The Departed takes top honors at 79th Academy Awards

The 79th Academy Awards finished quietly last Sunday when first-time host Ellen DeGeneres closed the ceremony with a few quick words, but the lengthy broadcast prior to that was filled with the usual flair-filled proceedings featuring heart-felt speeches, some over-wrought musical numbers, and the usual medley of questionably necessary film montages.

The evening was filled with wry comedic moments provided by DeGeneres. Throughout the ceremony, she provided short comedic diversions. When she went into the audience and met Clint Eastwood for the first time and asked to have her picture taken with him for her Myspace account, she proved her aptitude for mixing celebrity commentary with hip laughs.

Alan Arkin won Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine early on in the evening, beating out favorite Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls. Arkin had been nominated twice before for supporting acting roles in the 1960s. Murphy shouldn't be too upset though, as his recent film Norbit has grossed over $70 million.

Pan's Labyrinth surprisingly lost the best foreign language film Oscar to the German film The Lives of Others, although Labyrinth did pick up a handful of other awards earlier in the evening, particularly for Art Direction and Cinematography.

Jennifer Hudson, an American Idol finalist, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Dreamgirls. Dreamgirls was given the benefit of a massive Oscar-buzz campaign, but Best-Supporting Actress was its lone award.

Award presenter Jerry Seinfeld riffed for minutes on his own material before giving the Oscar for Best Documentary. Davis Guggenheim won the award for An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's global warming documentary.

The broadcast moved along at the usual clip, lagging with some musical numbers such as a "world premier" of a Celine Dion song. Without the bravado of last year's winners Three Six Mafia, or powerhouse players U2, this year's show felt over-bloated with Dreamgirls numbers and musical montages. Melissa Ethridge's performance, however, was a particular standout.

Babel's Gustavo Santaolalla won for Original Score. He has worked with director Inarritu on every one of his feature films, including 21 Grams and Amorres Perros. He won last year for Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.

The Departed's Thelma Schoonmaker won for film editing. She won last year for The Aviator, and has been nominated five times for working with Scorsese.

Little Miss Sunshine won for Best Original Screenplay later in the evening. With Arkin's win, the small independent movie proved to be a surprisingly strong contender at the ceremony.

In it's final failing grasp in trying to acquire some Oscar glory, Dreamgirls was closed out in the best original song category, even though it received three out of five nominations in the category. Melissa Ethridge was given the award for her original piece made for An Inconvenient Truth.

Helen Mirren won the Best Actress trophy for The Queen, which was no surprise to anyone in the audience. Mirren picked up numerous top acting prizes before the Oscars. Mirren beat out Oscar regulars Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, and Academy Award newcomer Penelope Cruz.

Forest Whitaker followed the predictable wins with an Oscar for Best Actor. Like Mirren, he picked up a number of awards for his performance in The Last King of Scotland prior to the ceremony, paving the way for his win.

Martin Scorcese finally won an Oscar after a long and illustrious career of crafting singularly American, Oscar-nominated films, with his work in The Departed. The film also took the top honor of Best Picture as well, giving producer Graham King his first Oscar.