I finally got around to watching True Grit last night. What a surprise pleasure! The Coen Brothers’ tale of retribution was beautifully performed by Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and my new heroine Hailee Steinfeld. I’d never heard of the 14-year-old actress until I saw her in the trailer for True Grit, but after last night, I think she’s a real star in the making.
Her portrayal of firm but feisty, no nonsense teenager Mattie Ross really impressed me, and after two short hours, I was really backing her, along with Helena Bonham Carter, for the Best Supporting Actress accolade at the Oscars… sadly, I was too tired to stay up and follow them live, so I had to wait until this morning to see the results.
And how VERY proud I am to see that The King’s Speech has won four Oscars – and very well deserved they are. I got teary eyed when the wonderful movie did so well at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs earlier this year, so for everyone associated with the film – and especially Colin Firth, who missed out to Jeff Bridges last year - to achieve the most famous statuettes in the industry, brought on a veritable fountain of happy tears from me as I caught up on the accounts this morning.
As it happens, Hailee and Helena missed out on the best supporting actress statuette to Melissa Leo, who played Alice Ward in The Fighter, while her co-star Christian Bale picked up yet another award for his portrayal of her crack-addicted son Dicky Eklund.
I’m a bit ‘Meh’ about this. I liked The Fighter, I thought it was a great, emotive interpretation of a true story, and I thought that both Leo and Bale put in excellent performances as the destructive, unpleasant, albeit well-meaning family of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), blinded by long ago successes. Bale is brilliant in every role he plays – although I can’t get my head around the ridiculously gruff tone his Batman feels the need to use, it’s got to hurt – but I can’t accept he was more deserving of the award that Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech.
But The Academy didn’t ask my opinion, so there you go.
One film I’ve yet to watch is The Social Network, I might make that a project for this coming weekend. To secure as many nominations as it did, it’s obviously a seriously heavyweight piece of cinema. I think I’m prevented from watching it through sheer jealousy that I didn’t think up Facebook myself.
As everyone predicted, Natalie Portman held aloft her Oscar for the outstanding performance in Black Swan, which I still think was breathtaking.
The one movie I think wound up in the shade somewhat, despite it equalling The King’s Speech in terms of silverware last night, is Inception. I love Leonardo DiCaprio, I think he’s one of the best actors of our time, and Inception made my brain hurt, it was so complex and clever. While everyone’s raving (rightly) about The King’s Speech picking up four Oscars, it’s worth noting that Inception also bagged four, for cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing and – no shock here – visual effects. While the Oscars aren’t as high profile as Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, they were absolutely vital to make the movie the jaw-dropping piece of cinema that it was. I think sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to the ‘behind the scenes’ and technical awards when the biggest blockbusters all too often rely on their spectacular effects to draw us in.
I think the key thing about this year’s success stories is that most of the films were very close knit and very intense – Natalie Portman was in pretty much every scene in Black Swan, there was no respite for her as the protagonist, and she utterly immersed herself in the part. The King’s Speech was, for 90 per cent of the film, two men in a room filming almost painful scenes, no special effects to deter from the sheer talent on screen, and as I understand it, The Social Network is similar in that ‘two guys in a room’ description.
It makes a real change from last year, when the little blue men of the massive budget 3D Avatar, with its explosions, effects and fantasy was the big hitter.
Bring on the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 – here’s to more great acting and more British success – though how we’ll manage that now the Coalition Government has chosen to close down the UK Film Council (who enabled The King’s Speech to be made) is anyone’s guess.
Not fully up to speed on last night’s events? Here is the full list of nominees and winners.