The Hurt Locker was the big winner on a good humoured Oscar night, claiming six awards including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow.

Avatar, which had been regarded as the thriller’s chief rival heading into the 82nd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, left the show with three Oscars for effects, cinematography and art direction.

Moments before the finale, Bigelow made history when she became the first woman to win the directing award. Sensing that the moment perhaps was nigh, show organisers invited Barbra Streisand to walk on to the stage to announce the winner.

“This really is… There’s no other way to describe it, it’s the moment of a lifetime,” Bigleow said. “First of all, this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful… my fellow nominees… such powerful film-makers who have inspired me and I have admired… for decades. And thank you to every member of the Academy. This is, again, the moment of a lifetime.”

Collecting the best picture award, producers Bigelow, Mark Boal and Greg Shapiro paid tribute to the men and women in active service as well as CAA and distributor Summit Entertainment.

Shapiro credited “our intrepid financier and fellow producer, Nicolas Chartier, who bet on this movie when no one else would.” Chartier, the Voltage Pictures chief who pre-sold most of the world several years ago while the film was still shooting in Jordan, was barred by the Academy from attending the show because of an email he sent weeks ago exhorting voters to pick The Hurt Locker over Avatar, which he had not mentioned by name in the email.

His missive was deemed to have violated Academy rules and he was blocked from attending. He will be allowed to collect his Oscar at a later date. In an email shortly after the show Chartier wrote, simply, “Wow.”

In The Hurt Locker’s other senior awards, Boal claimed the original screenplay prize and Bob Murawski and Chris Innis took the stage to collect the best editing prize. Earlier in the night the film’s Paul N J Ottosson won for sound editing and returned to the stage moments later to collect the sound mixing award with Ray Beckett.

In the best lead actor stakes, Jeff Bridges as expected won the best actor Oscar for Crazy Heart and Sandra Bullock won best actress for The Blind Side. Both were immensely popular wins.

“Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession,” a jubilant Bridges said on stage. Reflecting backstage on what the Oscar meant Bridges said he hoped it would raise his profile and would “help bring peace and understanding and prosperity to our world, you know… because, really, movies are more than just entertainment — they are connecting us, you know.”

“Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?” Bullock said after she took to the stage. Later she told the asembled press corps that The Blind Side had come to her unexpectedly. “This is the film I said ‘no’ to,” she said. “It just was such odd circumstances and things came together in a way that I just didn’t see coming. No one saw coming. And I think that’s what makes it so overwhelming and unexpected. I look at the company I keep in this category and you can’t pick.”

Mo’Nique took home the supporting actress for Precious, which along with Christoph Waltz’s earlier win for Inglourious Basterds – the first Oscar of the night – had been regarded as a shoo-in. Precious, the big winner at Friday’s 25th Indie Spirit awards, had been considered a fringe contender at the Oscars, although nobody could deny this acclaimed drama deserved to emerge with something from the Kodak Theater. In the end it won two Academy Awards including Geoffrey Fletcher’s victory in the best adapted screenplay category.

“First, I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics,” Mo’Nique, who had refused to turn out at every awards show en route to the Academy Awards, said when she took the stage. “I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to.” McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Oscar for in Gone With The Wind.

Waltz heaped praise on his Inglourious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino. “Quentin, with his unorthodox methods of navigation… this fearless explorer took this ship across and brought it in with flying colours and that’s why I’m here.”

Juan Jose Campanella’s The Secret In Their Eyes from Argentina caused the major upset of the night in the foreign language category when it trumped the two favourites, A Prophet and The White Ribbon, which had dominated the awards season. The foreign language category is fast becoming the most unpredictable of the Awards after Yojiro Takita’s Japanese entry Departures beat the French favourite The Class last year.

“It shows an open mindedness from the Academy that is very powerful,” Campanella said backstage. “Also, the fact that the Academy doesn’t seem to care about the history of the movie, about how many awards they got somewhere else or how many, or political reasons or anything like that. They just vote for the movie they like, and this proves it.”

