Little Miss Sunshine Oscar-winner Alan Arkin confessed on the red carpet before the show that he hoped his young costar, Abigail Breslin, would not win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. (His wish came true – Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson won the award.)
Speaking to Access Hollywood, Arkin, 72, said: "I hope she loses frankly. No, I'm serious. I am not joking."
Arkin, who played foul-mouthed grandpa to Breslin as their fractured family hit the road to get her to a beauty pageant, insisted he had the child actress's best interests at heart in hoping she walked away empty-handed. "What, next year she is going to get the Nobel Prize? It's enough. She has had enough attention."
In her first stint as Oscar host, Ellen DeGeneres drew mixed reactions from critics, ranging from equivocal thumbs up to disappointed thumbs down – though most of the real complaints were aimed at the ceremony's seat-challenging, four-hour length.
Here's a sampling of what the nation's reviewers had to say:
"[Ellen] was cheeky but good-natured, far less barbed and sardonic than Jon Stewart last year or Chris Rock in 2005. ... As she sometimes does on her daytime talk show, Ms. DeGeneres cruised the aisle with a microphone, chatting idly with Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood – bringing a casual Friday mood to Fancy Sunday."
– Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times
This was Ellen DeGeneres's first year hosting the Oscars (although she did a stellar job helming the Emmys), and there were definite highs and lows. On the plus side, she slipped a screenplay to Martin Scorsese, forced Steven Spielberg to take her picture with Clint Eastwood for her MySpace page and gave rolling papers to the orchestra. In the minus corner? Saying Penelope Cruz was from Mexico (hey, she apologized!) and that bad "recycled jokes" gag. But tell us what you think: Was Ellen a good Oscar host? Click here and vote!
Where were Brad and Angelina? – Katie Dennis, Westwood, Calif.
Angelina Jolie did not attend the Academy Awards because the actress is back in Africa to monitor the crisis in Darfur in her official capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the U.N.'s refugee agency. Though she cannot visit Darfur itself, Jolie will be stopping by refugee camps two miles away from the Sudanese border. Meanwhile, Pitt, whose film Babel was nominated for Best Picture, is keeping down the homestead in New Orleans (where he's been filming The Mysterious Case of Benjamin Button).
Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker took the top acting prizes at Sunday night's 79th annual Academy Awards, with Mirren thanking the Academy for "biggest and the best gold star that I have ever had in my life" and a visibly moved Whitaker, who played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, thanking everyone from his ancestors to the people of Uganda.
But perhaps the happiest person in the room was The Departed director Martin Scorsese. The mob drama won four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Scorsese, who had been nominated – and lost – five times before.
See a list of the night's big winners.
Okay, it was pretty impressive when they turned into a VW van during their "reenactment" of Little Miss Sunshine – and then we were just plain astounded when they ate Ellen DeGeneres and morphed into Snakes on a Plane. So, who were those flexible folks? They're Pilobolus, a modern-dance troupe based out of Washington Depot, Conn. (Check out their Web site for more contortionism.) The group's executive director, Itamar Kubovy, told USA Today the Oscars were "by far the greatest exposure we've ever had."
After winning every award under the sun, it must be hard to come up with an original acceptance speech, but Best Actress Helen Mirren pulled it off. "You know, my sister told me that all kids love to get gold stars," she said, "and this is the biggest and the best gold star that I have ever had in my life."
She went on to credit the woman she played so convincingly in The Queen: "For 50 years and more Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle. ... If it wasn't for her, I most certainly wouldn't be here." Holding up her statue, she said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen."
See the list of major winners!
Surprising no one except, perhaps, herself, Dreamgirls' Jennifer Hudson was named Best Supporting Actress – adding an Oscar to a mantel that already holds a Golden Globe and a SAG award. ("I didn't think I was going to win!" she gasped.)
After thanking her family, director and castmates, she started to walk offstage – but at the last minute remembered the singer who made "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" famous: "Jennifer Holliday, too!"
See the list of major winners.
First Al Gore joked that he wanted William Hung to play him in a movie about his life. Then – surprise! – he provided the night's funniest moment so far (sorry, Ellen).
After the former Presidential candidate revealed with Leonardo DiCaprio that this year's Oscars had gone green, DiCaprio asked if Gore didn't want to take the opportunity to "make a major, major announcement."
Gore assumed a serious face, pulled out a piece of paper and began to read: "My fellow Americans, I'm going to take this opportunity here and now to formally ..." Just then, he was cut off by the orchestra's "time's up" overture. Well, there's always the 2011 Oscars!
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The female tuxedo (tux-ette?) was a hot look on the red carpet, with Melissa Etheridge sporting a dark blue Domenico Vacca pantsuit, and host Ellen DeGeneres wearing a wine-colored velvet tux. But who suited up the best? Remember, you're voting on the suit, not the accessories. (Ellen, we're looking at you: We know those are the shoes Randy Quaid gave Chevy Chase in Vacation.) Click here to vote!