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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scorsese Finally Bags Best Director Oscar

HOLLYWOOD -- Twenty-six years and seven snubs after his first Oscar nomination, for "Raging Bull," Martin Scorsese finally felt the warm embrace of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as he was named best director and his murderous mob thriller "The Departed" was named the best picture of 2006.

"Could you double-check the envelope?" Scorsese quipped after silencing a raucous standing ovation of cheering academy members.

"I'm so moved," he said, accepting the directing prize. "So many people over the years have been wishing this for me. Strangers -- I go into doctors' offices, elevators, I go for an x-ray -- they say: 'You should win one.'"

Forest Whitaker won best actor for his performance as the cunning, seductive and savage Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

"Receiving this honor tells me that it's possible," Whitaker said. "It is possible, for a kid from East Texas, raised in South Central L.A., and Carson, who believes in dreams, who believes them in his heart, to touch them and have them happen."

Helen Mirren took the best actress award for her performance as a traditional monarch in a modern world in "The Queen."

Graham King, the only of three credited producers permitted to accept the best-picture award for "The Departed," said: "To be standing here, where Martin Scorsese won his Oscar, is such a joy."

"Pan's Labyrinth," Guillermo Del Toro's magical-realist fantasy set in 1944 fascist Spain, received Oscars for cinematography, art direction and makeup at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, but fell short of its ultimate prize, best foreign-language film, which went to "The Lives of Others," from Germany.

Jennifer Hudson, the "American Idol" reject turned star of "Dreamgirls," was named best supporting actress, giving two of the four acting awards to African-Americans. And Alan Arkin, the cranky, heroin-snorting grandfather in the bittersweet family comedy "Little Miss Sunshine," won best supporting actor.

"Little Miss Sunshine" also won for its original screenplay by Michael Arndt, who had to wait seven years for his script to be produced. "When I was a kid, my family drove 500 miles in a van with a broken clutch," he said, explaining the source of his inspiration. "It ended up being one of the funnest things we did together."

On a night in which several top awards came as no surprise, "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary on global warming featuring Al Gore, won best documentary feature.

"I made this movie for my children," said the director, Davis Guggenheim, his arm on Gore's shoulder. "We were moved to act by this man."

Gore took the opportunity to underline the film's message. "My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis," he said, adding that the "will to act" was a renewable resource. "Let's renew it," he said.

That film also won the best original song award, for "I Need to Wake Up," by Melissa Etheridge, upsetting "Dreamgirls," which had three songs in contention. Holding her Oscar aloft backstage, Etheridge quipped that it would be "the only naked man who will ever be in my bedroom."

The awards for Del Toro's movie came on a night in which his and two other films by Mexican directors were up for a total of 16 honors. One of them, "Babel," won for its original score by Gustavo Santaolalla, who also won last year for "Brokeback Mountain."

Accepting for best supporting actor, Arkin said "Little Miss Sunshine" was about "innocence, growth and connection." His voice cracking, he praised his fellow actors, saying acting was a "team sport." He added: "I can't work at all unless I feel the spirit of unity around me."

Ellen DeGeneres made her first appearance as the host of the movie industry's annual celebration of itself, on a night expected to have its share of pregnant moments. DeGeneres said it had been a lifelong dream of hers to be host for the Oscars, rather than to win one.

"Let that be a lesson to you kids out there: Aim lower,"she said.