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Happy Feet steps up

Happy Feet steps up - Miller George Oscar & Penguin in hand

George Miller at the Oscars. Oscar & Penguin in hand.

February 26, 2007

There was joy for George Miller but disappointment for fellow Aussie Cate Blanchett at today's Academy Award ceremony. And, as expected, Britain's Helen Mirren took the Best Actress Oscar.
Miller's Happy Feet won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at today's Academy Award ceremony.

The news wasn't so good for fellow Australian Cate Blanchett , who failed to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Mirren was honoured for her acclaimed turn as Queen Elizabeth II in the movie The Queen.

It was the first Oscar for Mirren, 61, who had already won more than 20 other major awards for her sympathetic portrayal of an out-of-touch monarch in the days after the sudden death in 1997 of Princess Diana.

Miller's dancing and singing penguin musical, Happy Feet beat overwhelming favourite Cars.
"Oh gosh," a surprised Miller said as he collected his award.
It is a monumental victory for the Australian film industry and 61-year-old Miller, who had been nominated for Oscars three times before but never won.
Happy Feet was made at Sydney's Fox Studios with a largely Australian crew of more than 500 and used the voices of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Steve Irwin and other Hollywood stars, including Robin Williams and Elijah Wood.
Animal Logic, the Australian special effects house based at Fox Studios, built an animation studio from scratch to make Happy Feet.

Bookmakers did not believe Happy Feet could beat Cars, the blockbuster made by San Francisco-based, Disney-owned animation house Pixar, which had won two of the previous three Oscars for The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.
The other animated feature film nominee was Sony's Monster House. The bookmakers' would have been far happier with Hudson's win in the best supporting actress category - she was their red hot favourite.

Blanchett was not given much chance of winning the Academy Award, although earlier in the night Hudson's Dreamgirls' co-star Eddie Murphy was snubbed for best supporting actor.

It signalled Academy voters may not be fans of the Motown-era musical and raised the prospect of a Blanchett upset.

Murphy was a runaway favourite, but Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin took the Oscar.

Chicago-born Hudson scooped all of the lead-up awards for her role in Dreamgirls, including the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA prizes.

Today's Oscar caps an astonishing rise for 25-year-old Hudson.

Dreamgirls was her first major acting role and her previous claim to fame was being a failed contestant on U.S. reality TV show American Idol.

Melbourne-born Blanchett, 37, was nominated for the British drama, Notes on a Scandal, in which she played a school teacher who has an affair with a 15-year-old student.

It was the third Oscar nomination of Blanchett's career, after 1999's best actress nomination for Elizabeth and her 2005 best supporting actress win for The Aviator.

The other best supporting nominees today were Adriana Barraza (Babel), Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine).

Australia's other nominees, Peter Templeman and Stuart Parkyn, however, did not win the short live action film Oscar.
Earlier, Mexican film Pan's Labyrinth was the first film honoured at the 79th Acacdemy Awards in Hollywood. Labyrinth took the award for best art direction.

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 favored to win the best foreign-language film award.

The award for a Mexican film fit well with host Ellen DeGeneres's opening comments about the Oscars' global reach.
"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.
Eddie Murphy's hopes of an Oscar were dashed when Alan Arkin won the supporting-actor Academy Award on Sunday for his role as a foul-mouthed grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine, which also starred Australia's Toni Collette.


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