Scorsese, The Departed win top Oscars

Martin Scorsese ended his Oscar drought with a bang Sunday night, when his cops-and-mobsters drama became a big winner at the 79th annual Academy Awards.

Martin Scorsese ended his Oscar drought with a bang Sunday night, when his cops-and-mobsters drama became a big winner at the 79th annual Academy Awards.

Director Martin Scorsese accepts the best director Oscar for his work on The Departed. ((Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press))

The film, based on Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, picked up four Oscars at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood: best picture, director, adapted screenplay and film editing.

"Could you double check the envelope?" Scorsese joked as he stepped onto the stage to accept his best director trophy from Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

"I just want to say so many people over the years have been wishing this for me … I'm saying thank you," he added.

Scorsese'slong-awaited best director win came after his eighth time beingnominated for an Oscar. He previously lost out for directing such classics as Raging Bull and Mean Streets.

In perhaps the least surprising win of the evening, British actress Helen Mirren won the best actress Oscar Sunday night for The Queen.

British actress Helen Mirren was considered a shoo-in for best actress for her work in The Queen. ((Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press))

"My sister told me that all kids loved to get gold stars. This is the biggest and best gold star I've ever hadin my life," said Mirren, who has won nearly every single best actress honour during the past award season for her portrayal of the titular British monarch.

Aside from praising her fellow nominees and the filmmaking team behind The Queen, Mirren paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, whom she portrays in the film.

"She's weathered many, many storms. I salute her courage and her consistency … If it wasn't for her, I most certainly wouldn't be here."

Forest Whitaker was another best actor front-runner during the run-up to the Academy Awards and ended Sunday with a trophy for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

"When I was a kid, the only way I saw movies was from the backseat of my family's car," he recalled. "It wasn't my reality to think I would be acting in movies. Receiving this honour tells me it is possible."

Forest Whitaker picked up the best actor trophy for The Last King of Scotland. ((Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press))

Gore's Oscar night

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore was also among the high-profile celebrities who took to the Oscar stage Sunday night, both as a presenter and then as a winner, when his climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth picked up an Academy Award.

An Inconvenient Truth won the statue for best documentary feature.

"All of us who made this film … we were moved to act by this man," director Davis Guggenheim said of Gore. "All of us were inspired by his fight for 30 years to tell this truth to all of us."

For his part, Gore urged people all over the world to take action against climate change.

"It's not a political issue. It's a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource. Let's renew it," he said.

Lawrence Bender, left, congratulates former U.S. vice-president Al Gore after they accepted the best documentary feature Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. ((Chris Carlson/Associated Press) )

The film also took an Oscar in the category of best original song, won by Melissa Etheridge for I Need to Wake Up.

"Wow, that feels as good as you think it does," she saidafter taking the stage. She also cited Gore as an inspiration, thanking him "for showing that caring about the Earth is not Republican or Democrat, not red or blue."

Oscar trio for Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth, a film that splits its time between 1940s fascist Spain and a fantasy world created by a little girl, picked up three Oscars Sunday night for its vivid imagery.

The movie, from writer-directorGuillermo del Toro, was honoured with Academy Awards for its art direction, cinematography and makeup.

"This award, it's a recognition of the collective effort to support the vision of Guillermo Del Toro," cinematographer Guillermo Navarro said in accepting his trophy,while his colleague, art director Eugenio Caballero, praised the director "for guiding us through this labyrinth."

Canada's Oscar moment

Canadian talent got a nod early on in the Academy Awards Sunday night, with Montreal animator Torill Kove picking up an Oscar for The Danish Poet, named best animated short.

Montreal animator Torill Kove won an Oscar for her animated short The Danish Poet. ((Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press))

Kove thanked the Academy for "continuing to support the animated short category," and "everyone else who helped me make this film.

"Without you, I wouldn't be standing here with this little guy."

West Bank Story — a love story inspired by the musical West Side Story but set between rival Palestinian and Israeli falafel stands — followed with an Oscar win for live action short.

Veteran actor Alan Arkin was also a winner, honoured for his supporting role as a grandfather with a penchant for pornography in Little Miss Sunshine, whichalso picked up an Oscar trophy for Michael Arndt's original screenplay.

"More than anything, I am deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received," Arkin said when accepting his Oscar. "Acting for me has always been, and always will be, a team sport."

Oscar Winners
PictureThe Departed
DirectorMartin Scorsese, The Departed
ActorForest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
ActressHelen Mirren, The Queen
Supporting actorAlan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Supporting actressJennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Animated featureHappy Feet
Art directionPan's Labyrinth
CinematographyPan's Labyrinth
Costume designMarie Antoinette
Documentary featureAn Inconvenient Truth
Documentary shortThe Blood of Yingzhou District
Film editingThe Departed
Foreign language filmThe Lives of Others
MakeupPan's Labyrinth
Original scoreBabel
Original songI Need to Wake Up from An Inconvenient Truth
Animated shortThe Danish Poet
Live action shortWest Bank Story
Sound editingLetters from Iwo Jima
Sound mixingDreamgirls
Visual effectsPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Adapted screenplayThe Departed
Original screenplayLittle Miss Sunshine

Former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson picked up the best supporting actress Oscar for her acting debut as the spurned leader of a soul trio in Dreamgirls.

"I have to just take this moment in," a teary-eyed Hudson said on stage. "Thank you all for being here and supporting me. Thank you all for helping me keep the faith."

Thefilm, based on a Tony Award-winning musical,also won in the category of best sound mixing.

The evening, hosted by popular daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, was peppered with musical performances. In addition to the expected performances of thebest original song nominees, there were also some surprises:from the choir DeGeneres brought onstage at the end of her introduction to a self-deprecating performance from actors Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly — who sang about the lack of Oscar recognition for comedy stars.

Overall, the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out the golden statues in 24 categories.

The evening gala, whichwas broadcast to millions of viewers around the world, also included the presentation of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Hollywood executive Sherry Lansing.

"So many of you have causes you are so passionate about," Lansing told the audience. "Not only do we get to make films that matter, we also live in a culture where we are encouraged to speak out."

The gala also included a tribute to prolific Italian composer and conductor Ennio Morricone, who has created the scores for approximately 400 films, including Cinema Paradiso and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Director Clint Eastwood presented Morricone with an honorary Oscar.

With files from the Associated Press