The CIA thriller beat out “Amour,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty” for the Academy Award. The statuette was accepted by Affleck and co-producers Grant Heslov and George Clooney.
“I know what you’re thinking: three sexiest producers alive,” Heslov quipped, before recognizing director Affleck. “The reason I wanted to speak first before Ben was, Ben is a producer on the film, and he’s also our director, and I thought it would be awkward for Ben to thank himself, but it’s not awkward for me. So on behalf of George and myself, I want to thank Ben. He’s directed a hell of a film. I couldn’t be more proud of the film, and I couldn’t be more proud of Ben.”
Affleck followed with a heartfelt acceptance, thanking his fellow nominees, cast, crew, family and the industry that gave him a second chance.
“And I just want to say, I was here a few years ago or something and, you know, had no idea what I was doing,” Affleck said. “I stood out here in front of you all — really just a kid. I went out, and I never thought I’d be back here and I am because of so many of you who are here tonight, because of this Academy, because of so many wonderful people who extended themselves to me when they had nothing to benefit from it. I couldn’t get a job. I want to thank them, and I want to thank what they taught me: You have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges. It’s hard but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is that you’ve gotta get up.”
Affleck was, of course, referring to his earlier screenwriting Oscar win alongside friend Matt Damon for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting.”
In a unique twist, the Best Picture award was co-presented by Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama, who appeared via live feed from the White House. The First Lady sang the praises of this year’s nominees.
“This has been an exciting year for movies, and I want to congratulate all the nominees on their tremendous work,” she said. “These nine movies took us back in time and all around the world. They made us laugh, they made us weep, and they made us grip our arm rests just a little tighter. They taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our lives in the most surprising ways. And they remind us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves.
“These lessons apply to all of us, no matter who we are, or what we look like, or where we come from, or who we love, but they are especially important for our young people,” she continued. “Every day, through engagement in the arts, our children learn to open their imaginations, to dream just a little bigger, and to strive every day to reach those dreams. And I want to thank all of you here tonight for being part of that vitally important work.”
“Argo” was nominated for seven Oscars. In addition to Best Picture, the film took honors for Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing.