26/02/2007

Mirren wins 'Best Actress' Oscar

Dame Helen Mirren has become the first British actress to win an Oscar in almost 15-years.

The 61-year-old received the Best Actress award for her role in 'The Queen' which told the story of the British Monarch in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

This was the first Oscar for Best Actress to be won by a British female since Emma Thompson won the award back in 1993 for her role in Howard's End.

Dame Helen described her win as a "huge honour" and also paid tribute to her fellow nominees - Dame Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz and Meryl Streep, who she described as “brilliant, brilliant actresses” who had given amazing performances this year.

Helen Mirren's win proved to be the only success story for the film – which had been nominated in six categories during last night's ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles..

The gong for Best Actor went to Texan born Forest Whitaker for his role as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 'The Last King of Scotland', while Martin Scorsese eventually won the the award for Best Director for his film 'The Departed'.

Scorsese, 64, has been nominated in this category five times before and on receiving the statuette from fellow Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg, he joked by asking if he could “double check the envelope?”

The director received a standing ovation from the cheering crowd and responded by saying: "I'm overwhelmed and so moved."

Former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson, who was voted off the show after judge Simon Cowell told her that she was “out of her depth”, won the award for best supporting actress in the musical 'Dreamgirls', which was loosely based on the story of 60s Motown girl group 'The Supremes'.

Hudson, who has no previous acting experience, beat off almost 800 other hopefuls for the role in the movie, including American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Hudson has already won a Golden Globe for her role in the film.

The award for best supporting actor went to 72-year-old Alan Arkin for his role as a heroin-addicted grandfather in the comedy 'Little Miss Sunshine,' and the Oscar for best animated film went to the children's Penguin based story 'Happy Feet'.

The ceremony, which was hosted by US comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, was watched by an estimated one-billion people around the world.

(EF/SP)

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