Penn, Winslet win top acting honors

Oscars honor duo with best actor, actress

Sean Penn won his second Oscar in five nominations for “Milk” and Kate Winslet took home her first in six for “The Reader” at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

“I want it to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me, often,” said Penn to loud laughter at the top of his acceptance speech.

Reading from a piece of paper, Penn then thanked, among others, Harvey Milk’s friend and activist Cleve Jones, screenplay winner Dustin Lance Black and director Gus Van Sant. He then criticized those who supported the ban against gay marriage in California and said he was “very, very proud that America is willing to elect an elegant man as president.”

Penn and Mickey Rourke (for “The Wrestler”) were in a horse race up until the end … and Penn ended his acceptance speech by acknowledging Rourke and saying, “Mickey Rouke rises again and he is my brother.”

Penn won the Oscar five years ago for “Mystic River” and was also nominated for “Dead Man Walking,” “Sweet and Lowdown” and “I Am Sam.”

An exuberant Winslet, who had emerged weeks ago as the favorite, admitted that she’d been practicing her acceptance for many years.

“I’d be lying if I hadn’t made a version of this speech looking into the bathroom mirror, and this would be a shampoo bottle,” she said, holding up her statuette. “Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now.”

Winslet then thanked her parents and asked her father to whistle, which he did a moment a later. She thanked director Stephen Daldry and gave a tribute to the late Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, who were both producers on the film.

She also said of her fellow nominees, “We all can’t believe we’re in the same category as Meryl Streep. I’m sorry, Meryl, but just suck that up.”

Winslet had received noms previously for “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind,” “Iris,” “Little Children,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Titanic.”

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