LOS ANGELES (AP) - In a year of unparalleled diversity and
international muscle at Hollywood's film honors, the Academy Awards
finished as a love fest for a long-overlooked American - Martin
After Scorsese's five previous losses in the direction category,
he won for mob epic "The Departed," which also won best picture.
Awards watchers had viewed Scorsese as a lock to win at last,
and while he clearly coveted an Oscar, the director said he had not
counted on anything.
"It was an overwhelming, overwhelming moment for me, I must
say. I didn't know. When people say, `It's your year, your year.'
Thank God we've been able to make so many films over the last 36
years without winning awards. But we've been able to get the
pictures made," Scorsese told reporters backstage. "This comes as
an extraordinary surprise."
There were a couple of real surprises in the relatively
predictable and bland Oscar ceremony, which ran almost four hours
under the pleasant but lightweight stewardship of first-time host
Front-runners Helen Mirren of "The Queen," Forest Whitaker of
"The Last King of Scotland" and Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls"
all won. But the fourth front-runner, Eddie Murphy, lost to Alan
Arkin of "Little Miss Sunshine."
The dancing-penguin musical "Happy Feet" won for
feature-length animation, beating "Cars," directed by
computer-animation pioneer John Lasseter ("Toy Story"), whose
film had triumphed at other key Hollywood awards.
Mirren has been on a remarkable roll since last fall as she won
all major film and television prizes for playing both of Britain's
Along with her best-actress Oscar for "The Queen," Mirren won
an Emmy as the current ruler's 16th and 17th century namesake in
the TV miniseries "Elizabeth I." The two roles earned Mirren a
pair of prizes at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
"That was a great year's work," Mirren said backstage.
In "The Queen," Mirren offers a remarkable portrait of
Elizabeth II as both a tradition-bound aristocrat and a concerned
family matriarch as she copes with the crisis of Princess Diana's
Mirren said she had no clue what the queen might think of the
film or her performance.
"I'm not expecting a call from her majesty. Not ever. I
wouldn't expect it and I wouldn't desire it," Mirren said
backstage. "There are many countries in the world where one would
not be allowed to make this film. It's generous of the queen and
the royal family to sit back and not interfere. I do believe she is
a noble person in the best sense of the word."
"The Departed" led the Oscars with four prizes, also winning
for adapted screenplay and film editing. While Hollywood films and
American actors still dominated, the ceremony offered its most
global reach ever.
Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy "Pan's
Labyrinth" won three Oscars, including the cinematography prize.
The globe-trotting ensemble drama "Babel," made by del Toro's
countryman Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, had seven nominations,
though it won only one, for best score by composer Gustavo
Santaolalla. It was the second-straight Oscar for Santaolalla, who
received the same prize a year ago for "Brokeback Mountain."
"It's an amazing statement on what's going on. We have to be
connected as a planet," said Whitaker, who won best actor as
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." "This
year, you see people from all over the world. We need that. We need
to understand that this over here is connected to this over there.
We have to pay attention and understand that I affect you and you
The global theme extended to the documentary win for "An
Inconvenient Truth," which chronicles Al Gore's campaign to
educate people on the dangers of global warming.
"This is not a political issue. It's not a political movie.
Some of the solutions will have to be worked out within the
political sphere, but it really should be bipartisan, and it should
be seen as a moral issue," Gore said. "It is the overriding moral
issue of our time."
Earlier in the evening, Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio took the
stage to unveil a series of initiatives by the motion picture
academy to make the Oscars more environmentally friendly.
"An Inconvenient Truth" also won original song for Melissa
Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up." The openly gay Etheridge kissed
her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels on the lips when her name was
announced and onstage referred to Michaels as her wife. The couple
held a commitment ceremony in 2003 and are the parents of twins.
"Maybe someone at home is going, `Did she say wife?"'
Etheridge said backstage. "I was kissing her because that's what
you do, you kiss your loved one when you win an Oscar, that's what
I grew up believing."
Hudson won supporting actress for her first movie, playing a
powerhouse vocalist who falls on hard times after she is booted
from a 1960s girl group in "Dreamgirls." The role came barely two
years after she shot to celebrity as an "American Idol" finalist.
Hudson said she was inspired by her grandmother, a singer in the
family's church choir who chose not to become a professional
"She really wanted to sing for the Lord," Hudson said. "It
was my goal and my dream to do this for her. She had a voice that
should have been heard around the world."
Along with Arkin's supporting-actor win as a foul-mouthed but
loving grandpa, "Little Miss Sunshine" took the prize for
original screenplay for first-time screenwriter Michael Arndt.
Scorsese said he had a hint that he finally had won as his
longtime friends and colleagues Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford
Coppola and George Lucas, who presented the directing prize, gave
him a look just before announcing his name.