Los Angeles The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” won best picture and five other prizes Sunday 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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. Bridges, who played a boozy country singer trying to clean up his act, held his Oscar aloft and thanked his late parents, actor Lloyd Bridges and poet Dorothy Bridges.
Bullock, an industry darling who had never before been nominated, won for her role as a wealthy woman who takes in homeless future NFL star Michael Oher, who was living on the streets as a teen.
The award wraps up a wild year for Bullock, who had box-office smashes with “Blind Side” and “The Proposal” and a flop with “All About Steve,” which earned her the worst-actress trophy at the Razzies the night before the Oscars.
The supporting-acting winners also had 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 in the Harlem drama “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”
“Precious” also won the adapted-screenplay Oscar for Geoffrey Fletcher.
‘Inglourious Basterds’ actor
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 über-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.
“Avatar” won three Oscars, for visual effects, art direction and cinematography, beating “The Hurt Locker” for the latter. “The Hurt Locker” also 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.
“Hurt Locker” screenwriter Mark Boal, who won the Oscar for original screenplay, 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 feature-animation 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 the category.