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Eastwood's Baby floats like a butterfly at Oscars

Story by: Jack Foley

CLINT Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby delivered a telling knock-out blow to Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, when the boxing drama emerged as the major winner at this year's Oscars.

Eastwood's tragic tale of a female boxer took best film, best director, best actress (Hilary Swank) and best supporting actor (Morgan Freeman).

Ironically, it had proved difficult to make, with Eastwood encountering resistance from studios which thought the film wouldn't be worthy of audience attention.

Eastwood both stars in and directs the film, which focuses on a veteran boxing coach as he reluctantly agrees to train Hilary Swank's feisty female fighter with tragic consequences.

However, Million Dollar Baby's triumph came at the expense of Scorsese's lavish Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator, which had been tipped to earn the director his first Oscar in five attempts.

The Aviator had been the pre-awards favourite, with 11 nominations, but only emerged with five, including a best supporting actress Oscar for Cate Blanchett, who provided a remarkable turn as Katharine Hepburn.

But the film's star and Golden Globe winner, Leonardo Di Caprio, lost out in the best actor category to Jamie Foxx, who was recognised for his astonishing performance as late soul singing legend, Ray Charles, in Taylor Hackford's warts-and-all biopic, Ray.

In other awards, animated hit, The Incredibles, won best animated feature and best sound editing.

While quirky comedy, Sideways, which did so well at The Independent Spirit Awards, won best adapted screenplay.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was named best original screenplay.

The best documentary was Born into Brothels, a film about the children of prostitutes in Calcutta, while Spanish euthanasia drama, The Sea Inside, was named best foreign language film.

Spider-Man 2 triumphed in the visual effects category, Finding Neverland won best musical score, Ray picked up another award for best sound mixing and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events took best make-up.

Oscar quotes

Commenting on his Oscar success, which marks the second of his career after Unforgiven, Eastwood said: "It was a wonderful adventure. To make a picture in 37 days, it takes a well oiled machine.

"I am lucky to be here and lucky to be still working. I've got a lot of stuff to do yet."

His co-star, Hilary Swank, who also received her second best actress Oscar, said: "I don't know what I did in this life to deserve this. I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."

Her success came at the expense of British hopefuls, Imelda Staunton and Kate Winslet.

Morgan Freeman, who also triumphed over British star, Clive Owen, described the film as 'a labour of love', adding: "A lot of people say you're due - maybe you are, maybe you aren't - it's an accolade."

The award is the first win of his career, even though the nomination marked his fourth in total.

Ray star, Jamie Foxx, paid tribute to the 'beautiful legacy' of Ray Charles, who died last year, and thanked director, Taylor Hackford.

"You took a chance, man," he said. "That love for Ray Charles was deep down in the earth somewhere and you opened it up.

"Everybody's drowning in this love. Thank you for taking a chance and thank you for waiting 15 years to get me to do it."

And Cate Blanchett, who won for the first time in her career, said her award was 'an indescribable surprise and honour'.

Of Hepburn, she said: "The longevity of her career is inspiring to everyone."

Blanchett also paid tribute to the film's director, Martin Scorsese, telling him: "I hope my son will marry your daughter."

This year's ceremony was presented by comedian, Chris Rock, who received a standing ovation before getting the show under way following criticism he had received in the run-up to the awards.


Winners appear in bold

Best film
The Aviator
Million Dollar Baby
Finding Neverland

Best actor
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Aviator

Best actress
Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Annette Bening - Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno - Maria Full of Grace

Best supporting actor
Alan Alda - The Aviator
Clive Owen - Closer
Jamie Foxx - Collateral
Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Morgan Freeman - Million Dollar Baby

Best supporting actress
Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Laura Linney - Kinsey
Sophie Okonedo - Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman - Closer

Best director
Martin Scorsese - The Aviator
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Alexander Payne - Sideways
Taylor Hackford - Ray
Mike Leigh - Vera Drake

Best foreign language film
As it is in Heaven - Sweden
The Chorus - France
Downfall - Germany
The Sea Inside - Spain
Yesterday - South Africa

Best animated feature film
The Incredibles
Shark Tale
Shrek 2

Best adapted screenplay
Before Sunset
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries

Best original screenplay
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Vera Drake

Best music (score)
Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Village

Best music (song)
Accidentally in Love - Shrek 2
Al Otro Lado Del Rio - The Motorcycle Diaries
Believe - The Polar Express
Learn to be Lonely - The Phantom of the Opera
Look to Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin - The Chorus

Best documentary feature
Born into Brothels
The Story of Weeping Camel
Super Size Me
Tupac: Resurrection
Twist of Faith

Best documentary short subject
Autism is a World
The Children of Leningradsky
Mighty Times: The Children's March
Sister Rose's Passion

Best visual effects
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I, Robot
Spider-Man 2

Best cinematography
The Aviator
House of Flying Daggers
The Passion of the Christ
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Best art direction
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Best animated short film
Birthday Boy
Gopher Broke
Guard Dog

Best short film
Everything in This Country Must
Little Terrorist
7:35 in the Morning
Two Cars, One Night

Best costume design
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Best make-up
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Sea Inside

Best sound mixing
The Aviator
The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Sound editing
The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Film Editing
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

Lifetime Achievement Award
Sidney Lumet

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