Taiwanese-American Ang Lee beat master directors like Steven Spielberg and Michael Haneke to take home the best director Oscar for "Life of Pi", his visually stunning 3D tale of an Indian boy adrift in the ocean for months with a Bengal tiger.
With his second Oscar win, Lee brings focus back to India, whose culture and ethos are an important part of the narrative and unlike previous Academy-winner "Slumdog Millionaire" which earned some brickbats for promoting slum porn, Lee has presented Pondicherry and Munnar beautifully through his 3D lenses.
Lee, 58, beat Spielberg ("Lincoln"), Haneke ("Amour"), David O Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook") and indie filmmaker Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") to win his second Academy in the directing category.
"I really need to share this with everybody who worked in 'Life of Pi'. I need to thank Yann Martel for writing this marvelous book...," Lee said in his speech before ending it with a 'Namaste'.
The auteur, a five-time Oscar nominee, previously won the trophy for his 2005 gay cowboys drama "Brokeback Mountain". Like "Life of Pi", his "Crouching Tiger, Hiden Dragon" was nominated for best picture and directing honours.
In the film, an adaptation of Martel's Booker-prize winning novel, Lee took on the challenge of filming the movie, mostly set in the ocean, with an almost entirely Indian casts of newcomer Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Adil Hussain.
He spent four years translating the book to the screen that included building an enormous wave tank to shoot ocean scenes besides creating a terrifyingly believable tiger through the help of CGI.
The movie narrates the story of Pi, a zookeeper's son in Pondicherry, who finds the world he knows swept away when his family is killed in a storm while on their way to Canada. Pi escapes, set adrift in a lifeboat that is also the refuge of an enormous Bengal tiger.
Lee made several trips, including one to promote the film, to India to research and cast the movie. He chose the then 17-year-old newcomer Suraj to play the lead from 3000 hopefuls.
In an interview to PTI during his trip to Mumbai, Lee had said that he felt a sense of belonging to Pi's journey, which somehow mirrored his own struggles to direct the technically superb spectacle.
The filmmaker, who is behind genre-defying movies like "Sense and Sensibility", "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", "Hulk" and "Brokeback Mountain", also credited destiny for bringing the movie to him after it changed hands with many directors.
"When I started doing the movie I felt like I had a sense of belonging. I started longing to be a part of it and the movie became mine," Lee had said.LD OSCAR 2
Lee, 58, spent four years translating Martel's book to the screen and made several trips to India to shoot the film, which starts in Pondicherry and Munnar.
The director, a five-time Oscar nominee, previously won the best director trophy for his 2005 gay cowboy drama 'Brokeback Mountain'.
He shot the film, which earned USD 600 million worldwide, with an Indian cast that included newcomer Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Adil Hussain.
Affleck, 40, who was famously snubbed from being nominated for directing despite winning every other award this season, made it up by scoring the top honour of the night over eight other films.
"I want to thank Canada. I want to thank our friends in Iran, who live under terrible circumstances," said Affleck, the co-producer with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Day-Lewis, who took almost six years to accept the role of Lincoln after refusing Spielberg three times, thanked the "spirit of Lincoln" for his win.
"I do know that I've received so much more than my fortune... my role was Steven's first choice for Lincoln... I'm so proud... I'd like to thank Kathleen Kenndey, our producer. I owe this to three men - Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg and the spirit of Abraham lincoln," he said while accepting the best actor trophy.
Lawrence had an embarrassing tumble before accepting her Best Actress trophy but the 22-year-old recovered her composure quickly to deliver an emotional speech.
"This is embarrassing... It's nuts...thank you to the Academy, to the women this year. Thank you to the best production team, our crew and my family... Thank you so much," she said.
Anne Hathaway's dream of winning an Oscar came true after she walked away with the Best Supporting trophy for her role of a fallen woman, Fantine', in 'Les Miserables'.
"'It came true... I hope sometime in near future. The misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and not in real life,' Hathaway said.
Christoph Waltz won the best supporing Oscar, his second in the same category, for 'Django Unchained'.
Waltz, who previously won an Oscar for 'Inglourious Basterds', thanked his best original screenplay winning director Quentin Tarantino for his spaghetti western.
"My... my unlimited gratitude goes to Dr King Schultz (his character). That is, of course, to the creator and the creator of his awe-inspiring world – Quentin Tarentino," the actor said.
Tarantino, in an unusually long speech, said he was happy to win because it was one of the best years in writing.
"...this time did I do it... I would like to say it's such an honor to get it this year because in both the original and the adapted categories, the writing is just fantastic. This will be the writers' year, man. Thank you very much. I love the competition. You guys all wonderful," said the writer-director, who previously won in the same category for 'Pulp Fiction'.
The best adapted screenplay was won by Chris Terrio of 'Argo' who bested Tony Kushner for Lincoln, David Magee for 'Life of Pi' and David O Russell for Silver Linings Playbook among others. Terrio adapted the film from an article from Wired magazine and CIA man Tony Mendez's book 'The Master of Disguise'.
Music director Mychael Danna won an Oscar in the Best Original Score category for his work for 'Pi' but India's hopes were dashed after sole nominee Bombay Jayshri lost the Best Original Song trophy to British singer Adele, who won the statuette for her soulful rendition of James Bond theme 'Skyfall'.
'Amour', nominated in five categories including the best director and actress, won its lone award in the best foreign film category over Norway's Kon-Tiki, Chile's 'No', Denmark's 'A Royal Affair' and 'War Witch' from Canada'.
Claudia Miranda won the best cinematography trophy for his exceptional camera work in technically brilliant 'Life of Pi'. The film also brought Oscars for its visual effects team of Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R Elliott.LD OSCAR 4 LAST
'Argo' won the best film editing trophy for William Goldenberg while makeup and hairstyling award went to musical 'Les Miserables'.
'Anna Karenina' was awarded with best costume design Oscar while 'Licoln' won its second Oscar for best production design. The award went to Rick Carter and Jim Erickson.
James Bond film 'Skyfall' won its first Oscar in three decades by tying up for best sound editing trophy with Osama bin Laden manhunt drama 'Zero Dark Thirty' while 'Les Miserables' won in the sound mixing category.
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes won the sound mixing award for 'Les Miserables'.
In other important categories, 'Searching for Sugar Man' took home the Oscar for best documentary feature documentary short trophy went to 'Inocente'.
Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman of 'Brave' won in the best animated feature film category while John Kahrs' 'Paperman won the best animated short film Oscar.
Shawn Christensen won the best live action short film Oscar for 'Curfew'.
The 85th Academy awards were given in 24 categories. The awards were hosted by Seth McFarlane, who managed laughs at the expense of Oscar nominees, Rihanna-Chris Brown and Academy among many other celebrity victims at Hollywood's biggest awards extravaganza that took place in Dolby Theatre here.
This year's ceremony was high on glamour and music as Shirley Bassey paid a tribute to James Bond's 50 years while big names like Barbra Streisand, Adele, Nora Jones, Jennifer Hudson took to stage to perform.