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'Old Men,' Europeans seize Oscars

  • Story Highlights
  • "No Country for Old Men" wins four awards, including best picture and director
  • Four acting awards go to Europeans: Cotillard, Day-Lewis, Bardem and Swinton
  • Best original screenplay is awarded to former stripper Diablo Cody for "Juno"
  • Host Jon Stewart jokes about the recently ended writers strike
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Oscar said yes to "No Country for Old Men" and to European actors on Sunday night.

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Actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Tilda Swinton, Marion Cotillard and Javier Bardem toast their success.

"No Country," the Coen brothers' brutal tale of a man pursued by death and the law across the bleak moonscapes of West Texas, won best picture at the 80th Academy Awards.

The four acting awards, meanwhile, went to Europeans: Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem and Tilda Swinton.

The Coens also won best director and best adapted screenplay, and Bardem, who played cattle-gun-armed killer Anton Chigurh, won best supporting actor. Producer Scott Rudin shared the best picture award with the brothers.

"We're very thankful to all of you out there for letting us continue to play in our corner of the sandbox, so thank you very much," Joel Coen said in accepting the directing award.

He observed that the pair didn't think they were doing much different work now from when, as a child, Ethan Coen "got a suit and a briefcase and we went to the Minneapolis International Airport with a Super 8 camera and made a movie about shuttle diplomacy called 'Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go.' " Video Watch the best of the winners' backstage remarks »

The Coens, who have been known for their arch style and oddball humor in films such as "Fargo," "O Brother, Where Art Thou" and "The Big Lebowski," received some laughs for Ethan Coen's laconic acceptance speeches.

After the pair won for adapted screenplay, Ethan Coen gave a brief thanks. Upon winning the directing award, he expanded on his speech slightly, sort of: "I don't have a lot to add to what I said earlier. Thank you," he said.

Day-Lewis was more effusive in his thanks after winning best actor for his performance as a misanthropic oilman in "There Will Be Blood."

"My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town," the British actor said as he accepted the award.

"I've been thinking a lot about fathers and sons in the course of this, and I'd like to accept this in the memory of my grandfather, Michael Balcon, my father, Cecil Day-Lewis, and my three fine boys, Gabriel, Ronan and Cashel," he added. See the complete list of winners

As he accepted his first Oscar, Bardem, one of Spain's top actors, thanked his directors and reflected on his role as a creepy killer with a bad haircut.

"Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that, and to put one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head," he said. Video Watch "No Country" win best picture »

It was his second career nomination. His other came for "Before Night Falls" (2000), in which he played Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.

In a mild surprise, French actress Cotillard won her first Academy Award for her portrayal of singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose." Early handicappers had bet heavily on veteran Julie Christie, a previous Oscar winner who played a woman falling victim to Alzheimer's in "Away from Her."

But Cotillard, who's received raves for her performance as the French singer, had been considered a strong contender for best actress.

"I'm speechless now ... I ... I ... thank you life, thank you love," Cotillard exclaimed. "And it is true, there are some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much!"

The actress has appeared in dozens of films in her native France, but she may be most recognizable to American audiences for her performances in "A Very Long Engagement" (2004) and "Big Fish" (2003).

In a highly competitive race, Swinton nabbed the best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal as lawyer Karen Crowder in the legal drama "Michael Clayton."

"I have an American agent who is the spitting image of this. Really, truly, the same shape head and, it has to be said, the buttocks," the British actress said, examining her new Oscar. "And I'm giving this to him because there's no way I'd be in America at all, ever, on a plane if it wasn't for him." Video See Swinton on the red carpet »

Swinton beat out 83-year-old Ruby Dee, who had been considered a sentimental favorite for her first Oscar nomination in the supporting actress category, playing Mama Lucas to Denzel Washington's drug kingpin Frank Lucas in "American Gangster."

Swinton also beat Cate Blanchett (as a mid-'60s take on Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There") and Amy Ryan (a difficult working-class mother in "Gone Baby Gone").

The Academy Awards opened with host Jon Stewart joking about the recently ended writers strike -- which forced a cutback in the Golden Globes and threatened the Oscars as well -- and commenting on the bleakness of the best picture nominees.

"Tonight we look beyond the dark days to focus on happier fare: This year's slate of Oscar-nominated psychopathic killer movies," Stewart joked. "Does this town need a hug? What happened? 'No Country For Old Men,' 'Sweeney Todd,' 'There Will Be Blood'? All I can say is, thank God for [the comedy "Juno's"] teen pregnancy. I think the country agrees." Photo Check out Oscar prep photos »

"Juno" has been the little movie that could all season. The film, which cost a relatively paltry $7.5 million, was the only best picture nominee to top $100 million at the box office, ensuring it a rooting interest from moviegoers.

Star Ellen Page received plaudits for her performance as the title character, and screenwriter Diablo Cody -- famously a former stripper -- has become one of Hollywood's "it" scribes. Cody won best original screenplay.

"This is for the writers. I want to thank all the writers. I especially want to thank my fellow nominees because I worship you guys and I'm learning from you every day," Cody said.

The first award of the evening, for costume design, went to "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."

The best animated feature went to "Ratatouille," a computer-animated Pixar film directed and written by Oscar winner Brad Bird ("The Incredibles"). The rat-turns-chef movie beat out "Persepolis," based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, and "Surf's Up," a computer-animated film about penguins.

"The Counterfeiters" from Austria took the best foreign-language film. The movie is based on a true story about a counterfeiter who, after being sent to a concentration camp, was employed by the Nazis to fake other countries' currency.

Best original song was awarded to "Falling Slowly" from "Once." It beat out three songs from "Enchanted," the Disney film about an animated princess come to life.

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The Oscars were spread around. "No Country" picked up four, "The Bourne Ultimatum" earned three (one for its rapid-fire editing) and "There Will Be Blood" received two: Day-Lewis' acting award and Robert Elswit's cinematography honor. But nobody had any doubt what film was considered the evening's big winner.

"There's nothing like it, and especially with these two guys," producer Rudin said backstage with the Coens of their unusual Western. "I'm incredibly proud, and I think it's the best movie we have been involved with. I loved it from the first minute I saw it." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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