Oscar winners' reactions
Empty"I hope that I'm the first of many," said Kathryn Bigelow, the first female best director Oscar winner. "I'd love to just think of myself as a filmmaker, and I long for the day when that modifier can be a moot point." "The Hurt Locker" helmer admitted that she never "dared to hope" to make history, and said she was humbled by her fellow nominees, which included her ex-husband, "Avatar" director James Cameron, whom she called an "extraordinary filmmaker." Asked what she'd say to Cameron now, she laughed and told the reporter: "You left me speechless." An emotional Bigelow also credited Cameron with "inspiring filmmakers around the world and for that I think I can speak for all of them that we're quite grateful." Fellow best picture Oscar recipient Mark Boal, who wrote and produced the Iraq War drama, hopes the big victory will result in "more people seeing (the film). We're all reminded every day of how many filmmakers there are out there who don't get their films made or don't get them distributed after they're made."
"Crazy Heart's" Jeff Bridges had no intention of leaving The Dude behind now that he's a newly minted Oscar winner -- after four previous nominations. "I'm digging The Dude, I love him," Bridges said of his "Big Lebowski" alter-ego. Looking forward, Bridges noted that his win will help his music "bloom." "That's something I've been doing for a long time, and this is going to help me continue that." Bridges, who noted that forming a country band with co-star Colin Farrell "sounds like a good idea," added that the most exciting aspect of his victory was the attention it brings to the film. "I was kind of surprised that 'Crazy Heart' didn't make it (into the best picture category). ... I'm all for these 10 best pictures. I think it's wonderful, and I hope a lot of people are able to see 'Crazy Heart' because of this."
Sandra Bullock was light and bubbly backstage after she collected her first career Oscar -- a best actress statuette for her role as a Southern mom in "The Blind Side." "I really question if I won it or if I just wore everyone down," she joked. "I didn't aspire to this. I was in awe of it, and I admired that I got to watch it or present, but it wasn't something that I said, 'One day ... .' I never thought the opportunity would present itself for me to rise to that occasion." Bullock, who collected the worst actress Razzie for "All About Steve" on Saturday night, said the two awards are "going to sit side by side as they should! It probably means more that both of them happened at the same time; it's the great equalizer. The Razzie may be on a different shelf ... lower." The actress, who also collected the SAG Award and the Golden Globe this season, said she hopes to continue to make movies she loves -- across all genres. "Just because I won an Oscar doesn't mean I can't make people laugh. I'm going to make mistakes and make people roll their eyes, but I just want to keep working in every genre that I'm allowed to until I'm not allowed to anymore."
Mo'Nique made her presence known immediately backstage when she overruled the Academy's question process and selected journalists herself and responded to everything from what it would mean if Hollywood actresses didn't shave their legs -- "They would win Oscars!" -- to her wardrobe selection for the evening: a blue dress and flower in her hair. "The reason I have on this blue dress is Hattie McDaniel wore a blue dress when she won," she said of the supporting actress winner for "Gone With the Wind." "Tonight, I feel you all over me, and it's about time the world feels you all over them," she added. Addressing how the role will impact her stand-up career -- "I'm a stand-up comedian who won an Oscar! -- Mo'Nique said the role was not about furthering her acting career. "This role has shaped my life to allow me not to judge and to love unconditionally. Now if that goes into my career, great, and if it doesn't and I'm the dynamic person that I strive to be every day, then I've won."
Christoph Waltz continued his military march toward the Oscars by adding the final touch to his awards season sweep. Backstage, the supporting actor winner for "Inglourious Basterds" noted -- between a slew of questions in German -- that the awards season campaign is "dizzying. It's mindboggling. It's very intense and it takes a long time. I couldn't have possibly imagined it would be like that. Tomorrow I'll probably be sorry it's over." The winner of the Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA prize and endless other hardware also noted that he never saw all this coming. "This Oscar I didn't see coming, I was too busy. I couldn't think of awards," he said, quickly cautioning, "I would advise every beginning actor not to think of awards before starting the job."
