Million dollar night for Swank at Oscars
* Eastwood wins best director Oscar, Foxx hits high note, winning Oscar for ‘Ray’
“Million Dollar Baby,” a gut-wrenching boxing drama that entered the Oscar race at the last minute, scored a knockout victory at the Academy Awards on Sunday, winning four awards including best film and director for Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood.
The movie was nominated in seven categories and earned the best actress Oscar for Hilary Swank, playing a boxer who longs to be a champion, and the best supporting actor award for Morgan Freeman as the aging gym manager who persuades his boss, a trainer portrayed by Eastwood, to take on the young fighter.
The movie bested chief rival “The Aviator,” an epic tale of the eccentric life of billionaire Howard Hughes in the show’s top categories, including Eastwood’s victory over Martin Scorsese in the best director group.
Had Scorsese won, it would have been the first ever Oscar victory for the director of such American classics as “Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver” and “Mean Streets.”
“Aviator” could manage only one top award for best supporting actress for Australia’s Cate Blanchett. It took home four others for film editing, cinematography, costume design and art direction.
In the other major acting award, Jamie Foxx as soul singing legend Ray Charles in “Ray” was named best actor. It is only the second time in 77 years that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given the Oscars to two black Americans in the same year in top acting categories. Halle Berry won for best actress and Denzel Washington won for best actor in 2002. “Million Dollar Baby” was originally slated to open next year but at the last minute Warner Bros decided to release it in time to qualify for Oscars. The movie took only 37 days to make and was based on the original draft of the screenplay.
At 74, Eastwood became the oldest winner of the best director category. He thanked his wife and his mother, who was in the audience. “So at 96, I’m thanking her for her genes,” he said. “I’m just lucky to be here, lucky to be still working,” he added, noting that he still felt like “just a kid” when he saw honorary award winner Sidney Lumet, 80, up on stage. “I’ve got a lot of stuff to do yet.”
Foxx’s emotional moment: The night’s most emotional moment belonged to Foxx when he talked about the grandmother who raised him. Tears welled in his eyes when he said she was his first acting teacher. She taught him to “stand up straight, put your shoulders straight, and act like you’ve got some sense,” he said, adding that sometimes she talks to him in his dreams. “I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight because we’ve got a lot to talk about,” Foxx said.
Swank won her second Oscar for “Million Dollar Baby” beating Annette Bening in “Being Julia.” The two faced each other at the Oscars in 1999 when Swank trumped Bening a first time for “Boys Don’t Cry,” in which Swank portrayed a transgender character. Bening’s movie that year was “American Beauty.”
Like Foxx, Swank cited her family and humble beginnings, likening winning the second Oscar to a dream come true. “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream,” she said.
Her acceptance speech ran so long that the orchestra had to play twice to get her offstage. She hushed it, saying, “Uh uh, you can’t do that because I haven’t gotten to Clint yet.”
Spain’s “The Sea Inside” (“Mar Adentro”) was named best foreign language film for its tale of a paralyzed man, portrayed by Javier Bardem, who fights his country’s legal system for the right to take his own life.
Among other awards, “The Incredibles” was named best animated feature, beating rival “Shrek 2,” 2004’s No. 1 box office movie.
Writer-director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor of comedy “Sideways” won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay and Charlie Kaufman earned the award for best original screenplay for quirky romance, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
Best documentary was a hotly contested category, and the Oscar went to “Born Into Brothels,” which tells of the plight of children of prostitutes growing up in Calcutta, India. In one surprise, Spanish language song “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” took home the Oscar for original song. It is from the movie, “The Motorcycle Diaries,” which was based on the diaries of young revolutionary Che Guevara. reuters