HOLLYWOOD: The 79th Academy Awards got underway Sunday with host Ellen DeGeneres paying tribute to the most international Oscars ever, as Mexican film “Pan’s Labyrinth” won the first award of the night.
“This is the most international Oscars ever, and that’s a huge deal,” said DeGeneres, noting the presence of a record number of nominees from Mexico and the best actress nomination of Spain’s Penelope Cruz.
“I think there are even a few Americans -- I’m talking about the seat-fillers,” DeGeneres quipped. “No one fills a seat like an American.”
The first Oscar went to “Pan’s Labyrinth,” in the art direction category.
Guillermo Del Toro’s film about a little girl who escapes the horrors of fascist Spain by inventing an imaginary world is nominated for six Oscars, and is favoured to win the best foreign-language film award.
The Oscars show, due to last around three hours, is Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, at which statuettes recognizing excellence in 24 categories are doled out.