By the time Steven Spielberg took to the stage to announce the best picture winner as the crowning moment of a largely predictable 83rd Academy Awards, The King’s Speech and The Social Network were neck-and-neck on three wins apiece.
According to the Independent Film & Television Alliance The King’s Speech became the 19th non-studio film of the past 30 years to win best picture and the statuette brought its Oscar haul on the night to four wins from 12 nominations.
The Social Network left the occasion with three heavyweight awards even though producer Scott Rudin reportedly did not attend the event. True Grit entered the night on 10 nominations and was completely shut out.
Moments before the best picture ceremony The King’s Speech had earned Colin Firth the best actor prize after many felt he should have won last year for A Single Man. The British star leaned into the microphone at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater and deadpanned, “I have the feeling my career has just peaked.”
The King’s Speech, backed among others by the moribund UK Film Council and released in the US by a seemingly resurgent Harvey Weinstein, also earned awards for Tom Hooper as best director and David Seidler as the writer of the best original screenplay.
Producer Gareth Unwin, when asked backstage to describe the effect of the UK Film Council’s support for The King’s Speech and what the victory meant for the British film industry, said: “I think the first thing it does, it leaves a healthy dowry for the BFI to inherit. So the UK will always have to have a position within its industry in filmmaking, and although the guys may have changed recently, we hope the British government will continue to support British filmmakers.”
Firth refused to be drawn into a discussion about the UK Film Council, although he told reporters that he did not support the new PG-13 version of the film, which excises most of the expletives his character utters during a speech therapy session. “[T]he context of this film could not be more edifying, more appropriate. It’s not vicious. It’s not to do insult or it’s not in any of the context which might offend people, really.”
Natalie Portman won the best actress Academy Award for Black Swan and thanked many people including Luc Besson for giving her her first role in The Professional aka Leon.
Christian Bale flew into Los Angeles from China where he is filming Zhang Yimou’s Thirteen Girls, and his triumph in the supporting actor contest delivered a one-two punch for The Fighter after Melissa Leo’s supporting actress win earlier in the night. Press reports that Leo may have upset Academy voters by paying for her own “for your consideration” trade ads proved unfounded as the category favourite claimed the prize.
Elated and at times lost for words, Leo had to be bleeped out for uttering the Oscars’ first F-bomb during her acceptance speech. “I apologise… there’s a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular,” Leo told reporters backstage.
The Social Network won three awards. Aaron Sorkin took the adapted screenplay prize, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter claimed the best editing award and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for best original score. Accepting his award, Sorkin said: “I wrote this movie, but David Fincher made this movie and he did it with an ungodly artfulness.”
Co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway presided over a safe show designed to appeal to younger viewers and boost those all-important ratings. Show producers synched a dance tune to excerpts from non-musical films, Gwyneth Paltrow sang and the show closed with a performance by the children of New York’s PS22 Chorus.
In terms of the awards it mostly went to plan. David Fincher was the bridesmaid once again as Hooper upset the form guide. Hooper paid tribute to his mother who had attended a play reading of The King’s Speech and told her son she had found his next film. “And the moral of the story is, listen to your mother,” Hooper said.
The foreign language category has become predictable in its unpredictability in recent years and did not disappoint as Susanne Bier’s Danish entry In A Better World trumped Denis Villeneuve’s Canadian favourite Incendies to win the category.
Inception won four prizes on the night and each winner paid tribute to Christopher Nolan, who was not nominated for the directing award. Wally Pfister took the cinematography prize while the team of Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb claimed the visual effects prize and there were wins also for sound mixing (Lora Hirschber, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick) and sound editing (Richard King).
Pixar’s vice-like grip on the Academy Awards showed little sign of easing up as Toy Story 3 claimed the animated prize. “Thank you […] for embracing a movie about talking toys that hopefully has something very human to say,” director Lee Unkrich said. The film also ensured that Randy Newman won his second Oscar with best original song for We Belong Together.
There was to be no Banksy moment at the 83rd Academy Awards. Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs’ widely admired financial crisis film Inside Job claimed the best documentary prize, as many had expected it to do. Ferguson leant into the microphone and said: “Forgive me. I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that’s wrong.”
In the crafts categories, make-up guru Rick Baker won his seventh Oscar as he shared the make-up prize with Dave Elsey for The Wolfman. Alice In Wonderland costume designer Colleen Atwood collected her third career Oscar and Alice also earned Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara the art direction trophy.
In the short film categories, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s Strangers No More won for documentary and Luke Matheny’s God Of Love took the live-action prize. Earlier in the night Passion Pictures’ The Lost Thing by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan won the animated prize.
The in memoriam section remembered, among others, Dino De Laurentiis, Dennis Hopper, Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, directors Arthur Penn, Blake Edwards, Claude Chabrol, George Hickenlooper and Peter Yates, editors Sally Menke and Dede Allen, publicist Ronni Chasen and Pete Postlethwaite, Lynn Redgrave, Susannah York and Jill Clayburgh.
The King’s Speech
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christian Bale, The Fighter
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
BEST ANIMATED PICTURE
Toy Story 3
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
In A Better World
The Social Network
The King’s Speech
Alice in Wonderland
Alice In Wonderland
The Social Network
The Social Network
We Belong Together, Toy Story 3
The Lost Thing
LIVE ACTION SHORT
God Of Love
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Strangers No More