'Hurt Locker' Wins Best Picture, Director

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The Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker has won best picture and five other prizes at this year's Academy Awards. The Top acting prizes went to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart and Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side. Christoph Waltz won supporting actor for Inglourious Basterds and Mo'Nique for Precious.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's take a backstage look at last night's Oscar presentations. Without any doubt, the biggest winner was "The Hurt Locker." Kathryn Bigelow made history with her win for Best Director. And the Academy disproved those who expected it to divide two top honors between Bigelow's movie and "Avatar."

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: It was presenter Barbra Streisand who ended the suspense, opening the long-awaited Best Director envelope.

Ms. BARBRA STREISAND (Singer, Actor): Well, the time has come.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. STREISAND: Kathryn Bigelow.

DEL BARCO: And just like that, Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to ever win an Oscar for directing. Her film also turned out to be the Best Picture of the year. "The Hurt Locker," a suspense thriller about an American bomb squad in the Iraq war.

Ms. KATHRYN BIGELOW (Director, "The Hurt Locker"): And I'd just like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis.

(Soundbite of applause)

Ms. BIGELOW: ...in Iraq and Afghanistan, and around the world. And may they come home safe. Thank you.

DEL BARCO: Bigelow said her breathless thank yous and walked off stage as the orchestra began playing the song "I Am Woman." But backstage, she didnt seem to want to focus on the first female director title.

Ms. BIGELOW: I hope I'm the first of many, and of course, I'd love to just think of myself as a filmmaker. I long for the day when that modifier could be a moot point.

DEL BARCO: Bigelow also didn't answer many questions about the fact that she and her film beat out her ex-husband, James Cameron, and his 3-D blockbuster "Avatar." In all, "The Hurt Locker" won six awards, including Best Original Screenplay by journalist, Mark Boal, who covered the war for Playboy magazine. Backstage, Boal was asked about being sued by Master Sergeant Jeffrey Sarver for allegedly stealing his story for the film.

Mr. MARK BOAL (Journalist; Screenwriter, "The Hurt Locker"): Jeff is a brave soldier and a screenplay is a work of fiction, and it's not based on any one person's story.

DEL BARCO: This year's Best Original Song went to the theme from "Crazy Heart."

(Soundbite of song, "The Weary Kind")

Mr. RYAN BINGHAM (Musician): (Singing) And this ain't no place for the weary kind, and this ain't no place to lose your mind...

DEL BARCO: The man who starred in "Crazy Heart," Jeff Bridges, won the Leading Actor Oscar for his turn as a down-and-out country singer. He gave a loopy acceptance speech, thanking his family.

Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (Actor): Mom and Dad, yeah, look.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. BRIDGES: Whoa. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession.

DEL BARCO: Then Bridges carried his Oscar and a glass of champagne to talk to reporters, hinting that he may even start up his own band. He promised his award would not overshadow his image as The Dude in "The Big Lebowski."

Mr. BRIDGES: No, I'm digging the dude.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRIDGES: He's, I - you know, I love him.

DEL BARCO: In winning her Leading Actress Award, Sandra Bullock seemed almost blindsided.

(Soundbite of applause)

Ms. SANDRA BULLOCK (Actor): Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?

(Soundbite of laughter)

DEL BARCO: And she joked about having kissed acting legend Meryl Streep who was one of her competitors last night. Backstage, Bullock acknowledged that until her role in "The Blind Side" she was known more for her comedic characters.

Ms. BULLOCK: I just want to keep working on every genre that I'm allowed to, until asked to not do it anymore.

DEL BARCO: Bullock said she originally turned down the role, and she thought it was pretty funny that she won her Best Acting Award the night after she won a Razzie Award for worst performance in "All About Steve."

Ms. BULLOCK: And they'll sit, side by side, in a nice little shelf somewhere. The Razzie may be on a different shelf, lower.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DEL BARCO: Stand-up comedian Mo'Nique earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her very serious turn as an abusive mother in "Precious," the film that won for best adapted screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher.

(Soundbite of movie, "Precious")

Ms. MO'NIQUE (Actor): (As Mary Jones) And I don't want you to sit there and judge me, Ms. Weiss.

Ms. MARIAH CAREY (Singer, Actor): (As Ms. Weiss) You shut up and you let him abuse your daughter.

Ms. MO'NIQUE: (As Mary Jones) I did not want him to abuse my daughter. I did not want him to hurt...

Ms. CAREY: (As Ms. Weiss) But you allowed him to hurt her.

Ms. MO'NIQUE: (As Mary Jones) I did not want him to do nothing to her. So those things that she told you I did to her who - who - who else was going to love me? Hmm? Who was going to make me feel good?

DEL BARCO: Backstage, Mo'Nique was asked if she could identify, at all, with her character. She responded with a question of her own.

Ms. MO'NIQUE: Have you ever had a dark moment when you were unlovable? I'm asking you the question.

Unidentified Woman: Yes.

Ms. MO'NIQUE: And didn't you want somebody to love you through it?

Unidentified Woman: Yes.

Ms. MO'NIQUE: That was that thing for me. For as cruel as Mary Jones was, for the monster that she was, everybody - and I don't care who you are and what crime you've committed - everybody deserves to be loved, even when they're unlovable.

DEL BARCO: By wearing a royal blue gown and gardenia in her hair, Mo'Nique explained that she was honoring the first African-American woman to win an Oscar in 1940 - Hattie McDaniel for "Gone with the Wind."

Ms. MO'NIQUE: So for you, Miss. Hattie McDaniel, I feel you all over me.

DEL BARCO: And winning his Supporting Actor Award for his role in the film "Inglourious Basterds," Christoph Waltz thanked the man who inspired him -director Quentin Tarantino.

Mr. CHRISTOPH WALTZ (Actor): And 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.

DEL BARCO: His was the only award that "Inglourious Basterds" won despite being nominated for eight. The science fiction thriller "District 9" had been nominated for four but didn't win any awards. And "Avatar" took home only three of the nine awards for which it had been nominated. "Avatar" did get spoofed during the show. Ben Stiller came decked out as one of the blue creatures from the futuristic planet Pandora.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BEN STILLER (Actor): (Speaking foreign language) That means, this seemed like a better idea in rehearsal.

DEL BARCO: This year, the Academy Awards producers had promised a shorter more lively show with hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, but even at three hours and 37 minutes long, they had to wrap it up abruptly.

(Soundbite of 82nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony)

Mr. STEVE MARTIN (Actor; Host, 82nd Annual Academy Awards): Congratulations. I'll take one of those.

Mr. ALEC BALDWIN (Actor; Host, 82nd Annual Academy Awards): (unintelligible) one. Stay with us.

Mr. MARTIN: You have one. But I'll take this.

Ms. BIGELOW: It's all right.

Mr. MARTIN: Well, ladies and gentlemen, the show is so long that "Avatar" now takes place in the past.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DEL BARCO: "Avatar" may have only earned Oscars for cinematography, visual effects and art direction, but it also made history - making more money at the box office than any other movie before it.

Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News, Hollywood.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

(Soundbite of song, "The Weary Kind")

Mr. BINGHAM: (Singing) Your heart's on the loose, you rolled them seven's with nothing to lose, and this ain't no place for the weary kind. You called all your shots, shooting 8 ball at the corner truck stop...

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