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Bullock, Bridges get their gold; 'Hurt Locker' wins picture battle

Staff Writer
Austin 360

The 82nd annual Academy Awards made history Sunday night, giving best picture and best director to "The Hurt Locker" and Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow is the first woman ever to win the directing Oscar.

Sandra Bullock of Austin took the best actress prize for her portrayal of a Memphis mother in "The Blind Side," giving a tearful address and offering special thanks to her late mother.

"Did I really earn this, or did I just wear you all down?" Bullock asked the Oscar crowd. She gushed with praise for her fellow nominees, including Meryl Streep, who she joked is "such a good kisser."

Jeff Bridges, the star of the country music drama "Crazy Heart," won best actor for portraying Bad Blake, a fictional character that the late Stephen Bruton of Austin helped shape.

The night's final two awards for picture and director followed a long drama between "The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar," both of which were nominated for nine Oscars. "The Hurt Locker" ended up with six, and "Avatar" won three.

Villainous roles earned the prizes for supporting actor and actress: Christoph Waltz as a Nazi fiend in "Inglourious Basterds" and Mo'Nique as a contemptible mother in "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire."

Both performers capped remarkable years, Mo'Nique startling fans with dramatic depths previously unsuspected in the actress known for lowbrow comedy and the Austrian-born Waltz leaping to fame with his first big Hollywood role.

"I would like to thank the academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics," said Mo'Nique, who played the heartless, abusive welfare mother of an illiterate teen (Gabourey Sidibe, a best actress nominee in her screen debut) in the Harlem drama "Precious."

Mo'Nique added her gratitude to the first black actress to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, the 1939 supporting actress winner for "Gone With the Wind."

"I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to," she said, adding thanks to Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, who signed on as executive producers to spread the word about "Precious" after it premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

"Precious" also won the adapted screenplay Oscar for Geoffrey Fletcher.

"This is for everybody who works on a dream every day - precious boys and girls everywhere," Fletcher said.

Waltz's award was presented by last season's supporting actress winner, Penelope Cruz, who gave him a kiss as he took the stage.

Though a veteran stage and TV actor in Europe, Waltz had been nearly unknown in Hollywood before Quentin Tarantino cast him as the prattling, ruthless Jew-hunter Hans Landa in his World War II saga.

"Quentin with his unorthodox methods of navigation, this fearless explorer, took this ship across and brought it in with flying colors, and that's why I'm here," Waltz said. Most people were focused on the "Avatar" and "Hurt Locker" rivalry, which was spiced up by a personal connection between "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow and "Avatar" director James Cameron. They were married from 1989 to 1991.

"Hurt Locker" screenwriter Mark Boal, who won for original screenplay, thanked Bigelow, calling her an "extraordinary and visionary filmmaker," and dedicated his win to the troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with those who did not make it home.

Boal also affectionately recalled his father, who died a month ago.

"Up" earned the third straight Oscar for Disney's Pixar Animation, which now has won five of the nine awards since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences added an animated features category.

The film features Ed Asner providing the voice of a crabby widower who flies off on a grand adventure.

"Never did I dream that making a flip-book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this," "Up" director Pete Docter said.

Additional material from movies editor Charles Ealy and The Associated Press.