At the 77th annual Academy Awards from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, Jamie Foxx took home the Best Actor prize for Ray, and, doing Million Dollar Baby one better, five Oscars went to The Aviator, its major win being for Supporting Actress Cate Blanchett.
The Howard Hughes biography, which had been perceived as Martin Scorsese's best shot at finally winning an Oscar, was honored for its art direction, editing, cinematography and costume design.
A nervous Foxx turned jubilant as he raced toward the stage, receiving a hearty handclasp from fellow nominee Leonardo DiCaprio en route. "Thank you, Ray Charles, for living," Foxx said of the music legend he plays on screen, adding, "I want to thank my daughter (Corinne, 11), who said to me before I got up here, 'Dad, if you don't win tonight, you're still good.'"
Foxx also thanked his late grandmother, whom he described as "my first acting coach." Her advice: "Act like you got some sense." Wiping away tears, Foxx said she still speaks to him, "But now, she only speaks to me in my dreams. And I can't wait to get to sleep tonight, because we got a lot to talk about."
Clutching her Oscar, Swank said onstage: "I don't know what I did in this life to deserve all this. I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."
Swank was also careful to thank her husband, actor Chad Lowe, whom she overlooked during her speech four years ago when she won for Boys Don't Cry. With her remarks on Sunday going on so long that exit music started to be played, Swank shouted that she had yet "to thank Clint. I'm saving him for last."
Blanchett's and Freeman's victories came early in the evening. (The show was one of the shortest in memory, three hours and 15 minutes). "Thank you to the Academy who know Katharine Hepburn so well and is so intimately acquainted with her work. This is an indescribable surprise and honor," said Blanchett. Paying special acknowledgement to the late screen star, she added: "The longevity of her career, I think, is inspiring to everyone."
Mike Blake / Reuters / Landov
Best Picture contender Sideways won in only one category, for adapted screenplay, by Jim Taylor and the film's director, Alexander Payne, who said: "I want to share my side of this award with the cast and crew of the film because we had a lot of fun. See ya later." Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, by Charlie Kaufman director Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, was recognized for Original Screenplay.
The Incredibles was named Best Animated Feature and also took the Oscar for sound editing.
The single win for Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp, was for its musical score. "Al Otro Lado del Rio," from The Motorcycle Diaries, was chosen Best Original Song. Spain's The Sea Inside, starring Javier Bardem, was Best Foreign-Language Film.
Host Chris Rock, whose entrance was greeted with a standing ovation, wasted no time delivering the edgy type of comedy for which he's famous, though he did come across as ready for primetime.
"Welcome to the 77th and last Academy Awards," said a PG-rated Rock. Then, quickly noting the number of African-American nominees, he added, "It's kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight."
Here's a list of the night's winners:
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx, Ray
Best Actress: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Best Adapted Screenplay:Sideways
Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside
Animated Feature Film: The Incredibles
Art Direction:The Aviator
Costume Design:The Aviator
Film Editing:The Aviator
Music (Score): Finding Neverland
Music (Song) "Al Otro Lado Del Río" – The Motorcycle Diaries
Makeup:Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Sound Editing: The Incredibles
Sound Mixing: Ray
Visual Effects: Spider-Man 2
Short Film (Animated): Ryan
Short Film (Live Action): Wasp
Documentary Feature: Born Into Brothels
Documentary Short Subject: Mighty Times: The Children's March