Million Dollar Baby an Oscar Knockout
Clint Eastwood's drama wins Best Picture, Director and Actress for Hilary Swank; Jamie Foxx wins Best Actor
Sunday proved a bonanza night for Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood’s somber boxing drama that won a total of four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress Hilary Swank, Best Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman and Best Director Eastwood.
At the 77th annual Academy Awards from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, Jamie Foxx took home the Best Actor prize for Ray, and, doing Million Dollar Baby one better, five Oscars went to The Aviator, its major win being for Supporting Actress Cate Blanchett.
The Howard Hughes biography, which had been perceived as Martin Scorsese’s best shot at finally winning an Oscar, was honored for its art direction, editing, cinematography and costume design.
A nervous Foxx turned jubilant as he raced toward the stage, receiving a hearty handclasp from fellow nominee Leonardo DiCaprio en route. “Thank you, Ray Charles, for living,” Foxx said of the music legend he plays on screen, adding, “I want to thank my daughter (Corinne, 11), who said to me before I got up here, ‘Dad, if you don’t win tonight, you’re still good.'”
Foxx also thanked his late grandmother, whom he described as “my first acting coach.” Her advice: “Act like you got some sense.” Wiping away tears, Foxx said she still speaks to him, “But now, she only speaks to me in my dreams. And I can’t wait to get to sleep tonight, because we got a lot to talk about.”
Eastwood won his second Best Director Oscar (his first was for 1993’s Unforgiven), and introduced his 96-year-old mother in the audience, thanking her for the good genes. He also cited the evening’s Lifetime Achievement award winner, director Sidney Lumet. “He’s 80,” said Eastwood, who’s 74, “and I think, I’m just a kid.”
Clutching her Oscar, Swank said onstage: “I don’t know what I did in this life to deserve all this. I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.”
Swank was also careful to thank her husband, actor Chad Lowe, whom she overlooked during her speech four years ago when she won for Boys Don’t Cry. With her remarks on Sunday going on so long that exit music started to be played, Swank shouted that she had yet “to thank Clint. I’m saving him for last.”
Blanchett’s and Freeman’s victories came early in the evening. (The show was one of the shortest in memory, three hours and 15 minutes). “Thank you to the Academy who know Katharine Hepburn so well and is so intimately acquainted with her work. This is an indescribable surprise and honor,” said Blanchett. Paying special acknowledgement to the late screen star, she added: “The longevity of her career, I think, is inspiring to everyone.”
Freeman, a first-time winner, told the crowd: “I want to thank everybody and anybody who had anything to do with the making of this motion picture, but I particularly want to thank Clint Eastwood for the opportunity of letting me work with him again, and of working with Hilary Swank. This was truly a labor of love.”
Best Picture contender Sideways won in only one category, for adapted screenplay, by Jim Taylor and the film’s director, Alexander Payne, who said: “I want to share my side of this award with the cast and crew of the film because we had a lot of fun. See ya later.” Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, by Charlie Kaufman director Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, was recognized for Original Screenplay.
The Incredibles was named Best Animated Feature and also took the Oscar for sound editing.
The single win for Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp, was for its musical score. “Al Otro Lado del Rio,” from The Motorcycle Diaries, was chosen Best Original Song. Spain’s The Sea Inside, starring Javier Bardem, was Best Foreign-Language Film.
Host Chris Rock, whose entrance was greeted with a standing ovation, wasted no time delivering the edgy type of comedy for which he’s famous, though he did come across as ready for primetime.
“Welcome to the 77th and last Academy Awards,” said a PG-rated Rock. Then, quickly noting the number of African-American nominees, he added, “It’s kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight.”
Here’s a list of the night’s winners:
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx, Ray
Best Actress: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Best Adapted Screenplay:Sideways
Foreign Language Film: The Sea Inside
Animated Feature Film: The Incredibles
Art Direction:The Aviator
Costume Design:The Aviator
Film Editing:The Aviator
Music (Score): Finding Neverland
Music (Song) “Al Otro Lado Del Réo” – The Motorcycle Diaries
Makeup:Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Sound Editing: The Incredibles
Sound Mixing: Ray
Visual Effects: Spider-Man 2
Short Film (Animated): Ryan
Short Film (Live Action): Wasp
Documentary Feature: Born Into Brothels
Documentary Short Subject: Mighty Times: The Children’s March11 p.m.: Swank, Blanchett, Freeman Win Big
While The Aviator kept soaring at Sunday night’s Academy Awards with five wins, Hilary Swank won her second Oscar as Best Actress, in Clint Eastwood’s somber drama Million Dollar Baby.
