Cinema Autopsy on the 83rd Academy Awards winners

The King's Speech
The King's Speech

Wow. Did I do a terrible job this year with my Academy Award predictions. I got a total of seven categories right and none of them were exactly radically or surprising results that demonstrate any sense of insight on my behalf. A full list of all the winners is on the official Oscars nominees and winners page and here are the ones that I picked:

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Actress in a Leading Role: Black Swan (Natalie Portman)
Actor in a Supporting Role: The Fighter (Christian Bale)
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
Music (Original Score): The Social Network (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
Sound Editing: Inception (Richard King)
Visual Effects: Inception (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb)

How did I not predict The King’s Speech as the film that would clean up in several major awards including Best Motion Picture, Directing, Actor in a Leading Role, and Writing (Original Screenplay)? I even acknowledged that it is exactly the sort of  film that is destined for Academy Award glory as did the people who left comments on my predictions post. Regardless, The King’s Speech is still an excellent piece of cinema that was crafted by several talented people who deserve their acclaim.

Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Colin Firth in The King's Speech

Writer David Seidler, who based a lot of the film on his own experiences getting treatment for his stutter, gave a wonderful acceptance speech as did director Tom Hooper, whom I was lucky enough to interview a couple of months ago. However, it was best male actor winner Colin Firth who was the highlight of the night for me. He somehow managed to be funny, sincere, grateful and humble all at the same time, reenforcing how much I’ve come to like and admire him over the past few years. Firth has always been a wonderful screen presence but he’s really come into his own with The King’s Speech and what I like to call his grief trilogy: And When Did You Last See Your Father?, Genova and A Single Man.

Overall I was actually really pleased with the outcome of many of the awards despite being so off the mark with my predictions. It was terrific seeing Inception getting several of the key technical awards including Cinematography. While I was hoping Inception was also going to get Music (Original Score) I was still very pleased The Social Network won, not just because I had predicted it but because it is a great score and seeing Trent Reznor accepting the award was a tremendous rush for 16-year-old me.

Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in The Fighter

Alice in Wonderland winning Art direction and Costume design was completely unexpected but I was thrilled that the Academy were finally recognising films in these categories that display innovation and imagination over films that simply reproduce the past. It was also very pleasing to see the under appreciated Melissa Leo win Actress in a Supporting Role for The Fighter. I was especially thrilled that the excellent films Inside Job and In a Better World (review to come) respectively won Documentary Feature and Foreign Language Film despite my predictions that they would not.

However, one of the biggest unexpected treats was seeing the marvellous Australian film The Lost Thing win the Animated Short award. Not only is it a magnificent film but on a personal note I am just so proud to have been on the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival short film jury that gave it the Grand Prix for Best Short Film award, which first made it eligible for an Academy Award. Of course The Lost Thing would have succeeded regardless of my presence on that jury, but still, it’s nice to have that tiny bit of early contact with an Academy Award winning film!

© Thomas Caldwell, 2011

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  1. Yes, I was also disappointed that Inception‘s score missed out.

    But I have to say I think Alice in Wonderland was just too much of an easy get, costume-wise. Just as it’s easy to recreate the past it’s also easy to create absolutely outré fantasy worlds. In the costume category I preferred The Tempest and in production design, Inception.

    However I will concede that Alice in Wonderland was quite clever in the way that each one of Alice’s dresses was ‘tailored’ from her preceding dress, which is an innovation because in traditional tellings, her clothes grow and shrink with her.

  2. I agree with you about Inception being the better film in terms of production design (and frankly a whole lot more). However, I think the most challenging and interesting costume designs are those that subtly express something about the characters without drawing attention to themselves. In that regard I felt that I Am Love and True Grit were the better films in terms of costume. Nevertheless, I’m still pleased about the Alice in Wonderland win as it’s been a long complaint of mine that films recreating the past always win over film doing something original and imaginative, and I don’t think there is anything easy about creating a fantasy world.

  3. How could you not have picked Melissa Leo to win the Oscar for her outstanding performance in The Fighter? You probably picked former Senator Mike Gravel to win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008! Always pick Melissa Leo. She is one of the most outstanding actresses of our time. She is to the Academy Awards what the New York Yankees are to baseball. Behold, the “Leo Dynasty!”

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