HOLLYWOOD – Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage crisis drama “Argo” won the coveted best film Oscar on Sunday at the 85th Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest night.
Taiwan-born Ang Lee won best director for the 3-D fantasy spectacular “Life of Pi,” Daniel Day-Lewis took home an unprecedented third best-actor award for “Lincoln” and Jennifer Lawrence was crowned best actress for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
But veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg, whose presidential drama had the most nominations with 12 nods, went home without either of the top awards — best picture or best director.
Overall, “Life of Pi” won the most Oscars, with four awards, against three for “Argo” and “Les Miserables,” two each for “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln,” and one for “Zero Dark Thirty.”
The show was heavily musical: British singer Adele sang the Oscar-winning theme to “Skyfall” as part of a segment feting 50 years of Bond films, and legendary diva Barbra Streisand sang “The Way We Were” in her first Oscar performance in 36 years.
There were also performances from the cast of “Les Miserables,” including best supporting actress Anne Hathaway, and from “Chicago” on the 10th anniversary of its best-picture win.
Affleck, whose movie had taken virtually all of the top prizes during Hollywood’s awards season, paid tribute to Spielberg as a “towering” talent in the movie industry.
In an unexpected move, the best-picture winner was announced by first lady Michelle Obama, addressing the Oscars show — and final presenter, actor Jack Nicholson — by video link from the White House.
“Hunger Games” star Lawrence got a standing ovation as her award was announced over fellow nominees Jessica Chastain, French star Emmanuelle Riva, Naomi Watts and 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest nominee ever.
Day-Lewis, an English actor with British and Irish citizenship, appeared to fight back tears as he took the stage — and then joked as he was handed the golden statuette by Meryl Streep.
“Three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had been committed to play Margaret Thatcher,” he said, referring to Streep’s Oscar-winning performance as the former British leader in “The Iron Lady.”
“Meryl was Steven (Spielberg)’s first choice for ‘Lincoln,’ ” he said, to laughs from the assembled A-listers in Hollywood. “And I’d like to see that version.”
Austrian director Michael Haneke’s Cannes-winning “Amour” won the best foreign-language prize at the Oscars, widely seen as the most unpredictable in years.
Best supporting actor was Austrian Christoph Waltz, who played a dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s blood-spattered spaghetti Western tribute “Django Unchained.” Tarantino won for best original screenplay.
The award for best animated feature film went to Scottish-themed “Brave,” which beat fellow nominees, including video-game adventure “Wreck-It Ralph,” which had been tipped as the marginal front-runner.
The show included a tribute segment to the James Bond movies, with Adele’s performance and legendary diva Shirley Bassey belting out the theme tune from “Goldfinger.”
“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane started with a joke about Affleck, who — despite his win’s ultimate triumph — failed to win a best director nomination, quipping that he was “unknown to the Academy.”
Affleck — the first person to win best picture without being nominated as best director since “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1990 — had been given a diplomatic boost Saturday when new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted best wishes.
Although he started the season two months ago as the favorite, Spielberg had to settle with Day-Lewis’ best actor Oscar, which had been widely expected.
And the Oscars go to …
Best picture: “Argo”
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Supporting actor: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Directing: Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Foreign language film: “Amour”
Adapted screenplay: Chris Terrio, “Argo”
Original screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
Animated feature film: “Brave”
Production design: “Lincoln”
Cinematography: “Life of Pi”
Sound mixing: “Les Miserables”
Sound editing (tie): “Skyfall,” “Zero Dark Thirty”
Original score: “Life of Pi,” Mychael Danna
Original song: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Costume: “Anna Karenina”
Documentary feature: “Searching for Sugar Man”
Documentary (short subject): “Inocente”
Film editing: “Argo”
Makeup and hairstyling: “Les Miserables”
Animated short film: “Paperman”
Live action short film: “Curfew”
Visual effects: “Life of Pi”