Slumdog Millionaire, the ultimate up-from-the-streets story, won eight Oscars to dominate a ceremony that emphasized populist films alongside artsy fare.
Kate Winslet scored best actress for The Reader; Sean Penn won best actor for Milk; Penelope Cruz scored best supporting actress for her role in Vicki Christina Barcelona; and in the night's most emotional moment, Heath Ledger's family accepted his best supporting actor award for The Dark Knight. (Check out the full list of winners.)
The ceremony stressed audience-friendly films not only with its prizes for the audience-pleasing Slumdog, but also with salutes to comedy and action films that rarely get awards. Slumdog won in all but two of its categories for the biggest Oscar sweep since Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 awards five years ago.
Penn, who played gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, thanked Academy voters he jokingly called "homo-loving sons of guns." He also called fellow nominee Mickey Rourke his "brother" and warned opponents of gay marriage that they would someday be ashamed of their position.
Winslet, who won for the first time after six nominations, joked that she first rehearsed an acceptance speech with a shampoo bottle when she was eight years old.
"Well, it's not a shampoo bottle now," she said.
Ledger's family accepted the award on behalf of his daughter, Matilda, to one of many standing ovations. The actor died on Jan. 22, 2008, and was nominated a year to the day later.
"When he came home for Christmas a year ago, he had been sending me shots and bits and pieces of the film," Ledger's sister, Kate, said backstage. "He hadn't seen them, I hadn't seen them, no one had really seen them. He knew, when I said ... 'I have a feeling, this is it for you, you're going to get a nomination.' And he just looked at me and smiled."
What do you think? Are you happy with the awards?