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Night of surprises at the Academy Awards

5 March 2006
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With all the energy that goes into foreseeing the results of the Oscar ceremony, one might expect the biggest night in the movie industry's calendar to be fairly predictable. But there were a few surprises in store when Hollywood's brightest lights took their seats in the Kodak Theatre for this year's event.

The racially-charged drama Crash beat off the challenge of hot favourite Brokeback Mountain to the coveted best film trophy. And Philip Seymour Hoffman took victory in the best actor category, despite the fact many industry pundits thought Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix the most likely contenders.

Walk The Line didn't go home empty-handed, though, after southern belle Reese Witherspoon was named best actress for her much talked-about portrayal of Johnny Cash's wife June. "This is the moment I've been waiting for my whole life," declared the 29-year-old after her name was called out.

And British movie fans were also given reason to celebrate, after The Constant Gardener's leading lady Rachel Weisz was named winner of the best supporting actress gong. The pretty Londoner, who plays a relief worker in the film, used her acceptance speech to pay tribute to the people who risk their lives to fight injustice in impoverished countries. "It is a tremendous honour," she said. "They are greater men and women than I."

George Clooney, who was in the running for three awards, was on characteristically self-deprecating form when he took to the stage to receive the trophy for best supporting actor. "So I'm not winning director," quipped the 44-year-old, who was honoured for his portrayal of a disillusioned CIA agent in Syriana.

His prediction was proved correct when Good Night And Good Luck lost out to Brokeback Mountain for the directing trophy. Ang Lee's alternative romance had been nominated for eight gongs, but in the end had to settle for just three. The Taiwanese filmmaker was clearly delighted at becoming the first Asian to win cinema's most prestigious prize, however.

Victory is nothing new to plasticine heroes Wallace and Gromit, though. Indeed, the intrepid pair must be growing accustomed to victory after they picked up their fourth Academy Award thanks to latest adventure The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. "Cracking cheese Gromit!" declared animation maestros Nick Park and Steve Box as they collected the gong.

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Reese Witherspoon was named best actress for her role in Walk The Line. In her acceptance speech the 29-year-old singled co-star Joaquin Phoenix out for praisePhoto: © AFPy
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Philip Seymour Hoffman was meanwhile honoured for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the eponymous biopicPhoto: © Empics
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Rachel Weisz, who was leading British hopes at the prizegiving, didn't disappoint her fansPhoto: © AFP
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George Clooney, who previously declared he didn't expect to win anything at the ceremony, was happily mistakenPhoto: © Empics

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