Martin Scorsese accepts his Oscar for best director for 'The
Departed' at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California,
February 25, 2007. [Reuters]
Related: Stars shine
on red carpet
Los Angeles - The mob saga "The Departed" won the best-picture Academy Award
on Sunday, a triumph for a homegrown American film in an evening that featured
the most internationally diverse field of nominees in the history of Hollywood's
Martin Scorsese finally won the best-director Academy Award that had eluded
him throughout his illustrious career, taking the prize for his mob epic "The
Departed" after five previous losses.
Forest Whitaker earned the best-actor Oscar for "The Last King of Scotland,"
in which the soft-spoken actor played an uncharacteristically flamboyant role as
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Helen Mirren reigned, winning best actress for her portrayal in "The Queen"
of British monarch Elizabeth II facing ebbing loyalty after the death of
Jennifer Hudson won the supporting-actress Oscar for "Dreamgirls," though her
co-star and fellow front-runner Eddie Murphy lost the supporting-actor prize to
Alan Arkin of "Little Miss Sunshine."
"More than anything, I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our
small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the
possibility of innocence, growth and connection," said Arkin, who plays a
foul-mouthed grandpa with a taste for heroin in the road comedy.
Hudson won an Oscar for her first movie, playing a powerhouse vocalist who
falls on hard times after she is booted from a 1960s girl group. The role came
barely two years after she shot to celebrity as an "American Idol" finalist.
"Oh my God, I have to just take this moment in. I cannot believe this. Look
what God can do. I didn't think I was going to win," Hudson said through tears
of joy. "If my grandmother was here to see me now. She was my biggest
"Little Miss Sunshine," which came out of the low-budget independent world to
become a commercial hit and major player in Hollywood's awards season, also won
the original screenplay Oscar for first-time screenwriter Michael Arndt.
The film follows a ghastly but hilarious road trip by an emotionally
messed-up family rushing to get their darling girl (10-year-old
supporting-actress nominee Abigail Breslin) to her beauty pageant.
"When I was a kid, my family drove 600 miles in a VW bus with a broken
clutch," Arndt said, describing a road trip that mirrored the one in the film.
"It ended up being one of the funnest things we did together."
The nonfiction hit "An Inconvenient Truth," a chronicle of Al Gore's campaign
to warn the world about global warming, was picked as best documentary.
"People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a
political issue. It's a moral issue," Gore said, joining the film's director,
Davis Guggenheim, on stage.
"An Inconvenient Truth" also won original song for Melissa Etheridge's "I
Need to Wake Up."
"Mostly, I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring me, showing me that caring
about the earth is not Republican or Democrat, it's not red or blue. It's all
green," Etheridge said.
Earlier, Gore appeared with best-actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio to praise
organizers for implementing environmentally friendly practices in the show's
DiCaprio set up a gag with Gore, asking the 2000 presidential candidate if
there was anything he wanted to announce.
"I guess with a billion people watching, it's as good a time as any. So my
fellow Americans, I'm going to take this opportunity here and now to formally
announce my intentions ...," Gore said, his voice trailing away as the orchestra
cut him off.
Composer Gustavo Santaolalla won his second straight Oscar for original score
for "Babel," a film "that helped us understand better who we are and why and
what we are here for," he said. He won the same prize a year ago for "Brokeback
The dancing-penguin musical "Happy Feet" won the Oscar for feature-length
animation, denying computer-animation pioneer John Lasseter ("Toy Story") the
prize for "Cars," which had been the big winner of earlier key animation honors.
"I asked my kids, `What should I say?' They said, `Thank all the men for
wearing penguin suits,'" said "Happy Feet" director George Miller.
The savage fairy tale "Pan's Labyrinth" took the first two Oscars, for art
direction and makeup, the wins for the Spanish-language film kicking off an
Oscar evening stuffed with contenders from around the world. "Pan's Labyrinth"
also took the cinematography Oscar.
"To Guillermo del Toro for guiding us through this labyrinth," said art
director Eugenio Caballero, lauding the writer-director of "Pan's Labyrinth,"
the tale of a girl who concocts an elaborate fantasy world to escape her harsh
reality in 1940s Fascist Spain.
Germany's "The Lives of Others," about a playwright and his
actress-girlfriend who come under police surveillance in 1980s East Berlin, won
the foreign-language Oscar, the films it beat including "Pan's Labyrinth."
"Letters From Iwo Jima" won the sound-editing Oscar for Alan Robert Murray
and Bub Asman. Murray's father was an Iwo Jima survivor.
"Thank you to my father and all the brave and honorable men and women in
uniform who in a time of crisis have all made that decision to defend their
personal freedom and liberty no matter what the sacrifice," Murray said.
The record holder for Oscar futility, sound engineer Kevin O'Connell,
extended his losing streak to 19 nominations without a win. This time, O'Connell
and two colleagues were nominated for sound mixing on "Apocalypto," Mel Gibson's
portrait of the savage decline of the ancient Mayan empire, but they lost to
another trio of sound engineers that worked on "Dreamgirls."
"Apocalypto" lost in all three categories in which it was nominated, all for
technical achievements. Gibson, whose "Braveheart" was the big winner at the
1995 Oscars, had been condemned by many in Hollywood for an anti-Semitic rant he
made during his drunken-driving arrest last summer.
Once an evening of backslapping and merrymaking within the narrow confines of
Hollywood, the Academy Awards this time looked like a United Nations exercise in
The 79th annual Oscars feature their most ethnically varied lineup ever, with
stars and stories that reflect the growing multiculturalism taking root around
"What a wonderful night. Such diversity in the room," said Ellen DeGeneres,
serving as Oscar host for the first time, "in a year when there's been so many
negative things said about people's race, religion and sexual orientation.
"And I want to put this out there: If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays,
there would be no Oscars," she said, adding: "Or anyone named Oscar, when you
think about that."
Competing for best picture was Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's
"Babel," a sweeping ensemble drama. The film's cast ranges from A-listers such
as Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to comparative unknowns Adriana Barraza from
Mexico and Rinko Kikuchi from Japan, who both earned supporting-actress
nominations for "Babel."
Also in the running were Stephen Frears' classy British saga "The Queen," a
portrait of the royal family in crisis, and Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language
war tale "Letters From Iwo Jima."
Those films joined two idiosyncratic American stories nominated for best
picture, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' road comedy "Little Miss Sunshine"
and Martin Scorsese's crime epic "The Departed."
Though set among the distinctive cops and mobsters of Boston, "The Departed"
had a global connection, it was based on the Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal
Affairs." The film won the adapted-screenplay Oscar for William Monahan, who
thanked Scorsese and "The Departed" star DiCaprio, a best-actor nominee.
"Thanks to Marty and Leo for reading the script and calling each other and
saying let's make it," Monahan said.
With a Directors Guild of America award and other top film honors behind him,
Scorsese was considered a shoo-in to earn the directing Oscar, a prize that has
eluded him throughout his illustrious career.
The best-picture race was up for grabs, with all five films in the running
but many Oscar watchers generally figuring it was a three-way race among
"Babel," "The Departed" and "Little Miss Sunshine."
Organizers at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hoped the
suspense of the wide-open best-picture category would help offset moviegoers'
relative lack of interest in the competing films.
TV ratings for the Oscars tend to be lower when fewer people have seen the
top nominees. Collectively, the five best-picture nominees had drawn a total
domestic theatrical audience of about 38.5 million people, about a third the
number of fans who have gone to see the contenders in recent peak years when
such blockbusters as "Gladiator" or "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the
King" have won.