Colin Firth crowned as King's Speech rules at Oscars

HOLlYWOOD bowed down to the British film industry at this year's Academy Awards, with The King's Speech scooping a total of four Oscars for its gripping portrayal of how King George VI overcame adversity to conquer his stammer.

The movie was crowned Best Picture at the 83rd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles last night.

Colin Firth won his first Oscar for Best Actor playing the shy king who found himself thrust on to the world stage when his older, playboy brother Edward VIII abdicated in 1936.

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The film also picked up Best Director for Tom Hooper and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the award of the Oscar for Best Picture marked "a fantastic end to the awards season and an incredible year for British film-making".

The story of the unconventional methods used by Australian speech therapist Lionel Liogue has been a box office smash, winning seven Baftas last month and a Golden Globe Best Actor for Firth in January.

Firth, 50, who told the audience he was on the verge of "dancing with joy", said: "I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the Academy.

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"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 which, joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage."

Firth thanked his British fans, paying tribute to "all the people who have been rooting for me back home" and thanked his Italian wife Livia, whom he said had put up with his "fleeting delusions of royalty".

Speaking afterwards, he said he never expected the film to have such broad appeal.

"What has struck me is that the emotional response to this has been quite personal and diverse.

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"It's very powerful to be on the receiving end of that kind of feedback."

He also attacked the decision to axe the UK Film Council as "short-sighted". He told the press: "I don't want to get too entangled in that, but I think on the face (of tonight] it was a short-sighted decision."

The success is a bitter-sweet victory for the UK Film Council, which invested 1 million lottery money in the film but which was then axed and replaced with the British Film Institute.The film beat off its Best Picture rival The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook, and led the nominations competing in 12 categories - two more than the ten for the Coen brothers' Western, True Grit, which won nothing.

Hooper thanked his mother, who first told him about the play which formed the basis of the film after friends in London persuaded her to attend a fringe theatre reading of it in 2007.

Addressing her, he said: "With this tonight I honour you and the moral of the story is, 'Listen to your mother'."

London-born Seidler dedicated his win to "all the stutterers throughout the world".

Last year's Best Actor winner, Jeff Bridges, presented the award for Best Actress to Natalie Portman for her role in the dark ballet thriller Black Swan. Veteran actor Kirk Douglas presented The Fighter's Melissa Leo with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Welsh-born Christian Bale picked up Best Supporting Actor for the same film.

Bale, who first hit the headlines as the child star of Empire Of The Sun, said: "Bloody hell. What a room full of talented, inspirational people and what am I doing in the midst of you?"

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He also paid tribute to his wife who, he said, was "my mast through the storms of life".

However, there was no Oscar for The Illusionist, which was made in Edinburgh and Dundee by French director Sylvain Chomet and opened the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Based on a script by Jacques Tati, the tale of a down-on-his- luck magician who travels from Paris to the Western Isles and Edinburgh, was beaten in the Best Animated film category by Pixar's Toy Story 3.

Ron Inglis, director of Regional Screen Scotland, said that despite public acclaim for The King's Speech, the Oscar for Best Film should have gone to Toy Story 3.

"The King's Speech was hugely popular and has met with tremendous enthusiasm because triumph over something so debilitating is something many people can relate to.

"But it was also great to see the range of films which were nominated, especially The Kids Are All Right and Winter's Bone.

"I believe Toy Story 3 should have got an Oscar. It has thoroughly redefined an art form and I feel they deserve recognition for producing the best film."