'The Departed' Wins Best Picture, Scorsese Best Director at 79th Oscars

Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE February 26, 2007

When all was said and done in Los Angeles tonight, "The Departed" was the big winner at the 79th Academy Awards. The film won the Oscar for best picture and its director, Martin Scorsese, won his first Academy Award. The film was also honored with the prize for best adapted screenplay for (William Monahan) and best editing (Thelma Schoonmaker). As widely expected, the prize for best actor went to Forest Whitaker for his role in "The Last King of Scotland" and Helen Mirren won the best actress award for "The Queen." While "Pan’s Labyrinth" won three Oscars (for art direction, cinematography, and makeup), the prize for best foreign language film went to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s "The Lives of Others" from Germany and the best documentary Oscar was awarded to Davis Guggenheim’s "An Inconvenient Truth." [Editor’s note: This story was originally published Feb. 25 in indieWIRE, where you can find more Oscar and Independent Spirit Awards coverage and photos.]

"Could you double-check the envelope, please?" quipped Scorsese, smiling after making his way to the stage following a rousing standing ovation inside the Kodak Theater. The eight time nominee was presented the best director Oscar by contemporaries Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. "I’m overwhelmed with this honor from the Academy and also the honor of being presented by my old, old friends," Scorsese said, "We go back 37 years. I’m so moved, so moved."

Lead actor in "The Departed" Leonardo DiCaprio was among the Hollywood celebrities who, during the live TV telecast, noted the importance of battling global warming. He joined former U.S. vice-president Al Gore to announce that the show had adopted "green" standards. Later, accepting the Oscar for best documentary for "An Inconvenient Truth" alongside director Guggenheim, Gore said, "My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act, that’s a renewable resource. Let’s renew it."

The documentary also won the Oscar for best original song ("I Need To Wake Up") for Melissa Etheridge and she also made her own plea, saying, "I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring us, inspiring me, showing that caring about the Earth is not Republican or Democrat. It’s not red or blue, we are all green. This is our job. Now we can become the greatest generation, the generation that changed, the generation that woke up and did something and changed."

"Little Miss Sunshine," a big winner yesterday at the Independent Spirit Awards, won a pair of prizes on Oscar night. Alan Arkin received the best supporting actor Oscar and writer Michael Arndt was honored with the best original screenplay award for his script. "More than anything, I am deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received. Which in these fragmented times speak so openly speak of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection," Arkin said on stage. Accepting his trophy, Arndt thanked his family and said, "When I was a kid, my family drove 600 miles in a VW bus with a broken clutch. So, it ended up being the funnest things we did together…"

Best actor Oscar winner Forest Whitaker also cited his childhood during his acceptance speech. "When I was a kid, the only way that I saw movies was from the backseat of my family’s car. At the drive-in. And, it wasn’t my reality to think I would be acting in movies, so receiving this honor tonight tells me that it’s possible. It is possible for a kid from east Texas, raised in South Central L.A. in Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them, and to have them happen. Because when I first started acting, it was because of my desire to connect to everyone. To that thing inside each of us. That light that I believe exists in all of us. Because acting for me is about believing in that connection and it’s a connection so strong, it’s a connection so deep, that we feel it. And through our combined belief, we can create a new reality."

Finally, it was one of the relatively unknown winners who made one of the strongest points of the evening. "I know a lot of people in America are probably watching and asking, ‘What are the short films?’," said Ari Sandel, director of the best live action short film, "West Bank Story," "Well, a lot of them are made by directors who are trying to get noticed and I think in a lot of ways we represent the little guy because we don’t have big studios behind us or big name actors or a lot of times the budgets we need and it relies on perseverance and stick-to-it-iveness and hustle and dedication and loyalty from a cast and crew who are doing it for pennies if not for nothing…

The complete list of winners for the 79th Academy Awards (information provided by AMPAS):

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Helen Mirren in "The Queen" (Miramax, Pathe and Granada)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls" (DreamWorks and Paramount)

Best animated feature film of the year:
"Happy Feet" (Warner Bros.) George Miller

Achievement in art direction:
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse), Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero,

Set Decoration:
Pilar Revuelta

Achievement in cinematography:
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro

Achievement in costume design:
"Marie Antoinette" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero

Achievement in directing:
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.) Martin Scorsese

Best documentary feature:
"An Inconvenient Truth" (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions), A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production, Davis Guggenheim

Best documentary short subject:
"The Blood of Yingzhou District", A Thomas Lennon Films Production, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Achievement in film editing:
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.), Thelma Schoonmaker

Best foreign language film of the year:
"The Lives of Others," a Wiedemann & Berg Production (Germany)

Achievement in makeup:
"Pan’s Labyrinth" (Picturehouse), David Marti and Montse Ribe

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
"Babel" (Paramount and Paramount Vantage), Gustavo Santaolalla

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
"I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth", (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions) , Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge

Best motion picture of the year:
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.), A Warner Bros. Pictures Production

Best animated short film:
"The Danish Poet" (National Film Board of Canada), A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of, Canada Production, Torill Kove

Best live action short film:
"West Bank Story", An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production, Ari Sandel

Achievement in sound editing:
"Letters from Iwo Jima" (Warner Bros.), Alan Robert Murray

Achievement in sound mixing:
"Dreamgirls" (DreamWorks and Paramount), Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton

Achievement in visual effects:
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" (Buena Vista), John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall

Adapted screenplay:
"The Departed" (Warner Bros.), screenplay by William Monahan

Original screenplay:
"Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight), written by Michael Arndt

(Reprinted with permission, copyright Eugene Hernandez, indieWIRE 2007.)