The West Wing resident — who hosted a screening for students of Oscars contender “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at the White House earlier this month — added that the lessons learned from the films are “especially important for young people. … I want to thank all of you here tonight for being part of that vitally important work.” 

Following Obama’s remarks, Nicholson quipped to the audience, “Well nobody’s going to mess around with that, are they?

Obama opened an envelope to announce the Ben Affleck-directed film “Argo” as the big winner, before smiling and offering congratulations.

The movie about the Iranian hostage crisis beat out a slew of competitors in its category, including “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Amour.”

Photo: White House/Pete Souza via Flickr

UPDATE (12:40 a.m.): Kristina Schake, communications drector to the first lady, said in a statement to the White House press pool:

"The Academy Awards approached the First Lady about being a part of the ceremony. As a movie lover, she was honored to present the award and celebrate the artists who inspire us all — especially our young people — with their passion, skill and imagination."