LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anne Hathaway won her first Oscar on Sunday and harrowing Austrian film "Amour" was voted Best Foreign Language Film as the movie industry scattered its highest honors across multiple films.
Hathaway, who starved herself and chopped off her long brown locks to play tragic heroine Fantine in "Les Miserables," was considered the overwhelming favorite for supporting role in the screen version of the popular stage musical.
"It came true," she said, looking at the golden statuette.
"Here's hoping that some day in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and not in real life," Hathaway added.
All the main members of the "Les Miserables" cast sang a rousing version of "Suddenly" from the film in a telecast that was packed with musical numbers, including a show-stopping performance by 'Dreamgirls" Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
"Amour," the heart-wrenching tale of an elderly couple coping with the wife's debilitating stroke, gave Austria the Best Foreign Language film after it had dominated awards shows in Europe and the United States for months.
"Amour" actress Emmanuelle Riva, 86, has emerged as a dark horse in the past few days in the Best Actress race that had been seen as a battle between "Zero Dark Thirty" actress Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence of "Silver Linings Playbook."
An Oscar for Riva later on Sunday's ceremony, would make her the oldest person ever to win an Academy Award for acting.
Presidential drama "Lincoln" went into Sunday's three-hour plus ceremony with a leading 12 nominations, including a directing nod for double Oscar winner Steven Spielberg.
But mid-way through the show no film was in a dominant position, leaving few clues as to who might win the big four awards - Actor, Actress, Director, and Best Picture - towards the close of the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
TARANTINO BRINGS SECOND OSCAR FOR CHRISTOPH WALTZ
Another Austrian, Christoph Waltz, was the surprise winner of the closest contest going into the ceremony. He took Best Supporting Actor honors for his turn as an eccentric dentist-turned-bounty-hunter in Quentin Tarantino's slavery revenge fantasy "Django Unchained."
It was Waltz's second Oscar, after winning one for the Tarantino movie "Inglourious Basterds" in 2010.
Seth MacFarlane, making his debut as Oscars host, turned the telecast into a running joke about whether he would be deemed the worst Oscar host ever by the media on Monday.
"I honestly cannot believe I am here. It's an honor that everyone else said 'no,'" said the creator of provocative edgy animated TV series "Family Guy."
MacFarlane mixed big music and dance numbers with edgy sketches, and barbs about Hollywood A-listers.
His biggest laugh came in a reference to director Ben Affleck's snub in the directing race for his Iran hostage thriller "Argo" about a CIA mission 30 years ago.
"The story was so top secret that the film's director was unknown to the Academy!," MacFarlane quipped.
"Lincoln"s front-runner Best Picture status has been dented by the six-week victory streak enjoyed at other Hollywood awards by "Argo," and the thriller is now thought to have the edge.
If "Argo" does prevail, it will be the first movie to win Best Picture without its director even getting a nomination since "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1990.
Musical "Les Miserables," comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," shipwreck tale "Life of Pi," Osama bin laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty," slavery Western "Django Unchained," indie film "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and "Amour" round out the contenders for the best film of 2012.
"Brave," the Pixar movie about a feisty Scottish princess, took home the golden statuette for Best Animated Feature.
After several years of nominating little-seen movies, this year's nine Best Picture contenders have pulled in more than $2 billion in tickets worldwide.
The Oscar winners were chosen in secret ballots by some 5,800 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)