Film News: ‘The King’s Speech’ Given Royal Treatment at 2011 Oscars

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CHICAGO – “The King’s Speech” reigned supreme at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards February 27, 2011. After its recent award victories, the British drama was widely expected to win in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay (the film snagged all three accolades).

Yet it was a surprise when “Speech” director Tom Hooper won over “The Social Network”’s David Fincher, considering that Fincher previously won a BAFTA for Best Director in the midst of a “Speech” sweep. Hooper mentioned that his mother (who was in attendance) first brought to his attention the play by David Seidler that was later adapted into “Speech.”

In his own eloquent acceptance speech, screenwriter Seidler quipped, “My father always said I’d be a late bloomer,” before mentioning that he was the oldest recipient of the award. He then expressed his desire that his record would be broken soon and often. The exuberantly deadpan Firth was clearly humbled as he uttered, “I have a feeling my career just peaked.” His widely acclaimed performance beat out Javier Bardem for “Biutiful,” Jeff Bridges for “True Grit,” Jesse Eisenberg for “The Social Network” and James Franco for “127 Hours.”

The King’s Speech won the Best Picture Oscar at the 2011 Academy Awards.
The King’s Speech won the Best Picture Oscar at the 2011 Academy Awards.
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

Another performer overwhelmed by an expected victory was Natalie Portman, who claimed the Best Actress award for her work in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” Her tearful speech was an emotional highpoint of the evening, as she thanked members of her crew that rarely receive acknowledgement during a timed acceptance speech. Portman beat out Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” Nicole Kidman for “Rabbit Hole,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone” and Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine.”

David O. Russell’s rowdy ensemble drama “The Fighter” snagged both Supporting Actor awards for front runners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Despite her off-putting self-made award campaigns, Leo’s performance still had enough support to claim the top prize over co-star Amy Adams, as well as Helena Bonham Carter for “The King’s Speech,” Haliee Steinfeld for “True Grit,” and Jacki Weaver for “Animal Kingdom.” Leo’s typically uneven speech included the night’s only bleeped expletive. While accepting his award, Bale said, “I’m not going to drop the F-bomb. I’ve done that plenty,” alluding to the onset meltdowns that tarnished his reputation a couple years ago. Bale beat out John Hawkes for “Winter’s Bone,” Jeremy Renner for “The Town,” Mark Ruffalo for “The Kids Are All Right,” and Geoffrey Rush for “The King’s Speech.”

“Inside Job” director Charles Ferguson received supportive applause (and no boos) during his acceptance speech for Best Documentary, when he mentioned that no financial executive has gone to prison since the financial crisis began three years ago. Aaron Sorkin predictably gave one of the night’s most succinct and well articulated speeches when he won Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Social Network.” The Facebook drama also garnered awards for Film Editing and Original Score, while Christopher Nolan’s visionary thriller “Inception” claimed a total of four technical Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” was awarded for its candy-colored art direction and costume design, while Pixar’s Best Picture nominee “Toy Story 3” won two prizes: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“We Belong Together”). The song gave writer Randy Newman his twentieth Oscar nomination (and second win), resulting in a speech where the songwriter appeared more sarcastic than gratified. Newman joked that he had been to so many nominee luncheons that, “they probably have a Randy Newman chicken named after me.”

James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the 2011 Academy Awards on ABC.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted the 2011 Academy Awards on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC

Celebrated Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for her drama “In A Better World.” Fresh-faced Luke Matheny won over the star-studded audience with a funny and heartfelt speech, accepting the award for Best Live Action Short Film for his comic vignette, “God of Love.” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann’s “The Lost Thing” won Best Animated Short Film, while Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s “Strangers No More” won Best Documentary Short Subject. Cate Blanchett got a laugh simply by acknowledging the grossness of Rick Baker and David Elsey’s Oscar-winning makeup for “The Wolfman.”

As for the hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway allowed their likably awkward personalities to set the tone for the evening, rather than open with a standard monologue of Late Night-style punch lines. The hosts were, however, spliced into scenes from several of the night’s Best Picture nominees, in a prologue that seemed recycled from the Billy Crystal era of Oscar montages. An unlikely stand-up comic emerged in the form of 95-year-old Kirk Douglas, who delayed his presentation of Best Supporting Actress with a series of ad-libs. Douglas caused a bit of a delay, but he provided a refreshing moment of spontaneity during an evening that felt too rushed and oddly lifeless. Hathaway was a natural charmer and got to display her impressive pipes in a brief musical number, but Franco just seemed terminally disengaged (his eyes always appeared to be searching for the nearest exit).

The telecast intermittently came to life when guest presenters injected energy and comic timing into their appearances (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were notable examples). Russell Brand and Helen Mirren’s effortless chemistry boded well for their upcoming “Arthur” remake. One of the night’s most impassioned standing ovations occurred when Billy Crystal emerged to present a look back at the first televised Oscar ceremony. Crystal openly poked fun at the notion that sexy young movie stars are somehow thought to make ideal Oscar hosts. This bit led to some timeless one-liners from Bob Hope, who appeared via hologram, and still managed to steal the show.

Staff Writer

Anonymous's picture

Oscars 2011

Well done to everyne - winners and nominees alike.

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