Melissa Leo won the first acting award of the evening at the 83d Academy Awards on Sunday night for her performance as fiercely controlling mom in The Fighter.
Aaron Sorkin, who was clearly the odds-on favorite in his category, claimed the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for the fast-talking The Social Network, adapted from Ben Mezrich's bookThe Accidential Billionaires. As he began his acceptance, Sorkin noted that the great Paddy Chayevsky won a writing screenplay 35 years ago for another movie with the word network in the title. He also offered extravagant praise to the film's director David Fincher, saying, "David Fincher made this movie and he did it with an ungodly artfulness."The veteran actress immediately established a first as she uttered a bleeped-out F-word amid her excitement. First, though, she had to wait for presenter Kirk Douglas, who milked opening the envelope for all it was worth. "Pinch me," she said to Douglas as she accepted her Oscar. "Wow...mine..for me?," she vamped, as Douglas told her, "You're much more beautiful than you were in The Fighter" before he was escorted to the side of the stage.
Her Fighter costar Christian Bale was named best supporting actor for taking on the real-life character of ex-fighter-turned-addict Dicky Edlund. Acknowledging Leo, the sometimes volatile actor said, "I'm not going to drop the f-bomb like she did. I've already done that plenty before." Instead, he thanked director David O. Russell and gave a shout-out to Edlund, who stood up and waved from his seat in the audience.
David Seidler's victory in the original screenplay category for The King's Speech was equally expected. "My father always said to me, I would be a late bloomer," he said as he began his remarks. And he concluded, "I accept this on behalf of all the stutterers around the world. We have a voice, we have been heard, thanks to you, the Academy."
Alice in Wonderland led off the trophy parade as it took home the first award of the evening, the prize for art direction.
Production designer Robert Stromberg was visibly nervous as he took the stage with set decorator Karen O'Hara. As he rushed into a litany of thank yous, he referred to his Disney bosses as "Iger and Ross and Bailey," referring to Robert Iger, Rich Ross and Sean Bailey, but reserving most of his thanks to the movie's director Tim Burton.
Alice's fantasy world also resulted in an award for its costume design, the third such Oscar thatColleen Atwood has won, and she also hailed "the singular Tim Burton."
Wally Pfister took home the night's second trophy for his cinematography in Inception. It was the fifth nomination and first win for Pfister, a longtime collaborator of director Christopher Nolan, and he acknowledged that fact, saying, "Nothing I did would have been possible without the incredible vision of my master Christopher Nolan."
The first award of the evening, presented by Tom Hanks, followed an opening in which the evening's first-time hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco took an Inception-like trip intoAlec Baldwin's dreams, as well as the other best picture nominees, in search of the secret for hosting the Oscars.
When it came to sound, Inception executed a double-play: It earned the prize for sound editing, which went to Richard King, and for sound mixing, which went to Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick.
Even though presenter Cate Blanchett shuddered, "That's gross," after watching a clip fromThe Wolfman, in which Benicio Del Toro turns into the title character, the movie still took the prize for best make-up. The award was shared by Rick Baker (marking his seventh Oscar win) and Dave Elsey (accepting his first).
Pixar's Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich, claimed the Oscar for best animated feature, while the corresponding prize for best short animated movie went to the Australian-made The Lost Thing and its creators Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann.
Expressing his debt to Pixar founders John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs, Unkrich called Pixar "the most awesome place on the planet to make movies" and thanked audiences who "embraced a movie about talking toys that hopefully had something very human to say."
Inside Job won for the best documentary.
Susanne Bier's Danish feature In a Better World was named best foreign-language feature. The film ranges from a refugee camp in Sudan to a Danish provincial town, where two boys strike up a frienship as they confront local bullies. Thanking the Academy, Bier also tipped her hat to Sony Pictures Classics and its two co-heads Michael Barker and Tom Bernard for distributing the film in America.
Heading into the evening at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, The King's Speech, the uplifting account of how England's King George VI overcame a debilitating stutter, threatened to dominate the proceedings, having amassed 12 nominations. Its closest competitors were the Western True Grit with ten noms, followed by the brain-twisting thriller Inception and The Social Network, an account of the behind-the-scenes battles that accompanied the founding of Facebook, with eight each.
Also jockeying for position in the race were the other best picture contenders: Pixar's animated hit Toy Story 3; the ballet drama Black Swan; the boxing tale The Fighter; The Kids Are All Right, a warm-hearted movie about a lesbian couple and their children; 127 Hours, a harrowing adventure tale; and the backwoods drama Winter's Bone.
While Social appeared to be the early favorite, dominating the year-end critics awards, and claiming the Golden Globe as the year's best drama, Speech then rallied and took home a steady string of guild awards, including top honors from the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild.
For the ABC broadcast, the show's producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer are aiming to give the show a fresher, more youthful look, having recruited Franco and Hathaway who will be performing before a new, high-tech set that will use a series of "projections" to shift from one historic setting to another.