Veteran director Martin Scorsese and his crime tale The Departed were big winners at the 79th annual Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, California. The drama won four of the movie industry honors. Mike O'Sullivan reports, Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker earned key acting awards.

Martin Scorsese was named best director for The Departed, a crime thriller set in Boston. The Departed also earned the key Oscar for best picture, and awards for its adapted screenplay and film editing.

Scorsese was a six-time directing nominee, but this was his first Oscar. He was favored to win this year, but seemed surprised.

"Thank you. Please, please. Thank you, thank you. Could you double check the envelope?" Scorsese said.

Helen Mirren was named best actress for her role as Britain's Queen Elizabeth in The Queen. The film looks at the royal family after the death of Princess Diana.

Accepting the award, Mirren paid tribute to the woman she emulated.

"And I salute her courage and her consistency, and I thank her because if it wasn't for her, I most certainly would not be here. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen!" she said.

Forest Whitaker was named best actor for his role as Idi Amin, the former Ugandan dictator, in The Last King of Scotland.

The actor said he has come a long way since his youth in rural Texas and inner-city Los Angeles.

"It is possible for a kid from East Texas raised in South-Central L.A. and Carson who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them and have them happen," Whitaker said.

Jennifer Hudson was named best supporting actress for her role as a rhythm and blues singer in the musical Dreamgirls. The Chicago native found fame on the talent show American Idol. Like Whitaker, Hudson is African American, and said she had opportunities denied to her grandmother, who was her inspiration.


"She was a singer and she had the passion for it, but she never had the chance," she said. "And that was the thing that pushed me forward to continue."

Alan Arkin received the Oscar for best supporting actor for the comedy Little Miss Sunshine. The film also won an award for its original screenplay.

The documentary An Inconvenient Truth earned an Oscar for its producers. The film features former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and focuses on his crusade against global warming. Gore said the issue of climate warming is a moral, not a political, issue.

"People all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It is not a political issue, it is a moral issue," Gore said. "We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That is a renewable resource. Let us renew it."

Pan's Labyrinth, a fantasy from Mexico won three Oscars, for its art direction, makeup and cinematography. But the Oscar for best foreign-language picture went to a German film called The Lives of Others.