Day-Lewis makes history with Oscar win
Daniel Day-Lewis accepts the Oscar for best actor for his role in Lincoln at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, last night. Day Lewis is the first actor to win three best actor Oscars. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Ben Affleck completed a spectacular comeback when his film Argo won best picture at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles last night.
The film had seemed out for the count when, in January, Affleck failed to secure a nomination for best director. At that stage, the front runner looked like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, when that film topped the nominations with 12 mentions.
In the event, Lincoln converted only two of those nominations into wins. Daniel Day Lewis, who plays Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg’s film, did, however, make Oscar history when he became the first man to win three best actor awards.
The Wicklow resident’s speech was the most amusing in a show which saw most of the recipients playing it safe by thanking everyone including the gardener. Still brandishing traces of presenter Meryl Streep’s lipstick on his cheek, Day-Lewis joked that he had been the original choice for Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and that Spielberg had wanted Streep for Lincoln.
Ang Lee’s Life of Pi ended up with the most Oscars. The beautifully shot 3-D treatment of Yann Martel’s allegorical novel won four awards, including the best director prize. Argo took home three, as did Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the musical Les Misérables.
Lee now has the dubious honour of winning two directing Oscars for films that failed to win best picture. His admired Brokeback Mountain also failed to take the top prize.
Jennifer Lawrence fought off a late charge by Emmanuelle Riva, star of Michael Haneke’s Amour, to take the gong for best actress. The young star drew sympathetic laughs when she tripped over her voluminous dress on the way up to the stage.
Affleck’s comeback was double-fold. As well as recovering from that best director snub, he bounced back from a career slump that followed his best original screenplay win for Good Will Hunting 15 years ago. “You can’t hold grudges,” he told the applauding masses. “It doesn’t matter if you get knocked down. All that matters is that you get up.”
The ceremony was an odd business. Seth MacFarlane, the iconoclastic creator of the TV shows Family Guy and American Dad, was brought on to add a touch of edge to the affair. As it happened, his jokes – though funny throughout – often failed to touch the audience’s collective funny bone. A quip concerning the violent relationship between pop singers Rhianna and Chris Brown was followed by a particularly icy silence.
The crowd were equally tranquil when he pondered those actors who have attempted interpretations of Lincoln. “The actor who got most inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth,” he said, referring to the President’s assassin. It will be interesting to see what the trade papers say when everyone has slept on the performance.
The winner of the Best Live Action Short Film category was Curfew, which was directed by Shawn Christensen with cinematography by Daniel Katz, who was born in Dublin and educated at Ballyfermot film school and St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He has been living and working in New York for the past six years.
The show’s producers took the odd decision to offer a tribute to the greatest film musicals of the past 10 years (hardly a golden period for the genre). This constituted belted-out numbers from Les Misérables, Dreamgirls and Chicago. There was also a perfunctory tribute to 50 years of the James Bond franchise.
The most peculiar moment came, however, when Jack Nicholson handed us over to the White House where Michelle Obama, the first lady, announced the award for best picture. What was that all about?
Oh, well. It constituted a fitting end for the most unpredictable, most topsy-turvy year in recent Oscar history.
List of Oscar winners:
Best Picture: Argo
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 Misérables
Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Animated Feature Film: Brave
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Documentary Short: Inocente
Film Editing: Argo
Foreign Language Film: Amour (Austria)
Makeup: Les Misérables
Original Score: Life of Pi
Original Song: Skyfall from Skyfall
Production Design: Lincoln
Short Film (Animated): Paperman
Short Film (Live Action): Curfew
Sound Editing: Skyfall & Zero Dark Thirty (tie)
Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained