Dubliner Richard Baneham has won an Oscar for his work on visual effects on 'Avatar', but it was director Kathryn Bigelow and 'The Hurt Locker' who emerged as the victors from the battle of the blockbusters at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles last night.
Baneham, one of five Irish nominees in animation categories, was congratulated on his achievement by Arts Minister Martin Cullen, and himself paid tribute to his fellow Irish nominees saying it was a fantastic achievement for such a small nation.
Bigelow meanwhile made Oscars history by becoming the first woman to win the best director award, describing her victory as “the moment of a lifetime”.
The film-maker also won the battle of the exes at the US ceremony, with her Iraq war drama 'The Hurt Locker' also winning best film and a total of six awards compared with three for former husband James Cameron’s 3D epic 'Avatar'.
Bigelow’s best director gong was greeted with loud cheers from the star-studded audience in Los Angeles.
The 82nd Academy Awards also saw bookies’ favourite Jeff Bridges scoop best actor for country and western flick 'Crazy Heart', and Sandra Bullock win best actress for her role in 'The Blind Side'.
Bigelow looked surprised to receive best director and appeared to be shaking with emotion by the time the best picture award was read out.
She said on receiving the directing award: “This really is, there’s no way to describe it.
“It’s the moment of a lifetime.”
She said she had admired the work of many members of the audience for decades.
Bigelow praised the screenplay as “courageous”.
She said: “I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for Mark Boal, who risked his life for the words on the page.”
Bigelow also paid tribute to soldiers still fighting.
She said: “I would like to dedicate this to the people who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan....may they come home safe.”
Both 'Avatar', which has become the biggest-grossing film in history, and 'The Hurt Locker' came into the awards with nine nominations each.
Receiving the best picture gong, Bigelow said she wanted to make “perhaps one more dedication to men and women all over the world who, sorry to reiterate, who wear uniform, but even, not just the military... firemen, they’re there for us and we’re there for them.”
An elated Bridges shouted: “Mum and Dad, yeah look – woo-hoo!”
He said: “Thank you Mum and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession.
“Oh my dad, my mum, they love showbiz so much. I can remember my mum getting all of us kids to entertain at parties. I can remember my dad sitting me on his bed and teaching me all off the basics of acting... They love showbiz so much and I feel an extension of them.
“This is honouring them as much as it is me.”
Before the award was announced, speaking on stage Michelle Pfeiffer described Bridges’ role as “the performance of a lifetime”.
Bullock, a first-time nominee, praised her fellow shortlisted actresses in her thank-you speech.
She asked the audience: “Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?
“I would like to thank the Academy for allowing me in the last month to have the most incredible ride with rooms full of artists that I see tonight and that I’ve worked with before and I hope to work with in the future, who inspire me and blaze trails for us.
'The Hurt Locker', made for a fraction of 'Avatar's budget, also won the original screenplay award for Boal, as well as picking up gongs for sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.
'Avatar' won prizes in the technical categories for visual effects, cinematography and art direction.
Hard-hitting movie 'Precious' did well at the awards, with one of the most memorable acceptance speeches of the ceremony from Mo’Nique.
Fighting back tears, she thanked the Academy “for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics”.
'Precious' also won the adapted screenplay award, beating Armando Iannucci’s 'In The Loop' writing team as well as Nick Hornby for 'An Education'.
Christoph Waltz won the best supporting actor award for playing a bloodthirsty Nazi in 'Inglourious Basterds'.
Waltz said: “Everybody helped me find a place.”
He paid tribute to director Quentin Tarantino and continued: “There’s no way I can ever thank you enough. But I can start right now, thank you.”
LIST OF OSCAR WINNERS
Here are the winners of the 82nd Academy Awards:
:: Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
:: Animated Feature Film
:: Original Song
The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart) from Crazy Heart – Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
:: Original Screenplay
Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker
:: Animated Short Film
:: Documentary (short subject)
Music by Prudence
:: Live Action Short Film The New Tenants
:: Adapted Screenplay
Geoffrey Fletcher – Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
:: Supporting Actress
Mo’Nique – Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire