The Departedstole the show at the 79th Academy Awards in Hollywood,taking top prize for best picture and propelling Martin Scorsese to hislong-awaited first directing Oscar.

WarnerBros and Initial Entertainment Group's crime thriller remake took fourawards overall and had been regarded as a solid contender in awide-open best picture race. However its prospects grew stronger by theminute last night as it collected first the adapted screenplay prizefor William Monahan, then the editing trophy for Thelma Schoonmaker.

Scorsese'ssuccess brought the Kodak Theater to its feet. 'Could you double-checkthe envelope please'' the veteran director said after receiving hishonour from the artistically and commercially heavyweight triumvirateof Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, an iconicconvocation that hinted at Scorsese's imminent ordination.

Scorsesepaid handsome tribute to his cast and crew and thanked his family,friends and the multitude of strangers who had wished him well over theyears. 'To be standing here where Martin Scorsese won his Oscar is sucha joy, such a joy,' The Departed producer Graham King said in his acceptance speech.

The two lead acting races were the shoo-ins of the season, and Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker duly took the accolades for The Queen and The Last King Of Scotland.

Mirrencalled the Oscar 'the biggest and the best gold star that I have everhad in my life', before paying tribute to the film's real star.'

Nowyou know for 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained herdignity, her sense of duty, and her hairstyle. She's had her feetplanted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head, her handbag on herarm and she's weathered many, many storms, and I salute her courage andher consistency.'

Whitakerwas in similarly reflective mood. 'When I first started acting it wasbecause of my desire to connect to everyone,' he said, adding: 'Actingis 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 combinedbelief, we can create a new reality.'

The Departed brought Thelma Schoonmaker her third Oscar-winning collaboration with Scorsese following Raging Bull in 1981 and The Aviatorin 2005. 'Working with Marty is quite something,' Schoonmaker told thecrowd. 'It's tumultuous, passionate, funny and it's like being in thebest film school in the world.'

Alan Arkin ushers in biggest upset
Supportingactor, the first big award of the night, ushered in the biggest upsetas Alan Arkin, overshadowed all season by Eddie Murphy's dazzling turnin Dreamgirls, snuck in at the death to take home the trophyfor his work in Little Miss Sunshine. It was Arkin's second honour inas many days following Saturday's Independent Spirit Award.

Jennifer Hudson justified her status as favourite by winning the supporting actress trophy for Dreamgirls.The actress, who was famously emerged empty-handed from the talentcontest American Idol, paid tribute to her grandmother.' She was mybiggest inspiration for everything because she was a singer and she hadthe passion for it, but she never had the chance. And that was thething that pushed me forward to continue.'

Michael Arndt dashed Peter Morgan's hopes of winning the original screenplay category when he claimed honours for Little Miss Sunshine,one of two awards for the film. 'My family drove 600 miles in a VW buswith a broken clutch,' Arndt said. 'So, it ended up being the funnest[sic] things we did together, so to my brothers, Chan, Dave and Chris,to my mom who's here tonight, and to my dad who's with us in the spirit- this is for you.'

William Monahan referenced Felix Chong and Alan Mak's original screenplay for the Hong Kong smash Infernal Affairs in his acceptance speech for adapted screenplay for The Departed. Monahan also cited Lawrence Of Arabia, which earned Venusnominee Peter O'Toole the first of eight unrequited Academy Awardnominations, as the film that made him want to become a screenwriter.

The Lives Of Others wins out over Pan's Labyrinth
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's German Stasi saga The Lives Of Others, released in North America through Sony Pictures Classics, won a tight race with Guillermo del Toro's Mexican entry Pan's Labyrinth.

Warner Bros/Village Roadshow's Happy Feet beat out Disney/Pixar's Cars to claim the animated feature award. Columbia/Sony Pictures Animation's Monster House was also nominated.

An Inconvenient Truth,the Participant Productions eco-doc released by Paramount Classics, wonbest documentary. 'My fellow Americans, people all over the world, weneed to solve the climate crisis,' said Al Gore, whose environmentallecture has grossed more than $45m worldwide. 'It's not a politicalissue, 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 renewableresource. Let's renew it.'

The film doubled its Oscar tally later in the evening when Melissa Etheridge took the original song award for I Need To Wake Up.

Gustavo Santaolalla won original score for Babel,the only win for the Paramount Vantage drama and Santaolalla's secondconsecutive Academy Award triumph following last year's win by theArgentinian composer for Brokeback Mountain.

