Coronation of Firth and 'The Kings Speech' at Oscars

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The British film, made by for a paltry nine million pounds, capped an unlikely run that has seen it generate more than £150m at the box office.

Los Angeles

The film industry’s big night out began with a fresh layer of snow over the Hollywood Hills and a hasty email from Oscar organisers apologising for the fact that they would be unable to provide the scantily-clad guests tiptoeing up their football pitch of a red carpet with a fully-functional outdoor heating system.

It ended with a great British victory, to match the Anglified weather, as The King’s Speech, a historical drama about the stammering King George VI’s relationship with his speech therapist, justified heavy favouritism to carry off four of this year’s Academy Awards, including the top prize of Best Picture.

The result wasn’t quite a royal flush for the well-made film, since it had been short-listed in a total of a dozen categories. But given its domination of major categories, you could certainly liken it to a coronation: Tom Hooper won for Best Director, David Seidler bagged Best Original Screenplay, and Colin Firth was named Best Actor for his performance in the title role.

“I’ve a feeling my career may have just peaked,” was how Firth put it, as he accepted the trophy he has spent the last three months campaigning for. The former Mr Darcy’s bank balance has also probably peaked: despite being made for the comparatively-paltry budget of £9 million, The King’s Speech’s success has already helped it return £150m at the box office.

On an evening when the vast majority of statuettes went to heavy favourites, Natalie Portman was earlier named Best Actress for her role in Black Swan, a thriller set in the world of ballet, while Melissa Leo and an uncharacteristically-bonhomious Christian Bale won in the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories for their work in the boxing biopic The Fighter.

A movie about the founding of Facebook, The Social Network, had been billed as the biggest rival to The King’s Speech. But in the event, it had to make do with three awards, the most prominent of which went to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The other big winners were the summer blockbuster Inception, which won four technical gongs, Toy Story 3, which won two Oscars including Best Animated feature.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland meanwhile won both costume categories. The director’s wife Helena Bonham Carter, who stared in both that film and The King’s Speech (where she played the Queen Mother) duly pitched-up one of the event’s most eccentric outfits: a black velvet corseted dress, teamed with a shin-sized gaiter constructed from a Union Jack flag.

Though almost all of 2011’s most important Oscars went to strong odds-on favourites, the night was not without its moments of unpredictability.

A faintly surreal atmosphere pervaded on the red carpet, thanks to the failure of celebrity designers to compensate for a cold snap which brought some of LA’s coldest temperatures on record. Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old Best Supporting Actress nominee frmo True Grit was barely able to talk as she entered the Kodak Theatre, thanks to her chattering teeth.

The ceremony’s first brush with history came roughly 15 minutes in, when a delighted Melissa Leo waltzed on stage to collect her award, and in her excitement became the first person in the event’s 83-years to utter the four-letter word known across Middle America as the “f-bomb.”

Since the ceremony is broadcast on time delay, the expltive was bleeped out before it reached the nation’s living rooms. Later, backstage, she nonetheless issued a grovelling apology. “There’s a great deal of the English language that’s in my vernacular,” he said. “[But] it was a very inappropriate place to use that word in particular.”

Leo had collected the trophy from 94-year-old Kirk Douglas. He managed to be remarkably chipper, given his advancing years, but there were those who questioned the wisdom of his appearance. It had been arranged after last year’s Oscar winners Christophe Waltz and Mo’Nique declined invitations to present this year’s awards.

A further talking-point revolved around the gown chosen by the night’s leading lady, Natalie Portman. She is paid a small fortune to be the “face” of couture house Dior, but decided instead to turn up in a purple outfit from rival house Rodarte.

The decision was widely interpreted as a snub to Dior designer John Galliano, who was arrested last week after allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks during a bar-room brawl. When Portman, who is Jewish, was asked about the matter afterwards, a PR representative intervened to say that she “won’t be discussing” it. The entire exchange was later edited-out from official transcripts of her backstage press conference.

More soul-searching revolved around Inside Job, a damning investigation into the 2008 financial crisis, which won Best Documentary. Its creator Charles Ferguson used his victory speech to note that: “three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong.”

Success for The King’s Speech meanwhile promised to send at least a minor ripple through British politics. The film was made thanks to a £1m grant organised by the UK Film Council (which now stands to make a profit of at least £10m on that investment). But thanks to David Cameron’s recent spending cuts, that organisation is about to be abolished.

When The Independent asked Colin Firth what his Oscar success said regarding the wisdom of Mr Cameron’s policy, he replied: “I don’t really want to get entangled in political judgment on that… But I do think that, on the face of things, it was a short sighted decision.”

It seems churlish to dwell on the failures of British cinema, however, given the breath of success for home-grown talent. Dave Elsey won his second Oscar for Best Make-Up for his work on The Wolfman. And Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb, of the London-based firm Double Negative, won Visual Effects award for the blockbuster Inception.

One of the night’s great fairytales meanwhile revolved around a virtually-unknown UK producer called Andrew Ruhemann. He won the Best Animated Short award, for his work on The Lost Thing, and afterwards informed reporters that he hoped the victory would lead to him being interviewed on Radio Four’s Today programme – a sentiment in keeping with the spirit of what felt like a very British affair.

Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?