It was a night of Old Men and pregnant women at the 80th Annual Academy Awards.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men, considered the frontrunner going into the ceremony, lived up to expectations, racking up a leading four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem.

In accepting the Best Director honor, Joel Coen recalled the experience of making movies alongside his brother since childhood.

“What we do now doesn’t feel that much different from what we were doing then,” Joel Coen said. “We’re very thankful to all of you out there for continuing to let us play in our corner of the sandbox.”

Taking the stage to accept his award earlier in the evening, Bardem paid tribute to the director brothers and their interesting choice of coiffure for his character.

“Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think I could do that and for putting one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head,” Bardem said in his acceptance speech, referring to the unflattering bowl cut he sports in the film.

Bardem, a native of Spain, was just the first European actor to collect an acting honor Sunday. In the end, all four major acting prizes went to Euro-thesps, with France’s Marion Cotillard winning Best Actress for La Vie en Rose, Britain’s Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor for There Will Be Blood and compatriot Tilda Swinton taking home Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton.

Though It girl du jour Ellen Page was passed over in the Best Actress category for her turn as a pregnant teen in Juno, screenwriter Diablo Cody won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the poignant coming-of-age tale.

“This is for the writers,” an emotional Cody said as she hoisted her statuette. “I want to thank all the writers. I especially want to thank my fellow nominees, because I worship you guys. I’m learning from you every day.”

Pregnancy—if not teen pregnancy—was certainly in the spotlight at the awards ceremony, with presenters Jessica Alba, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman all showing off baby bumps of various sizes.

The blatant display of fertility even inspired host Jon Stewart to invent an imaginary award—creatively dubbed the Baby—which he presented to an absent Angelina Jolie.

“The Baby goes to…Angelina Jolie. Oh my god, Angelina Jolie. I’m just stunned. It goes to Angelina Jolie. That’s terrific,” Stewart joked. “Obviously Angelina couldn’t be with us tonight—it’s tough to get 17 babysitters on Oscars night. I’ll accept this Baby on her behalf.”

(Jolie has yet to officially confirm her pregnancy, but her bulging profile at Saturday’s Spirt Awards left little doubt.)

Other big winners of the night were The Bourne Ultimatum, which notched a trio of Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, and There Will Be Blood, which picked up the statuette for Best Cinematography in addition to Day-Lewis’ acting win. La Vie en Rose was also a double winner, picking up the trophy for Best Makeup, on top of Cotillard’s acting victory.

Ratatouille was named Best Animated Film, marking the second Oscar victory for director Brad Bird, who also won in 2004 for The Incredibles.

The Oscar for Best Original Song went to “Falling Slowly” from the Irish film Once, which managed to beat out three songs from Enchanted and a song from August Rush for the win. In a rare do-over, Jon Stewart invited cowinner Markéta Irglová back to give her thank-you speech after the orchestra inadvertently played her offstage.

In an onstage meeting of pregnant woman and old man, Kidman presented the honorary Oscar to 98-year-old production designer Robert Boyle, in recognition of his contributions to classic films including North by Northwest, The Birds, Marnie and Mame.

It was something of a disappointing night for both Atonement and Michael Clayton, with both films losing out in six of the seven categories in which they were nominated. At least Clayton won in a glamour category; Atonement’s lone honor of the night came in the Best Original Score category.

In his second go-round as host, Stewart had plenty of material to work with, ranging from political quips to references to the recently ended writers’ strike.

“The fight is over,” he said at the opening of the show. “So tonight, welcome to the makeup sex.”

* By Sarah Hall (Sun, 24 Feb 2008)