Daniel Day-Lewis steals the show with third best-actor Oscar
Lincoln star hogs the limelight with record accolade, despite appearance by US first lady and efforts of controversial host MacFarlane
Daniel Day-Lewis' record third best-actor Oscar confirmed his status as the finest lead of his generation, at an Academy Awards ceremony that closed with one of the night's biggest surprises.
That came when US First Lady Michelle Obama appeared onscreen to name the best picture live from the White House. The winner, though, was less of a surprise - Ben Affleck's Iran hostage drama Argo.
The 85th Academy Awards survived a raft of sometimes off-colour jokes by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane in his first appearance as an Oscar emcee.
Day-Lewis, who had been widely expected to win best actor for his performance in Lincoln, appeared to fight back tears as he took the stage - and then joked as he was handed the golden statuette by Meryl Streep.
"Three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had been committed to play Margaret Thatcher," he said, referring to Streep's Oscar- win last year for The Iron Lady. "Meryl was [Steven Spielberg's] first choice for Lincoln. And I'd like to see that version."
Day-Lewis' uncanny performance as the 16th US president could hardly be further away from his character in My Left Foot, in which he played a man with cerebral palsy to win his first Academy Award in 1990.
Day-Lewis, who won his other Oscar as an oil tycoon in 2007's There Will Be Blood, is renowned for the selectiveness and intense research with which he approaches his roles. The 55-year-old has made only four films in the last decade, but without exception, he immersed himself to a degree that is now legendary.
Life of Pi won the most Oscars with four, including the coveted best-director prize for Ang Lee, against three for Argo and Les Miserables, two each for Django Unchained and Lincoln, and one for Zero Dark Thirty.
In a heavily musical show, Adele sang Oscar-winning theme Skyfall as part of a segment feting 50 years of James Bond films, while Shirley Bassey belted out Goldfinger. Barbra Streisand also gave her first Oscars performance for 36 years, singing The Way We Were as part of a tribute to late composer Marvin Hamlisch.
Affleck, whose movie had taken virtually all of the top prizes during Hollywood's awards season over the past two months, paid tribute to Spielberg.
"Steven Spielberg, I want to acknowledge, I feel is a genius and a towering talent among us," said Affleck, who was not nominated for best director or best actor at the Oscars.
Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence got a standing ovation as her best-actress award was announced, tripping over her dress as she made her way onstage.
Best supporting actor went to Christoph Waltz, who played a dentist turned bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino's blood-spattered spaghetti western tribute Django Unchained, while Tarantino won for best original screenplay. The adapted screenplay prize went to the Argo writers.
Best supporting actress went to Anne Hathaway, who joined fellow Les Miserables cast members in singing hits from the film.
MacFarlane started off by quipping about the lack of a best-director nomination for Affleck, who he said was "unknown to the Academy". The rambling monologue was framed around the conceit of William Shatner's Captain Kirk travelling back in time to warn him that he was about to go down as "worst Oscar host ever".
That didn't quite eventuate, though he did veer into frat house humour with 1930s number We Saw Your Boobs, name-checking actresses - many present - who have appeared topless on screen.
MacFarlane later tested the borderlines of taste again. "I would argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth," he said, referring to the US civil war president's thespian assassin.