SCORSESE FINALLY SCORES AN OSCAR

After being nominated six times for a best director Oscar, Martin Scorsese finally held the award in his hands Sunday night. Moreover, The Departed, the film that he won it for, also was awarded the top prize as best picture, which was accepted by producer Graham King. "So many people have been wishing this for me and my family," Scorsese told the audience at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and a worldwide TV audience. "People walking down the street, every time I go to the doctor's office, when I go in for an X-ray, everyone has been telling me I deserve it and they want me to win it." The movie also won for best adapted screenplay (William Monahan) and for best editing (Thelma Schoonmaker). There were no surprises among the other major awards. Helen Mirren received the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen; Forest Whitaker, the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland; Jennifer Hudson, the best supporting actress Oscar for Dreamgirls; and Alan Arkin, the best supporting actor Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.

MORE AWARDS

In a rush of other awards over the weekend, Lady Chatterley drew the best film trophy at France's César Awards Saturday night, while Little Miss Sunshine won for best foreign film. The film also won best picture at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, CA, which honors independent films. At the annual Razzies Awards in Hollywood, Basic Instinct 2 was (dis)honored as the year's worst picture. And at the GAYVN Awards in San Francisco, Michael Lucas's La Dolce Vita took top prize. (According to the San Francisco Chronicle, host Kathy Griffin remarked at one point during the awards program, "No one has thanked Jesus yet. That's bull****.")

GHOST RIDER BACK IN SADDLE AGAIN

Sony's Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage,galloped ahead of four new entries in the box-office race over the weekend, taking in an estimated $19.7 million in ticket sales, box-office trackers Media by Numbers said Sunday. New Line's The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey,was number two on the list with $15.1 million. (New Line distribution chief David Tuckerman told the Los Angeles Times that although the film opened at the low end of the studio's expectations, it cost only $30 million to make and would therefore earn a profit.) Disney's Bridge to Terabithia slipped to third place with $13.6 million. Reno 911!: Miami, based on the Comedy Central show, debuted in fourth place with $10.4 million. Two other newcomers, The Astronaut Farmer and Amazing Grace failed to make much of an impression. Farmer, starring Billy Bob Thornton, placed ninth with $4.52 million, followed by Grace with $4.3 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. Ghost Rider, $19.7 million; 2. The Number 23, $15.1 million; 3. Bridge to Terabithia, $13.6 million; 4. Reno 911!: Miami $10.4 million; 5. Norbit, $9.7 million; 6. Music & Lyrics, $8 million; 7. Breach, $6.2 million; 8. Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, $5.3 million; 9. The Astronaut Farmer, $4.5 million; 10. Amazing Grace, $4.3 million.

TEXAN RECEIVES BILLIONTH NETFLIX FLICK

Online video renter Netflix delivered its 1 billionth DVD, a copy of Babel, to a customer in Helotes, Texas over the weekend. The customer, who was not identified, will receive a free lifetime subscription, the company said. Netflix debuted 7 1/2 years ago. Reporting on the company's milestone, the Associated Press commented that it "provides further validation for a concept that was once was mocked as just another wacky idea to emerge from the Internet boom of the late 1990s. ... Netflix is fast becoming as much of a household fixture as the living room couch."

BITTORRENT GOING LEGIT

BitTorrent, a name that has become anathema to the major movie studios, which have accused it of facilitating Internet piracy, plans to launch the BitTorrent Entertainment Network that will sell legal downloads of films and TV shows from Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, MGM, and Lionsgate, the Associated Press reported today (Monday). Users will be able to rent new movies for $3.99, older ones for $2.99, and TV shows for $1.99. They can be viewed within a 24-hour period. Unlike the bootleg versions, the ones from the studios cannot be burned onto DVDs. Ashwin Navin, president and co-founder of BitTorrent told the A.P. that the studios had demanded BitTorrent charge prices for permanent downloads that the web service thought were too high. Navin told A.P.: "We need to give [customers] a price that feels like a good value relative to what they were getting for free."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.