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Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ wins top awards

Smaller films ‘Sunshine,’ ‘Truth,’ bag Oscars
Monday, February 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:09 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

LOS ANGELES — The big surprise of the Academy Awards on Sunday came with “The Departed” winning both best picture and the best director award for Martin Scorsese.

As anticipated, Helen Mirren won for best actress for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears’ “The Queen.” And Forest Whitaker won best actor for his role in “The Last King of Scotland.”

Jennifer Hudson won the supporting actress award 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 inspiration.”

“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,” Gore said, joining the film’s director, Davis Guggenheim, on stage. “It’s not a political issue. It’s a moral issue.”

“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.

Leonardo 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 Mountain.”

The dancing-penguin musical “Happy Feet” won the Oscar for feature-length animation. 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.


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