THE ACADEMY AWARDS (2011)
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
THE KING’S SPEECH was crowned BEST PICTURE Sunday night. The monarchy drama won four OSCARS. The predicted favourites also claimed acting honours.
The Weinstein brothers resumed weaving their spell over the official awards season and spinning critical acclaim into box office gold.
THE KING’S SPEECH reaped the biggest benefit from ticket sales among the 10 contenders for BEST PICTURE — $57 million — since it garnered 12 nominations a month ago.
BOB and HARVEY WEINSTEIN, the backers of the film through THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY, have played this card before — like when they rode nominations for THE ENGLISH PATIENT to a global gross of $232 million in 1997 as the heads of MIRAMAX, where they pulled in 17 BEST PICTURE nominations and four wins.
This year, the tale of a stuttering English monarch became the first BEST PICTURE they have won as heads of THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY since starting it in 2005, but it fit a pattern they have helped establish.
The OSCARS proved again that good taste has its own rewards.
Released in just four theatres back in late November, THE KING’S SPEECH grew through critical acclaim and smaller awards to play in 1,680 locations in the U.S. and Canada on January 21, four days before the OSCAR nominations. The studio bumped the count to 2,557 immediately after.
The movie’s take nearly doubled, rising from $58 million in ticket sales to $115 million through the weekend of the OSCARS over a period in a film’s life that usually finds box office receipts dwindling quickly. It’s now made $221 million in theatres worldwide.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” said TOM SHERAK, president of THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES.
“Once something catches on with both the critics and word of mouth, it starts to morph…They’re good at it.”
The Weinsteins’ campaign got another boost on Friday, when the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board granted a more tame PG-13 rating to an alternate version of THE KING’S SPEECH, in which many of the F bombs have been muted. The original got an R rating for the multiple swears unleashed by King George VI, played by COLIN FIRTH, while he struggles to overcome his speech problem.
The rating means more families will consider taking their children to see it, substantially widening the audience. The decision was unprecedented in the ratings system’s 43 year history because the board granted a waiver of a 90 day waiting period meant to prevent confusion in the marketplace.
The ruling allows the studio to immediately replace the R rated version with the PG-13 version as long as it does so in one fell swoop.
COLIN FIRTH as stammering British ruler George VI in THE KING’S SPEECH earned the BEST ACTOR prize, while NATALIE PORTMAN won BEST ACTRESS as a delusional ballerina in BLACK SWAN.
The boxing drama THE FIGHTER claimed both supporting acting honours, for CHRISTIAN BALE as a boxer turned drug abuser and MELISSA LEO as a boxing clan’s domineering matriarch.
THE KING’S SPEECH also won the directing prize for TOM HOOPER and the ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY OSCAR for DAVID SEIDLER, a boyhood stutterer himself.
“I have a feeling my career’s just peaked,” COLIN FIRTH stated.
“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.”
COLIN did express some frustration over the new cut of THE KING’S SPEECH, which is being re released with a PG-13 rating instead of an R.
“I don’t take this stuff lightly. But in the context of this film, it could not be more edifying, more appropriate,” he told reporters while holding his trophy backstage.
“It’s not vicious, it’s not an insult or it’s not in any of the contexts which might offend people.”
“Really, it’s about a man who’s trying to free himself through the use of certain words. I still haven’t met the person who would object, so I think the film should stand as it is.”
“Thank you so much. This is insane…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,” NATALIE PORTMAN remarked in her acceptance speech.
MELISSA LEO’S OSCAR victory for THE FIGHTER was expected. KIRK DOUGLAS’ touchingly comic presentation of the award wasn’t.
The 94 year old, aided by a cane, took a moment to flirt with ANNE HATHAWAY before announcing the winner Sunday. “Where were you when I was making pictures?” he asked her.
Then he impishly delayed opening the envelope further, calling it, “The moment we’ve all been waiting for” several times, then adding, “I will never forget this moment.”
Finally, he called MELISSA’S name. The actor dropped to her knee before him and then directed him to “pinch me,” which he obligingly did.
Once she took the stage, he remarked to her, “You’re much more beautiful than you were in The Fighter.”
“You’re pretty good looking yourself. What are you doing later on?” she asked him.
MELISSA, who won for her role as the tough talking mother of two boxers (MARK WAHLBERG and BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR winner CHRISTIAN BALE), brought a bit of her character to the OSCAR podium.
“I know there’s a lot of people who said a lot of real nice things to me for several months now but I’m just shaking in my boots here. When I watched Kate (Winslet) two years ago, it looked so fucking easy,” stated MELISSA.
Backstage, she apologized to anyone offended with the word she said was inappropriate for the occasion, adding, “There is a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular.”
MELISSA, who was a regular on TV’s acclaimed HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET a decade ago, rebounded with two OSCAR nominations, one for THE FIGHTER and another for FROZEN RIVER in 2008.
CHRISTIAN BALE earned the same prize his BATMAN costar, the late HEATH LEDGER, received posthumously two years ago for THE DARK KNIGHT. At the time, CHRISTIAN had fondly recalled a bit of professional envy as he watched HEATH perform on set like a whirlwind as the diabolical JOKER while the film’s star had to remain clenched up as the stoic, tightly wound BATMAN.
THE FIGHTER gave CHRISTIAN his turn to unleash some demons as DICKY EKLUND, a boxer whose career unravelled amidst crime and drug abuse. CHRISTIAN delivers a showy performance full of tics and tremours, bobbing and weaving around the movie’s star and producer MARK WAHLBERG, who plays DICKY’S stolid brother boxer MICKY WARD.
