by Mohammad Davari
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iranian media on Monday scoffed at Hollywood's awarding of its top honor to Ben Affleck's Iran hostage drama "Argo", branding it a "political" win while poking fun at US first lady Michelle Obama's surprise appearance at the Oscar ceremony.
The 85th Academy Awards is "the most political Oscar ever," Iran's state television said as it reported the news that "Argo" had won the coveted best film Oscar. Iranian officials have not immediately reacted.
The Iranian state broadcaster accused "Argo" director and star Affleck of specialising "in exaggeration, blowing things out of proportion and creating false scenes."
"Argo" recounts the long-classified CIA plot to extract six US hostages out of revolutionary Iran, who managed to evade Islamist students storming the US embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.
The other 52 hostages were held for 444 days in an action that caused the rupture of diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran.
Although "Argo" takes liberties with history by its makers' own admission, the movie has racked up a rash of honors on the awards circuit.
The movie's Oscar win was announced by US first lady Obama in an unprecedented satellite appearance from the White House.
Iran's state television said her involvement "increases speculation that awarding this movie was politically motivated."
The Fars news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, branded "Argo" as an "anti-Iran movie" financed by a "Zionist company" -- in a reference to the California-based Warner Bros. which produced it.
Fars was also critical of Obama and her silver low cut gown, which would be banned in the Islamic republic under its strict dress code for women.
A photo of Obama announcing "Argo" as the winner appeared to have been altered -- her dress is shown covering her shoulders, in contrast to the original which shows her bare-shouldered.
Doctoring of pictures is not uncommon in Iran.
In 2011, Iranian newspapers published an altered picture of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that covered up her cleavage. She was at the time heading the P5+1 group of United States, Russia, China, Britain, France plus Germany in talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear drive.
Those talks are to resume after an eight-month hiatus on Tuesday in the Kazakh city of Almaty.
Iran and the United States are locked in a tense showdown over an array of issues, including Tehran's nuclear ambitions which the West and Israel suspect are aimed at military objectives, despite Iran's repeated denials.
Iran's contempt of Hollywood is no secret.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last Wednesday criticised it as a "totally political" machine that propagates policies brewed in Washington.
"Hollywood is totally political. Otherwise it would have let our anti-Zionist movies participate in film festivals," he said in remarks reported by his Khamenei.ir website.
"Producing political anti-Iranian movies and giving awards to anti-Iranian movies is a clear sign that politics is mixed with art in the US," Khamenei added in an allusion to "Argo".
Hollywood in 2007 drew the wrath of Iranians for its Spartan war epic "300," a smash hit in the United States for its gory tale of the Greco-Persian wars which depicted Iranians as bloodthirsty.
The relationship between the entertainment industry and Iranians however was somewhat repaired in 2012 when Iran won its first ever Oscar, with "A Separation" in the best foreign-language category.
Affleck has last laugh on Oscars night
by Rob Woollard
HOLLYWOOD (AFP) - Ben Affleck insisted he bore no hard feelings on Sunday as he toasted the Oscars best picture triumph of his thriller "Argo" despite being snubbed in the best director category.
After a manic, frenetic acceptance speech on stage, the 40-year-old film-maker was all smiles as he spoke to journalists after the crowning glory of his Iran hostage drama.
And he insisted the perception of a snub by the Academy had been overblown, noting that several other acclaimed filmmakers had been overlooked in what has been a strong year.
"Naturally, I was disappointed," he said. "But when I look at the directors who weren't nominated -- Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino, these were all amazing directors who I admire.
"It was just a tough year. You're not entitled to anything. I am honored to be here, among these movies, and I'm honored to win an Academy Award."
Although "Argo" had built an irresistible momentum heading into Sunday's awards, Affleck insisted he had taken nothing for granted.
"When they gave us the trophies I was confident we would win," he quipped. "I don't get into the Oscar-ology and all the pontificating.
"I mean, it's great and people like reading it but it doesn't help me. I was just thrilled for everyone on the film."
While Argo's victory was largely expected, two of the biggest surprises of the evening came in the best director and best supporting actor categories, where Taiwanese film-maker Ang Lee scooped his second career statuette for "Life of Pi" and Austria's Christoph Waltz upset a field of Hollywood icons including Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones.
Lee, who was also a surprise best director winner with "Brokeback Mountain" in 2006, said the fact that "Life of Pi" had been made at all was a "miracle."
Based on Yann Martel's award-winning 2001 novel about a boy who is cast adrift in a lifeboat with only a Bengal tiger for company, the book was considered unfilmable by many until Lee came on board.
Lee's visually-ravishing film was shot largely in Taiwan, but the director played up the film's cosmopolitan crew in a post-acceptance press conference.
"Ninety percent of the movie was shot in Taiwan. They gave us financial and physical help. But this was really an international film. I feel this film belonged to the world," Lee said.
"It's a miracle the film was made. I carried anxiety around with me for four years," Lee added.
Waltz meanwhile was struggling to comprehend his second Oscar in three years for his part as a dentist-turned-bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."
"I was on a list with the greatest actors around, with Robert De Niro, with Alan Arkin, with Tommy Lee Jones, with Philip Seymour Hoffman," Waltz said.
"How do you think someone feels when all of a sudden his name is called in that context?"
As Tinseltown prepared to party into the night, Jennifer Lawrence cemented her status as Hollywood's new darling after winning best actress honors for "Silver Linings Playbook."
Lawrence stole the show after tripping up as she rose to claim her award, echoing a wardrobe malfunction at the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this year when her dress snagged and ripped.
Asked what happened when she fell, Lawrence replied: "What do you mean what happened? I tried to walk up stairs in this dress. That's what happened."
Probed for her thoughts when she stumbled, she added: "A bad word that I can't say that starts with 'F'."
But while Lawrence can expect to take her pick of roles from now on, her best actor-winning counterpart Daniel Day-Lewis plans to take a rest after landing the third Oscar of his career for his portrayal of US president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."
Day-Lewis was emphatic when asked if there were any other historical figures he would be interested in portraying.
"I can't think of anyone right now because I need to lie down for a couple of years," he said. "It's really hard to imagine doing anything after this."
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