Los Angeles: The Coen brothers completed their journey from the fringes to Hollywood’s mainstream, their crime saga No Country for Old Men winning four Academy Awards, including best picture. Europeans swept the acting categories on Sunday night. British actor Daniel Day-Lewis and France’s Marion Cotillard were best lead actor and actress. The supporting actor and actress prizes went to Spain’s Javier Bardem and British actress Tilda Swinton.
The only other time in the Oscars’ 80-year history that all four acting winners were foreign born was 1964, when the recipients were British Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Peter Ustinov and Russian Lila Kedrova. Bardem won for supporting actor in No Country, which earned Joel Coen and Ethan Coen best director, best adapted screenplay and the best picture honour as producers. Accepting the directing honour alongside his brother, Joel Coen recalled how they had been making films since childhood, including one at the Minneapolis airport called Henry Kissinger: Man on the Go. “What we do now doesn’t feel that much different from what we were doing then,” Joel Coen said. “We’re very thankful to all of you out there for continuing to let us play in our corner of the sandbox.”
Day-Lewis won his second best actor Academy Award for the oil-boom epic, There Will Be Blood, while La Vie En Rose star Cotillard was a surprise winner for best actress, riding the spirit of Edith Piaf to Oscar triumph over British screen legend Julie Christie, who had been expected to win for Away From Her. Swinton won for her portrayal as a malevolent attorney in Michael Clayton.
As a raging, conniving, acquisitive petroleum pioneer caught up in California’s oil boom of the early 20th century, Day-Lewis won for a part that could scarcely have been more different than his understated role as a writer with severe cerebral palsy in 1989’s My Left Foot. “My deepest thanks to the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town,” Day-Lewis said.
Day-Lewis walked up the steps to accept his trophy from Helen Mirren, then went down on one knee before her, head bowed. Mirren, last year’s best actress winner for The Queen, picked up his cue, touching Lewis’Oscar to his shoulders as she would a royal sword. “That’s the closest I’ll ever come to getting a knighthood,” the Englishman said. The Bourne Ultimatum won the editing Oscar and swept all three categories in which it was nominated, including sound editing and sound mixing. Cotillard, the first winner ever for a French-language performance, tearfully thanked her director, Olivier Dahan.