Oscars 2013 rewind: ‘Argo,’ ‘Life Of Pi’ top this year’s Academy Awards

Mark Deming
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth

The 85th Annual Academy Awards -- better known as The Oscars -- took over Hollywood on Sunday night. First-time host Seth MacFarlane was just as divisive and outrageous as expected, and the show was filled with awkward moments, flat jokes, surprising wins, and a few genuinely touching moments.

Here is our blow-by-blow breakdown of the highs and lows of Sunday night's broadcast.

[Related: See the full list of 2013 Oscar winners]

5:44pm PST: Oscar host Seth MacFarlane attempts to add some glamor to the opening by bringing out Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron to dance as he sang "The Way You Look Tonight," but when he followed it up with sock puppets re-enacting scenes from "Flight," the class went out the window.

5:47pm PST: MacFarlane has gone into the third musical number so far in the evening as Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sing "High Hopes" with the host singing. While none are especially good dancers, it's better than watching him confront Sally Field while dressed as The Flying Nun.

5:49pm PST: Seth MacFarlane has just added "Be Our Guest" to his repertoire as the show actually gets under way at last, after only 17 minutes.

5:50pm PST: Octavia Spencer arrives on stage to present Best Supporting Actor, mentioning that she was honored to win last year.

5:51pm PST: Christoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor.

5:53pm PST: Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor, his second time winning the award, and the second time winning for a role in a Quentin Tarantino film. Waltz praises his director, his cast, the film's producers, and describes the process as "a hero's journey."

5:58pm PST: Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy are on stage to present an award for Best Animated Short. They decide to have fun with the microphone. It's hard to imagine these people are regarded as gifted comic actors, though they seem comfortable at least.

6:00pm PST: "Paperman" wins for Best Animated Short. John Kahrs mentions that this year, all the nominated films were available to the voters, a big revelation.

6:01pm PST: "Brave" wins Best Animated Feature, continuing Pixar's domination of the category. Mark Andrews wore a very handsome kilt for the occasion.

6:03pm PST: Reese Witherspoon, in a striking blue gown, arrives on stage to present clips from "Les Miserables," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and "Life Of Pi."

6:05pm PST: Quvenzhane Wallis looks adorable as the camera finds her after showing clips from "Beasts Of The Southern Wild." This prompts MacFarlane making jokes about her being too young for George Clooney.

6:08pm PST: The stars of "The Avengers" -- sadly not in costume -- arrive to hand out the Best Cinematography award, and begin by cracking jokes about who looks oldest.

6:09pm PST: Claudio Miranda wins for "Life of Pi," who describes the film as "a beast to make," and reveals he has hair like Helen Mirren.

6:12pm PST: "The Avengers," who either planned to stumble over one another's words or didn't quite mesh, next present for Best Visual Effects. As expected, "Life of Pi" has won, with Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott taking the stage. While the orchestra tries to play them off, they give a shout out to Rhythm & Hues, the effects company they worked with that recently went bankrupt.

6:17pm PST: Channing Tatum and Jennifer Aniston are up next to deliver the awards for costuming and make-up. Tatum mentions that George Clooney can roll out of bed camera ready. Aniston jokes about waxing.

6:19pm PST: "Anna Karenina" wins for Best Costume design. Jacqueline Durran thanks her children, who are fast asleep in England as he wins the award.

6:21pm PST: The Make-Up and Hairstyling trophy goes to "Les Miserables." Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell call the award "an incredible honor," and seem genuinely overwhelmed by the experience.

6:24pm PST: Halle Berry introduces the James Bond tribute, paying tribute to "the sights, sounds, and music of the past fifty years." The clip montage is heavy on beautiful women, elaborate stunts, and stylish visuals, just as it should be.

6:26pm PST: Shirley Bassey, a legend in the U.K., comes onstage in a strapless gold lame grown to sing "Goldfinger." For a woman of 76, she looks and sounds marvelous.

6:28pm PST: A BIG ovation ovation for Shirley Bassey!

6:35pm PST: Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx are up to present Best Short Live Action Film. Shawn Christensen wins for "Curfew," offers "a big thank you" to the Academy for supporting short films. Christensen literally has to catch his breath as he thanks everyone.

6:38pm PST: Washington and Foxx next present the Best Short Documentary award to Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine for "Inocente," the story of a young, homeless artist, with the artist on stage with the filmmakers.

