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.
“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 hit the trifecta by winning for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
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In three separate speeches, the pair 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.
“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.”)
But while the Coens acknowledged great writers, it wasn’t until Diablo Cody picked up the Best Original Screenplay award for “Juno” that great writers were explicitly thanked.
“This is for the writers. I want to thank all the writers. I worship you guys,” the stripper-turned-Oscar-winner gushed, adding, “I want to thank my family for loving me exactly the way I am.”
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 of Clooney’s much-lampooned role in “Batman & Robin.” “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” from 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!”
In a touching moment, Irglova was brought back onstage by Stewart after she was cut off during the pair’s initial acceptance speech.
Also coming back to the stage was Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”), who won the same award in 1990.
“It seems to me like this sprang like a sapling out of the mad, beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson,” he said, thanking the film’s writer/director. “My deepest thanks to the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town.”
Given that the show came on the heels of a lengthy work stoppage for most of Hollywood’s human workforce, it was perhaps a little strange that the evening’s first major honoree was … 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 were Robert Elswit for Best Cinematography for “There Will Be Blood”; Dario Marianelli for Best Score for “Atonement”; 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.”
Only one win behind “No Country,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” picked up three Oscars — for Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
MTV News had the Academy Awards covered all night! Check out the winners’ list right here, our live blog, and our two different red-carpet fashion reports, including one from Sweet P of “Project Runway” !