One of the most hotly-contested award seasons in recent memory came to a close last weekend with the 85th Annual Academy Awards. When the dust settled and all was said, it was Ben Affleck and Argo, his fact-based thriller about the CIA's covert mission to rescue six American hostages in Iran, using the help of the Canadian embassy and Hollywood, that came out as the big winner. Argo's victory defied all the odds, becoming only the second film in modern history to win Best Picture without a corresponding Director nomination.
It also marked the triumphant return to the top of the totem-pole for Ben Affleck who only a decade ago was the punch line to every comedian's joke in Hollywood - a cautionary tale. He of all people, knew what this win represented, when he said, "You can't hold grudges. It's hard but you can't hold grudges. And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life because that's going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up."
Along with its Best Picture win (George Clooney and Grant Heslov produced the film along with Affleck), Argo also won awards for Best Adapted Screenplay for debutant screenwriter Chris Terrio and the Best Editing prize.
The other big winner of the night was Ang Lee's Life of Pi, which took home four awards, the most for any film that evening, including Best Director for Lee - his second win in this category. He previously won for Brokeback Mountain in 2005. The film's other wins were Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Score, for veteran composer Mycheal Danna.
Other films that took home multiple awards included Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, which entered the night with 12 nominations but only took home two - Best Production Design and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis' win made him the first actor to win three Best Actor prizes. He previously won for My Left Foot (1989) and There Will Be Blood (2007). The Best Actress award was handed to Jennifer Lawrence who won for her fire-cracker performance in David O. Russell's endearing romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook.
Musical Les Miserables won three awards - Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway, Best Sound Mixing and Best Makeup - while Quentin Tarantino's vastly entertaining Django Unchained took home two trophies - Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz and Best Original Screenplay for Tarantino. Waltz's win makes him two-for-two with the Academy which is a very select club with the Academy. His first win also came for a performance in a Tarantino film - Inglorious Basterds (2009).
While I wouldn't call the actual show a top-notch ceremony, it was a largely entertaining one with Seth McFarlane proving to be a fine host, in this writer's opinion. Additionally, while many of the predicted winners did win, there were a few surprises - including the extremely rare tie in the Sound Editing category, largely agreed upon by most pundits to be the toughest category of the night to predict. It was only the sixth tie in Oscar history. Both Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty were named winners. Speaking of Skyfall, it also won the award for Best Song, making it the first Bond film to win a Best Song Oscar - a surprising fact.
Full list of winners
Best Picture - ARGO
Best Director - Ang Lee (LIFE OF PI)
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis (LINCOLN)
Best Actress - Jennifer Lawrence (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK)
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz (DJANGO UNCHAINED)
Best Supporting Actress - Anne Hathaway (LES MISERABLES)
Best Adapted Screenplay - ARGO
Best Original Screenplay - DJANGO UNCHAINED
Best Animated Feature - BRAVE
Best Foreign Language Film - AMOUR
Best Documentary Feature - SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Best Cinematography - LIFE OF PI
Best Costume Design - ANNA KARENINA
Best Film Editing - ARGO
Best Makeup and Hairstyling - LES MISERABLES
Best Original Score - LIFE OF PI
Best Original Song - "Skyfall" (SKYFALL)
Best Production Design - LINCOLN
Best Sound Editing - (tie) SKYALL & ZERO DARK THIRTY
Best Sound Mixing - LES MISERABLES
Best Visual Effects - LIFE OF PI
Best Documentary Short Subject - INNOCENTE
Best Live Action Short - CURFEW
Best Animated Short - PAPERMAN