6:41pm PST: Liam Neeson takes the stage to present highlights the next trio of Best Picture nominees. The clips from "Lincoln" remind us of the greatness of one of our most powerful presidents, the clips from "Zero Dark Thirty" reminds us of the danger and bravery that went into the mission to capture bin Laden, and the clips from "Argo" remind us that Ben Affleck was able to license Led Zeppelin tunes for the movie.

6:42pm PST: "The last actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth … 150 years later, too soon?" -- Seth MacFarlane.

6:46pm PST: Ben Affleck, after being kidded about "Gigli" by MacFarlane, comes forward to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. "Searching For Sugar Man," about the brilliant and reclusive musician Rodriguez, win the prize. Director Malik Bendjelloul thanks Sony Classic Pictures for being "the best studio on the planet," while producer Simon Chinn says the fact the musician didn't want to take the spotlight away from the filmmakers by appearing on stage says everything you need to know about him.

6:51 pm PST: Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain looks pretty amazing as they present for Best Foreign Language Film. "Amour," as expected, wins the award, and director Michael Haneke thanks his wife for supporting him for thirty years, as well as his leading actors, Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

6:55pm PST: John Travolta introduces a tribute to great screen musicals of the past decade, with members of the casts of "Chicago," "Les Miserables," and others performing hit songs from the films.

6:57pm PST: Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was very pregnant when she performed on the Oscars the year "Chicago" was nominated, is better able to flaunt her sexiness tonight. Her voice is in good shape, too.

6:59pm PST: Jennifer Hudson is next, performing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls." She may look slinkier than she did when she made the film, but she sounds as good as ever, and the crowd is clearly with her.

7:05pm PST: The members of the cast of "Les Miserables" next take the stage, significantly the only film from the medley that is nominated tonight. Hugh Jackman seems most comfortable singing in character, while Russell Crowe looks like he did this on a dare.

7:11pm PST: Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana from "Star Trek" are fittingly on hand to summarize the technical awards that were handed out several days earlier, including honoring digital animation technology, lenses, and motion control cameras.

7:14pm PST: Mark Wahlberg arrives on stage with Ted, the foul-mouthed teddy bear from host MacFarlane's film, to hand out the sound mixing award. The bear's animation is more impressive than his jokes. Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes take the prize for "Les Miserables," Nelson mentions it's a special honor to get the award on the night Oscar honors musicals.

7:18pm PST: Wahlberg and Ted announce a very rare tie in the category of Sound Editing. First Paul N.J. Ottoson gets an award for "Zero Dark Thirty" (he previously won for "The Hurt Locker"), and then Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers are called to the stage for "Skyfall."

7:21pm PST: Christopher Plummer praises the Best Supporting Actress nominees for their experience and bravery, and jokes he'd be happy to work with any of them in one of his next thirty films.

7:24pm PST: "It came true!" said Anne Hathaway after winning Best Supporting Actress for "Les Miserables." Given the lukewarm reception she received last year as Oscar co-host, this is real vindication for Ms. Hathaway.

7:31pm PST: Hawk Koch, head of AMPAS, talks up the Academy's upcoming Motion Picture Museum and presents a handful of student filmmakers who will hand out awards.

7:35pm PST: Sandra Bullock discusses the fine and sometimes cruel art of film editing as she gears up to hand out the Oscar in the field. After struggling to open the envelope, she announces that William Goldenberg has won for "Argo." He describes the screenplay as "an editor's dream."

7:36pm PST: Jennifer Lawrence describes Adele's "Skyfall" as "as irresistible as 007 himself."

7:38pm PST: Adele, wearing a sequined but otherwise simple black dress, doesn't offer a splashy or choreographed performance of her nominated Bond theme "Skyfall." She just sings it with force and emotional honesty, and sounds superb.

7:46pmPST: Nicole Kidman presents the third and last set of nominees for Best Picture. Kidman describes "Silver Linings Playbook" as an "instant classic," calls "Django Unchained" "a wicked thrill," and declares that "Amour" "asks us to reflect on the true meaning of love." Either Kidman or her writers know how to sum up movies pretty well.

7:50pm PST: Daniel Radcliffe and Kristin Stewart (the latter clearly nursing a bad leg) are on stage to hand out the award for Best Production Design. "Lincoln" wins the award; designer Rick Carter accepts the award, thanking set decorator Jim Erickson and his wife Adele (presumably not the singer).

