Regal Brit-flick The King’s Speech last night achieved the crowning glory of scooping four of the most prestigious awards at the 83rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, making it undisputed leader of the 2011 awards season.
The film was awarded the best picture Oscar, as well as earning David Seidler the best original screenplay prize, and to the surprise of many, the Academy even honoured Tom Hooper (overlooked by Bafta) with the best director gong.
Once again though, the star of the show was Colin Firth who plays stuttering King George VI in the film that charts an unlikely friendship between the monarch and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush.
After picking up the best actor award at the Golden Globes, Baftas and Screen Actors Guild already this season, Firth’s statuette collection was completed in style when he was announced the winner of the Oscar at the Kodak Theatre.
Accepting the award, the 50-year-old Briton joked, “I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the Academy.”
Keeping tongue-in-cheek, he went on, “I’m afraid I have to warn you that I’m experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves which, joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.”
Elsewhere, the best actress award went to Natalie Portman for her role in dark ballet dancing drama Black Swan. Welsh-born Christian Bale picked up the best supporting actor Oscar for his role opposite Mark Walhberg in David O. Russell’s Irish-American boxing story, The Fighter. With characteristically outspoken flair, Bale said of his honour: “Bloody hell. What a room full of talented, inspirational people and what am I doing in the midst of you?”
Bale’s co-star Melissa Leo was awarded the best supporting actress prize and, apparently overcome by the occasion, offered the world an Oscar first by using the ‘f’ word on stage. Struggling for words, she remarked that it looks so “f***ing easy” when you see others make an acceptance speech. The accidental expletive was bleeped in the US, but managed to slip through to a red-eyed British audience watching long after the watershed.
The Fighter represents the first time a movie has been awarded both supporting actor Oscars since Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986.
Christopher Nolan’s big budget sci-fi drama Inception equalled The King’s Speech’s four Oscars – albeit in less prestigious categories – and another of this year’s great Oscar hopes The Social Network, which tells the story of Facebook, took three gongs.
All in all, it was a very good night for British film. Even though The King’s Speech failed to do a ‘Titanic’ and convert most of its nominations (12 in total) into awards, it won where it really mattered, in the biggest categories – and in the year of a royal wedding it couldn’t have been better timed.