By Caroline Briggs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, in Los Angeles
Dark clouds and rain loomed over Los Angeles when the city woke up on the day of the 80th Academy Awards.
This year's acting winners shared a moment of celebration
It was, perhaps, prophetic that the night would be dominated by a dark violent tale about a psychopathic serial killer.
No Country For Old Men scooped four awards - including best film, and best adapted screenplay and director for Joel and Ethan Coen - in a night that saw few surprises.
Despite their well-deserved victory, the brothers were characteristically guarded when they arrived backstage to face the press.
Asked about the pressure of being favourite to win, the younger, and more reticent Ethan, shook his head awkwardly, and struggled to speak before saying: "We try not to think about it."
But Joel did manage a few more words to pay tribute to his fellow best film nominees.
"I think it was a special year. It's almost like a cliche but all the movies nominated this year were really interesting to me personally and that is not always the case.
"I thought there were really fantastically good movies."
As well as being a good night for the Coens - whose journey from the Hollywood fringes to mainstream must now surely be complete - it was also a fruitful night for European stars.
It prompted British best supporting actress winner Tilda Swinton to say: "Don't tell everybody, but we're everywhere - that's what Hollywood is."
And it did seem like they were everywhere.
It was the first time in 44 years that all the main acting awards - best actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress - were won by non-Americans.
Swinton and Daniel Day-Lewis led the British charge, while Javier Bardem became the first Spanish man to win a best supporting actor gong.
French star Marion Cotillard, who beat the much fancied Julie Christie to be named best actress for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, was visibly shaking but shimmering as she entered the press room clutching her golden statuette.
But she charmed the cynical press pack with a rendition of Piaf's Padam, Padam, Padam, receiving a standing ovation from a few.
"I'm totally overwhelmed with joy, and sparkles, and fireworks and everything that goes bom-bom-bom!" she laughed.
Captured the imagination
Bardem was hijacked by his fellow countrymen backstage, all keen to talk to him about his portrayal of emotionless killing machine Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
After speaking only in Spanish for a few minutes, there was laughter when a US journalist said she wanted to "share some of this joy in English".
"But I said some pretty good things out there in Spanish," he quipped.
Daniel Day-Lewis told reporters why he had kissed George Clooney
Best actor Day-Lewis was the last to come backstage, and there was one thing everyone wanted to know: Why did he kiss George Clooney when he won?
"Well, apart from anything else he was the nearest fellow nominee," he explained.
"He's just a great guy. I had to kiss someone. I kissed my wife, and in the interest of parity, I kissed George."
Quirky comedy Juno did not leave empty-handed despite losing out in the big categories.
Writer Diablo Cody said she was "thrilled" to take home the best original screenplay Oscar for her debut script.
She offered advice to other aspiring writers keen to get their work snapped up.
"It is so important to get your work out to as many places as you possibly can.
"And I know that sounds like it's a given, but even if it means self-publishing, it could mean blogging, it could mean Xeroxing your own and handing it out on the street.
"You need to have as many eyes pass over what you write as possible because otherwise, you won't meet the right people."
One of the evening's most touching moments came when Marketa Irglova, joint winner of best original song, was invited back on stage after her acceptance speech was cut off.
Host Jon Stewart brought her back onto the stage to try again.
She said: "It was great to get that chance and I'm grateful to them for doing that."
Original screenplay winner Diablo Cody gave advice to budding writers
The rags-to-riches tale of the film Once, which the winning song Falling Slowly was written for, captured the imagination of the press room.
The Irish film, starring Irglova and Glen Hansard, was made on a budget of less than £100,000, and became the darling of the Sundance Film Festival when it was shown there last year.
A refreshingly excited and down-to-earth Hansard reminded the press room of the true reason everyone was there - making movies.
"It's not about making money and it's not about winning these, even though this is great," he said.
"It's about making something real and if you do that then these awards become available to you if that makes sense.
"It's a weird irony."