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In Pictures: Oscars 2011 glitz and glamour

Oscars 2011 - the 83rd Academy Awards Ceremony was held today. The King’s Speech, won four Oscars from its 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper), and Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

Click 'more pictures' above to view gallery. The winners in the leading categories are:

Best film - The King's Speech

Best actor - Colin Firth, The King's Speech

Best supporting actor - Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best actress - Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best supporting actress - Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best director - Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

Best documentary feature - Inside Job

Best adapted screenplay - Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Best original screenplay - David Seidler, The King's Speech

Coronation of Firth and 'The Kings Speech' at Oscars

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles

It wasn't quite a royal flush, but you could certainly call it a coronation. The King’s Speech, a historical drama tale about the stammering King George VI’s relationship with his speech therapist, justified heavy favouritism to carry off four Oscars, including the top prize of Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

The British film, made by for a paltry nine million pounds, capped an unlikely run that has seen it generate more than £150m at the box office and will make multi-millionaires of its little-known producers by scooping almost every major award it was short listed for. Tom Hooper won for Best Director, David Seidler won for Best Original Screenplay, and Colin Firth, was named Best Actor for his performance in the title role.

On a night where the vast majority of statuettes went to heavy favourites, Natalie Portman was named Best Actress for her role in Black Swan, a thriller set in the world of ballet, while Melissa Leo and the British star Christian Bale won in the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories for their work in the boxing biopic The Fighter.

The film about the founding of Facebook, The Social Network, was expected to be the biggest rival to The King’s Speech. In the event, it had to make do with three awards, the most prominent of which went to its screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The other big winners were Inception, which won four prizes in technical categories, Toy Story 3, which won two gongs including Best Animated feature, and Alice in Wonderland, which won two costume awards.

But film historians will look back on 2011 as the year when Hollywood chose to honour a well-made movie based on the life of a stammering British King who learned to address his subjects at the onset of the Second World War, during what was one of the nation’s finest hours.

An uncommonly emotional Firth, who worked tirelessly to promote the movie during the three-month marathon of Oscar season, told the audience: “I have a feeling my career has just peaked.” He proceeded to joke that he now wanted to leave the stage before he embarrassed himself by dancing with joy.

Earlier, David Seidler, the film’s 73-year-old writer, had provided one of the night’s fairytales when he picked-up the Best Screenplay award. Previously little known, at least in Hollywood terms, the self-professed “late starter” originally conceived of The King’s Speech as a play, basing important elements of it on his experience in childhood as a chronic stammerer. He was only “cured” of that condition at the age of 16.

Speaking backstage after picking up the trophy, he said he hoped the success of the film would help comfort fellow sufferers. “I’ve already been flooded with the most wonderful emails, phone calls, and text messages from my fellow stutterers because I’m still a stutterer, all right. I just know all the tricks, so you don’t hear it. To have these people tell me their personal stories, really moves me to tears.”

Seidler, who was at pains to suggest that he is not a monarchist, said he hoped that the victory of The King’s Speech would nonetheless be cheered by The Queen, who is the daughter of George VI, the monarch known to his friends as “Bertie.”

“We have certainly heard, and it has not been denied and it could easily be denied, that Her Majesty has seen the film. We are told that she was moved and amused. I am deeply moved by that, and I’m very gratified that if this is true, she clearly understood that this was written and made with a great deal of love, affection and respect for her father.”

The result also capped a remarkable rise for Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech who a few years back was employed to shoot the soap opera of Eastenders. He thanked his mother for the Best Director award, telling the audience that she had first told him about the project after attending a reading of Seider’s original play at a fringe theatre in London in 2007.

Although few people will be surprised by the destination of most of the Oscars, there were still moments of controversy during the three and a half hour show. The first came during the early moments, when Melissa Leo waltzed on stage to collect her award and became the first person in the event’s 83-year history to utter the f-word.

Later, backstage, she issued a grovelling apology for the expletive, which was bleeped out from the telecast that was broadcast into America’s living rooms at around teatime. “There’s a great deal of the English language that’s in my vernacular,” he said. “[But] it was a very inappropriate place to use that word in particular.”

The second major controversy of the evening revolved around the dress worn by Natalie Portman, the Best Actress winner. As the highly-paid “face” of Dior, she was expected to wear that fashion house’s outfit for her big moment. But in the event, she wore a gown by Rodarte.

It was suggested that the decision to forego the Dior dress was a result of the recent arrest and suspension of Dior’s creative director, John Galliano, who is accused of making anti-Semitic remarks during a bar-room argument. Portman, who is Jewish, refused to answer any questions about the affair during the post-awards press conference.

A final person who might have watched proceedings awkwardly was David Cameron. The King's Speech was only made because the UK Film Council helped provide £1m of funding. Mr Cameron recently made the controversial decision to scrap that organisation.

One person who may meanwhile conclude that they got off lightly from the evening was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Three months ago, the unflattering portrait of his career looked set to sweep the boards. But after a lacklustre campaign, it had to make do with a small handful of prizes, most notably the Screenwriting gong that went to its writer Aaron Sorkin.

Sorkin, the creator of TV series The West Wing, developed the script of the film in a few days from a 14 page proposal submitted to publishers by Ben Mezrich, the author of a book called The Accidental Billionaires. Backstage after receiving the award, he praised Zuckerberg for being “a good sport” about the film. “I don't think there’s anybody here who would want a movie made about things they did when they were 19 years old, so hats off to him.”

Further victories for homegrown talent came in a selection of technical categories. Dave Elsey won his second Oscar for Best Make-Up for his work on The Wolfman. And Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb, of the London-based firm Double Negative, won Visual Effects award for the blockbuster Inception.

Meanwhile a virtually-unknown British producer called Andrew Ruhemann won for Best Animated Short, for his work on The Lost Thing. He devoted a portion of the backstage press conference to saying that he hoped the victory would lead to him being interviewed on Radio Four’s Today programme. That sentiment was in keeping with the spirit of what felt like a night of peculiarly British victory.

Belfast Telegraph


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