Niagara Gazette

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February 25, 2008

OSCARS: 'No Country' wins big

LOS ANGELES — They ground up Steve Buscemi in a wood-chipper. They made baby-snatchers out of Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. They turned mythic Greek wanderer Odysseus into a Depression-era roots-music minstrel with George Clooney’s face.

Two of the most imaginatively twisted minds in modern film, Joel and Ethan Coen, completed their journey from the fringes to Hollywood’s mainstream on Sunday as their crime saga “No Country for Old Men” won a leading four Academy Awards, including best picture.

In a year when the quirky, offbeat and just plain weird storytelling of the Coens triumphed at the biggest ceremony in show business, the oddball brothers found a lot to like in their fellow nominees.

“It sounds like a cliche, but all the movies that were nominated were really interesting to me personally, and that isn’t always the case,” Joel Coen said. “All of them to me personally I thought were fantastically good movies.”

The Coens’ brooding, bloody tale of violence in a desolate corner of west Texas was the American standard-bearer for an Oscar show that otherwise had an international flair.

All four acting prizes went to Europeans: Frenchwoman Marion Cotillard, the best-actress winner for “La Vie En Rose”; Spaniard Javier Bardem, who took supporting actor for “No Country”; and Brits Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton, he claiming his second best-actor honor for “There Will Be Blood,” she winning supporting actress for “Michael Clayton.”

Talking to reporters backstage, Swinton still was in disbelief, saying she initially thought “I heard someone else’s name and suddenly, slowly heard my own” when she was announced as the winner for her role as a ruthless attorney.

“I’m still recovering from that moment, and I have absolutely no idea what happened after that,” Swinton said. “So, you know, you can tell me my dress fell off and I’d believe you, so don’t be cruel.”

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