Just two weeks after the end of a divisive writers’ strike, the 80th annual Academy Awards opened with time-honored glitz, glamour, pageantry — and Arnold Schwarzenegger? — to showcase the very best in film, and let the world know that Hollywood is back and better than ever.
(Check out the Oscar action as it happens on our live blog!)
“Welcome to the make-up sex,” host Jon Stewart joked by way of introduction.
Hold the makeup, but put two calls into the hairdresser, for Best Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem, who took the trophy for his chilling performance of dopey-haired assassin Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men.”
“This is pretty amazing!” he said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think I could do that, and [for putting] one of the most horrible haircuts in history on my head!”
Joining their star on the Oscar dais were “No Country” writers and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, who refused to apologize for subjecting Bardem to his haircut, but did credit their success to their unusually good taste, Joel joked while picking up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, their second.
“Thank you very much for this. I think whatever success we’ve had in this area is entirely attributable to how selective we are,” he laughed. “We’ve only adapted Homer and Cormac McCarthy.” (The pair were previously nominated for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” an adaptation of Homer’s “The Odyssey.”)
The night’s first real upset came when Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress over favorites Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan. Obviously shocked by her win, Swinton gave credit in an impromptu speech to “Michael Clayton” co-star George Clooney for his “seriousness and dedication.”
“Seeing you climb into that rubber-bat suit, the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume,” she joked. “You rock, man. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Also offering up their thanks were relative unknowns Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who won best original song for “Falling Slowly” in their film “Once.” A Sundance hit, “Once” tells the story of two unnamed musicians who fall in love through song.
“What are we doing here? This is mad. We made this movie two years ago,” Hansard enthused, triumphantly waving the Oscar above his head. “We never thought we’d ever come into a room like this. Thanks for taking this movie seriously!”
Given that the show came on the heels of a long work stoppage, it was perhaps a little ironic that the evening’s first major award went to … a rat? Director Brad Bird picked up his second Best Animated Feature Film Oscar in four years for “Ratatouille,” the story of a “rat with a dream,” he said during his acceptance speech.
“I think I’m gonna throw up,” he laughed while picking up his trophy, the third in the category’s short history for Pixar Animation Studios.
While Bird joked about throwing up, best-actress winner Marion Cotillard looked like she actually might. Honored for her performance as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” a shaking Cotillard seemed on the verge of tears throughout her acceptance speech.
“Wow, I’m speechless now,” the French actress said, welling up. “Thank you life, thank you love! It is true there are some angels in this city.”
Also winning awards during the show’s first few hours were Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris, and Trevor Wood for best visual effects for “The Golden Compass,” and Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Best Art Direction for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
The film with the most awards early on, however, was “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which picked up three Oscars — for best editing, best sound mixing, and best sound editing.
MTV News will be following the Academy Awards throughout the night! Check out the winners’ list right here , our constantly updated live blog, and our two different red-carpet fashion reports , including one from Sweet P of “Project Runway”!
[This story was originally published at 10:15 pm E.T. on 2.24.2008]