"Argo" won Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday.
The true story of the CIA's heroic efforts to extricate a group of Americans from revolutionary Iran nabbed the evening's biggest prize, despite Ben Affleck failing to score a Best Director Oscar nomination.
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"It doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life, all that matters is that you get up," Affleck said.
Affleck's snub was Ang Lee's gain. The Taiwanese director won his second Academy Award on Sunday for his groundbreaking use of 3D in "Life of Pi."
He beat out a list of formidable contenders to capture the honor, including Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") and David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook"). "Pi" led the Oscars with four victories, although most of them came in technical categories.
"Argo" earned three awards, including ones for its script and editing, in a show that stretched over three hours and thirty minutes and spread its top prizes fairly evenly among the major contenders.
The excessive length of the show, which sagged under the weight of several movie tributes and musical performances, became a frequent punch line as the hours ticked by. Host Seth MacFarlane joked that the program would go right into the 2014 Oscars and also quipped that 86-year-old Best Actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva was nine when the show started.
Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence won top acting prizes at the ceremony. Day-Lewis became the first person to ever win three Best Actor prizes, picking up his latest statue for channeling Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."
Accepting his award from Meryl Streep, who won the Best Actress prize last year for "The Iron Lady," he quipped: "Three years ago before we decided to do a straight swap. I'd actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher."
"Lincoln," which initially seemed to be a juggernaut, commanding a leading 12 Oscar nominations, was largely shut out. Besides Day-Lewis' victory, it scored only one other award for production design.
Lawrence earned Best Actress for her performance as a grieving widow in "Silver Linings Playbook." The actress thanked her fellow actresses, pausing to wish fellow nominee Riva ("Amour") a happy birthday.
Hathaway earned her Best Supporting Actress statue for playing Fantine, a poverty-stricken mother forced into prostitution in "Les Miserables," while Waltz won the Best Supporting Actor statue for his performance as a charming bounty hunter in "Django Unchained."
"It came true," Hathaway said, while clasping her statue.
She went on to say that she hoped that one day the hardships of characters like Fantine would only be found in stories.
In his speech, Waltz thanked his director Quentin Tarantino and fellow nominees. It is the second Oscar for Waltz, who previously earned a statue for his performance as a Nazi officer in "Inglorious Bastards," which was also written and directed by Tarantino.
"I was on a list with the greatest actors around," Waltz said backstage in the press room. "How do you think someone feels when all of a sudden his name is called in that context?"
"Amour," from Austrian director Michael Haneke, captured the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, for its searing depiction of an elderly couple struggling to cope with the ravages of old age.
In his speech, Haneke thanked stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Riva, two legends of cinema, saying that he never would have been on the stage had it not been for their performances.
Adele now has an Oscar to go along with her trophy case full of Grammys. The British chanteuse earned an Academy Award for her sultry theme song to "Skyfall," which is the first James Bond movie to earn a Best Song Oscar, despite decades of memorable movie music from everyone from Paul McCartney to Carly Simon.
Chris Terrio earned an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Argo," for bringing two accounts of the daring C.I.A. mission to the screen, while Tarantino won his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay with his antebellum revenge fantasy "Django Unchained."
"I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive…and boy this time did I do it," Tarantino said, while thanking his cast.
MacFarlane kicked off the evening by sending up Hollywood self-aggrandizement, poking fun at the Academy's failure to nominate Ben Affleck and Jean Dujardin's limited English language skills. (He joked that "The Artist" star couldn't make it in talkies.)
There was even a cameo from William Shatner in full James T. Kirk gear from "Star Trek," and a song about actress' who have been naked on film, called "We Saw Your Boobs."
As promised, music factored heavily into the 2013 edition of the Oscars. In addition to MacFarlane's songs, there was a tribute to James Bond's 50 years in films, featuring Dame Shirley Bassey singing the theme from "Goldfinger." Bassey's rendition of the classic 007 anthem brought the crowd at the Dolby Theatre to its feet.
Bassey wasn't the only diva in the house. The ceremony also included a rare appearance by Barbra Streisand, who sang the theme from "The Way We Were" at the end of the show's "In Memoriam" segment, which recognizes members of the industry who died during the last year. The group included the ballad's composer, Marvin Hamlisch.
For good measure, there was also a tribute to movie musicals of the past decade featuring performances from the cast of "Les Miserables," Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls," and Catherine Zeta Jones" representing "Chicago."
Disney dominated the animation awards, picking up Best Animated Feature for "Brave" and Best Animated Short Film for "Paperman."
"Searching for Sugar Man," the story of a musician's amazing second act, earned the award for Best Documentary" over intense competition from the likes of "How to Survive a Plague" and "The Invisible War." Rodriguez, the American musician rescued from obscurity by the film, was not in attendance, because the movie's producers said he did not want to distract from the documentary's big night.
The night's technical categories produced that rarest of Oscar occurrences — a tie. In the Sound Editing category, both "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Skyfall" earned statues for capturing the explosions, gunfire and other scenes of finely calibrated mayhem.
"Life of Pi" performed strongly in below-the-line categories, earning prizes for its cinematography, score and effects work.
A team from Rhythm & Hues picked up a statue for their work designing visual effects for the film. The win was an especially poignant one for Rhythm & Hues because it filed for bankruptcy protection this month.
Bill Westenhofer, a member of the effects team, tried to pay tribute to the company, but was ushered off the stage as the orchestra began playing. Backstage, he was able to speak in more depth about the financial troubles that have befallen not just Rhythm & Hues, but the visual effects industry in California.
"We're not technicians…we're artists, and if we don't do something to change the business model, we might lose some of the artistry," Westenhofer said.