Affleck's 'Argo' wins best-picture Oscar

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ben Affleck's "Argo," a film about a fake movie, has earned a very real prize: best picture at the Academy

Awards.

In share-the-wealth mode, Oscar voters spread Sunday's honors among a range of films, with "Argo" winning three trophies but

"Life of Pi" leading with four.

Daniel Day-Lewis became the first person to win three best-actor Oscars, the latest coming for "Lincoln," while "Hunger Games"

star Jennifer Lawrence triumphed in Hollywood's big games as best actress for "Silver Linings Playbook."

Ang Lee pulled off a major upset, winning

best director for the shipwreck story "Life of Pi," taking the prize

over Steven

Spielberg, who had been favored for "Lincoln." It was the second

directing Oscar for Lee, who also won for "Brokeback Mountain."

The supporting-acting prizes went to Anne

Hathaway for "Les Miserables" and Christoph Waltz for "Django

Unchained." It was

Waltz's second supporting-actor Oscar in a Quentin Tarantino film

after previously winning for "Inglourious Basterds." Tarantino

also earned his second Oscar, for the "Django" screenplay, a

category he previously won for "Pulp Fiction."

From the White House, first lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson to help present the final prize to "Argo."

"I never thought I'd be back here, and I am because of so many of you in this academy," said Affleck, who shared a screenplay

Oscar with pal Matt Damon 15 years earlier for their breakout film "Good Will Hunting."

Among the wisdom he's acquired since then: "You can't hold grudges — it's hard but you can't hold grudges."

Kind words for an academy that overlooked him for a directing nomination, making "Argo" just the fourth film in 85 years to

win best picture when its director was not in the running.

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."

With a monumental performance as Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis added to the honors he earned for "My Left Foot" and "There Will

Be Blood." He's 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.

"It's funny, because three years ago, we

agreed to do this swap. I had actually been committed to play Margaret

Thatcher,"

a role that earned Streep her third Oscar last year for "The Iron

Lady," Day-Lewis said. "And Meryl was Steven's first choice

for Lincoln. I'd like to see that version."

On a not-so typically predictable Oscar night, given Lee's win and Obama's appearance, the emcee duties came off stylishly

as crude-humor master Seth MacFarlane was on his best behavior — mostly — as host.

And "Argo" completed a quest that took it

from populist underdog to Hollywood titleholder in an awards-season

journey as quixotic

as the film's story line.

In Greek mythology, Argo was the name of the

ship that took hero Jason and his Argonauts on their unlikely quest for

the Golden

Fleece that would elevate him to his rightful kingship. The

real-life thriller "Argo" borrows the name as title for a phony

sci-fi movie concocted by the CIA as cover to spring six U.S.

diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis that erupted in

1979.

Like the voyage of Jason and the rescue of the Americans, the Oscar journey of "Argo" was filled with obstacles.

It was a slick, optimistic film in a best-picture race that often favors sober, gloomier stories. Best-picture doom seemed

to chime for "Argo" after Affleck missed out on a directing nomination.

Leading the Oscars with 12 nominations,

"Lincoln" initially looked like the default favorite. Then "Argo"

started collecting

every prize in sight, winning top honors at the Golden Globes and

guilds representing Hollywood directors, actors, producers

and writers. Everyone loved "Argo," which managed to dominate

awards season while coming across as the deserving underdog

because of the directing snub for Affleck, who played nice and

spent the time proclaiming his respect for the academy and

endearing himself with self-effacing humor and humility.

Affleck said he was disappointed at his omission from the directing category. But he had a nice consolation prize with the

first lady announcing the film's win.

"I was sort of hallucinating when that was

happening," Affleck said backstage alongside fellow "Argo" producers

George Clooney

and Grant Heslov. "Honestly, I was just asking these two guys

outside, was that Michelle Obama? ... Anyway, it was very cool."

Hathaway is the third performer in a musical to win supporting actress during the genre's 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 show's host.

"Life of Pi" also won for Mychael Danna's 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.

"Argo" also claimed the Oscar for adapted screenplay for Chris Terrio, who worked with Affleck to create a liberally embellished

story based on an article about the rescue and part of CIA operative Tony Mendez's memoir.

Terrio dedicated the award to Mendez, saying "33 years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, Tony

got six people out of a bad situation."

The foreign-language prize went to Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke's old-age love story "Amour," which tells the agonizing

story of an elderly man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tending his wife (Emmanuelle Riva) as she declines from age and illness.

The Scottish adventure "Brave," from Disney's Pixar Animation unit, was named best animated feature. Pixar films have won

seven of the 12 Oscars since the category was added.

The upbeat musical portrait "Searching for

Sugar Man" took the documentary feature prize. The film follows the

quest of two

South African fans to discover the fate of acclaimed but obscure

singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who dropped out of sight

after two albums in the 1970s and was rumored to have died a

bitter death.

There was a rare tie in one category, with the Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" and the James Bond tale "Skyfall"

each winning for sound editing.

William Shatner made a guest appearance as his "Star Trek" character Capt. James Kirk, appearing on a giant screen above the

stage during MacFarlane's monologue, saying he came back in time to stop the host from ruining the Oscars.

"Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate, and everyone ends up hating you," said Shatner, who revealed a headline supposedly

from the next day's newspaper that read, "Seth MacFarlane worst Oscar host ever."

The performance-heavy Oscars also included

an opening number featuring Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum, who did a

classy

dance while MacFarlane crooned "The Way You Look Tonight." Daniel

Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt then joined MacFarlane

for an elegant musical rendition of "High Hopes."

Halle Berry introduced a tribute to the Bond

franchise, in which she has co-starred, as the British super-spy

celebrated his

50th anniversary on the big-screen last year with the latest

adventure "Skyfall." Shirley Bassey sang her theme song to the

1960s Bond tale "Goldfinger." Later, pop star Adele performed her

theme tune from "Skyfall," which won the best-song Oscar.

A salute to the resurgence of movie musicals

in the last decade included Oscar winners Zeta-Jones singing "All That

Jazz"

from "Chicago" and Hudson doing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not

Going" from "Dreamgirls." Hathaway and Jackman joined cast mates

of best-picture contender "Les Miserables" to sing songs from

their musical.

Academy officials said all performances were sung live.

Fans had pondered how far MacFarlane, the impudent creator of "Family Guy," might push the normally prim and proper Oscars.

MacFarlane was generally polite and respectful, though he pressed his luck a bit on an Abraham Lincoln joke.

"I would argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth," MacFarlane wisecracked, earning

some groans from the crowd. "A hundred and 50 years later, and it's still too soon?"