Up was named best animated feature, earning writer-director Pete Docter his first win after six nominations – including two for Up. The film scored its second win of the night when Michael Giacchino triumphed for best score.

Director Louis Psihoyos and producer Fisher Stevens took to the stage to collect the best documentary Oscar for The Cove, a widely admired film ever since its world premiere in Sundance back in January 2009. Looking ahead to the upcoming release in Japan through Medallion Media, Psihoyos said, “This will certainly help a lot. To me the awards are the collateral in trying to solve the issue. The biggest reward will be when dolphins are no longer slaughtered for meat and no longer used for entertainment. That’s what we’re really going to celebrate here.”

Mauro Fiore won for best cinematography on Avatar, while the film’s team of effects wizards led by the distinguished Joe Letteri alongside Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R Jones claimed the prize for visual effects. Avatar won its first award of the night for art direction for Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg and set decoration by Kim Sinclair.

In one of the earlier awards of the evening, Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett won best song for The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart.

In the crafts awards, Sandy Powell collected her third Oscar for best costume design with the award for The Young Victoria. Star Trek’s Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow won the make-up Oscar, and as previously mentioned, Avatar took art direction honours.

In the short films categories, Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson won live-action for The New Tenants, while Nicolas Schmerkin took home the animated short film award for Logorama, and Music By Prudence’s Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett triumphed in the short documentary category.

Show hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin presided over an unfussy ceremony with class and several choice comedy lines.

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up In The Air

James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Jason Reitman, Up In The Air

Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up In The Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Actress in a Supporting Role
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air
Mo’Nique, Precious

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
District 9, written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
An Education,
screenplay by Nick Hornby
In The Loop
, screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche

screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Up In The Air, screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal

Inglourious Basterds, written by Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger,
written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
A Serious Man,
written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
, screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Film Editing
Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
District 9
, Julian Clarke
The Hurt Locker
, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis

Inglourious Basterds,
Sally Menke
Precious, Joe Klotz

Foreign Language Film
Ajami, Israel
The Secret In Their Eyes,

The Milk Of Sorrow
, Peru
A Prophet
, France
The White Ribbon
, Germany

Documentary (Feature)
Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg And The Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home
Rebecca Cammisa

Animated Feature Film
Coraline, Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr Fox
, Wes Anderson
The Princess And The Frog,
John Musker and Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells
, Tomm Moore
, Pete Docter

Art Direction
Avatar, Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
, Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
Sherlock Holmes
, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Young Victoria
, Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

Avatar, Mauro Fiore

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
The Hurt Locker,
Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds,
Robert Richardson
The White Ribbon
, Christian Berger

Costume Design
Bright Star, Janet Patterson
Coco Before Chanel
, Catherine Leterrier
The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
, Monique Prudhomme
, Colleen Atwood
The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell

Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano

Star Trek
, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Music (Original Score)
Avatar, James Horner
Fantastic Mr Fox
, Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker,
Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
Sherlock Holmes
, Hans Zimmer
Michael Giacchino

Music (Original Song)
Almost There from The Princess And The Frog, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
Down in New Orleans from The Princess And The Frog, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
Loin De Paname from Paris 36, Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
Take It All, from Nine, Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) from Crazy Heart, Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Sound Editing
Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
The Hurt Locker
, Paul N J Ottosson
Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
Star Trek
, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Sound Mixing
Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
The Hurt Locker,
Paul N J Ottosson and Ray Beckett
Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
Star Trek
, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J Devlin
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen,
Greg P Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Visual Effects
Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R Jones

District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Short Film (Live Action)
The Door, Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
Instead Of Abracadabra, Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellstrom
Kavi, Gregg Helvey
Miracle Fish Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
The New Tenants, Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Documentary (Short Subject)
China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears Of Sichuan Province Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
The Last Campaign Of Governor Booth Gardner, Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
The Last Truck: Closing Of A GM Plant, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Music by Prudence, Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett

Rabbit A La Berlin Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Short Film (Animated)
French Roast, Fabrice O Joubert
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
The Lady And The Reaper (La Dama Y La Muerte)Javier Recio Gracia
Logorama, Nicolas Schmerkin

A Matter Of Loaf And Death, Nick Park