Being snubbed might have been the best thing to happen to Ben Affleck.
His film "Argo" took the best picture Oscar on Sunday night at the 85th Academy Awards — more than a little solace, perhaps, for being snubbed in the directing category.
Other marquee winners were Daniel Day-Lewis for lead actor for "Lincoln," Jennifer Lawrence for lead actress for "Silver Linings Playbook," and Ang Lee for director for "Life of Pi," which won four Oscars, the most for any film.
Anne Hathaway won supporting actress for "Les Miserables," and Christoph Waltz received supporting actor for "Django Unchained." The slave revenge Western also won original screenplay for Quentin Tarantino.
But it was a night of redemption for the affable Affleck. Ever since the producer-director-star of "Argo" was a surprising omission in the director category when the Oscar nominations were announced in January, he and his film has been on a roll.
The drama about a plot to rescue Americans in Tehran during the Iranian revolution has won nearly every major honor this awards season, including the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Producers Guild Award and the Directors Guild Award.
“I never thought I would be back here,” Affleck said as he held the trophy aloft. He’d won an Oscar 15 years ago with Matt Damon for original screenplay category for “Good Will Hunting,” but since then he has seen several career lows, including the ill-fated “Gigli,” which he made with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez.
His star began to rise again as he turned to directing. "It doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life, 'cause that's gonna happen. All that matters is you gotta get up."
"Argo" won three Oscars, including adapted screenplay for Chris Terrio and film editing for William Goldenberg. It's only the fourth time that a film has won best picture without its director being nominated.
The win also made Oscar history: It was presented by First Lady Michelle Obama via satellite from the White House.
Though it was Day-Lewis by a landslide for "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's epic about the nation's 16th president was largely overlooked.
It went into the evening with a dozen nominations — the most of any film. But it won only two, including production design.
Day-Lewis’ win also made history: He is the first to win three lead actor Oscars. He previously won for 1989’s “My Left Foot” and 2007’s “There Will Be Blood.”
Lawrence's win capped a golden girl run. "This is nuts!" the 22-year-old said after tripping on her way up the stairs to the stage at the Dolby Theatre. As if to help her on her way, many in the audience took to their feet to cheer her on.
The win for her performance as a neurotic widow in the romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" wrapped up an awards season during which she won nearly every award out there — the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and more.
But the biggest winner of the night was “Life of Pi,” which has defied expectations at every turn.
While it took a leap of faith to bring the bestselling book to the big screen, it has earned nearly $600 million worldwide — more than any of the other best film nominees.
"Thank you, movie god," the Taiwanese filmmaker said as he collected his trophy and bowed before the standing, cheering audience. "Thank you for taking the leap with me," he said to the executives at Fox who backed the costly CGI-driven film.
The film also won score for Mychael Danna, cinematography for Claudio Miranda and for its stunning visual effects.
"Pi" marks Lee's second Academy Award win as director. He took home the same honor seven years ago for "Brokeback Mountain." In both cases, however, the films for which he won did not go on to win best picture.
Besides Hathaway's supporting turn in "Les Miserables," the musical also won Oscars for makeup and hairstyle and for sound mixing.
One of the most memorable moments came as Hathaway cradled her Oscar for playing the tragic prostitute Fantine.
"It came true!" she said softly.
Austria's "Amour" was honored for foreign language film. The harrowing drama is about an elderly married couple struggling to cope when the wife suffers a stroke.
The ceremony was marked by a number of standing ovations.
Singer Shirley Bassey, who made her Oscar debut Sunday night, received one for her performance of her classic 1965 hit "Goldfinger" during the ceremony's celebration of 50 years of James Bond. The age-defying 76-year-old Welsh singer was appropriately decked out in a strapless, curve-hugging gold gown with matching full-length gloves.
The audience also leaped to its feet for Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who performed her number "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls," as well as for the cast of "Les Miserables," whose members performed several songs from the musical.
Making her first performance in 37 years at the Oscars, Barbra Streisand sang the Oscar-winning "The Way We Were" in remembrance of its composer, Marvin Hamlisch, who died last year.
In other honors, the ceremony was marked by a rare tie — for sound editing. Oscars went to "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Skyfall."
The Bond film also won an Academy Award for the title tune, written by Paul Epworth and pop superstar Adele.
Disney's "Paperman" won animated short, and Disney / Pixar's "Brave" won animated feature film. Jacqueline Durran won costume design for the period romance "Anna Karenina."
Live-action short went to "Curfew," directed by Shawn Christensen. "Inocente," directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, won documentary short subject. Director Malik Bendjelloul's "Searching for Sugar Man," about the quest to find out what happened to a 1970s singer named Rodriguez, won best documentary.
Early into the ceremony, the Internet was ablaze with early reviews for Oscars host Seth MacFarlane.
MacFarlane — and his raunchy sense of humor — was an edgy choice for the Oscars. And some of those fears came true. There was a song about boobs, jokes about Jews in Hollywood, cracks about Lincoln's assassination and Latino accents, and talk of post-Oscars orgies – lines that had the audience groaning at times.
Let's just say he's a longshot for an Emmy for his hosting duties.
However, he did the impossible Sunday night as he kicked off the awards: He made Tommy Lee Jones smile.