Chicagoan and former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson did the Windy City proud Feb. 25 at the 79th Academy Awards, snagging an Oscar for best supporting actress in a movie for playing Effie in Dreamgirls.
Hudson was a front-runner, and several others who were expected to win did exactly that, including Helen Mirren ( best actress for The Queen ) and Forrest Whitaker ( best actor for The Last King of Scotland ) .
Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar ( after five previous nods ) for The Departed, which also took home top honors as the best film.
One of the upsets of the night occurred relatively early during the four-hour extravaganza when Alan Arkin won best supporting actor for Little Miss Sunshine, surprising Eddie Murphy, who was favored to win for his role in Dreamgirls.
Another surprise occurred when Melissa Etheridge won best song for I Need to Wake Up ( from the documentary An Incovenient Truth ) . In doing so, she beat out three original songs from Dreamgirls. After kissing her wife, actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, Etheridge thanked her and their children.
Of course, Etheridge was not the only lesbian in the spotlight, as Ellen DeGeneres hosted the affair. The camera did pan to actress Portia de Rossi, DeGeneres' girlfriend, and Betty DeGeneres, the host's mother. Many media outlets thought that Ellen DeGeneres was solid, if unspectacular, in her role, with the Associated Press describing her and the show as 'easygoing, comfortable and reliably unsurprising.'
During her introduction of the In Memoriam segment—which honors those in Hollywood who have recently passed away—two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster mentioned the passing of Randy Stone, who created the 18-minute film Trevor, a short about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide after his friends and peers shun him because of his sexuality. The film, a cornerstone for The Trevor Project ( which aims to curb LGBTQ-related suicide ) , won the 1994 Academy Award for best live-action short film, according to Wikipedia. Stone died Feb. 12 in Beverly Hills at the age of 48, according to Variety.com .