Still, when the dust settled, it was the American neo-Western No Country for Old Men that took top honors at the Kodak Theatre ceremony. Besides being named Best Picture, the drama won Oscars for its Directors Joel and Ethan Coen, who were also honored for their Adapted Screenplay. (See a list of the night's big winners.)
The U.K. was well represented – by Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, for There Will Be Blood, and Best Supporting Actress Tilda Swinton, for Michael Clayton. France's Marion Cotillard was named Best Actress for La Vie en Rose and Spain's Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor for No Country.
In all, the Coens' violent tale of a psychotic killer on the trail of drug money won four Oscars. The offbeat comedy Juno was cited for Best Original Screenplay.
For Day-Lewis, the night brought his second Oscar, this time for his role as a ruthless oilman. His first Oscar was for 1989's My Left Foot.
Accepting his Oscar from last's year's The Queen Best Actress winner Helen Mirren, Day-Lewis said, "That's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood."
Finding the HumanityBefore the ceremony, the London-born actor, 50, was asked about finding the humanity in his role as Daniel Plainview, who cheats, steals, disinherits his son and even murders.
The actor replied, "I think that part of his life took care of itself. It is the other stuff he had to go mining for."
When Bardem won early in the ceremony he said, "Whoa! This is pretty amazing. I have to speak fast here, man."
He not only spoke fast, he spoke in Spanish, to deliver a speech to his mother, to whom he dedicated his award. She sat in the audience, choked up at the sight of her son on the Kodak Theatre stage.
"Mom, this is for you ... for Spain, and for all of us," he said in Spanish. "Thank you very much."
A Surprised SwintonA totally surprised Swinton captivated the crowd when she accepted for her supporting role.
"Happy Birthday, man," she said as she clutched her little golden boy – which she explained she will be giving to her agent, Brian Swardstrom, because he looks just like Oscar, from the top of his head "to his buttocks, it must be said."
Amy Sancetta / AP
Marion Cotillard, 32, who won for the biopic of singer Edith Piaf La Vie en Rose, was giddy onstage. "We'll, I'm speechless now," she said. "Thank you, life. Thank you, love. It is true, there are some angels in this city [Los Angeles]."
Bourne WinnersThe technical categories were practically a clean sweep for The Bourne Ultimatum, which won three Oscars – for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Film Editing. There Will Be Blood won for its Cinematography. "Falling Slowly," from Once, was chosen Best Song.
Presenters of note included Nicole Kidman, who gave an honorary Oscar to venerable 98-year-old production designer Robert Boyle, whose filmography includes Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest, and Owen Wilson, who handed out the Oscars for film shorts.