LOS ANGELES — Ben Affleck's “Argo,” a film about a fake movie, has earned a very real prize: best picture at the Academy Awards.
From the White House, first lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson to help present the final prize.
“There are eight great films that have every right, as much a right to be up here as we do,” Affleck said of the other best-picture nominees.
In share-the-wealth mode, Oscar voters spread Sunday's honors among a range of films, with “Argo” winning three trophies but “Life of Pi” leading with four.
Daniel Day-Lewis joined a select group of recipients with his third Oscar, taking the best-actor trophy for his monumental performance as Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War saga “Lincoln.”
“Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence triumphed in Hollywood's big games, winning the best actress as a damaged soul in “Silver Linings Playbook,” while Ang Lee pulled off a huge upset as best director for “Life of Pi.”
Anne Hathaway went from propping up leaden sidekick James Franco at the Academy Awards to hefting a golden statue of her own with a supporting-actress Oscar win as a doomed mother-turned-prostitute in the musical “Les Miserables.”
Christoph Waltz won his second supporting Oscar for a Tarantino film, this time as a bounty hunter in the slave-revenge saga “Django Unchained.” Tarantino also won his second Oscar, for original screenplay for “Django.”
Ang Lee pulled off a major upset, won best director for the shipwreck story “Life of Pi,” taking the prize over Steven Spielberg, who had been favored for “Lincoln.”
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane opened with a mildly edgy monologue that offered the usual polite jabs at the academy, the stars and the industry.
“Argo” also claimed the Oscar for adapted screenplay for Chris Terrio, who worked with Affleck to create a liberally embellished story based on an article about the rescue.
Terrio dedicated the award to Mendez, saying “33 years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, Tony got six people out of a bad situation.”