"We participated in a hero's journey," an emotional Waltz said in reference to Django's director, Quentin Tarantino. "You scaled the mountain because you're not afraid of it."
Waltz's Oscar win, for his role as a bounty hunter in the South, comes just three years after he won Best Supporting Actor in 2010 for another Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds. The Ang Lee-helmed Life of Pi, about a boy stranded at sea with a tiger, earned Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
In other early Academy Award wins, Disney's Brave won Best Animated Feature, beating out another favored contender, Wreck-It Ralph, while Anna Karenina won for Best Costume Design and Les Misérables was recognized for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Amour won Best Foregin Language Film, while Searching for Sugar Man, about the rediscovered rocker Rodriguez, won Best Documentary Feature.
Lincoln led the field with 12 Oscar nominations heading into the night, with Life of Pi a close second with 11 nods. But early predictions, including those by Rolling Stone's own Peter Travers, have pegged Ben Affleck's Argo as the favorite to win Best Picture.
Seth MacFarlane kicked off the Oscar festivities with a lively monologue that poked fun at Tommy Lee Jones and Mel Gibson and a musical medley featuring Charlize Theron, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe and Joesph Gordon-Levitt.