"The King's Speech," the sweeping true story of a reluctant monarch who overcomes his stutter to lead England through some of its darkest days, gave its Academy Awards competition a royal thrashing, capturing Oscars for best picture, best actor and best director.
"I have a feeling my career has just peaked," joked Colin Firth, who starred as King George VI and won the award for best actor.
On a night which featured 94-year-old Kirk Douglas echoing his son Michael's dramatic appearance at last year's Golden Globes, there was an accidental f-bomb, a hint of politics and a pair of new hosts helped along the way by Academy stalwarts Billy Crystal and Alec Baldwin. But by the time the show aired, there were few surprises, as the awards were doled out as if by script.
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The general consensus leading up to Sunday night's event was that "The King's Speech" had become the favorite. And when Steven Spielberg came out to present the Best Motion Picture Oscar and a final montage of the nominees had Firth's closing oration from the movie as narration, it seemed the competition was over. And sure enough, "The King's Speech" took the evening's top prize, adding it to a haul that already included Best Director, Original Screenplay and Actor.
Natalie Portman was the night's other big winner, capturing a Best Actress for her role in "Black Swan." The pregnant star thanked her fiancee and "Black Swan" choreographer Benjamin Millipied for giving "me my most important role of my life."
"The Fighter," the film based on the life and career of "Irish" Mickey Ward, landed Best Supporting actor and actress awards for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Leo provided a one of the night's memorable "moments," dropping an f-bomb that was bleeped thanks to a short tape delay. Later Bale assured everyone he would not be following suit, as he had done enough of that in the past.
The Anne Hathaway-James Franco experiment at the 83rd annual Academy Awards has to be considered a success, as the young actors played it loose, helped in large part by writers who didn't try to make them sound too stand-uppy. The opening Best Picture nominee montage with them superimposed into scenes from each film was particularly successful. And concerns that it would feel weird having a Best Actor nominee serving as co-host were quickly forgotten, as it was a total non-issue.
It had to be a bitter sweet night for "Inception" director Chris Nolan who led the night in thanks from winners. His brilliant film garnered eight nominations, winning 4 awards.
Politics, once a staple of the show, worked its way into the speech of Best Cinematography winner Wally Pfister, who thanked his "union crew" while accepting for his work on "Inception." In case anyone missed the point, he alluded backstage to the state of affairs in Wisconsin, where public employees and the Republican governor are locked in a bitter battle over bargaining rights.
“I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now,” Pfister said. “I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family."
Crystal made a brief appearance, to talk about his experiences hosting the Oscars eight times, and to remember King of Oscar hosts, Bob Hope, who offered the classic line, "Due to some repair work on Hollywood Boulevard, my star is now a manhole cover."
The evening closed with YouTube sensation PS 22 from Staten Island singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," as all the night's winner's came out on stage.
The Complete List of Winners:
Best Picture - "The King's Speech"
Best Actor - Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
Best Actress - Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Best Director - Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"
Best Original Song - "We Belong Together," Randy Newman
Best Editing - Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter, "The Social Network"
Best Visual Effects - Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley & Peter Bebb, "Inception"
Best Documentary Feature – “Inside Job”
Best Short Film (Live Action) – “God of Love”
Best Documentary (Short Subject) – “Strangers No More”
Best Costume Design – Colleen Atwood, “Alice in Wonderland”
Best Makeup - Rick Baker & Dave Elsey, “The Wolfman”
Best Sound Editing – Richard King, “Inception”
Best Sound Mixing - Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo & Ed Novick, “Inception”
Best Original Score - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “The Social Network”
Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Foreign Language Film – “In a Better World”
Best Original Screenplay – David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Best Adapted Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
Best Animated Feature Film – “Toy Story 3”
Best Short Film (Animated) – “The Lost Thing,” Shaun Tan & Andrew Ruhemann
Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Best Cinematography – Wally Pfister, “Inception”
Best Art Direction - Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara, “Alice in Wonderland”