Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway won best supporting actor and actress as Hollywood awarded Oscars for the best work of 2012.
Hathaway won for her portrayal of the ill-fated Fantine in the musical “Les Miserables,” and Waltz played the clever-tongued German bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s drama “Django Unchained.”
Waltz prevailed over competitors who included Robert De Niro and three other past Oscar winners. Hathaway beat rivals including Sally Field, who played the volatile wife of America’s 16th president in “Lincoln.” The awards were handed out today at the 85th Academy Awards, hosted by Seth MacFarlane and broadcast on the ABC network from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
“I love this movie because it’s a fabulous, exciting piece of entertainment with a really deep message,” Waltz said backstage. “I’m happy that it’s popular.” He also won the supporting award for his role as a Nazi in the 2009 Tarantino film “Inglourious Basterds.”
The ceremony unfolded amid a politically charged debate surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty,” criticized in Washington and Hollywood for suggesting torture helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden. Steven Spielberg’s studious drama “Lincoln” and Tarantino’s violent “Django Unchained” examined slavery and race from different perspectives. Aspects of “Lincoln” and “Argo,” about the rescue of America diplomats from Iran more than 30 years ago, were criticized for their artistic liberties.
“Controversy helps the box office but it doesn’t necessarily help you win an Oscar,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box-office division, said before the telecast. “It could help you lose an Oscar, too.”
“Les Miserables” is also nominated for best picture. The film, a big-screen version of the Broadway musical, stars Hugh Jackman as reformed convict Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as his tormentor, the policeman Javert. It was Hathaway’s second nomination.
Among best-picture nominees, “Life of Pi,” from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, won early awards for cinematography and visual effects. The film is based on Yann Martel’s book about a teen who is stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his ship sinks in a storm.
The picture was directed by Ang Lee, who also was nominated for best director. The movie’s 11 Oscar nominations also included best adapted screenplay.
Best-picture prospects for “Zero Dark Thirty” appeared to fade after critics, including U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin, questioned whether it accurately portrayed the role of torture, including waterboarding, in the search for Bin Laden.
“Argo,” Ben Affleck’s film about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, added fictional tension to the diplomats’ escape and “Lincoln” was called out by a Connecticut congressman for misrepresenting his state’s position on the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery.
Another best-picture nominee, “Amour,” won for best foreign feature. The French-language film, distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics, is about a retired music teacher partially paralyzed by a stroke. Star Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar, according to an academy statement. She was 85 at the time and now is 86, according to biographical data at IMBD.com.
Collectively, the nine nominees for best picture have taken in $2.1 billion in theaters worldwide, with a little less than half from the U.S., according to Boxofficemojo.com, a movie research site. “Lincoln” is the domestic leader with $178.6 million in sales. “Life of Pi” is the overall top-grosser with $583.4 million in revenue worldwide.
The winners, chosen by the academy’s 6,000 members, helped helped propel domestic ticket sales to a record $10.8 billion last year.
“Studio accountants have never had to work harder to show that nothing made a profit,” MacFarlane, creator of the animated series “Family Guy,” joked in his opening monologue.
Oscar statuettes promise even more revenue to studios that made and distributed the the films. “Slumdog Millionaire,” 2008’s best film, took in $43 million in U.S. ticket sales after winning best picture in 2009, adding to the $98.4 million generated before the victory, according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.
The show included a tribute to musicals and included dance numbers featuring Charlize Theron with Channing Tatum, and Daniel Radcliffe, joining MacFarlane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It also marked the 50th anniversary of James Bond pictures.
Walt Disney Co. won awards for best animated short, “Paperman” and best animated feature, “Brave.”
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