Oscars: Top movie crowned

Feb. 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Colin Firth accepts the Oscar for best performance by an actor in a leading role for "The King's Speech" at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.
—AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

BY TOM LONG / The Detroit News

“The King’s Speech,” the story of a British monarch’s struggle with his stammer, won the Oscar for best picture at Sunday’s 83rd Academy Awards ceremony.

Also winning for “The King’s Speech” was best actor Colin Firth, director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler.
“I have a feeling my career’s just peaked,” said Firth, before threatening — in an ever-so-British way — to break into a dance.

Natalie Portman won best actress for “Black Swan,” the story of a ballerina obsessed with perfection.

“This is insane,” Portman said. “I am so grateful to get to do the job I do; I love it so much.”

All the awards were somewhat expected, as was “The Fighter” winning both supporting acting statues.

“What a room full of talented and inspirational people, and what the hell am I doing here in the midst of you?” asked an emotional Christian Bale after winning best supporting actor for his role as a boxer turned crackhead in “The Fighter.”

Melissa Leo also won for her portrayal of an overbearing mother and manager.

“I’m just shaking in my boots here. Yeah, I am kind of speechless,” Leo told the audience. Then she looked up at the balcony. “Golly sakes, there’s people up there, too.” She followed that with a surprise expletive, which got bleeped out. Later, backstage, Leo said she has a lot of “words in her vernacular” and apologized if her cursing offended anyone.

For some, the awards were more than mere honors, such as David Seidler, who won best original screenplay for “The King’s Speech,” the film about King George VI wrestling with a stammer.

“I accept this on behalf of all the stutterers throughout the world,” said Seidler, who battled a stammer in his youth. “We have a voice. We have been heard.”

The night’s only political moment came when Charles Ferguson, director of best documentary feature “Inside Job,” about the financial collapse, accepted his statue. “Three years after a horrific financial crisis was caused by fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail,” Ferguson said. “And that’s wrong.”

Among other winners were the year’s top-grossing film, “Toy Story 3,” as best animated feature; the dreamscape “Inception,” which took best cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing; and 20-time nominee Randy Newman for best original song, “We Belong Together.”

“I’ve been on this show so many times, and I’ve slowed it down so many times,” said Newman in his purposefully rambling acceptance speech.

As Oscar shows go, this one was pretty shaky.

The opening featuring hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway was a plain mess, inserting the actors in the various best picture nominees a la Billy Crystal, yet without any of the outrageous wit that fueled Crystal’s openings. Assumedly Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman were inserted in the clips to give oldsters someone to relate to.

Once Franco and Hathaway took to the stage, Franco’s opening remark — “Wow” — pretty much said it all. If he’d followed it with, “Dude, we’re at the Oscars,” no one would have been surprised.

After a few weak moments of patter — “You know, it used to be, you get naked, you get nominated,” said Hathaway, who recently was seen in her near entirety in “Love & Other Drugs,” for which she was not nominated — the show thankfully went on.

However, Hathaway later did a musical number mocking former host Hugh Jackman that had some spark. But the best Franco could follow that with was coming out onstage as Marilyn Monroe. Huh?

One of the night’s most disappointing moments came when Billy Crystal returned to the Oscar stage after years of absence, and all that came of it were a few quick quips followed by a superficial salute to onetime perennial emcee Bob Hope.

Some things went right. The nominees for best original song were kept brief and sharp; a medley of classic soundtracks was pointedly brief; and even though an aged Kirk Douglas kept referring to Colin Firth as Colon Firth, he brought some loose humor early on.

On the other hand, seeing onetime best actor winner Adrien Brody (”The Pianist”) reduced to doing a beer commercial during one of the breaks was both a bit of a downer and a reminder of the fleeting nature of success.

And an auto-tuned musical adaptation of nonmusical films felt like a terrible waste of time. Get to it, people.

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