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‘The King’s Speech’ Dominates Oscar Night; Firth, Portman Claim Acting Prizes

The story of a British monarch’s struggle to overcome a stammer was the toast of Hollywood today, with “The King’s Speech’ claiming Oscars for best picture, actor, director and original screenplay.

Colin Firth won best actor Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre for his portrayal of stuttering King George VI, who battles through his speech impediment with the help of an unorthodox yet persistent therapist played by Geoffrey Rush.

Natalie Portman, meanwhile, took home the Oscar for best actress for playing a tortured ballet dancer in the psychological thriller “Black Swan,’ while Melissa Leo and Christian Bale took home supporting acting prizes for their work in “The Fighter.’

Tom Hooper won the best-director Oscar for helming “The King’s Speech.’ It was his first nomination — and he gave the credit to his mother for the film even being made.

“My mom in 2007 was invited by some Australian friends … to a fringe theater play reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called `The King’s Speech,’ he said. “Now she’s never been invited to a play reading before. She almost didn’t go, it didn’t sound exactly promising, but thankful she did because she came home, rang me up and said, `Tom, I think I’ve found your next film.’ So with this tonight, I honor you, and the moral of the story is, listen to your mother.’

The top acting prizes all went as expected, with each of the winners already having added Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards to their mantles.

Firth, 50, won best actor on his second nomination. He was nominated last year for “A Single Man.’

“I have a feeling my career has just peaked,’ he joked as he took the Kodak Theatre stage to accept the Oscar. “My deepest thanks to the Academy. 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. Joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.’

He thanked the cast and crew of “The King’s Speech,’ including Hooper for “immense courage and clear-sightedness.’

Portman won the Oscar on her second nomination. She was nominated for supporting actress for “Closer’ in 2004.

“This is insane,’ the 29-year-old pregnant actress said. “And I truly sincerely wish that the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees. I’m so in awe of you. I’m so grateful to get to do the job that I do. I love it so much.

“I want to thank my parents, who are right there, first and foremost for giving me my life, for giving me the opportunity to work from such an early age and showing me every day how to be a good human being by example,’ she said.

Leo was virtually speechless when she accepted the Oscar for supporting actress, although her acceptance speech had be edited by ABC when she uttered a profanity.

“Oh, wow. Really, really, really, really, really truly wow,’ she said.

“I know there’s a lot of people that said a lot of real real nice things to me for several months now, but I’m just shaking in my boots here.’

Leo, 50, thanked Alice Ward, the boxing-family matriarch she portrayed in the film, and the entire Ward family “for opening your hearts to all of us to make this film.’

The win was the first Oscar for Leo, who was nominated for best actress for “Frozen River’ in 2008.

Bale, 37, won the Oscar on his first nomination, for his role as troubled trainer Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter.’

“Bloody hell. What a room full of talented and inspirational people, and what the hell am I doing in the midst of you?’ Bale said. “It’s such an honor.’

He thanked director David O. Russell “for making the work that all of us actors did actually mean something.’

Bale, who has a reputation as a sometimes hot-headed co-worker and who was caught on tape verbally berating a crew member on the set of “Terminator Salvation,’ joked that he would not use the “F-bomb’ like Leo did during her acceptance speech.

“I’ve done that plenty before,’ he said.

Aaron Sorkin won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for “The Social Network,’ and paid homage to a legendary screenwriter.

“It’s impossible to describe what it feels like to be handed the same award that was given to Paddy Chayefsky 35 years ago for another movie with `Network’ in the title,’ Sorkin said.

“… I wrote this movie, but (director) David Fincher made this movie, and he did it with an ungodly artfulness,’ he said. “Someone this talented has no business being the nicest guy in the world, but he is. And he made the movie of any screenwriter’s dreams. … This movie is going to be a source of pride for me every day for the rest of my life. That is an un-repayable gift. All I can say is thank you.’

David Seidler won the Oscar for best original screenplay for “The King’s Speech,’ and he joked about winning the prize in his 70s.

“My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer,’ he said, drawing laughs from the Kodak Theatre crowd. “I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often.’

Seidler went on to thank his family and the producers, director, cast and crew of the film.

“I would like to thank my majesty the queen for not putting me in the tower of London for using the Melissa Leo `F-word,’ he said. “And I accept this on behalf of all the stutterers throughout the world. We have a voice. We have been heard thanks to you the Academy.’

“Toy Story 3′ picked up the Oscar for best animated feature, while the award for animated short went to “The Lost Thing, about a small boy who finds an unusual creature and tries to find a home for it.

“Toy Story 3′ also earned an original-song Oscar for “We Belong Together’ by Randy Newman, who won his second Academy Award in 20 nominations.

He quipped that he has been nominated so many times that they have “a Randy Newman chicken’ dish at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon.

The dream-bending, visually stunning thriller “Inception’ also won four Oscars on the night — for sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects and cinematography.

“Alice in Wonderland’ won prizes for art direction, with production design by Robert Stromberg and set decoration by Karen O’Hara; and costume design for Colleen Atwood
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Oscar for original score for “The Social Network,’ which also won a sound-editing prize for Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter.

Denmark’s “In a Better World’ won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

The Oscar for documentary short subject went to “Strangers No More,’ by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, while Luke Matheny won the Oscar for live action short film for “God of Love,’ which told the story of a lounge singer who mysteriously receives a box of love-inducing darts.

The Oscar for documentary feature went to “Inside Job,’ a look at the 2008 worldwide financial crisis by Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs.

Here is a complete list of winners of the Academy Awards, which were presented Sunday at the Kodak Theater.

Best Picture
— “The King’s Speech,’ A See-Saw Films and Bedlam Production, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers

Best Actor
— Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech’

Best Actress
— Natalie Portman, “Black Swan’

Supporting Actor
— Christian Bale, “The Fighter’

Supporting Actress
— Melissa Leo, “The Fighter’

Director
— Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech’

Animated Feature
— “Toy Story 3,’ Lee Unkrich

Adapted Screenplay
— “The Social Network,’ Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Original Screenplay
— “The King’s Speech,’ Screenplay by David Seidler

Art Direction
— “Alice in Wonderland,’ Production Design: Robert Stromberg, Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

Cinematography
— “Inception,’ Wally Pfister

Costume Design
— “Alice in Wonderland,’ Colleen Atwood

Documentary Feature
— “Inside Job,’ A Representational Pictures Production, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Documentary Short Subject
— “Strangers No More,’ A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon

Film Editing
— “The Social Network,’ Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film
— “In a Better World,’ A Zentropa Production, Denmark

Makeup
— “The Wolfman,’ Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Original Score
— “The Social Network,’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Original Song
— “We Belong Together’ from “Toy Story 3,’ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Animated Short Film
— “The Lost Thing,’ A Passion Pictures Australia Production, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

Live Action Short Film
— “God of Love,’ A Luke Matheny Production, Luke Matheny

Sound Editing
— “Inception,’ Richard King

Sound Mixing
— “Inception,’ Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick

Visual Effects
— “Inception,’ Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb

Copyright © 2011 City News Service

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