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Oscars begin with wins for Precious

Gritty independent drama Precious won two Oscars here Sunday as the 82nd Academy Awards got under way at Hollwyood's Kodak Theater in front of a galaxy of stars.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2010 08:56 IST

Gritty independent drama Precious won two Oscars here Sunday as the 82nd Academy Awards got under way at Hollwyood's Kodak Theater in front of a galaxy of stars.

Director Lee Daniels's film about an obese, illiterate, sexually abused teenager from Harlem won Oscars for best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay at a new-look awards show.

Mo'Nique won the supporting actress prize for her performance as an abusive parent, making her only the only the fourth black actress in history to win an Oscar following Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg and Halle Berry.

The 42-year-old paid tribute to trailblazing Gone With the Wind actress McDaniel in her acceptance speech.

"I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to," Mo'Nique said.

In other early awards, Austria's Christoph Waltz scooped the first honors of the night in the best supporting actor category for his portrayal of a sadistic Nazi officer in Quentin Tarantino's World War Two film Inglourious Basterds.

"Oscar and Penelope -- that's uber bingo," a delighted Waltz said after receiving the famous golden statuette from Spanish siren Penelope Cruz.

"There's no way I can ever thank you enough but I can start right now -- thank you," Waltz added.

Up, about an elderly gent who ties balloons to his home to live his dream of seeing the wilds of South America, took the award for best animated feature.

Earlier hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kicked off the proceedings with a wise-cracking intro which saw several nominees introduced from the audience.

Spotting The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for best director alongside ex-husband James Cameron, Martin couldn't resist a gag.

"She was so pleased to be nominated with (Cameron) she sent him a gift basket with a timer," Martin said.

"He reciprocated by sending her a Toyota," Baldwin chimed.

All eyes are on the David v Goliath battle between the low-budget The Hurt Locker -- made for around 11 million dollars -- and Avatar, which cost around 500 million dollars and is the highest-grossing movie in history with earnings of over 2.5 billion dollars to date.

Both films have nine nominations each, including best picture and best director. Bigelow's film about a US Army bomb disposal squad has emerged as favorite after winning a series of awards leading into the Oscars.

The movie won an early Oscar Sunday for best original screenplay, with writer Mark Boal paying tribute to US troops in his acceptance speech.

"I would also like to thank and dedicate this to the troops, the 115,000, who are still in Iraq, 120,000 (in) Afghanistan, and the more than 30,000 wounded and 4,000 who have not made it home," Boal said.

Front-runners have emerged in most of the acting categories, but Sandra Bullock could face a stronger-than-expected challenge in the best actress race.

Bullock, who won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her part in the drama The Blind Side, faces competition from Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), who was nominated for US cinema's top honor for an actress in her debut film.

In the best actor category, popular veteran Jeff Bridges is expected to claim his first Oscar at the fifth attempt.

The 60-year-old has already snatched prizes at the Golden Globes and SAG awards for his heart-wrenching portrayal of a washed up country singer in Crazy Heart.

Other nominees include George Clooney for Up In the Air, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker and Britain's Colin Firth for A Single Man.