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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 08:53 GMT
International feel to 80th Oscars
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

US talent lost out as the 80th Academy Awards celebrated actors and film-makers from across the globe.

Marion Cotillard
Cotillard was recognised for playing Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose
In 1997 - the year The English Patient won nine Academy Awards - host Billy Crystal joked that, along with wheat and auto parts, America's biggest export had become the Oscar.

With winners hailing from Ireland, Italy, Spain, Austria, France and the UK, this was the year that throwaway quip became reality.

Not since 1965 - the year Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, Peter Ustinov and Lila Kedrova took home prizes - have all four acting honours gone to performers hailing from outside the US.

Marion Cotillard's best actress victory made hers the first non-English language performance to win the best actress Oscar since Sophia Loren's in 1962.

Spain's Javier Bardem - winner of this year's best supporting actor Oscar - went so far as to deliver a part of his speech in his native tongue.

It was perhaps with some relief that the movie he was recognised for - Texan-set thriller No Country For Old Men - went on to be named best picture.

Upset

The 2008 Oscars followed the trend set by other awards events this year by spreading the wealth evenly between a number of deserving titles.

Dario Marianelli with Amy Adams
Italian composer Dario Marianelli won Atonement's only Oscar
No Country For Old Men led the honours with four awards, closely followed by The Bourne Ultimatum with three.

With so much quality cinema vying for contention, though, no single film was likely to be a runaway success.

Nor was there likely to be any major upsets in a year when the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem seemed guaranteed of glory.

That said, Cotillard's triumph will surprise some who felt Julie Christie was virtually unbeatable in the best actress stakes.

Tilda Swinton's success for Michael Clayton was a comparable upset - although her film boasted more acting nominations than any other movie, suggesting it would end up winning at least one of the performing prizes.

Signifier

If there is one lesson to be learned from this year's Oscars, it is that the Baftas have become one of the key indicators as to where they will go.

All of the recipients of this year's acting Baftas have gone on to receive Academy Awards - a pretty impressive signifier in anyone's book.

Yes, feted British hopeful Atonement - winner of two Baftas, including best film - only took home one Oscar for its Italian-born composer Dario Marianelli.

Tilda Swinton
Swinton's Oscar triumph followed her surprise Bafta success

Yet Bafta's talent for predicting other Oscar recipients - among them best visual effects winner The Golden Compass - suggest seasoned pundits will be taking its picks rather more seriously in the years ahead.

At the end of the day, the true winner at this year's Academy Awards was Oscar himself.

After all, it was only a fortnight ago that the idea of having a ceremony at all was far from a foregone conclusion.

All things considered, it's doubtful 2008 will go down as a vintage year in Academy Awards history.

But this year has shown that it is better to have a below-par event than not to have one at all.

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