Behind the scenes at the Oscars

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LOS ANGELES — “The King’s Speech” ruled the night at the 83rd annual Academy Awards, including Tom Hooper’s win as Best Director for “the King’s Speech” and Colin Firth’s win for Best Actor. “I have a feeling my career’s just peaked,” Firth joked as accepted the award. The film earned four wins total, tying with “Inception” for the most of the night.

Natalie Portman won Best Actress for “Black Swan,” adding to her long list of trophies this year. She saved a mention for fiancé Benjamin Millepied for later in her acceptance speech, thanking him for “choreographing the film and now giving me the most important role of my life.” Portman is expected to give birth in the late spring.

The biggest surprise of the night, though, was the disappointing performances by hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. While Hathaway tried to work her charm, Franco failed to dazzle with low energy and stilted delivery. A mid-show appearance by former Oscars host Billy Crystal even drew calls on Twitter and elsewhere for him to take over mid-show.

The young hosts opened the show by digitally inserting them into clips from many of the Best Picture nominees, including “Black Swan” and “True Grit,” as they tried to steal hosting secrets from previous host Alec Baldwin’s dream, a la “Inception.” But the early highlight of the night wasn’t the young hosts, but elderly present Kirk Douglas, who went off-book while presenting the Best Supporting Actress award.

That award, the biggest wild-card award of the night, went to Melissa Leo for “the Fighter.” Leo was an early favorite, but some predicted her self-financed and questionable “Consider” ad campaign in the Hollywood trade publications would ruin her chances. She was also the first to accidentally swear during the ceremony. "There’s a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular. I really don’t mean to offend,” Leo said backstage, apologizing for her profanity.

Leo’s co-star, Christian Bale, also won for Best Supporting Actor, in a category many considered a toss up between Bale and “the King’s Speech” star Geoffrey Rush. “I’m so flattered when any one person walks up to me and tells me they were touched by a performance,” Bale said backstage. “I never went to acting school, and I always feel like I’m making up for that.”

Less surprising was Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” winning Best Animated Feature and Aaron Sorkin taking home the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay for “the Social Network.” The film’s score, by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, also won for Best Original Score. "David Fincher bugged us to do this,” Reznor said backstage. “I’m glad he did."

Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film, “In a Better World,” beat out Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful,” for which star Javiar Bardem was also nominated for Best Actor. While many had been curious to see what infamous street artist Banksy would do if his “Exit Through the Giftshop” won for Best Documentary, they were left wondering, as “Inside Job,” chronicling the financial crisis took the category instead. “I think there’s a great deal of disappointment and anger in America that nothing has been done about this,” filmmaker Charles Ferguson said backstage, when asked about the subject of his film. “The biggest disappointment in making this film was that nobody in the Obama administration would speak to me, even people I’d known for years.”

Though his brainchild, “Inception,” was nominated for Best Picture, Christopher Nolan was personally shut out at the Oscars, losing in the only category for which he was nominated, Best Original Screenplay, to “the King’s Speech” scribe David Seidler. But “Inception” did pull in a slew of technical awards, including Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography.


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