LOS ANGELES – Ben Afflecks Argo, a film about a fake movie, earned a very real prize: best picture at the Academy Awards.
From the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson to help present the final prize on Sunday night.
There are eight great films that have every right, as much a right to be up here as we do, Affleck said of the other best-picture nominees.
In share-the-wealth mode, Oscar voters spread Sundays honors among a range of films, with Argo winning three trophies but Life of Pi leading with four.
Daniel Day-Lewis joined a select group of recipients with his third Oscar, taking the best-actor trophy for his monumental performance as Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War saga Lincoln.
Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence triumphed in Hollywoods big games, winning the best actress as a damaged soul in Silver Linings Playbook, while Ang Lee pulled off a huge upset as best director for Life of Pi.
Anne Hathaway went from propping up leaden sidekick James Franco at the Academy Awards to hefting a golden statue of her own with a supporting-actress Oscar win as a doomed mother-turned-prostitute in the musical Les Miserables.
Christoph Waltz won his second supporting-actor Oscar for a Tarantino film, this time as a genteel bounty hunter in the slave-revenge saga Django Unchained.
Tarantino also won his second Oscar, for original screenplay for Django.
Ang Lee pulled off a major upset, won best director for the shipwreck story Life of Pi, taking the prize over Steven Spielberg, who had been favored for Lincoln.
Lawrence took a fall on her way to the stage, tripping on the steps.
You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell, Lawrence joked as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
At 22, Lawrence is the second-youngest woman to win best actress, behind Marlee Matlin, who was 21 when she won for Children of a Lesser God.
Lawrence also is the third-youngest best-actress contender ever, earning her first nomination at age 20 two years ago for her breakout role in Winters Bone, the film that took her from virtual unknown to one of Hollywoods most-versatile and sought-after performers.
With a monumental performance as Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis became the only performer to win three best-actor Oscars, adding to the honors he earned for My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood. Hes just the sixth actor to earn three or more Oscars, tied with Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan with three each, and just behind Katharine Hepburn, who won four.
Hathaway, whose perkiness helped carry her and the listless Franco through an ill-starred stint as Oscar hosts two years ago, is the third performer in a musical to win supporting actress during the genres resurgence in the last decade.
It came true, said Hathaway, who joins 2002 supporting-actress winner Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago and 2006 recipient Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls. Hathaway had warm thanks for Les Miz co-star Hugh Jackman, with whom she once sang a duet at the Oscars when he was the shows host.
Hathaways Oscar came for her role as noble but fallen Fantine in the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway smash that was based on Victor Hugos epic novel of revolution, romance and redemption in 19th century France.
Life of Pi also won for Mychael Dannas multicultural musical score that blends Indian and Western instruments and influences, plus cinematography and visual effects.
I really want to thank you for believing this story and sharing this incredible journey with me, Lee said to all who worked on the film, a surprise blockbuster about a youth trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.
A veteran performer in Germany and his native Austria, Waltz had been a virtual unknown in Hollywood when Tarantino cast him as a gleefully evil Nazi in 2009s Inglourious Basterds, which won him his first Oscar.
I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive, said Tarantino, who won previously for Pulp Fiction. And boy, this time, did I do it. Thank you so much, guys.
Waltz has since done a handful of other Hollywood movies, but its Tarantino who has given him his two choicest roles. Backstage, Waltz had a simple explanation for why the collaboration works.
Quentin writes poetry, and I like poetry, Waltz said.
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane opened with a mildly edgy monologue that offered the usual polite jabs at the academy, the stars and the industry. He took a poke at academy voters over the snub of Ben Affleck, who missed out on a directing nomination for best-picture favorite Argo, a thriller about the CIAs plot to rescue six Americans during the Iranian hostage crisis.
The story was so top secret that the films director is unknown to the academy, MacFarlane said. They know they screwed up. Ben, its not your fault.
Argo also claimed the Oscar for adapted screenplay for Chris Terrio.