By James Verniere
The Bay State scored Oscar gold in the first hour of the 83rd annual Academy Awards. Last night Melissa Leo was named the Best Supporting Actress for her performance as matriarch Alice Ward in the blue-collar Lowell-set boxing film “The Fighter” while Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor for his role in that film as Dicky Eklund. Aaron Sorkin picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay award for “The Social Network.”
Leo thanked Ward family members in the audience at the Kodak Theater by name as well as her co-star and the film’s producer, Dorchester’s Mark Wahlberg. Sorkin acknowledged Boston-area writer Ben Mezrich, the author of the book that was the inspiration for the film.
Going into last night’s awards ceremony at the Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, the big question among New England Oscar buffs back East was: Just how much gold would Massachusetts-set films (“The Social Network,” “The Fighter,” “The Town”) net? More than a few, was the consensus among the odds-makers.
But the British film “The King’s Speech,” a biographical tale about King George VI’s struggle to overcome a speech impediment, was expected to beat Harvard-set “The Social Network,” working-class-Lowell-based “The Fighter” and the other nominees for Best Picture and also pick up prizes for Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). While critics’ groups, largely held responsible for the triumph of David (“The Hurt Locker”) over Goliath (“Avatar “) last year, overwhelmingly preferred “The Social Network” this year, “The King’s Speech” earned the most Academy Award nominations last month, with a total of 12.
“The Social Network” may crystallize a recent moment in time when a group of young, brilliant Harvard computer geeks led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created a worldwide revolution with an algorithm and the stroke of a keyboard. But its characters are almost uniformly unlikable.