Academy Award backstage notes


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Marion Cotillard had an out-of-body experience of sorts after receiving her Academy Award for best actress. As she walked off stage, escorted by Forest Whitaker, Cotillard said her "brain collapsed, and he helped me put the plug back to my brain." As she spoke backstage, it apparently continued. "It feels so good. I'm totally overwhelmed with joy and sparkles and fireworks. Anything that goes like 'bomb, bomb, bomb.' I just ache all those things," she said, clutching her Oscar and still shaking from her win. "It's happening right here and right now." Cotillard said she was proud of winning for a film that was a French language performance and spoke of her work. "I really dedicated my life to the movie and Edith Piaf for a few months and so I didn't have a life," she said. "And when the movie was finished, I realized I didn't have a life and I didn't know how to go back. But I love life. I love my life so it was not so hard to go back." She added, "my aim was to understand her and to understand her heart, her soul and so I went as deep as I could. I tried to do my best to find her inside me, but it was not so hard because I really love her." Asked to describe which Piaf song best speaks to her present mood, Cotillard said "Padam, Padam" and then proceeded to sing part of the song.

"We haven't talked to him," joked Ethan Coen when asked how Roderick Jaynes (the Coens' pseudonym) was taking his loss in the editing category. "We know he's elderly and unhappy, so probably not well." Joel Coen -- who with Ethan won Oscars for best picture, direction and adapted screenplay -- said that when the pair makes movies, "There's no real division of labor, and it's very collaborative, just like the rest of moviemaking is." He added: "I think it was a special year in the respect that I thought that, you know -- it's almost like a cliche, but all the movies nominated this year were really interesting to me personally." About "No Country for Old Men," he simply said, "We adapted a novel by a great American novelist, Cormac McCarthy, and we tried to do justice to the novel." Added producer Scott Rudin: "I'm incredibly proud, and I think it's the best movie we have been involved with. I loved it from the first minute I saw it, and I think it's a total tribute to Joel and Ethan. So it's thrilling."

"No Country for Old Men's" Anton Chigurh made a brief appearance backstage via best supporting actor winner Javier Bardem. "You ever lose a coin toss?" the actor rolled off his tongue to a Spanish press reporter. On creating Chigurh, Bardem said "everything you see, you hear, you feel is because of the Coens (Joel and Ethan, who brought home three Oscars of their own for the film) and I. The tricky part of this character was that everything was there to be constructed. There was nothing explained; neither on the book, neither on the script. We take one place where the character really is uncomfortable to watch: It's not about being scary, it's about what happened. I don't get it. This guy is going to do something, and I don't know what. And that's because we really, how to say it ... put out a lot of choices that will make the character more fun to watch, but less interesting to feel, and that's something that, I guess, is a challenge." Bardem said he talked to his mother, actress Pilar Bardem, quite a bit before coming to Los Angeles for his first Oscars. "She said 'Make sure you have someone to help you through immigration,' " the actor told reporters backstage.

Diablo Cody said she wasn't paying attention to the awards show too much before her name was called for best original screenplay for "Juno." "I'm not sure I saw it," she said. "I was kind of in my own world of anxiety and stomach pain." And while the writer has an affinity for naming her things, "out of respect" she said would not rename her golden statue. Cody, who dedicated her award to the writers who were on strike, said she only took a few months to write the winning screenplay. "I was working alone outside the industry," she said. "I didn't really know how long it should take to write a movie, and that's how long it took me. "I think now that I realized that people take longer, I've abused that privilege," she joked. Cody also said she couldn't have been more fortunate than to have actress Ellen Page, the lead in "Juno," act out her words. "She's phenomenal," she said of the Oscar nominee, who lost to Marion Cotillard. "She became the character in a lot of ways. And she's so good that I think people assume that she must be just like Juno in a lot of ways. In reality, she's not and she's just an incredible actor."

