LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her performance as the doomed Fantine in “Les Miserables.”
“It came true,” she said, gazing at the trophy.
After several heartfelt thank-yous, she looked at her husband of six months, Adam Shulman, sitting in the audience. “By far the greatest moment of my life was the one when you walked into it.”
“Les Miz” has three Oscars — the most for any movie so far tonight.
For the most part, the 85th Academy Awards have been a fairly low-key affair. However, two high notes have come from musical performances.
Shirley Bassey, the original James Bond hit singer, dazzled with a version of “Goldfinger.” Soon after, Jennifer Hudson raised the roof — and got a standing ovation — for a remarkable version of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” from “Dreamgirls.” Hudson won an Oscar for playing Effie, who sings the song, in 2006’s film version.
The Oscars also had an unusual occurrence — a tie. It’s happened before — Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand famously tied for 1968’s best actress — but it’s rare enough that presenter Mark Wahlberg was caught off guard.
“We have a tie,” he said, slightly stunned. “No BS, we have a tie.”
This year’s tie was in sound editing, with “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Skyfall” sharing the honor.
Christoph Waltz, who played a bounty hunter in “Django Unchained,” won the first award of the night, best supporting actor.
“My unlimited gratitude goes to Dr. King Schultz — that is, his creator and the creator of his awe-inspiring world, Quentin Tarantino,” he said. Schultz was his character in the movie.
Tarantino is up for original screenplay, though not best director. The film is up for best picture.
“Life of Pi,” a dark horse in the best picture race, won best cinematography and best visual effects. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda seemed particularly overcome, giving a rambling speech as he tried to catch his breath.
“Amour” won best foreign-language film. The Michael Haneke-directed work is also up for best picture.
“Brave” won best animated feature. “Searching for Sugar Man” won best documentary feature.
Host Seth MacFarlane showcased a casual affability that, at times, made him seem more like a guy in your living room telling jokes than an Oscar host. His opening was uneven, but if audiences were worried about off-color jokes, they found little to offend them — except, perhaps, for one remark: describing the violent “Django Unchained” as a “date movie” for Chris Brown and Rihanna.
“This is what we were afraid he’d do,” MacFarlane said as an aside. A later crack about Abraham Lincoln led to groans and the remark, “A hundred-fifty years, and it’s still too soon?”
The early jokes were quickly interrupted by William Shatner, in costume as “Star Trek’s” James T. Kirk, telling MacFarlane what he could do to improve headlines from the future stating he was the “worst Oscar host ever.” The suggestions included a handful of song-and-dance numbers, though there was also a performance of the movie “Flight” with sock puppets. MacFarlane demonstrated a fine singing voice — though anybody familiar with the musical numbers in his animated TV shows already knew that.
“My taste aside, this is a great show for people who love Seth MacFarlane and musical theater. Which is pretty much Seth MacFarlane,” tweeted Time’s James Poniewozik.
“Argo,” directed, produced and starring Ben Affleck, is the front-runner for best picture — this despite that Affleck himself wasn’t nominated for best director, usually a sign a film has no chance of taking the big prize.
As MacFarlane noted in his opening, “The film was so top-secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy.”
The movie tells the story of the 1980 rescue of six American hostages from Iran, partly thanks to an offbeat CIA-hatched plot. It got its momentum after the Oscar nominations were announced January 10. In short order, the film or its principals won the Golden Globe, the SAG Award, the Directors Guild honor and the Writers Guild prize.
Before “Argo’s” run, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” was the favorite for best picture, thanks to 12 Oscar nominations and a style firmly in the best picture tradition: serious, historical, with outstanding performances and a dollop of class.
Some prognosticators still believe “Lincoln” could go all the way; Spielberg is up for best director, unlike Affleck and some of the other best picture directors, and voters often pair the two categories.
Even aside from “Lincoln,” “Argo” faces strong competition for best picture. Among its challengers are “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the bin Laden manhunt; “Silver Linings Playbook,” a down-to-earth film about two troubled people finding romance; “Life of Pi,” Ang Lee’s movie version of the best-selling novel; and “Les Miserables,” the film version of the popular musical.
Other categories are equally competitive.
“Playbook’s” Jennifer Lawrence and “ZDT’s” Chastain were seen as battling for the best actress trophy until just recently, when “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva — who turned 86 today — started attracting her fair share of attention.
Despite his film’s recent performance, Affleck is taking nothing for granted. In the parlance of so many performers, he’s happy just to be here.
“I don’t get into worrying too much about who got what and who didn’t get what,” he said at the Oscar nominees luncheon in early February. “I mean, I’ve had many, many, many, many, many, many years watching from home.”
Red carpet raves
On the red carpet, Jessica Chastain’s dusty rose Armani gown earned particular raves.
“It was a ‘Happy birthday, Mr. President’ type of dress,” Chastain told CNN’s Piers Morgan, referring to the snug dress Marilyn Monroe wore for a John F. Kennedy tribute years ago. Chastain’s well-tailored outfit, combined with her cascading reddish hair, evoked classic Hollywood glamor of the ’40s, fashion expert Joe Zee said.
The actress was as excited as a child on Christmas morning as Morgan interviewed her. “I’m at the Oscars!” she exclaimed. The performer is up for best actress for her turn as a single-minded CIA officer pursuing Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Aside from Chastain’s stunner, one of the more interesting outfits was worn by a man: that of Mark Andrews, the director of the Pixar film “Brave.” In honor of the film — about a champion Scottish archer who saves her family — he was wearing a kilt. The tartan pattern has been registered and the attire is available for purchase, he told Morgan.
Lawrence, who’s up for best actress for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook,” was wearing a flowing white-and-pink Dior number.
She refused to put on airs, however. Told by Morgan that people are saying she’s one of Hollywood’s rising stars, she laughed off the compliment.
“Are you sure that’s not just my mom?” she replied.
Fashion, of course, is as big an attraction as the films themselves on this, Hollywood’s biggest night, when “Who are you wearing?” becomes as commonplace an utterance as “The Oscar goes to …”
“It’s a wonderful part of the Cinderella experience,” Adams told CNN.
By Todd Leopold, CNN.