Violence is golden as 'No Country' dominates Oscars
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Los Angeles

Violent thriller 'No Country for Old Men' won the best picture Oscar at the 80th Academy Awards late Sunday as European stars scored a clean sweep in the acting honours in an historic Hollywood night.

'No Country for Old Men' emerged as the biggest winner of the evening, scooping four Oscars including best director for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor for Javier Bardem.

The film, a bleak and bloody drama about a drug deal that goes wrong and its murderous aftermath, was the overwhelming pre-Oscars favourite.

'Ethan and I have been making stories with movie cameras since we were kids ... what we do now doesn't feel that much different than what we were doing,' Joel Coen said after collecting the best director award.

'We're very thankful to all of you out there for letting us continue to play in our corner of the sandbox.' The evening's acting awards were dominated by European talent, with France's Marion Cotillard winning best actress for 'La Vie En Rose' and Ireland's Daniel Day-Lewis winning best actor for 'There Will be Blood.

Cotillard, 32, won for her astounding performance as tragic chanteuse Edith Piaf, becoming the first Frenchwoman to win the best actress Oscar since Simone Signoret in 1960. It was the only second time in Oscars history that the best actress award had gone to a performance in a non-English speaking role.

Italian legend Sophia Loren was the other woman to achieve the feat in 1962. Cotillard, who received the award from 2007 best actor Forest Whitaker, paid tribute to her director before exclaiming: 'Thank you life, thank you love'. The British-born Day-Lewis received his award from British actress Helen Mirren, last year's winner for her role in 'The Queen' quipping: 'That's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood.'

The supporting actor and actress awards went to Spain's Javier Bardem for his performance as a psychopathic hitman in 'No Country for Old Men' and Britain's Tilda Swinton, who played a scheming corporate legal chief in 'Michael Clayton.' Bardem's award made him the first performer from Spain ever to win an acting Oscar.

'Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and putting one of the most horrible haircuts in history on my head,' he added, referring to the bizarre coiffure given to his character in the film. In other highlights, Austria's 'The Counterfeiters' won the best foreign film award for its true story of a group of Jewish prisoners recruited by the Nazis to mount one of the largest counterfeiting operations in history. Overall, the awards went largely to the form book, with the grim 'No Country for Old Men' making a killing to claim the top awards.

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