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Christoph Waltz, 'Brave' are early Oscar winners

9:48 PM, Feb 24, 2013   |    comments
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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actor Christoph Waltz arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

(USA TODAY) -- Christoph Waltz made it 2-for-2 for him and supporting-actor Oscars, and Pixar Studios continued its domination of the animation category.

The Austrian-born actor won his second Academy Award for his role as bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained at Sunday night's ceremony. He won the same award for 2009's Inglourious Basterds, also directed by Tarantino, and an emotional Waltz profusely thanked his director.

"We participated in a hero's journey, and the hero being Quentin," said Waltz, winning in a field featuring five actors and 21 Oscar nominations between them. "You scaled the mountain because you're not afraid of it. You slay the dragon because you're not afraid of it."

In the race for best animated feature, Pixar's Brave - about a young redheaded Scottish lass - conquered the field, and the win marks the studio's seventh triumph in 12 years.

"I just happened to be wearing the kilt," Brave director Mark Andrews joked.

Life of Pi won two awards for visual effects and cinematography, Anna Karenina's Jacqueline Durran picked up the Oscar for costume design, and Les Miserables was honored for makeup and hairstyling.

In the shorts categories, Shawn Christensen's Curfew won for live-action film, documentary went to Inocente by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, and Disney's Paperman, by John Kahrs, garnered the animation Oscar.

There is intrigue aplenty at the Academy Awards ceremony as contenders hope to hoist gold by the end of the night.

Argo director Ben Affleck was noticeably left out of the director field - a snub that's become more and more perplexing after winning almost every other filmmaking honor this awards season - but his political thriller looks poised to take best picture.

Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln - which leads with 12 nominations - went from frontrunner to also-ran but possibly has an upset in it. Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi and Les Miserables also loom as dark horses.

Two locks going into the Oscars seem to be Lincoln star Daniel Day-Lewis, who if victorious will have a record three best actor trophies to his name, and Anne Hathaway, the Les Mis supporting actress contender seemingly cemented as the woman to beat after her memorably stirring rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.

Best actress could come down to voters backing a comedic performance (Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook) vs. a truly dramatic one (Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty). Or they might feel sentimental and give it to acclaimed Amour star Emmanuelle Riva on her 86th birthday.

With Affleck not in the running, Spielberg is favored in the director category for wrangling the various 19th-century personalities and abolitionist themes of Lincoln, yet academy voters may be too blown away by the visuals of Life of Pi to not give it to Ang Lee.

Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

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