LOS ANGELES » Hollywood gave its top honor to Ben Affleck’s "Argo" during a song-and-dance-filled Academy Awards ceremony Sunday, completing a remarkable turnaround for a film that was once a long-shot contender.
But in a break from recent years, Oscar voters also found a way to take care of a wide variety of movies, especially "Life of Pi," which won four trophies, including the best director honor for Ang Lee. "Les Misérables" joined "Argo" in taking home three awards, and "Django Unchained" was honored with two, including one for Quentin Tarantino for best original screenplay.
The 85th annual Academy Award winners announced Sunday in Los Angeles:
» Best Picture:
» Supporting Actor:
» Supporting Actress:
» Foreign Language Film:
» Adapted Screenplay:
» Original Screenplay:
» Animated Feature Film:
» Production Design:
» Sound Mixing:
» Sound Editing (tie):
» Original Score:
» Original Song:
» Documentary Feature:
» Documentary (short subject):
» Film Editing:
» Makeup and Hairstyling:
» Animated Short Film:
» Live Action Short Film:
» Visual Effects:
Oscar winners previously presented this season:
» Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award:
» Honorary Award:
» Honorary Award:
» Honorary Award:
» Award of Merit:
On the Net » www.oscars.org
Michelle Obama, wearing a silver gown and appearing via satellite, helped Jack Nicholson present the best picture award.
Only a decade ago, Affleck would have been a punch line at the Academy Awards, having taken an unfortunate career turn through flops like "Gigli" and "Reindeer Games." But he has turned out several highly praised films in recent years, gaining prestige along the way. His ascent culminated with "Argo," a tale of a cinematic cover for an escape from revolutionary Iran.
Still, Affleck was not nominated by the Academy for his directing, making "Argo" the first film to win best picture without an accompanying nomination for its director since 1990, when "Driving Miss Daisy" won the best-picture Oscar. When Affleck failed to receive a nomination for directing, it helped rally support for "Argo," which has picked up a spate of honors on the awards circuit.
Nearly simultaneously, the producers of "Lincoln," considered the early Oscar frontrunner, seemed to overreach by getting Bill Clinton to introduce a clip at the Golden Globes last month. "Lincoln," the most nominated film going into the night with 12 nods, left with two statuettes, including one for Daniel Day-Lewis as best actor, his third such win.
"This is nuts," a flustered Jennifer Lawrence said as she recovered from tripping up the stairs en route to accepting the Oscar for best actress for "Silver Linings Playbook."
Host Seth MacFarlane opened the 85th annual Academy Awards with a round of risky humor more akin to the Golden Globes, delivering a monologue that mocked himself as "the worst Oscar host ever" and joining with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles to perform a song-and-dance homage to topless scenes by female stars.
"We saw your boobs," they chanted to nervous giggles from the audience.
MacFarlane’s performance from there oscillated between inside jabs at attendees, joking at one point about George Clooney’s history of dating very young women, and one-liners that showcased his juvenile brand of humor. "I would argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth," MacFarlane cracked to apparent winces from the audience.
The Oscars also seemed to emulate the Grammy Awards, with more emphasis on centerpiece performances — by Adele, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand, among others — than on the presentation of awards.
The much-advertised musical tribute, which ran for 11 minutes, had it both ways, mixing clips from films with live performances by Catherine Zeta-Jones, from "Chicago"; Jennifer Hudson, in "Dreamgirls"; and the cast of "Les Misérables."
The producers made up time by hustling winners off the stage. But they did it musically, of course, with riffs from "Jaws" and the "Bonanza" television show. Most winners seemed to adhere to the admonishments made by producers before the show to avoid reading from prepared remarks.
The awards presentation at the Dolby Theatre unfolded pretty much as expected, with voters spreading their awards across a variety of pictures. Voters even found a way to honor "Anna Karenina," which drew shrugs from most critics and moviegoers but nonetheless won best costume design.
Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her role as an emaciated prostitute in "Les Misérables." "It came true," she said softly after climbing onstage. Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor for "Django Unchained," something of a surprise given the Weinstein Co.’s hard push for Robert De Niro for his role in "Silver Linings Playbook."
"We participated in a hero’s journey, the hero here being Quentin," Waltz said of Tarantino.
Best animated feature went to Pixar’s "Brave," which beat its corporate sibling, "Wreck-It Ralph," from Walt Disney Animation. Disney’s cartoon studio did win best animated short, for "Paperman." (Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy turned the animated-short award presentation into a strange performance piece, going on longer than some shorts.)
Best documentary feature went to "Searching for Sugar Man," from first-time director Malik Bendjelloul — the only feel-good documentary in a list that otherwise wrestled with grim problems like the AIDS epidemic and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Michael Haneke’s "Amour," about an elderly couple coping with illness and death, won best foreign film.
There was a rare tie in the sound editing category, with Oscars going to "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Skyfall." The last time there was a tie was in 1994 in the live action short category, according to an Academy librarian. It was the only award given to "Zero Dark Thirty," which was once a leading best-picture contender but fizzled under intense criticism for its depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Honoring a wide variety of pictures is a hallmark of the Golden Globes, and the producers of Sunday’s telecast, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, also worked to give their ceremony a more laid-back atmosphere, hoping to emulate the festiveness of the Globes.
Meron said Tuesday that the words "Academy Awards," for instance, had been dropped from the show’s title ("The Oscars") because they sounded "musty."
The Academy was counting on MacFarlane to lure young male viewers, the primary audience for his "Family Guy" television cartoon and R-rated movie "Ted." But in a bit of a disconnect, Zadan, making the publicity rounds last week, said MacFarlane in rehearsals reminded him of a "throwback to the days of Bob Hope."
Oscar telecasts tend to rise and fall among total viewers based on the popularity of the movies being honored. Last year the winning film, "The Artist," was seen only sparsely by audiences, and only one of the nine nominated films — "The Help" — had taken in more than $100 million in North America before the ceremony. This time six films crossed that threshold: "Lincoln," "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Django Unchained," "Les Misérables" and "Silver Linings Playbook."
The Oscars may go up and down in the ratings, but revenue from the show keeps rising. Last year the Academy took in a record $89.6 million from the show, up about 5 percent from $85.5 million the year before.
—Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply / New York Times