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‘Argo’ wins big at Oscars, Day-Lewis joins rare list

  • Actor Christoph Waltz accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

    Actor Christoph Waltz accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

  • Actresses Kristen Stewart, left, and Jennifer Lawrence arrive at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

    Actresses Kristen Stewart, left, and Jennifer Lawrence arrive at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Actor Christoph Waltz accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Django Unchained" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  • Actresses Kristen Stewart, left, and Jennifer Lawrence arrive at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Ben Affleck’s Argo , a film about a fake movie, has 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.

“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 yesterday’s 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 Academy Award 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 Hollywood’s big games, winning the best-actress Academy Award as a damaged soul in Silver Linings Playbook, while Ang Lee pulled off a huge upset as best director for Life of Pi.

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 fist nomination at age 20 two years ago for her breakout role in Winter’s Bone, the film that took her from virtual unknown to one of Hollywood’s most-versatile and sought-after performers.

Lee won best director for the shipwreck story Life of Pi, taking the prize over Steven Spielberg, who had been favored for Lincoln.

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.

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 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 Miserables co-star Hugh Jackman, with whom she once sang a duet at the Oscars when he was the show’s host.

Hathaway’s Oscar came for her role as noble but fallen Fantine in the big-screen adaptation of the Broadway smash that was based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel of revolution, romance and redemption in 19th century France.

In a choked voice, Waltz offered thanks to his character and “to his creator and the creator of his awe-inspiring world, Quentin Tarantino.”

Waltz also offered gracious thanks to his supporting-actor competitors, who included two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro and Oscar recipient Tommy Lee Jones, who had been considered a slim favorite over Waltz for the prize.

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 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, which won him his first Oscar.

Waltz has since done a handful of other Hollywood movies, but it’s 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.

The foreign-language prize went to Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s old-age love story Amour, which had been a major surprise with five nominations, including picture, director and original screenplay for Haneke and best actress for Emmanuelle Riva, who turned 86 yesterday and would be the oldest acting winner ever.

The top prize winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Amour follows the agonizing story of an elderly man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tending his wife (Riva) as she declines from age and illness.

Haneke thanked his own wife for supporting him in his work for 30 years.

“You are the center of my life,” Haneke said.

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.

“I just happen to be wearing the kilt,” said Brave co-director Mark Andrews, who took the stage in his trademark Scottish garment.

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.

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