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The star of the Japanese film Departures, which won the Oscar for best foreign film on Sunday night, told reporters that he had honestly expected the Israeli animated documentary Waltz with Bashir to take home the Academy Award.

"I saw the Israeli movie which I honestly had thought would win as it was wonderful," Masahiro Motoki told reporters. "So I walked the red carpet as a hanger-on who just observes the ceremony. Now I regret that I did not walk with more confidence."

Departures was directed by Yojiro Takita and stars Motoki as an out-of-work cellist who takes a job as an undertaker preparing corpses for cremation. A second Japanese movie won an Oscar for best animated short film.

Waltz with Bashir, Israeli director Ari Folman's animated biopic about his experiences as a young soldier in the first Lebanon War, had been widely tipped to win the honor of Best Foreign Language Film.

The Israeli film tells of Folman's slowly returning memory of the war, in particular the night of the massacres at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, shows him visiting comrades from his army service in Lebanon, in order to piece together the events that he has blocked from his mind.

The film has won widespread international praise, and picked up an impressive collection of awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Foreign Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards, Best Animated Film at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and Best Foreign Film at France's César Awards.

The film Slumdog Millionaire took the best-picture Acadmy Award and seven other Oscars, including director for Danny Boyle, whose ghetto-to-glory story paralleled the film's unlikely rise to Hollywood's summit.

Kate Winslet won the best actress award for the Holocaust-themed drama The Reader and Sean Penn received the Oscar for best actor for the title role of Milk. Heath Ledger won a posthumous supporting actor Academy Award for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, and Penelope Cruz won the supporting actress Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.