"I was proud to be in this group of actors," Daniel Day-Lewis said backstage after winning the best actor Oscar, adding that he thought such actors as Emile Hirsch and Frank Langella gave outstanding performances this year but were not nominated. Separately, when asked about how he felt about aspects of "There Will Be Blood" finding their way into popular culture (including parodies of the film on "Saturday Night Live" and on Web sites), he said: "If something that you've done ... gets absorbed into the culture in such a way that people make something else out of it ... that's delightful to me." Of his time shooting "Blood," he said: "It was a very important time in my life. ... My working partnership with Paul (Thomas Anderson) is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. In fact, I really miss the day, and we speak a lot on the phone, but we don't have any excuse to. It's just shooting the breeze. We don't have anything to say anymore, but I just miss working with him every day, so it's a lovely thing to have this. And it may just mean ... we have to begin to think about the fact that life goes on and we've been reluctant to acknowledge that. I was happy to explore Plainview's life, and I was reluctant to stop."

"You're talking to a guy who made things good between France and the United States," a beaming Brad Bird said backstage after winning for "Ratatouille," his second Academy Award (his first was 2005's "The Incredibles"). Bird credited the film's executive producer John Lasseter for listening to him and his vision. "He said you have something special here that's not computer-generated animation," Bird said of Lasseter. "You just have to care about the characters and have a good story." Bird also talked about his next film, his first foray into live action, "1906," about the San Francisco Earthquake. He looked at the story as a challenging and intriguing in California history. "At the time, Chinatown was coexisting with the Barbary Coast, which was like the Wild Wild West, and at the same time Nob Hill had the upper class," he said. "It was a time between two centuries. You had horses and cars existing simultaneously. It's just a volatile mix of things and then you throw in an earthquake. I mean, come on, if that doesn't buy popcorn ..." Bird also addressed the Academy's failure to nominate more animated features for best picture. "There's no way I'm going to feel bad about winning an award," he said. "If you'd ask me if 'Snow White' was one of the best movies in 1937, I'd say yeah. I think an animated picture, one like 'Beauty and the Beast,' will be nominated for best picture."

Not everybody received a text message from Bono congratulating them on their win. But best original song winners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova did, when it was announced their song, "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once," won. "Getting a text from Bono is the biggest thing that can happen to an Irishman," Hansard said. "It was one of those moments, getting praise from the high chieftain of our culture." Irglova, whose microphone cut off during her acceptance speech and was later brought back on stage to finish it by Oscar host Jon Stewart, said she didn't know the microphone had cut. "When I came back stage they told me they would bring me out to do the speech and didn't mean to cut me off and that didn't make sense to me, but it was great to get that chance and I'm grateful to them for doing that," Irglova said.

"I had a reverse Zoolander moment, I thought I heard somebody else's name, but then suddenly, slowly heard my own," said Tilda Swinton, on topping the category for supporting actress on the strength of her performance in "Michael Clayton." "I'm still recovering from that moment." When asked about the possibility of a SAG strike, she responded: "I'm never worried that there may be a strike, I'm worried that there may be a cause to strike. Striking is the thing we can do if conditions aren't right. I feel like recent events might have made a strike unlikely, but there's always that possibility." Swinton also said that she was going to give her Oscar to her agent, Brian Swardstrom of Endeavor. "I've given it to my agent who truly, I mean not only does he deserve it, but he really does look like this. And if you see a guy at the Governors Ball looking like this, this is him in his receiving position when I'm on the speaker phone telling him I'm going to do another art film in Europe."

Dario Marianelli said he was inspired by the typewriter in the beginning of "Atonement" to create the film's Oscar-winning score. "It started life as a conversation with the director {Joe Wright) in the beginning," he said. "We started the very opening of the film with the typewriter ... so it came out almost as a dare, let's see what we can do with the typewriter sound. And from there we had several discussions and tests. We used some music with solo typewriters and the orchestra. It just developed from there." As another foreign-born winner, Marianelli said he was proud to be Italian, "but more than that, to be in the same place and same time as (art direction Oscar winners for "Sweeney Todd") Dante (Ferretti) and Francesca (Lo Schiavo). Just being together with them and mentioned with them is an honor."

