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Lights! Camera! Glamour!

The 80th annual Academy Awards honored a year of darkly-themed films, but the ceremony included a few bright surprises.

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Bardem, speaking double time, thanked the Coens for their decision to "to put one of the most horrible haircuts in history on my head." Then he spoke quickly in Spanish, saying, "mama, this is for you . . ."

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There was a dollop of politics. When Alex Gibney won for his documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side," about the use of torture in the war on terror, the director said he made it to honor his father, a former Navy interrogator, who was outraged at abuses revealed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. "Let's hope we can turn this country around and move from the dark side to the light," Gibney said.

Out on the red carpet, Paul Haggis (the director whose "Crash" won Best Picture in 2006) said he didn't know what accounts for all these deeply dark, brooding, troubled films. But isn't it obvious, he asked, flashing an orange ribbon on his lapel. Orange, why orange? "It's Guantanamo," his Max Azria-clad wife, Deborah, said, showing off her orange bracelet, which read: "Silence + torture = complicity." Suddenly, we noticed -- orange ribbons and bracelets everywhere.

Diablo Cody, the retired exotic dancer, took home a gold statue for Original Screenplay for "Juno." "This is for the writers," Cody said, flashing an excellent shoulder tattoo. She also gave a shout-out to her director, Jason Reitman, "who I consider a member of my family." When she began to thank her own family for letting Diablo be Diablo ( aw) she broke down in tears, and then seemed frustrated by her tears.

Owen Wilson was back, as a presenter, looking healthy and calm, after his widely reported suicide attempt last year. He received a polite round of applause. He was followed by Jerry Seinfeld, still flogging that Barry the Bee thing, who gave away the statute for Best Animated Short.

When Jennifer Hudson announced that Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a highly unethical lawyer in "Michael Clayton," it looked as if Swinton mouthed the word "wow" over and over. Onstage, she began, "Oh, no, ahh, happy birthday, man." Then she mentioned that she had this American agent, Brian Swardstrom of Endeavor, "who is the spitting image of this," as she fondled her golden man. "Same head and it has to be said, the buttock." Brian Swardstrom died and went to Heaven. Then Swinton talked a bit about her co-star George Clooney's nipples, until the orchestra cut in.

Backstage, Swinton said she was "stoked." Asked about her wow-wow-wow, she said, "I had a reverse 'Zoolander' moment (perhaps you had to see the film, starring Ben Stiller, as a vain male model) when I thought I heard someone else's name and slowly heard my name. You could tell me my dress fell off and I would believe you, so don't be cruel."

There was a sweet moment when Glen Hansard and Mark¿ta Irglov¿ won for the song "Falling Slowly" from the indie film "Once." As Hansard said, "Tanks!" The film was shot for $100,000 with a couple of cheapo cameras. "This is amazing," Hansard said. "Make art. Make art."

Stewart quipped, "that guy is so arrogant." But then he nicely brought back Irglov¿ to say her tank-yous after she had been cut off by the Oscar orchestra, which seemed to rush winners offstage even as the show showed one old movie clip after another. Memory Lane, we feared, was a dead-end street.

Hey, look! Austria won. For Best Foreign Language Film, "The Counterfeiters," about a forger working against his Nazi captors in a concentration camp. "Austria is all about opera and theater and music, but being nominated was something exciting for the whole country," said director Stefan Ruzowitzky.


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