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Monday February 28, 2011 9:38 am

At the Oscars: The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

James Franco and Anne Hathaway Hosting 83rd Academy AwardsThe 83rd Academy Awards opened with a montage of the handful of movies they’ve decided to honor this year. As usual, all nominations came from a select, certain group of movies in the long list that came out during 2010. If you didn’t see The Social Network, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Black Swan or True Grit, the Oscars wanted you to feel like they’re absolutely can’t-miss films.

But, the award show did offer more than the usual back-patting the actors give themselves once a year.

“Oh my gosh, you’re all real…this is all happening,” Anne Hathaway grinned from the stage as the smoke cleared. Her diamond-covered white gown was a perfect choice for the opening monologue, which was peppered with jokes about James Franco’s nomination and Hathaway’s lack of one (“it used to be, you get naked, you get nominated…not any more”).

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The night wasn’t just about honoring this year’s movies, however. After the monologue, the Oscars paid tribute to one of the greatest of all films, Gone With the Wind. Tom Hanks arrived on stage to talk briefly about the classic film, which practically swept the 1939 Oscars. Gone With the Wind is one of the few movies (and the first) to complete the Academy Award “trifecta,” winning Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. The last movie to accomplish such a feat? Titanic.

At length, he presented the award for Best Art Direction, which went to Alice in Wonderland. The flick beat out True Grit, The King’s Speech, Inception and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I to take the Oscar home. Because Alice in Wonderland is a “Tim Burton film,” winner Robert Stromberg had a tiny hat to put on his Oscar statute. Karen O'Hara also shares the award honor for the film.

When the Best Cinematography award went immediately to Inception, everyone knew that there would be no trifecta for the night. Ah, well. The statue was Wally Pfister’s first win and fourth nomination. Inception trumped Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit to get the statue.

2011 Academy Awards - Kirk Douglas and Melissa Leo

Kirk Douglas presented the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, one of the evening’s few upsets and one of it's most shining moments. The crowd was stunned when Melissa Leo took the statue for her work in The Fighter, beating out Amy Adams (The Figher), Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Jackie Weaver (Animal Kingdom). The crowd was further stunned when Leo dropped an f-bomb in the middle of her speech. . .but, that's another story.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis were the first presenting pair. Timberlake declared that he is “Banksy,” England's notorious, mysterious graffiti artist. The young pair were on hand to present awards for animated films: Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short. Their time on stage, as such, was peppered with jokes aimed to the younger watchers. For instance, Timberlake supposedly used a smartphone app to control the background effects.

The first award they presented, Best Animated Short Film went to The Lost Thing and filmmakers Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, who had never been nominated before. Other nominees in the category: The Gruffalo, Day & Night, Let’s Pollute and Madagascar Carnet de Voyage.

Toy Story 3 won the statue for Best Animated Feature Film. The flick beat out How to Train Your Dragon and The Illusionist to take the Oscar.

James Brolin and Javier Bardem, both in white tuxedo jackets, shirts and ties, looked fabulous to present the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The award was predictably won by Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network, his first nomination and award. Sorkin won over fellow nominees 127 Hours (based on the autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place), Toy Story 3 (based on the previous films), True Grit (based on the novel) and Winter’s Bone (based on the novel). Sorkin said he shares the award with The Accidental Billionaire writer Ben Mezrich, who wrote the novel from which Sorkin’s screenplay was adapted.

The Best Original Screenplay Oscar was given to David Seidler for The King’s Speech. He got a little direction from James Brolin to get to the mic stand, and straightaway made a joke about his age (73) that the audience appreciated. Seidler beat out his younger competition Mike Leigh (Another Year); Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (The Fighter); Christopher Nolan (Inception); and Lisa Cholodenko and Stewart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right).

Brits Russell Brand and Helen Mirren appeared on stage to present the award for Best Foreign Language Film. Mirren spoke beautiful French, which Russell translated into jokes. The statue went to Denmark’s In a Better World. The film took the honors over fellow contenders Dogtooth (Greece), Biutiful (Mexico), Incendies (Canada) and Outside the Law (Algeria).

Reese Witherspoon stepped up to present the Best Supporting Actor award, which was taken home by Christian Bale for The Fighter, his first nomination and win. Bale won above John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech).

Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman presented Best Original Score, talking at length about the importance of sound in movies. A full orchestra played a tribute to some of the best movie scores in history, music from Star Wars and E. T. among them. The award went to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network, which already won the Golden Globe for the same. It was the first nomination and award for each man. Other contenders in the category: How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell), The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat), 127 Hours (A. R. Rahman) and Inception (Hans Zimmer).

Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson delivered the award for Achievement in Sound Mixing. Inception's score won the statue for Lora Hirschberg, Ed Novick, and Gary A. Rizzo. The score won above The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network and True Grit.

Achievement in Sound Editing was won by Richard King for Inception, which beat out Toy Story 3, TRON: Legacy, True Grit and Unstoppable.

