|Martin Scorsese (front L) hugs Steven Spielberg in front of Francis Ford Coppola (L) and George Lucas (back R) after winning an Oscar|
"The Departed," about corrupt cops and gang members battling in the streets of Boston, earned four Oscars overall, including one for Scorsese as best director. It was the first Academy Award for the veteran director of classic films like "Raging Bull" after five previous best director nominations.
"Could you double check the envelope?" Scorsese joked onstage after receiving a standing ovation.
The other two Oscars for "The Departed" were best adapted screenplay and best editing.
Britain's Helen Mirren was named best actress for her spot-on 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.
Forest Whitaker won best actor playing ruthless dictator Idi Amin in drama "The Last King of Scotland."
Mirren held her Oscar high in the air and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen."
"My sister told me 'all kids love to get gold stars,' and this is the biggest and best gold star I've ever had in my life," Mirren said.
Whitaker 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.
OSCAR GOES GREEN
The Oscars are given out annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and are the world's top film honors.
While all the winners walk off the with a golden Oscar statuette clutched in their hands, it was a troupe of environmentalists led by global warming advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore who painted the Oscars green.
"An Inconvenient Truth," which tells of Gore's 30-year campaign to warn people about global warming, was named the year's best documentary, and singer Melissa Etheridge was given the Academy Award for original song with "I Need to Wake Up."
"I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring us, inspiring me and showing that caring about the earth is not Republican or Democrat. It's not red or blue. We are all green," Etheridge said.
Backstage, Gore told reporters: "The Academy has gone green this year."
Meanwhile, newcomer Jennifer Hudson won best supporting actress for her role as spurned singer Effie White in musical "Dreamgirls," and veteran Alan Arkin, 72, won the Oscar for best supporting actor in "Little Miss Sunshine."
"Oh my God, I just have to take this moment in, I can't believe this. Look what God can do," Hudson said fighting back tears while holding her Oscar onstage.
While Hudson had been a frontrunner heading into the Oscars, Arkin's was a clear surprise over Eddie Murphy, who had won several other major Hollywood awards this year for his role as a soul singer with a drug habit in musical "Dreamgirls."
In fact, "Dreamgirls," which came into the night with more nominations, eight, than any other film walked away with only two honors: one for Hudson and one for sound mixing.
Overall, another top movie, "Little Miss Sunshine," won best original screenplay for writer Michael Arndt.
Among other surprises, computer animated "Happy Feet," about a bunch of dancing penguins with a love of their chilly Antarctic environment, took the Oscar for best animated movie over favorite "Cars."
Mexican film "Pan's Labyrinth," a fantasy about a young girl who discovers a violent world in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, earned three Oscars for art direction, makeup and cinematography.
Yet, in another surprise it lost the foreign language trophy to Germany's "The Lives of Others," which tells of a conflicted Stasi police officer in the old East Germany.