The musical extravaganza "Chicago" won Best Picture and five other Oscars at the 75th Academy Awards tonight, but the antiwar statements of a few Oscar winners also made a memorable stir.
Adrien Brody won the Oscar for Best Actor for his moving portrayal of the real-life pianist and Holocaust survivor Wladislaw Szpilman in "The Pianist." Nicole Kidman won for Best Actress for playing the writer Virginia Woolf in "The Hours." A short while later, Roman Polanski -- in exile in Paris since fleeing statutory rapes charges involving a 13-year-old in California in 1977 -- was named Best Director for "The Pianist."
But the most shocking moment, which provoked boos from the celebrity audience, was a speech by filmmaker Michael Moore, accepting his Oscar for t Documentary Feature. He excoriated President Bush for waging war in Iraq, calling the war and Bush's presidency "fictitious."
Brody later mentioned the war in his acceptance speech, saying that he was filled with both joy and sadness at the award.
"My experiences making this film made me very aware of sadness and dehumanization of people in times of war, the repercussions of war," he said. "Whomever you believe in, whether God or Allah, may He watch over you. Let us pray for a peaceful and swift resolution."
The audience gave him a standing ovation.
Until Moore's Oscar acceptance, midway through the telecast, there was relatively little talk of the war. "Chicago," based on the Broadway musical about two murderous chorus girls, won not only Best Picture, but for art direction, costume design, sound, editing and supporting actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Zeta-Jones, who is nine months pregnant, quipped: "My hormones are way too out of control to be dealing with this."
Brody's win was unexpected in a category that had tipped veteran Jack Nicholson and the much-respected Daniel Day-Lewis as the favorites. The 29-year-old actor grabbed presenter Halle Berry and kissed her passionately before giving his speech.
"The Pianist" also won for Best Adapted Screenplay, the award going to writer Ronald Harwood, who adapted Szpilman's memoirs.
In accepting the Best Actress award, Kidman said it was important to hold the Oscars in a time of war "because art is important, and because you believe in what you do. And you want to honor that. It is a tradition that needs to be upheld."
On a day when the news from the Middle East was dismal, the war slowly seeped into the ceremony. Presenter Susan Sarandon made a peace sign as she stepped onstage, while other celebrities such as presenter Salma Hayek and Oscar winner Chris Cooper wore dove pins to signify peace.
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, introducing the Best Song nominee from the film "Frida," about painter and leftist activist Frida Kahlo, implored: "The necessity for peace in the world is not a dream, it's a reality. . . . If Frida was alive, she would be on our side, against the war."
Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodovar, who won the Oscar for Original Screenplay for "Talk to Her," dedicated his award to "all the people raising their voices in favor of peace."
But it was guerrilla filmmaker Moore who sparked a sensation with his comments. The Detroit-based documentarian -- who has made a career of goading chieftains of corporate America and right-wing politicians -- won a standing ovation after winning Best Documentary Feature for his anti-gun documentary "Bowling for Columbine." But moments later he was booed roundly for his strident statement from the podium, as he was joined by his fellow nominees.
Moore said: "They are here in solidarity with me, because we like nonfiction, and we live in fictitious times." He went on to lament "fictitious election results. . . . a fictitious President. Bush, who is sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war, Mister Bush. Shame on you, Mister Bush."
Backstage, Martin Richards, producer of "Chicago," said he was against the war, but he was also "pro my troops. I have a pin that says peace . . . but I won't wear it for one reason. I don't want one soldier to see me wear a pin that's against him." Then he added: "I hope there is peace. . . . I want this war to be over."
"Frida" won two awards, for best original score and makeup. Composer Elliot Goldenthal dedicated his award "to the bridges we tried to build, to the people of Mexico, to personal and political art. For you, Mexico."
Cooper won the Oscar for Supporting Actor for his inspired portrayal of toothless orchid thief John Laroche in the quirky film "Adaptation."
In accepting the award, a misty-eyed Cooper thanked director Spike Jonze and his co-star Meryl Streep, who played writer Susan Orlean in the film. "Working with this woman was like making great jazz," he said. He also took a moment to say: "I wish us all peace."
Backstage the soft-spoken actor, who wore a dove pin on his lapel, said his wife had pushed him to take the role. "Initially I didn't know if I was capable of fulfilling the role. But Mary Ann says time and again if you shy away from roles, you better pursue them."
Hip-hop star Eminem won an Oscar -- for Original Song -- and so did Peter O'Toole, an honorary Oscar. O'Toole said that "as I totter into antiquity, movie magic enraptures me still. . . . You're very good. Good night and God bless." Eminem did not attend the ceremony.
O'Toole was one of the few backstage who said the Oscars were a symbol of what troops were fighting for. He said he remembered when World War II began in 1939, as a young boy. "If we civilians can't go on properly, why on earth are they fighting? There's no point surely," he said.
Best Picture nominee "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" won Oscars for sound editing and visual effects. The film was praised primarily for its creation of the character Gollum, a desiccated former Hobbit, which was considered a leap forward in the digital creation of a believable, human-like character.
Co-winner Randy Cook said the cutting-edge computer effects only worked because of the work of actor Andy Serkis, who provided the template for Gollum's tortured personality. Said Cook: "You get back to acting, that's what sets him apart. Without acting he'd just be a special effect."
"Spirited Away," a Japanese movie about a little girl lost in a fantasyland, won Best Animated Feature.
Another surprise was the lack of awards for "Gangs of New York," an ambitious tableau of the violent street fights in 19th-century Manhattan, directed by Martin Scorsese. The Miramax film had been nominated for 10 awards, and Scorsese was considered a favorite for Best Director.
In deference to the war, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had toned down the usual red-carpet parade of nominees and celebrities, where most years the international media and fans coo over the stars and their outfits. This year limousines pulled up to the entrance of the Kodak Theatre and stepped onto a very subdued red carpet, where about a dozen photographers took their picture. And there were no comments about the war at all in a few brief television interviews organized by the academy.
In the closing moments of the show, host Steve Martin finally made his own reference to the war, saying: "To our young men and women overseas who are watching, we hope you enjoyed the show, it's for you."