulled out six US diplomats from Iran in 1979 by posing as a fake film crew. It won three trophies — best picture, best adapted screenplay and best editing — out of its seven nominations.
Lee pulled of an upset by winning the Oscar, his second, over favourite Steven Spielberg and three others with his visually stunning, India-set 3D drama. The film also scored a maximum win of four awards — best director, best cinematography, music (original score) and visual effects — out of its 11 nominations.
“Thank you, movie god. I need to thank Yann Martel for writing this inspiring book,” said Lee before commending his Indian cast and crew and ending his speech with ‘Namaste’.
Lee, 58, spent four years translating Martel’s book to the screen and made several trips to India to shoot the film, which starts in Puducherry and Munnar.
The director, a five-time Oscar nominee, previously won the best director trophy for his 2005 gay cowboy drama Brokeback Mountain.
He shot the film, which earned $600 million worldwide, with an Indian cast that included newcomer Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Adil Hussain.
Affleck, 40, who was famously snubbed from being nominated for directing despite winning every other award this season, made it up by scoring the top honour of the night over eight other films.
“I want to thank Canada. I want to thank our friends in Iran, who live under terrible circumstances,” said Affleck, the co-producer with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Day-Lewis, who took almost six years to accept the role of Lincoln after refusing Spielberg three times, thanked the “spirit of Lincoln” for his win.
“I do know that I’ve received so much more than my fortune... my role was Steven’s first choice for Lincoln...
I’m so proud... I’d like to thank Kathleen Kenndey, our producer. I owe this to three men — Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg and the spirit of Abraham lincoln,” he said while accepting the best actor trophy.
Lawrence had an embarrassing tumble before accepting her Best Actress trophy but the 22—year—old recovered her composure quickly to deliver an emotional speech.
“This is embarrassing... It’s nuts...thank you to the Academy, to the women this year. Thank you to the best production team, our crew and my family... Thank you so much,” she said.
Best supporting award
Anne Hathaway’s dream of winning an Oscar came true after she walked away with the Best Supporting trophy for her role of a fallen woman, Fantine, in Les Miserables.
“It came true... I hope sometime in near future. The misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and not in real life,’’ Hathaway said.
Christoph Waltz won the best supporting Oscar, his second in the same category, for Django Unchained.
Waltz, who previously won an Oscar for Inglourious Basterds, thanked his best original screenplay winning director Quentin Tarantino for his spaghetti western.
“My... my unlimited gratitude goes to Dr King Schultz (his character). That is, of course, to the creator and the creator of his awe-inspiring world — Quentin Tarentino,” the actor said.
Tarantino, in an unusually long speech, said that he was happy to win because it was one of the best years in writing.
“...this time did I do it... I would like to say it’s such an honour to get it this year because in both the original and the adapted categories, the writing is just fantastic.
This will be the writers’ year, man. Thank you very much. I love the competition. You guys all wonderful,” said the writer-director, who previously won in the same category for Pulp Fiction.
The best adapted screenplay was won by Chris Terrio of Argo who bested Tony Kushner for Lincoln, David Magee for Life of Pi and David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, among others. Terrio adapted the film from an article from Wired magazine and CIA man Tony Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise.
Best original score
Music director Mychael Danna won an Oscar in the Best Original Score category for his work for Pi but India’s hopes were dashed after sole nominee Bombay Jayshri lost the Best Original Song trophy to British singer Adele, who won the statuette for her soulful rendition of James Bond theme Skyfall.
Amour, nominated in five categories including the best director and actress, won its lone award in the best foreign film category over Norway’s Kon-Tiki, Chile’s No, Denmark’s A Royal Affair and War Witch from Canada.
Claudia Miranda won the best cinematography trophy for his exceptional camera work in technically brilliant Life of Pi The film also brought Oscars for its visual effects team of Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott.