Oscars 2013 winners will always enjoy their triumphs, despite the fact that they’ll forever be associated with the year that Seth MacFarlane hosted. No, he didn’t turn it into “Family Guy goes to the Oscars,” per se — although those opening-monologue sketches did play like so many interminable Family Guy fantasy sequences — the usually confident MacFarlane often came off awkward and stilted. No matter what swagger you bring to the gig, you’ve got to be funny, and so often MacFarlane just wasn’t. Jokes about Daniel Day-Lewis being so in character that he must have mistaken Don Cheadle for a slave, or comparing the dogged efforts of a CIA agent hunting down Osama bin Laden to another example of how women just won’t let anything go fell flat, and darned if MacFarlane could figure out why. It felt a little like a jaded comic giving a late-night monologue. You know, sorta like Letterman.
That aside, the night provided some true surprises in the major categories. (For a full list of winners, check out the Oscars’ official website)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
So maybe getting snubbed for Best Director was the best thing to happen to Argo‘s Oscar chances, eh? More than just about anyone who was nominated, Affleck’s lack of a nomination was one of the main stories going into Sunday’s ceremony. But when Michelle Obama announced that Argo had won the big prize, after also taking home a Best Adapted Screenplay statue, it’s doubtful he was too upset. Co-producer Grant Heslov started out the acceptance speech, flanked by his much-tonier luminaries (and co-producers) Affleck and George Clooney. But eventually Affleck made his way to the mic and delivered an affecting speech about his long journey between Oscar wins, 1998′s Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, and Argo. You could have forgotten that was the guy from Gigli up there, if MacFarlane hadn’t made a crack about it earlier in the broadcast.
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
The least surprising winner of the night — OK, it was a toss-up between Day-Lewis and Hathaway — but it was moving nonetheless. And funny! Day-Lewis took the stage with lipstick on his cheek, either from a kiss from his wife or Meryl Streep, who presented him with the statue. But then he opened with a gag about how he and Streep traded the roles that won them their most recent Oscars, that he was originally going to play Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and Streep was Spielberg’s first choice for Lincoln, which apparently was also going to be a musical.
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Who would’ve thought that being cast as the lead in The Hunger Games wouldn’t be Jennifer Lawrence’s highlight this past year? Lawrence has won lots of fans for her candor and refusal to take a lot of this Hollywood stuff seriously … you know, basically being the kind of person Anne Hathaway seems to be pretending to be. Lawrence even tripped on the steps while taking the stage, but shrugged it off, made a quick joke about it and rode off into Oscar history.
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
The perfect way to make us forget MacFarlane’s strained, painful opening was an upset in the show’s first award. In a field where each nominee had already won an Oscar, Waltz beat out his esteemed colleagues, giving himself a 2-for-2 all-time record in Academy Award nominations, having previously won for Inglourious Basterds. Unlike that win, however, this one was a surprise. Now if only Waltz could get a good role outside of a Quentin Tarantino movie. His track record between Basterds and Django consists of: The Green Hornet, Water for Elephants, The Three Musketeers and Carnage.
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Turns out you can indeed be one of the most reviled Oscar hosts ever, then a couple short years later actually win a prize. Singing on stage with the cast of Les Miserables, then accepting her award with the sure-to-prove-memorable “It came true,” Hathaway seemed a long way from propping up James Franco at the 2011 Academy Awards. Anyone who’d watched her myriad of other wins this award season had to sit through the same spiel of her thanking her fellow nominees, all of whom she cited as inspirations.
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
The true shocker of the night, Ang Lee beat out frontrunners Spielberg and Russell with his adaptation of Yann Martel’s beloved novel Life of Pi. Lee won his second Best Director award (he also won for Brokeback Mountain in 2006), and made sure to praise his support in Taiwan for helping to bring the tale of magical realism to the screen.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins, Flight
Michael Haneke, Amour
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Surprisingly succinct in his acceptance speech — in which he spent most of the time praising his actors (ergo, his own casting abilities), and the other writing nominees — Tarantino was genuinely pleased with his win. Perhaps he’s made peace with the fact that he hasn’t yet won Best Director or Best Picture, and it’s very likely that he never will. But as he alluded to, movies like Pulp Fiction (his other Oscar win), Jackie Brown and Django Unchained will be remembered decades from now.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio, Argo
You can have your novels, your revered non-fiction books, your stage plays … this year’s Academy Award winner went to a script based on an article that ran in WIRED. Chris Terrio actually delivered one of the more affecting acceptance speeches of the night, clearly moved by his victory, and drew a nice parallel to Affleck having won a Best Original Screenplay award 15 years earlier for Good Will Hunting. To which we all responded, “15 years?!”
Photos: (Jennifer Lawrence) © A.M.P.A.S.; (Christoph Waltz) © ABC Credit: Craig Sjodin