Five years after exploding onto the scene with her raw performance in 'Boys Don't Cry,' Hilary Swank picked up her second best actress Oscar for playing a female boxer in Million Dollar Baby, beating stars including Annette Bening, Kate Winslet and Imelda Staunton.
Million Dollar Baby's success was the night's biggest surprise after The Aviator seemed to have the advantage until the end of the ceremony.
Winners in other key categories of the night were pretty evenly distributed to 'Sideways' (Best Adapted Screenplay), 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (Best Original Screenplay), 'The Sea Inside' (Best Foreign-Language Film), 'Finding Neverland' (Best Original Score), 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events' (Best Makeup), 'Spider-Man 2' (Best Visual Effects), 'Ray' (Best Sound Mixing) and 'The Incredibles,' which swooped off with awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Animated Feature Film.
Host CHRIS ROCK did the Oscars proud as he brought a welcome breath of fresh air to the show, keeping the audience in stitches and delivering an opening monologue with riffs on everything from politics and PRESIDENT BUSH to who is a true star ("If you can't get a star, wait. If you can't get DENZEL and all you can get is me -- wait. He would never make 'Pootie Tang.'"). Here are some quote-worthy comments:
"It's a great night tonight. We have four black nominees tonight. It's kinda like Def Oscar Jam tonight"
"[Cate Blanchett] was so convincing [as Katharine Hepburn] that Sidney Poitier showed up at her house for supper"
"The only acting you ever see at the Oscars is when people act like they're not mad they lost"
"Nicole Kidman was smiling so wide, she should have won an Emmy at the Oscars for her great performance. I was like, if you'd done that in the movie, you'd have won an Oscar, girl"
"They like to say there's over 100 stars out tonight. No there's not. There's only four real stars. The rest are just popular people. Clint Eastwood is a star. That's a star.... Tobey Maguire is just a boy in tights"
"You want Russell Crowe and all you can get is Colin Farrell? Wait. Alexander is not Gladiator"
"Black movies don't have real names, they have names like Barbershop. That's not a name, it's just a location"
"Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I have seen in the last four years? Even if he's not acting in, if you look at the credits he makes the cupcakes or something"
Musical highlights of the evening included the ever-present BEYONCE singing an unprecedented three of the evening's nominated songs, and my favorite highlight of the night...Pierce Brosnan presenting with the animated character Edna Mode from 'The Incredibles'.
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