Tuesday, February 26, 2008

European actors clean sweep at the Oscars'

La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard upset favorite Julie Christie to become the first woman since Sophia Loren 46 years ago (in Two Women) to win a Best Actress Oscar for a foreign-language performance. Language barrier notwithstanding, the French actress' joy was apparent, as she concluded her speech by saying, ''Thank you life, thank you love, and it is true, there is some angels in this city.''

HOLLYWOOD – European actors scored a rare clean sweep of the Oscars' top acting honors here Sunday as American nominees were shut out of the awards for the first time in more than 40 years.

The best actor and actress and supporting acting Oscars will all be heading back across the Atlantic for the first time since 1965 after a night of triumph for Europe at the Kodak Theatre.

Leading the way was France's Marion Cotillard, one of the night's most popular winners for her portrayal of singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose."

Cotillard, 32, became only the second woman in history to win the best actress award for a non-English speaking performance after Italy's Sophia Loren in 1962. "I'm speechless now... I thank you life, thank you love and -- it is true, there is some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much," Cotillard said in her acceptance speech.

Ireland's best actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis meanwhile paid tribute to an American icon -- George Clooney -- after picking up the second Oscar statuette of his career. The 50-year-old British born star even planted a kiss on Clooney's cheek as he rose to collect his award.

"He's just a great guy. I had to kiss someone. I kissed my wife, and in the interest of parity, I kissed George," Day-Lewis said.

Earlier, Javier Bardem had scored a historic first for Spain, becoming the first performer from his country to win an acting Oscar. The 38-year-old won the best supporting actor award for his turn as a psychopathic hitman in the night's best picture winner "No Country for Old Men."

"This is pretty amazing. It's a great honor for me to have this," Bardem said, paying tribute to directors Joel and Ethan Coen.

"Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think I could do that and put one of the most horrible hair cuts in history on my head," he added.

Rounding out the quartet of European winners was Scot Tilda Swinton, who won the best supporting actress award for her portrayal of a scheming corporate litigator in "Michael Clayton."

Asked about the number of European winners, Swinton replied: "Dude, Hollywood is built on Europeans. I'm just really sad I couldn't give a speech in Gaelic but if I could, I would have."

Meanwhile Swinton, 47, said she would be keen to play a comedy role.

"I think everything I do is hilarious, but obviously I'm in the minority, but I'm getting there," she said.*AFP