Long after the Californian sun rose, the Oscar winners and losers were waking up after a night of loud applause and louder frocks, hilarious acceptance speeches and dire jokes.
As universally predicted, Daniel Day-Lewis took the Oscar for best actor for his towering performance in Lincoln, and also enters the record books as the first male actor to be a third-time victor, after winning for My Left Foot in 1990 and There Will Be Blood in 2008.
Day-Lewis is sometimes seen as a remote and slightly chilly figure, renowned for his obsessive preparation and for remaining in character throughout the filming – hard on his wife, the actor and director Rebecca Miller, given that the 16th president of the United States had a notoriously difficult relationship with his wife, who spent time in a mental hospital after his death.
“Since we got married 16 years ago, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men,” he told the audience. “Luckily she’s the versatile one of the family and she’s been the perfect companion to all of them.”
Day-Lewis also won the audience accolade for the best joke when he insisted that Meryl Streep, presenter of his Oscar, had been Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Abraham Lincoln, and in return he himself had been destined to play Margaret Thatcher.
Backstage after his win, he said he could not think of anyone else he urgently wants to play. “I need to lie down for a couple of years. It’s really hard to imagine doing anything after this.” He dismissed any attempt to label him the greatest actor of all time as “daft”.
Ben Affleck’s Argo, with an improbable but roughly real life plot about a CIA agent parachuted into Tehran to rescue six US embassy staff, under cover of making a fake movie, took the best film gong.
And the award was introduced by the starriest presentation team – a joint effort by Jack Nicholson, and Michelle Obama by live link from the White House. Although the film has not been shown in Iran, predictably news of the award has not gone down well there. Iranian state TV described it as “the most political Oscar ever”.
There were surprises when the best director Oscar went to Ang Lee for The Life of Pi and when the best actress award, tipped to go to the oldest winner ever, 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, star of Amour, went instead Jennifer Lawrence, 22, for her part in David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.
The young actor’s ability to make fun of herself has come in useful in a series of wardrobe malfunctions: her multilayer Dior gown slipped alarmingly at the Screen Actor’s Guild awards in January, and she soaked the hem of her Baftas gown on a London night of torrential rain.
At the Oscars she tripped over her flouncy hem climbing the steps to accept her prize, but said merrily: “You guys are only standing up because I fell and you feel bad. That was embarrassing.”
The singer Adele, again as predicted, won the best original song – with co-writer Paul Epworth – for her title track for Skyfall, the first Bond theme to win. Asked about her plans to celebrate, Adele, who has a four-month-old son, said: “One glass of champagne and I’m gone.”
Tom Hooper’s film of Les Misérables was nominated for eight but took three awards, two technical, and a best supporting actress Oscar for Anne Hathaway as Fantine.
Les Misérables producer Eric Fellner expressed his satisfaction with the result, saying he was “thrilled” – especially as the company of which he is co-chair, Working Title, racked up four Oscars: the three for Les Misérables plus a best costume design for Anna Karenina.
“As a producer, it’s particularly wonderful when the technicians and crew get recognition: for example, the Les Mis sound guys were given such a tough gig, so it’s so great when they win an Oscar.”
Down among the technical awards, when most of the stars had moved on to drink champagne and pretend to eat, the British designer Jacqueline Durran took the Oscar for Achievement in Costume for her ravishing designs for Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley.
Durran, who is based in London, has been nominated for Oscars twice before – for Pride and Prejudice in 2006 and Atonement in 2008, both also starring Knightley and directed by Joe Wright.
On Twitter Durran described Knightley as “a dream to dress”, and her own reaction to her Oscar as “totally overwhelmed but absolutely delighted”.
British producer Simon Chinn’s Searching for Sugar Man about lost Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez won the best documentary award. Chinn described the evening as a “surreal experience”, adding: “It helps so much when you go to the money men if they have some faint idea who you are.”
Worst jokes, by general agreement, were most of those made by the much heralded new host for the ceremony, Seth MacFarlane, creator of the cartoon Family Guy. He began with a song – We Saw Your Boobs – and continued with a spiel which the Atlantic magazine called “stupid, boring and empty … patently sexist, racist and homophobic”.
Rare opposing views came on Twitter from Crystal Harris, aka the third Mrs Hugh Hefner – “Loving the #oscars. @sethmacfarlane is a great host!” – and from the actor Russell Crowe, who tweeted: “Congratulations @sethmacfarlane, you did great mate, handled it all with grace, #topjob”.
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