If there was a theme to the 2013 Academy Awards, it had to be share and share alike. Despite early speculation that Lincoln was the contender to beat, it took home only two Oscars—Best Production Design and Best Actor for Daniel Day Lewis—with no other single film dominating the night.
Defying the odds, Argo became the fourth Best Picture winner in Oscar history and the first since 1990 whose director wasn’t also nominated in the Best Director category. Ben Affleck’s true story of the CIA and Hollywood collaborating on a diplomatic rescue also walked away with Best Adapted Screenplay.
The night’s other big upset came when Steven Spielberg was passed over for Best Director, the award going instead to Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Silver Linings Playbook managed to stay in the game with a win for Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress. And even Quentin Tarantino’s bloody revenge fantasy, Django Unchained, which some critics and filmmakers condemned for being exploitative of black history, got a taste of respect with awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (for Christoph Waltz).
Of all the major nominees, only Zero Dark Thirty was given the cold shoulder. Possibly swayed by criticism from the media and Capitol Hill over the film’s straightforward treatment of torture as an intelligence-gathering tactic, Academy voters declined to recognize it in any major category.
But the most controversial moment in what was an otherwise largely apolitical Oscar ceremony may have come when Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance. Via streaming video from the White House she became the first first lady ever to present an award at Hollywood’s biggest entertainment competition.
Before opening the envelope and revealing the Best Picture winner, Obama thanked the actors and filmmakers present for their “vitally important work” and said she was “honored to present the award and celebrate the artists who inspire us all—especially our young people—with their passion, skill and imagination.” She also praised the film industry at-large for “encouraging children to open their imaginations.”
Actress in a Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
BraveMark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Searching for Sugar Man
Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn
Foreign Language Film
Michael Haneke, director; Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz, producers
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
Music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth