HOLLYWOOD - Argo had one more Hollywood ending to pull off this awards season. Mission accomplished.
Director Ben Affleck's political thriller lived up to its favorite status and won three honors, including best picture, at the 85th Academy Awards.
"I was here 15 years ago and I had no idea what I was doing," Affleck says, referring to his screenplay win for Good Will Hunting. "I was a kid. I never thought I would be back here and now I am because of so many of you."
Daniel Day-Lewis won his record third best-actor statue for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln - his others came for 2007's There Will Be Blood and 1989's My Left Foot.
"I really don't know how any of this happened. I do know I've had good fortune in my life," he said, making reference to his knack for completely becoming his characters.
"I do know my wife Rebecca (Miller) has lived with very strange men, and she's been the perfect companion to all of them."
Day-Lewis also tapped into his lighter side and joked with presenter Meryl Streep: "Three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had committed to play Margaret Thatcher (in The Iron Lady). And Meryl was Steven's first choice for Lincoln. I'd like to see that version. Steven didn't have to persuade me, but I had to persuade Steven that Lincoln didn't have to be a musical."
Lincoln entered the night leading the field with the most nominations - 12 - but left with just two Oscars, for best actor and production design. However, Life of Pi exited the ceremony with the most wins - four - including best director for Ang Lee, following up his first victory with 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
"Thank you, movie god. I have to share this with all 3,000 who worked with me on Life of Pi," he said. "You're the golden statue in my heart."
The movie also locked up visual effects, cinematography and original score. Composer Mychael Danna remarked that Lee directed the movie in the same impressive spirit that "people came from around the world to breathe life into this music."
After wowing critics and audiences for her Les Miserables musical role as the tragic Fantine - and her emotional belting of the showtune I Dreamed a Dream - Anne Hathaway picked up her first Academy Award, for best supporting actress.
"It came true," she said with a whisper after receiving her Oscar. "Here's hoping that sometime in the not-so-distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories, and not in real life."
Best-actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence also became a first-time winner for Silver Linings Playbook - although she did have a spill on the way to the stage to receive her award.
"You guys are just standing up because I fell and you feel sorry for me," joked Lawrence, who also made sure to wish her fellow nominee, Amour star Emmanuelle Riva, a happy 86th birthday.
Christoph Waltz won his second Academy Award for his role as bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. He won the same award for 2009's Inglourious Basterds, also directed by Tarantino, and an emotional Waltz profusely thanked his director.
"We participated in a hero's journey, and the hero being Quentin," said Waltz, winning in a field featuring five actors with 21 Oscar nominations between them. "You scaled the mountain because you're not afraid of it. You slay the dragon because you're not afraid of it."
In turn, Tarantino paid respect to his actors when the Django filmmaker picked up his second Oscar for best original screenplay. (His first was for Pulp Fiction.)
"I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and for them to last a long time," he said. "It's such an honor to get it this year. This will be the writer's year."
Argo writer Chris Terrio won his first-ever Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and dedicated it to former CIA officer Tony Mendez - whose work to save six Americans in revolutionary Iran was the basis for the political thriller - and those around the world "who use creativity and intelligence to solve problems non-violently."
In the race for best animated feature, Pixar's Brave - about a young redheaded Scottish lass - conquered the field, and the win marks the animation studio's seventh triumph in 12 years.
"I just happened to be wearing the kilt," Brave director Mark Andrews joked.
Amour, which is also up for best picture, garnered the Academy Award for foreign language film. The movie followed an octogenarian husband and wife, and in his acceptance speech director Michael Haneke doled out his own love to his wife ("You are the center of my life") and his two stars, Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant ("Without them, I would not be up here").
Adele's hit title tune from the James Bond film Skyfall garnered the Oscar for best original song. The British singer and recent Grammy winner tearily thanked everyone around the project "for believing in me all the time."
Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn's Searching for Sugar Man, about the obscure American singer Sixto Rodriguez, was the winner for best documentary feature.
Rodriguez wasn't at the ceremony "because he didn't want to take any of the credit himself," Chinn said. "That says everything about that man and his story you'd ever want to know."
Anna Karenina's Jacqueline Durran picked up the Oscar for costume design, Les Miserables was honored for sound mixing as well as makeup and hairstyling, and film editing went to Argo. There was also the sixth tie in Oscar history, this time in sound editing, between Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall.
In the shorts categories, Shawn Christensen's Curfew won for live-action film, documentary went to Inocente by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, and Disney's Paperman, by John Kahrs, garnered the animation Oscar.
Here is the complete list of winners from USA Today.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best supporting actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
WINNER: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best supporting actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
WINNER: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
WINNER: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best original screenplay
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins, Flight
Michael Haneke, Amour
WINNER: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best adapted screenplay
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
WINNER: Chris Terrio, Argo
Best animated feature film
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
WINNER: Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Best costume design
WINNER: Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
Best documentary feature
5 Broken Cameras
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
WINNER: Searching for Sugar Man
Best documentary short subject
WINNER: Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Kings Point, Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine, Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Open Heart, Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption, Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
Best film editing
WINNER: Argo, William Goldenberg
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best foreign film
WINNER: Amour, Austria
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada
Best makeup and hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
WINNER: Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Best original score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
WINNER: Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman
Best original song
Before My Time from Chasing Ice, Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
Everybody Needs a Best Friend from Ted, Music by Walter Murphy; lyrics by Seth MacFarlane
Pi's Lullaby from Life of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; lyrics by Bombay Jayashri
WINNER: Skyfall from Skyfall, Music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Suddenly from Les Misérables, Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Best production design
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
WINNER: Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best animated short film
Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole, PES
Head Over Heels, Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman
WINNER: Paperman, John Kahrs
Best live action short film
Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys, Sam French and Ariel Nasr
WINNER: Curfew, Shawn Christensen
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Henry, Yan England
Best sound editing
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
WINNER (tie): Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
WINNER (tie):Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson
Best sound mixing
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
WINNER: Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Best visual effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
WINNER: Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Marvel's The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson