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‘Hurt Locker’ wins best picture, director

"Hurt Locker" won the Academy Award for best picture, and its director, Kathryn Bigelow, became the first woman ever to win the best director Oscar.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

“The Hurt Locker” won the top two prizes at Sunday's Academy Awards, taking home the best picture trophy and the best director honor for Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow is the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to earn Hollywood's top prize for filmmakers. "There's no other way to describe it. It's the moment of a lifetime," Bigelow said. "It's so extraordinary to be in the company of my fellow nominees, such powerful filmmakers, who have inspired me and I have admired, some of them for decades."

She dedicated the award to the military men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world: "May they come home safe."

Bigelow's film, which also won best picture, follows the dangerous daily existence of an Army bomb defusal team. It earned six Oscars, including one for Mark Boal's original screenplay, based on his time as a journalist embedded with such a unit. Bigelow was the fourth woman nominated for the prize, following Sofia Coppola for 2003's "Lost in Translation," Jane Campion for 1993's "The Piano" and Lina Wertmuller for 1975's "Seven Beauties." Bigelow was the front-runner heading into the Academy Awards. Barbra Streisand, director of films including "Yentl" and "The Prince of Tides," walked out on stage to present the category. "Well, the time has come," Streisand said before announcing Bigelow's win.

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 to 1991.

Cameron was seated right behind Bigelow at the Oscars and joined a standing ovation for her, clapping vigorously and saying, "Yes, yes," after she won.

No surprises with acting honorsThe four main acting Oscars were handed out as most had predicted, all to first-time winners.

Sandra Bullock won best actress for her role as a tough-talking Southern belle in "The Blind Side," and Jeff Bridges won the best actor award for his role as past-his-prime country singer Bad Blake in "Crazy Heart."

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. 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 role 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.

Villains rule the dayVillainous roles snatched the supporting-acting prizes.

"Precious" star Mo'Nique startled fans with dramatic depths previously unsuspected in the actress known for lowbrow comedy, and Austrian-born Christoph Waltz leapt to fame with his first big Hollywood role as a sociable Nazi fiend in "Inglourious Basterds."

"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.

‘Uber-bingo’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, playing off a line from his film.

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 the 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 science-fiction blockbuster "Avatar" won for art direction, best visual effects and cinematography.

"Up" earned the third-straight Oscar award 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 also won for best original score.

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.

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.

"The Weary Kind," from "Crazy Heart," won for best original song.

"Star Trek" won for best makeup. "The Young Victoria" won for best costume design.

"The Cove," the much-praised film about the slaughter of dolphins, won for best documentary feature.

Argentina's "El Secreto de sus Ojos" won for best foreign film.

"Logorama" won for best animated short. Producer Nicolas Schmerkin joked, "No logos were harmed during the making of the project."

"Music by Prudence," about disabled Zimbabwean singer Prudence Mabhena, won for best documentary short. Danish film "The New Tenants" won for best live-action short.

Show kicks off Hollywood styleThe awards got under way with some playful ribbing of Hollywood stars by hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Martin and Baldwin, the first dual emcees at the Oscars since 1987, made light fun of nominees including Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Woody Harrelson, James Cameron, Mo'Nique and Kathryn Bigelow.

"There's that damn Helen Mirren," Martin said. "No Steve, that's Dame Helen Mirren," Baldwin came back. Before Baldwin and Martin appeared, the show began with an introduction of lead-acting nominees and a song-and-dance number by Neil Patrick Harris.

Sunday's ABC Oscar broadcast looked to have several million fewer viewers after the network switched off its signal to 3.1 million Cablevision subscribers in the greater New York area in a dispute over fees. But the feed came back on shortly after the awards ceremony began.