"The Hurt Locker" writer Mark Boal, who won the original screenplay Oscar, was asked backstage how he was feeling about his movie's best picture nomination. "I'm feeling a lot better about it now than I was 15 minutes ago," he responded with a smile. Boal related that it was "eye-opening" to be working as a journalist in Baghdad at the end of 2004. "I thought a story of these guys who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world would be an interesting way to look at the war," he said. "It was just an idea, and the fact that it has become this -- I'm really tremendously grateful and humbled. There are many stories left to be told (about the war). I hope there are many more movies, documentaries and stories about Iraq and Afghanistan. These are important stories that need to be explored by artists." Asked about the pending lawsuit surrounding the screenplay, he said that "The Hurt Locker" is "a work of fiction and not based on anyone's story; that's all I really have on it." Questions turned to his collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow. "It always helps to have a genius for a director," he said. "She obviously took the work and knocked it out of the park in my opinion." Onstage during his acceptance speech, Boal remembered his father, who died a month ago. Backstage, he credited his father with "teaching me and encouraging me to follow my heart."
"Crazy Heart's" Ryan Bingham continued to add to his awards season cache with his first Oscar for "The Weary Kind (Theme From 'Crazy Heart')." Backstage, where he addressed the press without fellow songwriter T Bone Burnett -- who wasn't feeling well and returned to his seat -- Bingham said he has come a long way from living in a Suburban four years ago. Asked if writing sad music would be challenging now that he's married, Bingham noted that the past is always with him. "We have stuff from the past that is always there. Songwriting is venting and getting the past off my chest." Bingham also noted that co-star Colin Farrell originally performed the song with an Irish accent. "We were all rooting for him to be an Irish country singer in the movie, but it didn't work out," he said.
The "Avatar" VFX team -- Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Andrew R. Jones and Richard Baneham -- emphasized the contribution of the actors in the performance capture process. "Their performance was the heart of what we did," said Letteri, winning his fourth Academy Award. "We started with everything the actors did -- Sam (Worthington), Zoe (Saldana), Sigourney (Weaver). There's been a lot of talk about that. But that's everything that really gets to the heart of the characters and the heart of the relationships. What we did as animators and artists was to translate that into the characters you see onscreen. So we made Zoe become Neytiri, but the performance is Zoe's."
"Everything that Jim (Cameron) was doing in the last 10 years since 'Titanic' has fundamentally been going on expeditions, and that's what we did," said "Avatar" art director Rick Carter, honored with art director Robert Stromberg and set designer Kim Sinclair. "This is really something that represents his vision." Added Stromberg: "The film itself lends itself to two production designers in a weird way. In the movie, you have this earth, this man-made light coming on to this organic world, and I took on organic, and Rick took on the other. That collision is what's going on the movie. The co-production design really aided and worked for the film." For Stromberg, this was is second Oscar nomination, though the first was in VFX. "It's an interesting time, where VFX is essentially a form of design and it's evolving," he said. "It's important for production designers to understand visual effects -- and the traditional elements. It's just another tool in the toolbox, but it's a tool that can open up the world to new ideas." Stromberg also shared a personal, emotional moment, hinted of something that "was ready to kill me. Out of that, I told myself that I would spend whatever time I have here trying to do something profound and worthwhile. From that point to tonight is a journey that I can't explain to anybody. This award to me is actually me understanding that I'm alive. It's very special."
"I think it's a pretty amazing thing to be honored in this capacity because this is an HD (lensed) film," said "Avatar" director of photography Mauro Fiore. "It's the first time that a film has won when it has so much computer-generated imagery and live-action."
Describing his work, Fiore added: "I was involved in the live-action part of the film, so when you think of actors and physical sets, that's my work as cinematographer."
Director Roger Ross Williams said he hopes "Music by Prudence's" best documentary short subject win helps not only the film but also the disabled -- whom he called the "forgotten kids of Africa." "I hope this raises money for the school that Prudence went to in the film, King George VI School (in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe)," he said. Fellow winner Elinor Burkett noted that she heard the band that Prudence is part of every day and when her next-door neighbor Williams inquired if she had any ideas for a short subject documentary, the choice was easy. Burkett also said a feature-length film has been cut for European and African use and is available for sale.
