The King’s Speech not only won the Oscars for Best Picture, Original Screenplay and Actor (Colin Firth) as expected, but also for Best Director (Tom Hooper) in something of a slight upset over The Social Network’s David Fincher. Most of the awards went as this critic anticipated with Natalie Portman (Black Swan) landing Best Actress while Christian Bale and Melissa Leo prevailed in the supporting categories for The Fighter.
Over the years, I’ve made a habit of pointing out how Anglophilic the Academy tends to be, and this year was no exception. You couldn’t help but notice the profusion of English accents during acceptance speeches, between The King’s Speech and Inception, British productions which netted four Oscars apiece. Even Christian Bale’s thick Welsh brogue probably surprised a lot of folks who’d presumed him to be Yank after seeing him play so many American characters.
Why the U.S. continues to display such post-colonial deference to England centuries after declaring its independence is disconcerting. As a consequence of this lack of self-esteem, many deserving domestic talents remain fated never to enjoy a share the limelight.
The evening’s most memorable moment arrived courtesy of Ms. Leo who had to be bleeped when she tastelessly used the F-word while thanking the Academy. What’s perhaps more interesting is that she had come under criticism in recent weeks for launching her own ad campaign in the industry trade papers lobbying for votes. Obviously, the tactic worked, as it helped her edge out a Brit, The King’s Speech’s Helena Bonham Carter.
As for the co-hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway were visually appealing, but exhibited little in the way of chemistry or comedic chops. In fact, their performances peaked during the show’s opening, a pre-recorded parody featuring the pair immersed in famous scenes from screen classics courtesy of trick photography.
The absence of suspense or entertainment combined to render the Academy Awards a bloated borefest. No members of any minority groups won an Oscar, and unless I dozed off (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility), I can safely say that none even appeared onstage as presenters, except for Halle Berry who paid a posthumous tribute to the late Lena Horne. Hey, Javier Bardem was born in Spain, and I don’t think Castilians qualify as Latino. So, let’s just pray that next year’s affair is a little more ethnically diverse.
COMPLETE LIST OF ACADEMY AWARD WINNERS