LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Martin Scorsese, the creator of “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver,” finally won Oscar recognition on Sunday but he had to share the spotlight with politician Al Gore, regal actress Helen Mirren and Cinderella story Jennifer Hudson.
Scorsese won a standing ovation from an Oscar audience that clearly thought it was time for the 64-year-old filmmaker, who was named best director and his gangster movie “The Departed” best film.
It was the first Academy Award for Scorsese after five previous best director nominations and he demanded a recount. “Could you double-check the envelope?” Scorsese joked onstage.
Former U.S. Vice President Gore took center stage at the Osars when the film adaptation of his slide-show lecture on global warming won Oscars for best documentary and best song.
The 95-minute film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” its message calling for urgent action to address climate change, and Gore himself drew some of the evening’s biggest ovations -- and laughs.
The film marked a personal triumph for Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee who left politics after narrowly losing his White House bid to Republican George W. Bush and embarked on a new campaign calling attention to the threat of climate change.
“My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis,” Gore said after taking the stage.
“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,” he declared.
Britain’s Helen Mirren was named best actress for her pitch-perfect portrayal of the ruling Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen,” a tale about the British royal family in a time of crisis at the death of Princess Diana.
Mirren held her Oscar high in the air and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen.”
Veteran actor Forest Whitaker won best actor playing ruthless dictator Idi Amin in drama “The Last King of Scotland.” He had to take a moment to calm himself, then with his voice breaking, he remembered a time when he was a young kid watching movies in the backseat of his family’s car at the local drive-in theater. He said that for kids who believe in dreams, he was proof they can come true.
Jennifer Hudson, who was booted off the popular song contest program “American Idol” and was singing on cruise ships three years ago, won best supporting actress for her role as spurned singer Effie White in musical “Dreamgirls.”
“Look what God can do,” Hudson said fighting back tears while holding her Oscar onstage. Alan Arkin, 72, won for best supporting actor, beating one time favorite Eddie Murphy.
It was a night of other surprises as well, including best foreign language trophy going to Germany’s “The Lives of Others.”
The Oscars show was hosted for the first time by comedian Ellen DeGeneres and first reviews were less than kind.
Tom Shales wrote on the Washington Post Web site that the show was both “a bore and a horror” and Brian Lowry of Daily Variety called the show unspectacular bordering on dull.
But Martin Scorsese left the room smiling.