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A night of many firsts for Hollywood

LOS ANGELES – The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” won best picture and five other prizes Sunday at the Academy Awards, its haul including best director for Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow is the first woman in the 82-year history of the Oscars to earn Hollywood’s top prize for filmmakers.

“There’s no other way to describe it. It’s the moment of a lifetime,” Bigelow said. “It’s so extraordinary to be in the company of my fellow nominees, such powerful filmmakers, who have inspired me and I have admired, some of them for decades.”

Among those Bigelow and “The Hurt Locker” beat are ex-husband James Cameron and his sci-fi spectacle “Avatar.” Bigelow and Cameron were married from 1989-91.

Cameron was seated right behind Bigelow at the Oscars and joined a standing ovation for her, clapping vigorously and saying, “Yes, yes” after she won.

First-time winners took all four acting prizes: Sandra Bullock as best actress for “The Blind Side”; Jeff Bridges as best actor for “Crazy Heart”; Mo’Nique as supporting actress for “Precious,” and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for “Inglourious Basterds.”

The Oscar marks a career peak for Bridges, a beloved Hollywood veteran who had been nominated four times in the previous 38 years without winning. Bridges, who played a boozy country singer trying to clean up his act, held his Oscar aloft and thanked his late parents, actor Lloyd Bridges and poet Dorothy Bridges.

“Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession,” said Bridges, recalling how his mother would get her children to entertain at parties and his father would sit on the bed teaching him the basics of acting for an early part he landed on his dad’s TV show “Sea Hunt.”

“I feel an extension of them. This is honoring them as much as it is me,” Bridges said.

Bullock, an industry darling who had never before been nominated, won for her role as a wealthy woman who takes in homeless future NFL star Michael Oher, who was living on the streets as a teen.

The award wraps up a wild year for Bullock, who had box-office smashes with “Blind Side” and “The Proposal” and a flop with “All About Steve,” which earned her the worst-actress trophy at the Razzies the night before the Oscars.

“Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?” Bullock asked the Oscar crowd. Bullock gushed with praise for her fellow nominees, including Meryl Streep, who she joked is “such a good kisser.”

“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner,” one of five films nominated in the short documentary category, lost to “Music by Prudence.” The documentary about the former Washington governor told the story of his personal struggle with Parkinson’s disease and his very public battle to pass the Death with Dignity law.

The supporting-acting winners capped remarkable years, Mo’Nique startling fans with dramatic depths previously unsuspected in the actress known for lowbrow comedy and the Austrian-born Waltz leaping to fame with his first big Hollywood role.

“I would like to thank the academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics,” said Mo’Nique, who plays the heartless, abusive welfare mother of an illiterate teen in the Harlem drama “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

Mo’Nique added her gratitude to the first black actress to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, the 1939 supporting-actress winner for “Gone With the Wind.”

“I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to,” she said.

“Precious” also won the adapted-screenplay Oscar for Geoffrey Fletcher.

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