'Departed' makes Oscar killing

Drama scores best picture, director nod for Scorsese

As the 79th annual Academy Awards headed into the stretch, the suspense finally ended: Buoyed by a best directing win for Martin Scorsese, "The Departed," a tale of Boston lowlifes, surged to the fore as the best picture winner (HR 2/26).

Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren, who have been king and queen of this awards season, consolidated their reigns by claiming trophies for best actor and best actress.

Hollywood also took a stand against global warming by giving two awards — best documentary feature and best song — to "An Inconvenient Truth," a filmed lecture by former Vice President Al Gore, who made two visits to the stage of the Kodak Theatre on Sunday during the ABC broadcast.

Ellen DeGeneres, in her first gig as Oscar host, set a kinder, gentler tone for the three-hour, 52-minute show, produced by Laura Ziskin; instead of needling celebrities, DeGeneres treated the A-list crowd as conspirators in a glittering house party.

"Could you double-check the envelope, please?" Scorsese said jokingly of his award, which eluded him in his five previous nominations.

Moments later, Graham King took the stage as producer of the Warner Bros. Pictures release and proclaimed the win for the hard-boiled crime film "such a joy, such a joy."

"Departed" also earned editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who won editing Oscars for Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and "The Aviator," her third Academy Award. "Believe me," she testified of her longtime collaboration with the director, "I know I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for him."

As he accepted his prize for best adapted screenplay, "Departed's" William Monahan also paid tribute to Scorsese. "Everyone who worked on 'The Departed' was, you know, it's easy to say, at the top of their game before they started," he said. "And under Marty's direction, it only got higher after that."

As she took the prize for best supporting actress for "Dreamgirls," Jennifer Hudson, a one-time "American Idol" contestant, also experienced a rush of emotion. "I cannot believe this. Look what God can do," she marveled.

Alan Arkin, 38 years after receiving his last Oscar nomination — as best actor in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" — found that as DeGeneres predicted in her opening monologue, the third time was the charm as he was named best supporting actor for his X-rated grandfather in "Little Miss Sunshine."

"More than anything, I am deeply moved by the openhearted appreciation our small film has received," Arkin said.

"Sunshine" also earned original screenplay honors for Michael Arndt.

A complete list of winners is at www.hollywoodreporter.com.