"The Cove" director Louie Psihoyos denied that the best documentary winner was anti-Japan. "The Japanese press likes to present this that it's about Japan bashing. This movie is a love letter to Japan," the first-time winner said. "Our hope is that the Japanese people see this film and decide for themselves." Writer Mark Monroe, meanwhile, addressed the recent Sea World tragedies. "There have been two Sea World killer whales that have killed two trainers in the last two months. Most people don't know about that. We're asking the public to please, do not buy a ticket for a dolphin show. That is the solution. The government isn't going to fix this problem; the consumers have all the power."
"It can be a gimmick or legitimate," said "Up" director Pete Docter. "For Pixar, it is a tool to amplify and tell the story." He cited as an example that "when the house takes off, we stretched the depth. We tried to reflect what the main character is feeling. That is they way we looked at it. A new tool to play with." He also commented on the collaborative environment at Pixar Animation Studios, saying that colleagues such as Brad Bird ("Ratatouille") and Andrew Stanton ("Wall-E") give comments and suggestions. "If there are great ideas, I get to take the credit," he quipped. "It is unique."
"Up" composer Michael Giacchino, discussing his approach to the film's montage of two characters' lives, said: "In the scene when Ellie passes away, you may have a tendency to get really big with the orchestration. You may have a tendency to kind of overdramatize what's going on. But if you think about it, when you're in a room with somebody and someone's telling you about their most desperate moment in life, you'll be quiet. You want to talk to them softly. So for me it was all about being as quiet as I could be and respectful to what was happening to this person. Because I really looked at them as a real people. ... So it was about being quiet and simple. The piano. And letting it grow from there naturally."
"The Secret in Their Eyes" (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) from Argentina was the surprise winner for a foreign-language film. Director Juan Jose Campanella acknowledged that heading into the evening, this film was not the most honored, and he suggested that the win "shows an open-mindedness from the Academy."
Animated short winner "Logorama" features a world made up entirely of trademarks and brand names, and Michelin Man cops in pursuit of a criminal Ronald McDonald. "While the film is set in Los Angeles, this is not about America; it is more about the Western world," Oscar winner Nicolas Schmerkin said. "It is about the way we live and react to logos." Calling Ronald McDonald "the nicest character in the film," he added, "Ronald should be happy to be the main character of this film. The film is not talking about what the logos represent -- they are used for what they are." Talking about the directors -- Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain -- he said: "I met them in 2004, and they already had the script from the first storyboard. They worked together at animation and graphic studio H5. They were themselves directing music videos and advertising. They knew the logos and brands and how to play with them. For them, it was very cathartic being able to play with the logos after working with them for so many years." Adding that he didn't get permission to use the logos in the film, he concluded: "I'd like to share this with my lawyer, who became my best friend."
Costume designer Sandy Powell spoke of inspiration backstage and said she had the opportunity to see Queen Victoria's real clothing for "The Young Victoria." "I was fortunate to see some of Victoria's real clothing at Kensington Palace," said Powell, who previously won in the category for "The Aviator" and "Shakespeare in Love." "I didn't know anything about Victoria," she continued. "(I knew her) as the old, frumpy woman. I didn't know she was vibrant and attractive and a real character. ... She was even a really tomboyish woman. I'm glad we were able to portray her as something different."
Paul N.J. Ottosson won a pair of Oscars for sound editing and sound mixing -- the latter of which he shared with Ray Beckett -- for "The Hurt Locker." Ottosson stressed the importance of keeping the situations real in the film. "The most important thing was to put you, as the viewer, in the film and look at how you would perceive the situation," he said. Added Beckett: "We also tried to get the backgrounds, what happens when it is quiet -- recording wind in the sand dunes, bugs in the sand dunes -- as much as possible to give you a sense of place."
"I grew up a fan of horror," said Bob Murawski, who with his editing partner and wife, Chris Innis, won the category for film editing. "It's the genre I love, and 'The Hurt Locker' was a suspense thrille