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Final Thoughts on the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

February 28, 2011

By John C.

Best Actress winner Natalie Portman arriving on the red carpet

For me, this year’s awards season started the moment I left a packed TIFF screening of the endlessly moving and inspirational The King’s Speech.  And now the film has gone on to win Hollywood’s highest honour – being named Best Picture at the Oscars.

The only surprise is that the odds-on favourite only won in 4 categories at last night’s Academy Awards, despite the fact that it had a whopping 12 nominations.  Secondary frontrunner The Social Network ultimately won 3 of its 8 nominations.  The Coen brothers western True Grit strangely went home empty handed, despite 10 nominations.

As usual, the Oscars were presented over the course of a long Sunday evening from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.  Anne Hathaway & James Franco did a wacky job of hosting the show, which opened with a silly, but sometimes funny montage where they spliced themselves into scenes from Best Picture nominees like InceptionThe Fighter and Black Swan.

For the most part, the hosts did try their best to keep things going throughout the night.  Their strangest moment came when Hathaway wore a suit to perform an impromptu song for Hugh Jackman, only to be later joined by Franco wearing a dress and wig.  Still, I can’t say they offered any truly memorable moments and likely won’t be invited back.  But the actors can’t really be blamed for this as they usually don’t do stand-up comedy.  It’s undeniable that previous hosting favourite Billy Crystal got some of the best laughs of last night when he made a welcome guest appearance.

The first win of the evening was Tim Burton’s excellent Alice in Wonderland for Art Direction, followed by Inception beating out Roger Deakins’ much loved work on True Grit for Cinematography.  ‘Alice’ later took home the award for Costume Design, and Inception emerged as one of the night’s big winners with a total of 4 wins, as the film was also deservingly honoured with Best Sound Mixing & Editing, as well as Best Visual Effects.

Best Actor winner Colin Firth

The first big award of the night was Best Supporting Actress, and it was hilariously presented by the 94-year-old Kirk Douglas.  Douglas got in many good lines, but one of the best was when he addressed Anne Hathaway and asked “where were you when I was making movies?”

Supporting Actress was a strong field, with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld nominated for her excellent work in True Grit.  Even though she didn’t win, I hope the 14-year-old had a great time at her first Oscars – I have a strong feeling it won’t be her last.

The award ultimately went to Melissa Leo for her supporting work in The Fighter.  Leo was also the first person of the night to incorporate foul language into an acceptance speech when she announced that when Kate Winslet did it, getting an Oscar looked “so f***ing easy.”  It was mildly amusing in the moment, but on second thought really wasn’t the most classy speech of the night.

Best Supporting Actor went to Christian Bale, for his brilliant turn as has-been boxer Dicky Eklund in The Fighter.  Bale took the time to introduce the real Eklund, who was in attendance, and also got in a welcome jab at Leo’s acceptance when he said that he was “not gonna drop the f-bomb,” because he’s “done that plenty.”

Best Animated Feature was also announced early on in the evening.  It was an outstanding field of three films, with the award going to Pixar’s masterpiece Toy Story 3.  Director Lee Unkrich went on to declare Pixar as “the most awesome place on the planet to make movies.”  TS3 was also recognized in the Best Song category, as Randy Newman’s joyful, upbeat and moving “We Belong Together” deservingly won the award.

Best Documentary went to Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, so the mystery remains as to whether or not street artist Banksy would have actually shown up had the award been given to Exit Through the Gift Shop.  Still, Ferguson gained applause when he used his acceptance speech to reference 2008’s economic meltdown, saying that “not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that’s wrong.”

The first wins for frontrunner’s The Social Network and The King’s Speech didn’t come until partway through the evening, when both screenplay categories were announced.  Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant script for The Social Network won Best Adapted, and David Seidler won Best Original for The King’s Speech.  At 73, Seidler is the oldest person to ever win this award, and got one of the best lines when he announced “my father always said I would be a late bloomer.”

Best Director winner Tom Hooper

Although many thought it would go to David Fincher for The Social Network, Best Director ultimately went to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech.  The moral of Hooper’s acceptance speech was “always listen to your mother,” as he shared a touching story about how his mom first called him up after hearing a stage reading of The King’s Speech and told him that she’d found his next movie.

Next up was one of my favourite wins of the night – Natalie Portman for Best Actress.  I’m glad that she’s dominated the awards season for her stunning work in Black Swan.  As always, the pregnant actress gave a gracious and genuine acceptance speech, as she thanked her co-workers, family and fiance Benjamin Millepied.

The second-last award of the night was Best Actor, which rightfully went to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech.  Firth has had an endlessly impressive career, and his work as the stuttering monarch was perhaps his best yet.  “I have a feeling my career has peaked,” was all Firth could say as he arrived on stage.  Shortly after, the night closed on a triumphant note with odds-on favourite The King’s Speech being named Best Picture.  The film fits in nicely with the lasting legacy of winners.

Maybe I’m one of the few, but for the most part I kind of enjoyed the long evening of awards and acceptance speeches.  Say what you will about the length of the telecast or the predictability of the awards, but after over three hours, the show closed with a heartwarming performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by the PS 22 children’s chorus.  Although many have already declared it among the worst Oscar presentations ever, all in all I have to say that I had a good night watching the winners be announced.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Von Zuben permalink
    March 5, 2011 12:02 am

    Hi everyone. I have to say that I enjoyed the show and was suprised at one point when I looked at the clock and it was 11:00pm, I thought the time had flown by. I used to skip a lot of the Oscars when I was younger and just tune in for the last 45 minutes or so but this show kept my interest. We need to remember that this evening is for and to celebrate the people in the Academy for Motion Pictures and not a show to necessarily entertain us. The people in attendence seemed to be having a great time and they are the only critics that the producers of the evening should care about. I continue to enjoy reading your reviews.


    • March 5, 2011 11:40 am

      Nicely written – I agree with everything you said. For the most part I also had a good night watching the winners be announced, and was pleased with the majority of the (admittedly predictable) results. The King’s Speech is a great film, and one that will continue to inspire audiences for years to come.

      I think people have been a little too hard on the show, as the hosts did do their wacky best to keep things going throughout the night. Even though I can’t say they did a truly memorable job of hosting, James Franco & Anne Hathaway can’t really be blamed for this as they don’t usually do stand-up comedy, unlike previous hosting favourite Billy Crystal.

      As always, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts,

      -John C.


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