The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” has won best picture and five other prizes at the Academy Awards, its haul including best director for Kathryn Bigelow.
Bigelow is the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to earn Hollywood’s top prize for filmmakers.
Among those Bigelow and “The Hurt Locker” beat are ex-husband James Cameron and his sci-fi spectacle “Avatar.” Bigelow and Cameron were married from 1989-91.
First-time winners took all four acting prizes: Sandra Bullock as best actress for “The Blind Side”; Jeff Bridges as best actor for “Crazy Heart”; Mo’Nique as supporting actress for “Precious”; and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for “Inglourious Basterds.”
The Oscar marks a career peak for Bridges, a beloved Hollywood veteran who had been nominated four times in the previous 38 years without winning.
Also an industry darling, Bullock won with her first nomination. The night before the Oscars, Bullock also won the year’s worst-actress prize at the Razzies for “All About Steve.”
Bridges held his Oscar aloft and thanked his late parents, actor Lloyd Bridges and poet Dorothy Bridges.
“Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession,” said Bridges, recalling how his mother would get her children to entertain at parties and his father would sit on the bed teaching him the basics of acting for an early he landed on his dad’s TV show “Sea Hunt.”
“I feel an extension of them. This is honoring them as much as it is me,” Bridges said.
Villainous roles snatched the supporting-acting prizes: “Precious” co-star Mo’Nique as a contemptible mother and “Inglourious Basterds” co-star Christoph Waltz as a sociable Nazi fiend.
Both performers capped remarkable years, Mo’Nique startling fans with dramatic depths previously unsuspected in the actress known for lowbrow comedy and the Austrian-born Waltz leaping to fame with his first big Hollywood role.
“I would like to thank the academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics,” said Mo’Nique, who plays the heartless, abusive welfare mother of an illiterate teen (Gabourey Sidibe, a best-actress nominee in her screen debut) in the Harlem drama “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”
Mo’Nique added her gratitude to the first black actress to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, the 1939 supporting-actress winner for “Gone With the Wind.”
“I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to,” she said, adding thanks to Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, who signed on as executive producers to spread the word on “Precious” after it premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
“Precious” also won the adapted-screenplay Oscar for Geoffrey Fletcher.
“This is for everybody who works on a dream every day. Precious boys and girls everywhere,” Fletcher said.
Waltz’s award was presented by last season’s supporting-actress winner, Penelope Cruz, who gave Waltz a kiss as he took the stage.
“Oscar and Penelope. That’s an uber-bingo,” Waltz said.
Though a veteran stage and TV actor in Europe, Waltz had been a virtual unknown in Hollywood before Quentin Tarantino cast him as the prattling, ruthless Jew-hunter Hans Landa in his World War II saga.
“Quentin with his unorthodox methods of navigation, this fearless explorer, took this ship across and brought it in with flying colors, and that’s why I’m here,” Waltz said. “This is your welcoming embrace, and there’s no way I can ever thank you enough.”
The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” won four prizes, including original screenplay for Mark Boal, who spun a story about the perils and pressures of a U.S. bomb unit in Iraq.
The science-fiction blockbuster “Avatar” won three Oscars, for visual effects, art direction and cinematography, beating “The Hurt Locker” for the latter. “The Hurt Locker” won out over “Avatar” for film editing, sound editing and sound mixing.
With nine nominations each, “The Hurt Locker” and “Avatar” came in tied for the Oscar lead. The evening’s last two categories, best director and picture, marked the two films’ main rivalry, which is spiced up by a personal connection between “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow and “Avatar” director James Cameron. They were married from 1989-91.
Cameron took the directing prize at the Golden Globes, but Bigelow earned the top honor from the Directors Guild of America, whose recipient almost always wins the same award at the Oscars.
If it happens, Bigelow would be the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to win best director.
Screenwriter Boal thanked Bigelow, calling her an “extraordinary and visionary filmmaker,” and dedicated his Oscar win to the troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with those who did not make it home. Boal also affectionately recalled his father, who died a month ago.
“Up” earned the third-straight Oscar for Disney’s Pixar Animation, which now has won five of the nine awards since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences added a category for animated features.
The film features Ed Asner providing the voice of a crabby widower who flies off on a grand adventure by lashing thousands of helium balloons to his house.
“Never did I dream that making a flip-book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this,” said “Up” director Pete Docter, whose film also won for best musical score.
Pixar has a likely contender in the wings for next Oscar season with this summer’s “Toy Story 3,” reuniting voice stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
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