Glowing in gold as she stood in the winners' circle, Best Actress Sandra Bullock – who noted that George Clooney once threw her into a swimming pool years ago – acknowledged each of her sister nominees, including the "great kisser" Meryl Streep, then focused on the message of her movie, The Blind Side: that the mother figure is the one who brings light and love into a person's life.
In a moment that is bound to be long remembered, Bullock tearfully thanked her mother "Helga B" – Helga D. Meyer, a German opera singer and voice teacher who died in 2000 – whose wise guidance included not letting her daughters ride in cars with boys until they were 18. The Oscar winner admitted that she would have done exactly what her mother feared she would.
She also thanked her mom, whom she called a trailblazer, "for reminding her daughters that there's no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love."
The other big winners of the evening were The Hurt Locker, which took six Oscars in all, including the top prize, Best Picture, and Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow – the first women ever to win an Academy Award in that category, a fact that was not lost on presenter Barbra Streisand. Upon opening the envelope, the singer-actress-director said, "Well, the time has come."
For Best Actor, it took five times at bat – with Starman, The Last Picture Show (as Supporting Actor), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and The Contender – before Jeff Bridges, 60, hit a home run, playing the hard-drinking country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. And once he stood before the crowd at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, Bridges also thanked his folks, in his case for turning him on to his "groovy profession."
"They loved showbiz so much, and I feel an extension of that," said the devoted son of the late Sea Hunt TV star Lloyd Bridges and actress Dorothy Bridges (and the brother of Beau Bridges). "This is honoring them as much as it is me." He also thanked his wife of 33 years, Sue.
Next up for Bridges will be his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, which 40 years ago won an Oscar for John Wayne. He's making the Western with the No Country for Old Men Oscar-winning Coen Brothers – who've already made Bridges a cult hero as The Dude in their The Big Lebowski.
In the race that was most closely watched on Sunday – between Bigelow's modestly budgeted war movie and her ex-husband James Cameron's futuristic $250-million, 3-D extravaganza Avatar, the highest-grossing movie ever – both went into the evening with nine nominations each, including Best Picture and Best Director.
In all, Hurt Locker won for Original Screenplay, Sound Design, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Direction and Picture. Avatar took home three Oscars, for Art direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects.
It also got the last word on the evening. Said co-host Steve Martin after the more than 3½-hour event, "The show is so long that Avatar now takes place in the past."