"It was a very collaboratively made movie," cinematographer Robert Elswit said after winning an Oscar for his lensing of "There Will Be Blood." "Jack Fisk, production designer; David Crank, the art director; the costumer; everybody else," he said. "As a period film, the film was made with all the sets having to be built on location. Production designers were the key, and Jack Fisk is brilliant, and he did an extraordinary job." Asked about what he used for oil in the flm, Elswit said: "It was industrial material used by McDonald's to thicken their milkshakes, and I'm not kidding. That's actually true." Of his win, Elswit said. "It feels great." But he added: "All the other people nominated are so extraordinary. Roger Deakins (double-nominated this year for 'No Country for Old Men' and 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford') has seven nominations and no Academy Awards. He joins a long list. Owen Roizman has five nominations. Gordon Willis with I think (two), no Academy Awards. ... In our little world, it's just luck."

For best documentary short winners Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth, who won their first Oscar for "Freehold," being honored by the Academy may mean an easier route to fund their hard-hitting docs. "To me, this means so much because getting funding for a film is nonstop and endless and goes until the production of the film is over," Roth said. "So to be validated, not only by the people that see the film, and then the Academy, as well as the people in this community, is really important to us, and now the next film I'm working on is something about education." The pair also gave advice for aspiring documentarians. "I think the biggest thing is that if you get involved in a documentary, you have to be really passionate about what you are doing, and it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of vision, and mostly you are living with it day and night," Roth said. Added Wade, "Getting involved with a documentary is a marriage. You look at the best subject matter in the face and you say, 'in sickness and in health, for better or worse, I will be completely committed to you.' "

Eva Orner, winner of best documentary feature for "Taxi to the Dark Side," wasn't expecting to win, but said she was "so pleased and so surprised and so impressed" by the honors. She also gave a "shout out" to co-winner Alex Gibney, whom she called "the amazing director and producer, who had the courage to have me make this film." Gibney, who mentioned at a press junket for the film that his wife wasn't too happy with him making the documentary, said his next project might be a less serious film. "Back to romantic comedies, it's a must now," he joked.

For Austrian filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky, making "The Counterfeiters," which won his country's first Oscar for best foreign-language film, was a personal journey for himself and his country. "Being an Austrian and raised in Germany, with the Third Reich, the Nazis, the crime of the Nazis, this is part of the country's history and also my family's history," he said. "So I always felt I should make a sort of comment or statement about this period of time." Ruzowitzky declined to comment on the controversy over the Academy leaving out some notable foreign films from the category. "It's difficult for me to say for me, forgive me, it was more important to be nominated than to be worried about those who are not nominated," he said.

"I do think that I miss the community that we had then," legendary production designer Robert Boyle -- who received an honorary Oscar -- said about the studio system. "The films ... were done without benefit of computer generation. People seemed to be working together more in those days. They are more separate these days, and that's what I regret, is that the community we had seems to be getting more separate." He also said that with available tools "now that you can do anything. Unfortunately, very often you do everything. I think what you need is to remember that discipline in art is also very important," he advised. "The things you don't say are sometimes as important as what you do say."

Kirk Francis said his two fellow winners, David Parker and Scott Millan, for best sound mixing for "The Bourne Ultimatum," didn't prep him much about what it would be like to attend the Oscars and win the golden statue. "I got two BAFTA's before some of us crept across the pond," he said holding his Oscar, which donned a small pink flower lei. "And it's all very nice." Parker won in 1994 for "The English Patient," while Millan has won three times: 2005 for "Ray," 2001 for "Gladiator" and 1996 for "Apollo 13." Of winning over Kevin O'Connell, who was up for his 20th nomination, Millan said. "Kevin is an esteemed colleague and what he's accomplished is a