7:54pm PST: Salma Hayek is up next to cite the winners of special prizes handed out at the Governor's Awards. Hal Needham, D.A. Pennebaker, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and George Stevens, Jr. are praised for their accomplishments, are are shown in attendance at the ceremony, hoisting their Oscars.

8:02pm PST: George Clooney introduces the annual "In Memorium" montage of artists who passed since last year's awards. Ernest Borgnine, Adam Yauch, and Richard D. Zanuck earn passing applause, but for the most part the audience is respectful in their silence.

8:04pm PST: At the end of the memorial montage, Barbra Streisand arrives to sing "The Way We Were" in tribute to the song's co-author, Marvin Hamlisch. Her performance is fittingly emotional and heartfelt.

8:11pm PST: As MacFarlane introduces Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifa and Catherine Zeta Jones to present Best Original Score, he insists "we're concerned this show isn't gay enough yet."

8:12pm PST: Best Score goes to "Life of Pi," to great enthusiasm from Richard Gere. Composer Alexandre Desplat thanks Ang Lee profusely.

8:17pm PST: Two nominated songs -- "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice," "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi" -- are represented only by clips from the films, despite the many production numbers in this year's show. Norah Jones does appear to perform Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from "Ted" with the orchestra.

8:18pm PST: Best Song goes to "Skyfall," as was predicted. Adele, who has been picking up plenty of awards in recent years, hardly looks or sounds jaded by the experience, and seems to be fighting back tears at the end of her speech.

8:23pm PST: Dustin Hoffman congratulates Charlize Theron, saying "You're a good dancer."

8:26pm PST: Hoffman and Theron present the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, with Chris Terrio winning for "Argo." Terrio cites "brilliant, brilliant Tony Kushner," the screenwriter for "Lincoln," and the real-life heroes of "Argo."

8:29pm PST: The Best Original Screenplay Oscar goes to Quentin Tarantino, who declares it's cool to be getting the trophy from Theron, his neighbor. Tarantino refuses to be played off by the orchestra, and says it was an honor to win in what he considers "the writer's year."

8:31pm PST: As the Oscars return from commercial break, the show is now officially over schedule.

8:34pm PST: "The children of screen legends who became screen legends themselves," Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, come to center stage to present the award for Best Director, often the preview of Best Picture.

8:36pm PST: In a genuine upset, Ang Lee wins for "Life Of Pi," the second win for the director. Lee begins by jokingly thanking "Movie God," and seems honestly surprised to have won.

8:42pm PST: Jean Dujardin is on deck to present Best Actress, and shows that despite being silent in "The Artist," he can talk, and be rather witty.

8:45pm PST: Jennifer Lawrence wins the Best Actress award for "Silver Linings Playbook." She trips on the way to the stage, but seems delighted if nervous to be on stage. Bradley Cooper beams as she gives her speech, and she graciously wishes a happy birthday to fellow nominee Emmanuelle Riva.

8:47pm PST: Meryl Streep, who needs no introduction, strides on stage without one. She describes nominees for Best Actor as "the finest among equals."

8:51pm PST: Daniel Day-Lewis wins Best Actor for "Lincoln," making him the first actor to win in the category three times. "I really don't know how any of this happened," he says as he begins a speech in which he jokes he and Meryl Streep actually switched roles when he was cast as Margaret Thatcher and she was committed to play Abe Lincoln. He also makes fun of his well-documented immersion in his roles by thanking his wife, "who has had to live with some very strange men."

8:54pm PST: Jack Nicholson comes aboard to hand out the Best Picture honor, with Michelle Obama assisting via satellite from the White House. The First Lady looks nearly as glamorous as any of the actresses who've appeared before the podium tonight.

8:57pm PST: And Best Picture goes to "Argo," a Best Picture/Best Director split that occurred since Ben Affleck was curiously not nominated for the award. Given that the State Department was rooting for the film, it's fitting that Michelle Obama announced the winner from the White House.

8:59pm PST: Producer Grant Heslov says he spoke first rather than Affleck since, as co-producer, it would have been awkward for Affleck to thank himself.

9:04pm PST: And Kristen Chenoweth joins Seth MacFarlane on stage as the credits roll, singing a song in tribute to the losers. Sample lyric: "You have all of Tom Cruise's talent, and you're equally as tall."

9:08pm PST: And with the explanation of the voting procedure, the 2013 Academy Awards come to a close. See you next year, folks!

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