TOM HOOPER, a relative big screen newcomer, known for classy TV drama, took the industry’s top filmmaking prize over Hollywood veteran DAVID FINCHER, who had been a strong prospect for his Facebook drama THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The prize was presented by last year’s winner KATHRYN BIGELOW, the first woman to earn a directing OSCAR.
“Thank you to my wonderful actors, the triangle of man love which is Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and me. I’m only here because of you guys,” TOM HOOPER said, referring to his film’s male stars.
He wasn’t addressing a nation preparing for war, but DAVID SEIDLER’S acceptance of a screenwriting OSCAR represented a crowning achievement for a man who overcame a debilitating stutter as a child.
He penned the script for THE KING’S SPEECH, a film whose story of a British monarch overcoming his stutter to rally a nation to war mirrors in many ways the British writer’s own life.
“I say this on behalf of all the stutterers in the world: We have a voice. We have been heard,” the screenwriter said.
Telling the story of King George VI was a lifetime ambition for DAVID SEIDLER, who overcame his own stutter nearly 60 years ago. He was born in 1936, seven months before George took the British throne and was forced to overcome his vocal difficulty to rally the empire to face Nazi Germany.
He conquered his stammer in adolescence after undergoing many of the speech therapies portrayed in THE KING’S SPEECH, including stuffing marbles in his mouth and reciting while listening to music on headphones.
Much like the king, profanity helped him overcome his speech difficulties, which appeared in 1940 as he and his family travelled by boat to the United States.
George VI, known to friends as Bertie, curses in the film to score a breakthrough in his therapy.
“I’d like the thank Her Majesty the Queen for not putting me in the Tower Of London for using the Melissa Leo F word,” he said.
There were no tongue tie ups Sunday night when DAVID SEIDLER accepted his award and he used his speech to try to empower others with speech difficulties.
“People still have the archaic notion that we stutterers are feeble minded simply because it is difficult for us to articulate our thoughts,” he said backstage.
The OSCAR for ADAPTED SCREENPLAY went to AARON SORKIN for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, a chronicle of the birth of Facebook based on BEN MEZRICH’S book THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES.
At the podium, he said: “Roxy Sorkin, your father just won the Academy Award. I’m going to have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig.”
Backstage, AARON had some positive words for Mark Zuckerberg, whose creation of Facebook is the basis for the film. The movie views Mark Zuckerberg from a variety of perspectives and doesn’t always place the young billionaire in the kindest light.
“He’s been an awfully good sport about this. You know, I don’t think there’s anybody here who would want a movie made about things they did when they were 19 years old. And if that movie absolutely, positively had to be made, you would want it made only from your point of view and you wouldn’t want to include also the points of view of people who have sued you for hundreds of millions of dollars and, you know, had a visceral emotional reaction to you. But that is the movie that we made.”
THE SOCIAL NETWORK also won BEST MUSICAL SCORE for TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS.
The sci fi blockbuster INCEPTION, which came in with eight nominations, tied with THE KING’S SPEECH with four OSCARS, all in technical categories: VISUAL EFFECTS, CINEMATOGRAPHY, SOUND EDITING and SOUND MIXING.
MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM THE EVENING
“My father always said to me I’d be a late bloomer. I believe I’m the oldest person to win this award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often.” — DAVID SEIDLER, winning BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY for THE KING’S SPEECH
“In a room full of talented, inspirational people, what the hell am I doing here in the midst of you?” — CHRISTIAN BALE, winner of the OSCAR for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
“I should’ve got a haircut.” — LUKE MATHENY, winner of the OSCAR for LIVE ACTION SHORT for GOD OF LOVE
“If it wasn’t for [the visual effects people], your closest association with a superhero would’ve been in 2001 when you got busted in a cheap hotel with a woman dressed as Batgirl.” – JUDE LAW taking ROBERT DOWNEY JR. to task
“Forgive me. I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail…and that’s wrong.” — CHARLES FERGUSON, winner of BEST DOCUMENTARY for INSIDE JOB
LIST OF WINNERS IN SELECTED CATEGORIES
BEST PICTURE: THE KING’S SPEECH
BEST ACTRESS: NATALIE PORTMAN – BLACK SWAN
BEST ACTOR: COLIN FIRTH – THE KING’S SPEECH
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: MELISSA LEO – THE FIGHTER
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: CHRISTIAN BALE – THE FIGHTER
BEST DIRECTOR: TOM HOOPER – THE KING’S SPEECH
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: AARON SORKIN – THE SOCIAL NETWORK
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: DAVID SEIDLER – THE KING’S SPEECH
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: IN A BETTER WORLD (DENMARK)
ANIMATED FEATURE: TOY STORY 3
ART DIRECTION: ALICE IN WONDERLAND
ORIGINAL SCORE: TRENT REZNOR & ATTICUS ROSS – THE SOCIAL NETWORK
ORIGINAL SONG: WE BELONG TOGETHER – TOY STORY 3
COSTUME DESIGN: ALICE IN WONDERLAND
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: INSIDE JOB
FILM EDITING: THE SOCIAL NETWORK
VISUAL EFFECTS: INCEPTION
Previously presented honorary OSCARS: director/producer FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, actor ELI WALLACH, director JEAN LUC GODARD and film historian/preservationist KEVIN BROWNLOW