Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stars gather as 'King's Speech' eyes Oscars crown

Stars gather as  HOLLYWOOD: British royal drama "The King's Speech" got another boost on the eve of what supporters hope will be its Oscars coronation Sunday, as stars gather for the climax of Tinsel Town's annual awards season.

The movie, nominated for 12 Academy Awards including best picture and best actor for Colin Firth, won best foreign film at the Spirit independent movie awards, barely 24 hours before the main Hollywood show.

Ballet thriller "Black Swan," nominated for five Oscars, won best film at the Spirits as well as best actress for Natalie Portman -- who is frontrunner in that category on Sunday.

With less than 24 hours to go before the annual awards mega-bash, stars were fine-tuning their acceptance speeches -- fingers crossed -- and
preparing to don their gowns and tuxedos for the Oscars red carpet.

While "The King's Speech" is the frontrunner, no one is taking anything for granted as rivals including Facebook movie "The Social Network," classic Western remake "True Grit" and boxing movie "The Fighter" vie for Oscars glory.

That said, Firth is considered all but certain to be named best actor for his portrayal of Britain's King George VI, helped by Australian voice coach Lionel Logue -- played by Geoffrey Rush -- to overcome his crippling stammer.

David Fincher could well be named best director for "The Social Network," which tells the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created the game-changing website from a controversial start while a Harvard student, some critics say.

"The Social Network" started the awards season as favorite, taking four Golden Globes in January. But the British royal film has since swept up a series of prizes, in the US as well as at Britain's BAFTAs.

On Sunday the 10-strong shortlist for best film also includes hi-tech thriller "Inception," "127 Hours" -- about a hiker forced to amputate his own arm -- and "Toy Story 3," widely tipped as best animated feature.

Others hoping for a touch of Oscars gold include Britain's elusive graffiti artist Banksy, whose film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is nominated for best documentary Oscar. The movie won the Spirit awards prize Saturday.

The best foreign film contest is between Mexico's "Biutiful" -- whose star Javier Bardem is also up for best actor -- "Dogtooth" from Greece, Denmark's "In a Better World," "Incendies" from Canada and Algeria's "Outside the Law."

Actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the Oscars show, while organizers this week released more details of who will present awards, the latest including Helen Mirren, Bardem, Mila Kunis and Amy Adams.

The Oscars weekend also provides an excuse for endless festivities, ranging from Elton John's traditional bash in west Hollywood to one reportedly co-hosted by Madonna and Demi Moore.

Once the big show is over, the real fun starts: Oscars after parties -- and after parties -- go on well into Monday, as Hollywood recovers from its annual awards season binge.

Before that, though, some of the Hollywood's finest were preparing to cringe Saturday night when the traditional Golden Raspberry Awards -- or Razzies -- were to be revealed.

Stars including Jennifer Aniston, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Pattinson, Miley Cyrus and Barbra Streisand are on the shortlist for the Razzies, billed as "saluting the worst that Hollywood has to offer each year."(AFP)

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