Marissa Tomei introduced the awards clip for the Science and Technical Awards, which were held earlier in the month and emceed by her. “Congratulations, nerds,” James Franco said when cameras came back to him and his co-host.

Cate Blanchett arrived on stage to present the award for Achievement in Makeup, which went to Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for The Wolfman, the seventh award for Elsie and second for Baker. Barney's Version and The Way Back were the other nominees in the category.

Best Achievement in Costume Design went to Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland, which was up against I Am Love, The King’s Speech, The Tempest and True Grit. The statue was Atwood’s third win. She also took the award for costumes in Chicago (2002) and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).

By the way, Barack Obama’s favorite movie song is “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca. Classy guy, classy answer. The clip about original movie songs preceded actor Kevin Spacey, who gave us a bit of a Fred Astaire song before introducing himself as George Clooney. Spacey then introduced singer/songwriter Randy Newman, who was on stage to perform his original Toy Story 3 song "We Belong Together." All the evening's musical performances may be seen on Albumista.

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhall walked down the famous dual Oscar staircase to present the award for Best Documentary Short Subject. Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman won for Strangers No More, beating out fellow nominees Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Sun Come Up and The Warriors of Qiugang.

God of Love won for Best Live Action Short Film. The statue was taken home by Luke Matheny, his first nomination and win. “I should have gotten a haircut,” he lamented as he stepped up to the stage sporting a wild, curly 'do. His film won above The Confession, The Crush, Na Wewe and Wish 143. The young filmmaker gave a rambling, enthusiastic speech that delighted the crowd.

Oprah Winfrey - 2011 Academy Awards

Anne Hathaway and James Franco introduced Oprah Winfrey to the stage. Winfrey was garbed in a black and silver number fit for a Media Queen, designed by Zac Polsen. She was on hand to present the Best Documentary Feature award to Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs for Inside Job. The pair were previously nominated for No End in Sight, but this was their first win. The movie won above Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gasland, Restrepo and Waste Land.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law were one of the year’s highlights, presenting the award for Achievement in Visual Effects. Otherwise known as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, these two work great together. Inception won the statute above Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Hereafter and Iron Man 2. Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb accepted the award.

Achievement in Film Editing was awarded to Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for The Social Network. Other nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech and 127 Hours. Wall and Baxter were previously nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but this was their first win.

Jennifer Hudson presented the award for Best Original Song. Randy Newman won the statue for Toy Story 3’s “We Belong Together,” his second win after twenty nominations. “I See the Light” from Tangled, “If I Rise”  from 127 Hours and “Coming Home” from Country Strong were also nominated this year. Upon receiving the award, Newman joked that his Oscar-winning odds aren’t good and peppered his speech with funny one-liners that got the star-studded crowd laughing and applauding.

Halle Berry delivered a tribute to legendary actress Lena Horne after Celine Dion sang the memoriam for the year of 2010, a tribute to all those who’ve been lost in the entertainment industry.

Next, Hilary Swank talked about the Oscar-winning directors of the past before introducing history’s first female director to win the Oscar, Kathryn Bigelow. Jointly, they delivered the award for Best Director. No women on the list this year; the Oscar was given to Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, one of the most talked-about films of the year. Hooper won over the directors of The Social Network, Black Swan, True Grit and The Fighter. The nomination was Hooper’s first.

Jeff Bridges appeared to present the award for Best Actress, a very talked-about race. As has become the tradition, Bridges spoke to each actress nominated for the award: Annette Bening (The Kids Are Al; Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine). As expected, the statue was taken by a very pregnant Natalie Portman, who got a big hug from Jeff Bridges and a huge round of applause from the crowd. She confessed to being “in awe of” her fellow nominees and thanked her parents, along with her team, her friends, and directors who have made a big difference in her career. Portman also thanked her trainers, and of course the film's choreographer and her current sweetie Benjamin Millepied. She also thanked her make up and hair artists, costume designers, camera operators and other crew members who gave so much to her award-winning film Black Swan.

Anne Hathaway, standing alone, flubbed while introducing last year’s Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock, a task that surely would be difficult for anyone to take on. Sandra, garbed in red, delivered the award for Best Actor. She spoke to Javier Bardem (Buitiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and James Franco (127 Hours). Front-runner Colin Firth, who was nominated last year for A Single Man but didn’t win, managed to take the award as expected. “I have a feeling my career’s just peaked,” he cracked as he stepped up to the mic. He joked that he felt so “joyous,” he was going to break out into dance shortly and called his fellow nominees “formidable,” before delivering his thanks.

The King's Speech - 2011 Oscar winners Colin Firth, Tom Hooper

Famed director Steven Spielberg appeared on the stage with the Best Picture envelope, the night’s biggest award. The staggering list cited 10 movies as potentially the year’s best: The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan, Inception, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3. The award went to The King’s Speech, a favorite of the night, taking its total statue count up to four. The film won for Original Screenplay, Directing, Acting and Best Picture.

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