LOS ANGELES — "The King's Speech" was crowned best picture Sunday at an Academy Awards ceremony as precise as a state coronation. The monarchy drama won an expected four Oscars, and predictable favorites claimed acting honors.
Colin Firth as stammering British ruler George VI in "The King's Speech" earned the best-actor prize, while Natalie Portman won best actress as a delusional ballerina in "Black Swan."
The boxing drama "The Fighter" captured both supporting-acting honors, for Christian Bale as a boxer-turned-drug-abuser and Melissa Leo as a boxing clan's domineering matriarch.
"The King's Speech" also won the directing prize for Tom Hooper and the original-screenplay Oscar for David Seidler, a boyhood stutterer himself.
"I have a feeling my career has just peaked," Firth said. "I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves."
Among those Portman beat was Annette Bening for "The Kids Are All Right." Bening now has lost all four times she's been nominated.
"Thank you so much. This is insane, and I truly, sincerely wish that the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees. I'm so in awe of you," Portman said.
Network censors bleeped Leo for dropping the F-word during her speech. Backstage, she jokingly conceded it was "probably a very inappropriate place to use that particular word."
"Those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend. There is a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular," Leo said.
Bale joked that he was keeping his language clean. "I'm not going to drop the F-bomb like she did," he said. "I've done that plenty of times before."
But the Oscars, being a global affair, were telecast elsewhere in the world with Leo's words uncensored. Viewers who watched the show on Star Movies, a major channel available throughout Asia, heard the F-word loud and clear.
The best-picture win for "The King's Speech" was the first for its distributor, the Weinstein Co., founded by savvy awards campaigner Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob after they left Miramax, their old outfit. At Miramax, Weinstein oversaw best-picture wins for "Chicago," ''Shakespeare in Love" and "The English Patient."
"The King's Speech" had been the heir-apparent for Hollywood's highest honor since late January, when it seized the awards momentum with a leading 12 Oscar nominations and a sweep of top prizes from influential actors, directors and producers guilds.
Before that, the Facebook drama "The Social Network" had looked like the front-runner, dominating awards from key critics' groups and winning best drama at the Golden Globes. An of-the-moment tale such "The Social Network" would have fit the Oscars' recent pattern, with contemporary stories such as "The Hurt Locker," ''Slumdog Millionaire" and "Crash" winning best picture.
But Oscar voters reverted to history, pomp and tradition this time, qualities that marked such past best-picture winners as "The Last Emperor," ''A Man for All Seasons" and "Lawrence of Arabia."
Those films were epic in scope, while "The King's Speech" is a deeply personal tale, chronicling the unlikely kinship between George VI and unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who helped the king bring his stammer under control.
Hooper, a relative big-screen newcomer best known for classy TV drama, took the industry's top filmmaking prize over Hollywood veteran David Fincher, who had been a strong prospect for "The Social Network."
The prize was presented by last year's winner, Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to earn a directing Oscar.
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