In what is being described by many as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Academy Awards, Brokeback Mountain lost out on the best picture Oscar to Crash in Los Angeles early this morning.

Brokeback Mountain – the story of an illicit affair between two cowboys, which has won almost every other top honour in Hollywood – had been nominated for eight Oscars. It was seen as the front runner at this year’s event.

But while not receiving the top honour, it did take home awards for best director (Ang Lee), best adapted screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) and best musical score (Gustavo Santaolalla). At the awards, Lee commented on the lead characters of his film: “Their names are Ennis and Jack. They taught all of us so much, not just about all the gay men and women in our society but just as important – the greatness of love itself.”

South Africa’s film industry received its first Academy Award for the film Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood. The story of a Soweto gangster who finds a baby in the car that he has hi-jacked was seen by many as the front runner in the best foreign film category. A gleeful Hood accepted the award with shouts of “Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika” and “amandla”. He also gave a nod to all the other foreign film nominees, saying, “We may have foreign language films, but our stories are the same as yours stories. They are about the human heart and emotions.”

Best actor gongs went to Philip Seymour Hoffman (who beat out Brokeback’s Heath Ledger) as the gay author Truman Capote in Capote and Reese Witherspoon as singer June Carter in Walk the Line. The best supporting actor awards (for which Brokeback Mountain’s Michelle Williams and Jake Gyllenhaal were also nominated) were given to George Clooney (Syriana) and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener). Original screenplay was also won by Crash, and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit took home the best animated feature film Oscar.

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