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2011 Academy Awards

Though the ceremony itself was of dubious quality – James Franco looked positively terrified in drag – the 2011 Academy Awards managed to present accolades to some very deserving flicks, not to mention the actors who made ’em what they were.

The big winner of the night was, without a doubt, The King’s Speech. The story of a stumbly-mouthed monarch managed to reel in Best Actor for Colin Firth, Best Directing for Tom Hooper, Best Writing in an Original Screenplay for David Seidler and, biggest of all, Best Picture for the whole cast. Quite a feat, given the strong competition, though the awards went to a deservedly awesome movie – one that proved that special effects do not necessarily a strong movie make.

Not that The King’s Speech managed to sweep the awards. The Social Network predictably came in a commanding second with Best Music, Best Film Editing and Best Writing in an Adapted Screenplay. It also featured into most categories in one form or another, making it a looming threat to every other contender on the stage that night. Facebook execs may not be terribly fond of the movie overall (or they probably aren’t, anyway), but its power on the screen can’t have hurt the company’s rep too much.

Third place of the night went to Inception, an early-year blockbuster that gave Leo DiCaprio another chance to shine outside his usual pretty boy role. The sci-fi blockbuster managed to snag best Special Effects, best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Cinematography. A good night for Christopher Nolan – time will tell if he can replicate the success with his upcoming third installment of his popular Batman series.

The rest of the 2011 Academy Awards was something of a mixed bag. Natalie Portman took Best Leading Actress for Black Swan, while Christian Bale and Melissa Leo snagged awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress in The Fighter. Toy Story 3 managed to grab Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song, while fellow Disney hit Alice in Wonderland grabbed Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.

Perhaps the most notable facet of the awards was its diversity. 2010 was a really strong year for the film industry – The Social Network, The King’s Speech and Inception all in 365 days is hardly fair – and, consequently, the awards were a pretty even split. No sweeping wins, just a grab bag of strong contenders… which, in fairness, makes for a much more dynamic and interesting cinematic experience anyway.