Guillermo Navarro won the cinematography award for Pan's Labyrinth,which also took the first two Oscars of the night for art direction andmake-up.

The art direction team was headed by Eugenio Caballero, theset decoration team was led by Pilar Revuelta, and David Marti andMontse Ribe orchestrated the make-up.

Milena Canonero won her first costume design Oscar since Chariots Of Fire 25 years ago, winning this time for Marie Antoinette. Canonero won her first Oscar in 1976 for Barry Lyndon and dedicated last night's win to that film's director, the late Stanley Kubrick.

Nominated for the 19th time - but still no win
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman won the sound editing award for Letters From Iwo Jima. Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton brought in Dreamgirls'first of two awards on the night for sound mixing. The result consignedto oblivion Kevin O'Connell's 19th nomination - this time for Apocalypto- and prompted a backstage remark from one of the winners that theeternal bridesmaid of sound mixing should try out another job.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chestwon visual effects for John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and AllenHall. 'You know the naysayers said that four blind kids from the Bronxcouldn't make it in visual effects,' Knoll quipped. 'But here we are.'

In the shorts categories, Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production's The Danish Poet won the animated category, Ari Sandel took the prize for live-action with West Bank Story, and Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon's The Blood Of Yingzhou District won documentary.

Aspreviously announced, Sherry Lansing collected the Jean HersholtHumanitarian Award, while composer Ennio Morricone used the translationservices of Clint Eastwood as he thanked the audiences in Italian forhis Honorary Award.

Click on film name for review

Best Picture


WINNER: The Departed

Letters From Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

The Queen

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel

Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima

Paul Greengrass, United 93

Stephen Frears, The Queen

WINNER: Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond

Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson

Peter O'Toole, Venus

Will Smith, The Pursuit Of Happyness

WINNER: Forest Whitaker, The Last King Of Scotland

Best Actress

Penelope Cruz, Volver

Judi Dench, Notes On A Scandal

WINNER: Helen Mirren, The Queen

Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Kate Winslet, Little Children

Best Supporting Actor

WINNER: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Jackie Earl Hayley, Little Children

Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond

Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Best Supporting Actress

Adriana Barraza, Babel

Cate Blanchett, Notes On A Scandal

Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine

WINNER: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Best Original Screenplay


Letters From Iwo Jima

WINNER: Little Miss Sunshine

Pan's Labyrinth

The Queen

Best Adapted Screenplay


Children Of Men

WINNER: The Departed

Little Children

Notes On A Scandal

Best Animated Film


WINNER: Happy Feet

Monster House

Best Foreign-Language Film

After The Wedding

Days Of Glory

WINNER: The Lives Of Others

Pan's Labyrinth


Achievement In Art Direction


The Good Shepherd

WINNER: Pan's Labyrinth

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

The Prestige

Achievement In Cinematography

The Black Dahlia

Children Of Men

The Illusionist

WINNER: Pan's Labyrinth

The Prestige

Achievement In Costume Design

Curse Of The Golden Flower

The Devil Wears Prada


WINNER: Marie Antoinette

The Queen

Best Documentary Feature

Deliver Us From Evil

WINNER: An Inconvenient Truth

Iraq In Fragments

Jesus Camp

My Country, My Country

Best Documentary Short Subject

WINNER: The Blood Of Yingzhou District

Recycled Life

Rehearsing A Dream

Two Hands

Achievement In Film Editing


Blood Diamond

Children Of Men

WINNER: The Departed

United 93

Achievement In Makeup



WINNER: Pan's Labyrinth

Original Score


The Good German

Notes On A Scandal

Pan's Labyrinth

The Queen

Original Song

WINNER: I Need To Wake Up, An Inconvenient Truth

Listen, Dreamgirls

Love You I Do, Dreamgirls

Our Town, Cars

Patience, Dreamgirls

Best Animated Short Film

WINNER: The Danish Poet


The Little Matchgirl


No Time For Nuts

Best Live Action Short Film

Binta And The Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)

One Too Many (Eramos Pocos)

Helmer & Son

The Saviour

WINNER: West Bank Story

Achievement In Sound Editing


Blood Diamond

Flags Of Our Fathers

WINNER: Letters From Iwo Jima

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Achievement In Sound Mixing


Blood Diamond

WINNER: Dreamgirls

Flags Of Our Fathers

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Achievement In Visual Effects

WINNER: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest


Superman Returns