HOLLYWOOD -- Kathryn Bigelow played field commander to bring her raw, relentless Iraq War thriller "The Hurt Locker" to the screen.
After her film triumphed at the Academy Awards with six prizes and made her the first woman ever to win the directing Oscar, she graduated to diplomat with her deft handling of some uncomfortable personal questions from reporters after the show.
Bigelow's rivals included a man from her past -- ex-husband James Cameron, whose science-fiction epic "Avatar" also was nominated for the best picture and director that she won.
Backstage, Bigelow judiciously handled reporters' queries about Cameron, who was seated right behind her at the Oscars and joined the standing ovation she received, clapping heartily and saying, "Yes, yes" after she won best director.
"Jim is very inspiring. I think he inspires filmmakers around the world, and for that, I think I can speak for all of them. We're quite grateful," Bigelow said.
Asked what she might say to Cameron about winning over him, Bigelow gave a big laugh and shrugged off the question.
"You left me speechless," Bigelow said. She and Cameron were married from 1989-91, and Cameron won best director and picture for his 1997 blockbuster "Titanic."
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First-time winners took all four acting prizes: Sandra Bullock as best actress for "The Blind Side"; Jeff Bridges as best actor for "Crazy Heart"; Mo'Nique as supporting actress for "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire"; and Christoph Waltz as supporting actor for "Inglourious Basterds."
Bigelow downplayed descriptions of herself as a female filmmaker throughout awards season. After the Oscars, she reiterated that sentiment but made it clear she was eager for other women to follow her lead in winning Hollywood's top filmmaking honor.
"I hope I'm the first of many, and of course, I'd love to just think of myself as a filmmaker. And I long for the day when that modifier can be a moot point," Bigelow said. "But I'm very grateful if I can inspire some young, intrepid, tenacious male or female filmmaker and have them feel that the impossible is possible, and never give up on your dream."
List of winners
Bullock's win came a day after she won worst-actress for her romantic comedy flop "All About Steve" at the Razzies, a spoof of the Oscars that mocks Hollywood's low-points of the year.
The Razzie win makes Bullock the only actress to receive that dubious prize and an Oscar on the same weekend. Bullock became one of the few Razzie winners ever to collect her trophy in person, showing up at the ceremony Saturday pulling a little red wagon filled with DVDs of "All About Steve" for the audience there.
Where will she keep her Oscar and Razzie?
"They'll sit side by side on a nice little shelf somewhere. The Razzie maybe on a different shelf. Lower," said Bullock, who was a great sport throughout awards season, joking about her worst-actress Razzie nomination. "You take the good with the not-so-good."
The Oscar marks a career peak for Bridges, a beloved Hollywood veteran who had been nominated four times in the previous 38 years without winning. Describing his long career, he borrowed some lines from one of his most endearing and enduring characters, the laid-back bowler the Dude from "The Big Lebowski."
"Ups and downs. What does the Dude say? Strikes and gutters, man," Bridges said backstage. "I'm big on the Dude. I love him."
Known mainly for brazen comedy routines and roles in lowbrow films, Mo'Nique startled audiences with a dark turn as a reprehensible welfare mother in "Precious."
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