wed 29/05/2024

Oscars 2011: The King's Speech sweeps the 83rd Academy Awards (eventually) | reviews, news & interviews

Oscars 2011: The King's Speech sweeps the 83rd Academy Awards (eventually)

Oscars 2011: The King's Speech sweeps the 83rd Academy Awards (eventually)

The British were coming after all, but left it late

The 83rd Oscars ceremony getting underway last night at the 3,300-seat Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard

The King’s Speech survived a faltering start at the 83rd annual Academy Awards – think of it as an Oscar-night stammer – to emerge victorious with four trophies, three of them in the last 30 minutes of the (seemingly endless) ceremony. But long after this cinematic Cinderella’s final domination of the gong-giving season just gone is forgotten, 2011 will be remembered as the year that the Oscars dropped the F-bomb.

The perpetrator of the above was not the British Christian Bale, though he made a joke about his familiarity with that very word when stepping to the podium to receive his Best Supporting Actor trophy. Instead, it was Bale’s scrappy, tough-talking mum from The Fighter, Melissa Leo, who took quite a long time to say anything upon winning the Best Supporting Actress prize. When she did recover her speech, it was to make Oscar history with a word not exactly made for prime-time. Well, I suppose if the Academy wants to snare a younger demographic, impromptu cussing may be the way to go.

One way not to go, alas, was painfully evidenced by the co-hosting of Best Actor nominee James Franco and erstwhile Best Actress nominee Anne Hathaway, who were chosen, presumably, to lend the sort of brawn and beauty, respectively, that you don’t associate with, say, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, or Steve Martin. So it was not a little ironic when the appearance of Crystal two hours in looked briefly as if it might kickstart proceedings into some sort of life, the further inclusion (via archival footage) of legendary Oscar host of old, the late Bob Hope, doing this year’s comperes no favours whatsoever.

Hathaway had her moments – along with plenty of gowns, her every appearance bringing with it a fresh choice of clothes (and hair to match) that the doe-eyed actress handled with aplomb. But I don’t envy anyone having to share the stage, at least on this occasion, with Franco. Perhaps he had been advised to be deadpan and cool opposite the more bubbly, excitable Hathaway, or maybe he had simply embarked upon a one-man crusade to prove that, yes, Americans can do irony. Whatever the rationale, a heavy-lidded Franco seemed throughout to be standing at arm’s length – fans of 127 Hours will forgive that image – from an event where he was never going to win the Oscar anyway. At one point, Franco actually looked as if he was about to fall asleep, though given the prevailing monotony, who can blame him?

As has been the case with all too many Oscar ceremonies of late, there were precious few upsets in the major categories, the closest being the victory of Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) over David Fincher (The Social Network) for Best Director. Hooper certainly looked shocked, clutching his side to express a surprise that was surely genuine given Fincher’s victory in this category at both the Baftas and the Golden Globes. (On the other hand, Hooper was singled out last month by the Directors Guild of America, which is traditionally seen as a harbinger of Oscar glory.)

Hooper’s shout-out to his mum for bringing to attention the play version of The King’s Speech after catching it on the London theatrical fringe is sure to send Hollywood execs scurrying across the Atlantic to check out the latest at the Finborough, Etcetera, and the Tristan Bates. Look for limos parked outside the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

There was general praise among my retinue of nocturnal Oscar obsessives for presenter Helen Mirren, showing more décolletage than those in attendance half her age

Elsewhere, one was left assessing the speeches of a nearly entirely predictable parade of recipients, among whom Natalie Portman rattled off a long list of thank you’s with considerably more eloquence and despatch than Christian Bale, whose geezer persona at the podium sounded like an extended audition for a Guy Ritchie film. By contrast, and looking more lustrous than ever, Portman may be the best ad for pregnancy since an expectant Meryl Streep and Annette Bening in different years themselves graced the Oscars, though quite what four-time loser Bening needs to do to win an actual trophy by now is anyone’s guess.

What of (Sir? - one day, surely) Colin? The Colin Firth Award for Best Actor went, as expected, to Firth, who opened with a reference to “stirrings in the upper abdominals” as if prepping a repeat of the medical revelations unleashed several weeks ago at the Baftas. And if his self-deprecation seemed perhaps a tiny bit forced this go-round, the actor deserves credit not just for a genuinely stirring performance but for finding as many different ways to receive a prize as there have been prizes put his way. I would imagine the actor will now be happy to put awards season behind him, having aced it pretty consistently for months. (OK, there were a few critics’ awards here and there that he didn’t win, but not many.)

As for the frocks – I know, I know, who cares about prizes? – there was general praise among my retinue of nocturnal Oscar obsessives for presenter Helen Mirren, showing more décolletage than those in attendance half her age, and dismay both for Cate Blanchett, got up to resemble an Easter Egg, and Amy Adams, a lovely actress who looked as if she had been glazed in aspic. Or maybe it’s part of the supposedly “cool, hip” Oscars that the younger generation can do overly manicured and faceless just as well as all too many of their forebears. In which case, an ever-lovely, lively Dame Helen was one of the brightest sparks in a long evening whose exaltation of British royalty prompts a thought for Oscar 2012. Maybe a certain William and Kate could assume the co-hosting chores next year?




Best Film - The King's Speech

Best Director - Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)

Best Actor In A Leading Role

Best Actress In A Leading Role

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Best Animated Feature Film

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Biutiful (Mexico/Spain)
  • Dogtooth (Greece)
  • WINNER: In A Better World (Denmark)
  • Incendies (Canada)
  • Outside the Law (Algeria)

Best Documentary (Feature)

Best Art Direction

Best Original Score

Best Original Song

  • "Coming Home" (Country Strong), music and lyrics Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges;
  • "I See the Light" (Tangled), music Alan Menken, lyrics Glenn Slater;
  • "If I Rise" (127 Hours), music AR Rahman, lyrics Dido and Rollo Armstrong
  • WINNER: "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3), music and lyrics Randy Newman

Best Original Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay

Film Editing

Visual Effects


Costume Design


Sound Editing

  • WINNER: Richard King for Inception
  • Tom Myers and Michael Silvers for Toy Story 3
  • Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague for Tron: Legacy
  • Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey for True Grit
  • Mark P Stoeckinger for Unstoppable

Sound Mixing

  • WINNER: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick for Inception
  • Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley for The King's Speech
  • Jeffrey J Haboush, Greg P Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin for Salt
  • Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten for The Social Network
  • “Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F Kurland for True Grit

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters