Los Angeles. A British actor and director have won the top honors at the Oscars, with Colin Firth winning best actor and filmmaker Tom Hooper winning best director for the royal drama “The King’s Speech.”
Natalie Portman won the best actress award for her sexually-charged performance as an unhinged ballerina in “Black Swan.”
Firth won the Academy Award on Sunday night for his lead role as stammering wartime monarch King George VI. The best actor victory was expected for the 50-year-old veteran of the screen and stage. His acclaimed portrayal of the reluctant king swept various awards leading up to the Oscars.
Firth was Oscar-nominated last year in the same category, for his role as a closeted gay professor in the drama “A Single Man.” He becomes the sixth best actor Oscar winner in 10 years to win for playing a real-life character.
Firth’s rivals were previous Oscar winners Javier Bardem for “Biutiful” and Jeff Bridges for “True Grit”; Jesse Eisenberg for “The Social Network”; and Oscars host James Franco for “127 Hours.”
Hooper, meanwhile, said it might not have happened without a little help from his mom: His mother, Meredith, went to see a play reading in 2007 about a speech therapist who helped the future King George VI of England overcome a crippling stammer.
When she got home, Hooper’s mother, who is Australian as the speech therapist in the play was, told him that she may have found his next film project. That play became “The King’s Speech.” “With this tonight, I honor you, and the moral of the story is: Listen to your mother,” Hooper said.
Hooper’s victory marked the second win for the Oscars’ front-runner, after David Seidler won for his writing on “The King’s Speech.” The British royals drama, which led the field with 12 nominations, remains a contender for the best picture race.
Even though Hooper recently won the bellwether prize from the Directors Guild of America, the Oscar race was seen as a toss-up with David Fincher of “The Social Network.” But some of the excitement was taken out of the battle after “Inception” director Christopher Nolan failed to secure a nomination.
“The King’s Speech” was Hooper’s third feature film. He made his name in the United States directing the HBO miniseries “John Adams.”
Besides Fincher, the other nominees were Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” David O. Russell for “The Fighter” and previous winners Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit.”
The 29-year-old Israeli-American actress Portman was considered the strong favorite for the best actress award, having dominated the various awards shows leading up to the Oscars.
Portman trained five hours a day for six months to prepare for “Black Swan,” a project she and director Darren Aronofsky first discussed about nine years ago. When they started shooting the film in 2009, it had not secured any financing.
Her character, desperately insecure and possibly still a virgin, contends with professional jealousies and rivalries as she secures the dual lead roles in “Swan Lake.” The film was a commercial and critical hit, with worldwide ticket sales of more than $200 million.
As a bonus, Portman last year announced she was pregnant and would marry the baby’s father, a dancer she met on the “Black Swan” set.
She previously received an Oscar nomination in 2005, for her supporting role in “Closer.”
Portman’s rivals were four-time nominee Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” previous Oscar winner Nicole Kidman for “Rabbit Hole,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone,” and Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine.”
The list of 83rd Annual Academy Award winners announced Sunday:
1. Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland.”
2. Cinematography: “Inception.”
3. Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter.”
4. Animated Short Film: “The Lost Thing.”
5. Animated Feature Film: “Toy Story 3.”
6. Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network.”
7. Original Screenplay: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech.”
8. Foreign Language: “In a Better World,” Denmark.
9. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter.”
10. Original Score: “The Social Network,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
11. Sound Mixing: “Inception.”
12. Sound Editing: “Inception.”
13. Makeup: “The Wolfman.”
14. Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland.”
15. Documentary (short subject): “Strangers No More.”
16. Live Action Short Film: “God of Love.”
17. Documentary Feature: “Inside Job.”
18. Visual Effects: “Inception.”
19. Film Editing: “The Social Network.”
20. Original Song: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” Randy Newman.
21. Directing: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech.”
22. Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan.”
23. Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech.”