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80th Oscars Are A Foreign Affair

Monday, February 25------European films and talents were the big winners at last night's Academy Awards, making the event very much a foreign affair. In the acting categories, the winners were all European thespians of note. Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays a morally corrupt oil baron in early 20th century America, won his second Best Actor Oscar for his role in THERE WILL BE BLOOD. In the Best Actress category, the surprise winner was French actress Marion Cotillard, for her stunning reincarnation of chanteuse Edith Piaf in LA VIE EN ROSE. She becomes only the second actress in Oscar history to win for a non-English language role (the last was Sophia Loren in Vittorio de Sica’s TWO WOMEN, 1961).

In the Best Supporting Actor category, all predictions were realized with the win by Javier Bardem, for his myth-making performance as a demonic bounty hunter in the Coen Brothers’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. He becomes the first Spanish actor ever to win an Oscar. On the female side, Tilda Swinton of MICHAEL CLAYTON was also a surpise winner. The veteran actress, who made her reputation in edgy independent films in her native England and the United States, won her prize for playing a corrupt American lawyer in the legal thriller.

European films dominated the Best Foreign Language Oscar category, with four out of the five nominees coming from the continent. In the end, it was the Austrian entry THE COUNTERFEITERS that won the golden statuette, with the film's director Stefan Ruzowitzky, clearly moved by the honor. "Since a number of Austrian-born directors, including Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger and Fred Zinnemann, had to leave their native country because of the Nazis, it is only fitting that the first Austrian film to win an Oscar should also be a story of the crimes of the Nazis", Ruzowitzky said. His film, about the Nazis use of a band of concentration camp inmates to counterfeit dollars and pounds during the darkest days of World War II, will open in the US next week.

LE MOZART DES PICKPOCKETS (Phillipe Pollet-Villard, France), a quirky tale of two unlucky thieves whose fortunes change when they take in a deaf homeless boy, won the award for Best Live Action Short film. Luckily, the film can be seen by the public in theaters, with the recent theatrical opening of THE 2007 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED SHORT FILMS compilation film (a mix of live action and animation nominees), distributed in North America by Magnolia Pictures.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.


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