Peace prevails at the Oscar night love-in

Anti-Bush tirade from Michael Moore eclipses surprise of Polanski award

As soon as Michael Moore appeared on stage to accept his Oscar for best documentary, it was clear that this was going to be no ordinary ceremony. The maker of Bowling for Columbine, the film about gun violence in the US, poured scorn on President Bush and the war in Iraq, provoking cheers and boos inside the Kodak theatre in Hollywood.

On any other night the attention would have been focused on the surprise victories of Roman Polanski, as best director for The Pianist, and Adrien Brody, that film's young star, as best actor.

Polanksi was not there to receive his award since he is still wanted for statutory rape and would have been arrested as soon as he stepped on stage. But the film's British writer, Ronald Harwood, who won the prize for the best adapted screenplay, dedicated his award to the absent director.

An emotional Brody over-ran his allotted time to issue a plea that "whether you believe in God or Allah, may He watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution".

Catherine Zeta Jones, heavily pregnant with her second child, received the best supporting actress prize for her role in Chicago from Sean Connery.

"My Scotsman giving me the Oscar, I can't believe it!" she said. "My hormones are just way too out of control to be dealing with this... everyone in Swansea, south Wales, I love you."

But the 75th Oscars ceremony will be remembered not so much for Chicago winning the best picture prize, Nicole Kidman taking the best actress award for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, or even the long, smacking kiss that Brody gave Halle Berry as he picked up his statuette, but for the many anti-war interventions.

Organisers of the event had expressed a wish beforehand that any remarks and behaviour would be "appropriate".

But as the award was announced for Moore - a man whose whole essence is to be as "inappropriate" as possible - there was never any chance that he would restrict his remarks to tearful thanks to his agent, mother and God.

Having invited all the nominees for the documentary category on stage, Moore declared: "We live in a time when we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons... we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush, shame on you!"

Some cheered, some booed. Backstage afterwards, accused of hijacking the show, Moore was unrepentant and told journalists: "What's great about this country is you're able to speak your mind... we kill each other at an enormous rate, more so than virtually any other country on this planet. What was the lesson we taught the children of Columbine this week? That violence is an acceptable means to resolve a conflict."

There was no red carpet this year and outside hundreds of police surrounded the theatre. A dozen anti-war protesters, some covered in fake blood, were arrested after clashes with the police.

Inside the theatre, notable for the number of black dresses and peace pins in the shape of doves, the night's presenter, Steve Martin, wasted no time in mocking the altered tone. "I'm glad they cut back on all the glitz," he said. "You notice no fancy red carpet tonight. That'll send them a message."

Pedro Almodovar, who won the best original screenplay award for his film, Talk to Her, dedicated his award to "all the people raising their voice in respect of peace, human rights... and international legality". Later, he criticised the Spanish and American governments over the war but stressed that he was not "anti-American".

Gael Garcia Bernal, the young Mexican actor from Y Tu Mama Tambien, who was one of the night's presenters, broke away from his script to refer to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, subject of the film Frida: "If she was alive, she would be on our side against the war."

The British director Stephen Daldry, who had been nominated for The Hours, wore a CND badge, and actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins flashed peace signs as they arrived.

Peter O'Toole, who won an honorary Oscar, paid tribute to the US and spoke afterwards about how it reminded him of winning a swimming prize as a 12-year-old during the second world war.

There were some laughs. Denzel Washington told Nicole Kidman she had won her Oscar "by a nose", a reference to her false proboscis in The Hours. But the news flashes of casualties and shelling and bombs meant that reality was never that far away.

And the winners are...

Best picture Chicago
Best director Roman Polanksi, The Pianist
Best actor Adrien Brody, The Pianist
Best actress Nicole Kidman, The Hours
Best supporting actor Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Best supporting actress Catherine Zeta Jones, Chicago
Adapted Screenplay The Pianist, Ronald Harwood
Animated Feature Spirited Away
Animated Short Film The ChubbChubbs!
Art Direction Chicago
Cinematography Road to Perdition
Costume Chicago
Documentary Feature Bowling for Columbine
Documentary (short subject) Twin Towers
Film Editing Chicago
Foreign Film Nowhere in Africa (Germany)
Live Action Short Film This Charming Man (Der Er En Yndig Mand)
Makeup Frida
Original Score Frida
Original Screenplay Talk to Her, Pedro Almodovar
Original Song Lose Yourself, from 8 Mile (Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto)
Sound Chicago
Sound editing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Visual effects The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Honorary award Peter O'Toole
Merit award Alias/Wavefront for Maya computer imaging software
Merit award Arnold & Richter Cine Technik and Panavision for camera systems


Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles

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