“I don’t know what I did in this life to deserve all this,” Swank said on the podium. “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.”
She continued, “I am eternally grateful for this honor,” and then was careful to thank her husband, actor Chad Lowe, whom she overlooked during her speech four years ago when she won for Boys Don’t Cry.
Best Actor, Director and Picture had yet to be announced, but Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator was leading the way with wins for art direction, cinematography, costume design, editing and Best Supporting Actress, for Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in the Howard Hughes biopic.
“Thank you to the Academy, who knew Katharine Hepburn so well, and her work,” Blanchett said. Paying special acknowledgement to the great, late star, she added: “The longevity of her career is an inspiration to everyone.”
On a personal note, in thanking her director Martin Scorsese, Blanchett said, “I hope my son will marry your daughter.”
Morgan Freeman was a first-time winner, scoring Best Supporting Actor for Eastwood’s boxing drama. “I want to thank everybody and anybody who had anything to do with the making of this motion picture, but I particularly want to thank Clint Eastwood for the opportunity of letting me work with him again, and of working with Hilary Swank,” Freeman said. “This was truly a labor of love.”
The evening’s other early winners were The Incredibles, for Best Animated Feature, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events for makeup.
Host Chris Rock, whose entrance was greeted with a standing ovation, wasted no time delivering the type of comedy for which he’s famous. “Welcome to the 77th and last Academy Awards,” he said. Then, quickly noting the number of African-American nominees, he added, “It’s kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight.”
As for the shortcomings of the very show he was hosting, Rock said: “There’s no acting at the Oscars. You go to the Grammys, there’s singing. You go to the Tonys, there’s singing and dancing. You go to the Source awards, there’s singing and dancing and shooting. But at the Oscars, there’s no acting. Maybe Morgan Freeman could do a shampoo commercial or something.”
He wasn’t done yet, taking digs at everyone from President Bush to Jude Law. “Who is Jude Law?” Rock asked. “Why is he in every movie I’ve seen for the last four years? He’s in everything. … Next year he’s playing Kareem Abdul Jabar in a movie.”
He also said he knew how Jews felt about Mel Gibson’s controversial The Passion of the Christ, because last year there was a movie called Soul Plane. “And I’ll trade The Passion of the Christ for Soul Plane any day of the week,” he declared.
The ceremony opened with a cinematic montage narrated by Dustin Hoffman, in which he said: “Today’s movies look and sound brand new, but they are tied to the past. … good movies tell us where we came from, and where we’re going.”
The sequence also helped to unveil the high-tech set for the show, with video monitors reaching up to the ceiling over the audience in the Kodak Theatre. 7:30 p.m.: Leo, Hilary Hit Oscar’s Red Carpet
The sun managed to shine brightly over Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on Sunday, proving one Oscar-night prediction wrong: That it would rain.
But the buzz over which movie would cop the big prize, or how soon into the marathon broadcast host Chris Rock would get bleeped only heightened as show-biz’s biggest day of the year wore on.
Fans were screaming in the bleachers as limos deposited their celebrity passengers to the red carpet, from nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, Don Cheadle and Catalina Sandino Moreno to presenter Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and performer Beyonce Knowles.
Going into the ceremony (which airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC), Martin Scorsese’s Howard Hughes film bio, The Aviator, leads the race with 11 nominations, though most bets are on Clint Eastwood’s somber boxing drama Million Dollar Baby to win the lion’s share of Oscar gold.
“It’s a great honor,” Best Actress nominee Hilary Swank told E!’s pre-show hostess Star Jones. “I’m in heaven, I’m living my dream and I’m grateful. I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Sideways Best Supporting Actress nominee Virginia Madsen noted: “I dreamed of this when I was 5 years old.”
The night’s biggest sure thing is Jamie Foxx as Best Actor for his portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray. Host Rock has even gone so far as to say that if Foxx doesn’t win, he’ll snatch the Oscar out of whoever’s hand it does go into and hand it over to Foxx.
Yet besides the inevitable questions about who will win and how outrageous Rock might get, the big puzzle is whether the Golden Globes and SAG Awards have diluted Oscar’s TV audience. Ratings are thought to be problematic, which accounts for Rock and a chart-topper such as Beyonce delivering four of the nominated songs.
Last year, with The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as the frontrunner, the show attracted 43.5 million viewers, up from 33 million the previous year (when Chicago won), but still far from the 55.3 million who tuned in for 1998’s victory of Titanic.
This year’s controversy over Rock might boost ratings, if only because of curiosity value. Still, the debate over Rock continued right up until showtime, as evidence by a cover story in Sunday morning’s Los Angeles Times Magazine.