"Argo," the Hollywood-saves-the-day thriller based on declassified CIA accounts of the rescue of six U.S. embassy workers during the Iran hostage crisis, capped its awards-season sweep with the 2013 best picture Oscar at the end of a long, long 85th Academy Awards ceremony. The Oscar was announced live from the White House by first lady Michele Obama.
"Argo" glommed three Oscars in all, in a year when the trophies were spread around. "Life of Pi" had the biggest batch, with four gold statuettes, including Ang Lee for best director.
Daniel Day-Lewis made history with his winning portrayal of one of the giants of American history. His Oscar for "Lincoln" puts the Anglo-Irish actor in exclusive company -- with himself. He is the first person to win three best actor Academy Awards. His first win was in 1990 for "My Left Foot," his second for "There Will Be Blood" in 2008. (Rumors of a petition drive to replace Abraham Lincoln's image on the $5 bill with Day-Lewis' -- people feel he is more authentic -- have not been confirmed.)
And Jennifer Lawrence received the best actress Oscar for her head-spinning turn in "Silver Linings Playbook," the romantic dramedy. Stumbling on the steps to the dais, Lawrence collected herself and graciously acknowledged her fellow nominees. Nominated in eight categories, including Bradley Cooper for best actor, the roller-coaster hit ended up with just the one prize. (However, at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, "Silver Linings Playbook" dominated, winning in four of its five nominated categories, including best picture.)
"Argo's" Oscar victory makes it the first best picture winner since 1990's "Driving Miss Daisy" to take the top honor without its director being nominated. It's as though Ben Affleck, who also stars in "Argo" but wasn't nominated for best actor, either, had nothing to do with it.
If the ceremony, hosted by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, began in wincingly questionable taste (N-word jokes, a song called "We Saw Your Boobs"), it also began with a surprise.
The first award out of the gate -- after almost 20 minutes of MacFarlane-engineered parodies, a time-traveling visit from an admonishing "Star Trek" Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), and another musical number that promised audiences "a telecast designed to put your patience to test" -- went to Christoph Waltz, winning the supporting actor Oscar for his droll turn as a bounty hunter who joins forces with a freed slave in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." The German star won the same award for the same director in 2009, for Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."
All five supporting actor nominees are previous Oscar winners, and the punditry consensus had Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Playbook") and Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln") neck and neck to win. So Waltz's kudo was unexpected. Tarantino also took the original screenplay Oscar -- noting that he was neighbors with his presenter, Charlize Theron.
No surprise at all in the supporting actress category, however: Anne Hathaway, as forecast, took the Oscar for supporting actress, for her up-close performance (you can see her tonsils when she sings!) as Fantine, Victor Hugo's hard-luck prostitute, in "Les Miserables." Hathaway had to lose weight -- and lose her locks, in the famous haircutting scene -- for the role.
Though not a seismic shocker, "Brave," the Disney/Pixar tale of a feisty, flame-haired Scottish princess, captured the best animated feature prize. "Frankenweenie" and "ParaNorman" were considered front-runners in the category.