The Oscar goes to Ang Lee, Argo, Daniel Day Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

''I really want to thank you for believing this story and sharing this incredible journey with me,'' Lee said to all who worked on the film, a surprise blockbuster about a youth trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

A veteran performer in Germany and Austria, Waltz had been a virtual unknown in Hollywood when Tarantino cast him as a gleefully evil Nazi in 2009's 'Inglourious Basterds', which won him his first Oscar.

''I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive,'' said Tarantino, who won previously for 'Pulp Fiction'. ''And boy, this time, did I do it. Thank you so much, guys.''

Waltz has since done a handful of other Hollywood movies, but it's Tarantino who has given him his two choicest roles. Backstage, Waltz had a simple explanation for why the collaboration works.

''Quentin writes poetry, and I like poetry,'' Waltz said.

Oscar host Seth MacFarlane opened with a mildly edgy monologue that offered the usual polite jabs at the academy, the stars and the industry. He took a poke at academy voters over the snub of Ben Affleck, who missed out on a directing nomination for best-picture favorite ``Argo,'' a thriller about the CIA's plot to rescue six Americans during the Iranian hostage crisis.

''The story was so top secret that the film's director is unknown to the academy,'' MacFarlane said. ''They know they screwed up. Ben, it's not your fault.''

'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 and part of CIA operative Tony Mendez's memoir.

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.''

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