Argo took the best picture award in an Oscar ceremony that spread its prizes around, with Life of Pi taking four statuettes, Argo three and four other films two apiece.
Besides winning the best picture Oscar, Argo also won in the film editing and adapted screenplay categories, making it, as predicted, the dominant film at the 85th Academy Awards.
Ang Lee was named best director for Life of Pi, which emerged as the evening’s biggest multiple award winner, also taking the Oscars in the cinematography, original score and visual effects categories.
The best original screenplay Oscar went to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, whose Christoph Waltz was named best supporting actor.
Daniel Day-Lewis won the best actor award for his performance in Lincoln, which also took the Oscar for production design.
The best actress prize went to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook.
Firm favourite Amour was named best foreign language film, Brave best animated feature and Searching for Sugarman best documentary feature.
Anne Hathaway took the best supporting actress Oscar for Les Miserables, which also won the makeup and hairstyling award.
Skyfall was the evening’s other multiple winner, with Oscars for original song and sound editing.
Among studios, 20th Century Fox (with Fox Searchlight included) got the biggest tally, winning six Oscars from 31 nominations. Sony (with Sony Pictures Classics included) ended up with five wins from 24 nominations and Universal (including Focus and Working Title) four from 17.
Warner Bros got three wins from ten nominations, Working Title three from 12 and Walt Disney and the Weinstein Company each scored three from 17.
There were no major surprises among the award winners, though films with multiple nominations including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Master came away empty handed. And with the cinematography Oscar going to Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi, Roger Deakins, nominated for a tenth time for his work on Skyfall, missed out on the award yet again.
The sound editing category produced a tie (believed to be only the third in Oscar history), with awards going to the teams from both Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
The awards ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, ran 30 minutes long and was mostly uneventful. First Lady Michelle Obama added a bit of excitement by appearing via satellite from the White House to help Jack Nicholson announce the best picture winner. And Anne Hathaway, Quentin Tarantino and Adele (who also performed her Skyfall song) were among the winners who gave emotional acceptance speeches.
Backstage, Jennifer Lawrence said she hoped that Silver Linings Playbook would help erode the stigma attached to mental illness. “It’s so bizarre how in this world…if you have asthma, you take asthma medicine,” she said. “If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medicine. If you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it.”
Seth MacFarlane played it relatively safe in his first outing as host, though he did joke about the omission of Argo’s Ben Affleck from the list of best director nominees.
“The story was so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy,” MacFarlane quipped about Argo. Addressing Affleck in the audience, he added: “They know they screwed up. Ben it’s not your fault.”
Among the British contingent of Oscar winners were Searching for Sugarman producer Simon Chinn, Skyfall original song composers Adele and Paul Epworth, Anna Karenina costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Les Miserables sound mixer Andy Nelson and the Les Miserables makeup and hairstyling team of Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell.
Argo: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney
Life of Pi: Ang Lee
Argo: Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Django Unchained: Written by Quentin Tarantino
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Brave: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Searching for Sugar Man: Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn
Anna Karenina: Jacqueline Durran
Argo: William Goldenberg
MAKEUP AND HAIR
Les Misérables: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Life of Pi: Mychael Danna
Skyfall from Skyfall
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Lincoln: Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Paperman: John Kahrs
LIVE ACTION SHORT
Curfew: Shawn Christensen
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Inocente: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Skyfall: Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty: Paul N.J. Ottosson
Les Misérables: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott