The cast and crew of widely acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire (photo, from bbc.co.uk) left Los Angelel with eight awards, including best picture and best director.
The film features a number of unknown actors who live in one of Mumbai’s slums. Two of them attended the awards ceremony.
In the Behrampada slum, which is home to two of the lead actors, people were “huddled around television sets in this neighbourhood”, said correspondent Matt McClure.
“It is a very proud moment … here that two locals … are at the Oscars and walking the red carpet with the rest of the stars”, he said.
Slumgdog Millionaire tells the story of a poverty-stricken slum-dweller who competes for love and money on the Indian version of the television gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.
But even though locals celebrate being the focus of attention following the movie’s Oscar success, they were “realistic about it and don’t think life is going to change and that things will go back to normal”.
Other award winners included Penelope Cruz, Heath Ledger, the late Australian actor, and British actress Kate Winslet.
Kate Winslet’s sixth nomination finally gave her the Oscar for best actress, for her role as a German woman with a secret Nazi past in the drama The Reader.
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t made a version of this speech before. I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror, and this would have been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now”, said the 33-year-old actress.
Penelope Cruz, 34, became the first Spanish-born actress to pick up the best supporting actress award for her performance as artist Maria Elena in American director Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona.“Thank you Woody for trusting me with this beautiful character. Thank you for having written over all these years some of the greatest characters for women”, she said as she accepted the Oscar.
Sean Penn (photo, from bbc.co.uk) won best actor for his portrayal of gay rights activist Harvey Milk. “You Commie, homo-loving, sons of a gun”, said Penn, addressing his fellow performers.
“I did not expect this, and I want to be very clear that I know how hard I make it to appreciate me”, said the 48-year-old actor, who often attracts criticism for his outspoken views.
Mr Penn called on “equal rights for everyone” in an impassioned plea, and to rapturous applause.
“I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame”, he said.
Dustin Lance Black, Milk screenwriter, echoed these thoughts when he won best original screenplay for Milk.
“I heard the story of Harvey Milk and it gave me hope … that one day I could live my life openly as who I am. And that maybe I could even fall in love and one day get married”, he said.
Best supporting actor was won by Heath Ledger (photo, from bbc.co.uk), for his performance as the Joker in the Batman film The Dark Knight. The Australian actor died aged 28 of an accidental medicine overdose last year. He is the second actor to receive an Oscar posthumously.
Heath Ledger’s father, Kim, his mother, Sally Bell, and his sister, Kate Ledger, accepted the Oscar on the actor’s behalf.
In 2005, Mr Ledger was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in the film Brokeback Mountain, but he did not win the award.
The actor’s Oscar will eventually go to his three-year-old daughter, Matilda Ledger, by his former fiancee, actress Michelle Williams. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided Matilda should receive the Oscar when she turns 18.
Here is the full list of the winners :
– Slumdog Millionaire : best picture, best director (Danny Boyle), best adapted screenplay, cinematography, sound mixing, film editing, best original score, best original song.
– The Curious Case of Benjamin Button : art direction, make-up, visual effects.
– Milk : best actor (Sean Penn), best original screenplay.
– The reader : best actress (Kate Winslet).
– The Dark Knight : best supporting actor (Heath Ledger), sound editing.
– Vicky Christina Barcelona : best supporting actress (Penelope Cruz).
– The Duchess : costume design.
– Wall-E : best animated feature film,
– La Maison en Petits Cubes : best animated short film.
– Departures – Japan : best foreign language.
– Man on Wire : best documentary feature.
– Smile Pinki : best documentary short subject.
– Spielzeugland (Toyland) : Best live action short film