MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks Extra: Could There Be One More Turn?

So all the odds have shifted to The King’s Speech for the win.

But could this be the one thing that could turn the tide to The Social Network or True Grit?

Realistically, I think not. The reason some of us have been on King’s Speech and off of Social Network for some time is that “they” love the Brit flick. (And yes, I was on to Grit after it opened huge… but still, the problems it had when it first screened have stuck in some of the ways I feared it might.) “They” still love the Brit flick.

The King’s Speech will be the #4 box office film in the BP race. As noted before, the Academy has a decade-long history, pre-10-nods, of the Best Picture being the #1 or #2 grosser. Slice the mega-hits that would not have made a 5-picture field, and you have Grit followed by Speech. One of them winning makes sense. Swan, Fighter, and Social follow… and none look like the winner right now.

But the anomaly, if there is going to be one, is with Social Network, which has racked up so many critics awards. The Academy disregarded the box office of The Hurt Locker – and bless them for it – but I would still argue that without mega-smash Avatar as the only perceived alternative, the David vs Goliath story overwhelmed box office skewing the issue. That was last year’s anomaly. But the idea that The Academy no longer cares about box office success and the perception of it because ONE movie won in spite of weak box office (and a very aggressive effort to claim that it wasn’t a box office failure, given the opportunity) is silly on its face.

And while there is a narrative out there that The King’s Speech is the next Ordinary People, there are three big problems with the claim. First, there is the perception of groupthink inside The Academy that is wildly overstated and oversimplified. Second, if The Academy thought like that – “we screwed up before.. let’s fix it!” – they would have nominated more commercial product last year after The Dark Knight was the alleged reason for the move to 10 nominees. Third, what is the Raging Bull of this season? I would say that it’s pretty clear that there is none.

Perhaps your comparison is Rocky winning over Network, All The President’s Men, Taxi Driver, and Bound For Glory. Well, for one thing, Rocky IS a legendary, influential film that started a franchise of major proportions. But even if you feel that the three ongoingly legendary movies all deserved to win over the boxing film, can anyone seriously make a correlation between those films and this year’s crop? With due respect to Aaron Sorkin, Social Network is not Chayefsky and from my conversation with him, I don’t think Sorkin intended it to be Chayefsky. (Wilder, maybe.) Perhaps Social Net could be compared to King’s Men… but that film was much more interested in the politics of the moment than Social is in the politics of Facebook. True Grit could be compared to Hal Ashby’s Bound For Glory, a movie often considered more for its visual virtuosity in its initial life than for the its subtext. Black Swan is singular, for better and awards worse.

Harvey Weinstein wishes he could compare Speech to Rocky… because there would be sequels! If you want a real comparison, try Marty, the 1956 winner that beat Mr. Roberts, Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing, The Rose Tattoo, and Picnic. Also there, but not nominated were Rebel Without A Cause, East of Eden, Summertime, Bad Day At Black Rock, The Seven Year Itch, Guys & Dolls, To Catch A Thief, Love Me Or Leave Me, Blackboard Jungle, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, and Oklahoma, amongst others. Not nominated for Best Director were Hitchcock, Nicholas Ray, John Ford, Jacques Tati, Fred Zinnemann, Joe Mankiewicz, Richard Brooks, Billy Wilder, and others.

But Marty hit “them”in the heart. Borgnine also won Best Actor. Delbert Mann won Best Director over Kazan, Lean, Logan, and John Sturges with his only-ever nomination. He also won DGA. And (here he comes again) Paddy Chayefsky won for Screenplay.

But back to my original question…

Could there be one more turn? There could. But it’s just not very likely because this time, the movie that’s jumped into the frontrunner role is the one “they” like and the one that is the most universally liked amongst over-40s.

There could be a director/Best Picture split… it’s happened 3 times in the last decade… but also, probably not.

The ones to look out for are the other way around… Geoffrey Rush upsetting Christian Bale and Helena Bonham-Carter upsetting Melissa Leo. Those would be the shockers… but not that shocking. These probably won’t happen either. But if the momentum continues unabated… well…

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15 Responses to “20 Weeks Extra: Could There Be One More Turn?”

  1. Great Scott says:

    Guess I’ll only be tuning in to the Oscars to see if Natalie Portman wins an Oscar for her Black Swan performance or if Annette Bening gets a lifetime achievement award.

    And as long as we’re comparing this year to 1976, I would sort of compare Black Swan to Carrie. A horror film about a fragile young woman with an overprotective mother. Although maybe that’s a stretch.

  2. Bob Burns says:

    Hopefully Deakins doesn’t get beaten again in the TKS sweep.

    This is more like the year when ABM beat four better films that were nominated and several more that weren’t.

  3. Sally in Chicago says:

    Well, I think the steam went out of the Social Network, because the guys who play the FB guys are in real life, not compelling personalities. I just watched them at the SAG awards and they were like little bratty twits. And I’m sure they come off like that when they attend events. I mean Jess Eisenberg played Jess Eisenberg. And Garfield looked po’d at the Sags when they didn’t win. They just look like rich frat boys….and that may be a turnoff to their fellow actors.

  4. Greg says:

    All the (blog) chatter lately points to The Social Network being a great film, and The King’s Speech being some pretender that is unjustly winning, or just winning because “the old fogies like it.”

    It’s not. They’re both great films. “The King’s Speech” is better acted than The Social Network, and just as well written and directed. It deserves what it’s getting.

    That said, I was personally rooting for “The Fighter” as Ensemble tonight, because that would have truly opened picture up into a three-way race.

    At least there have been surprises in the Oscar season this year, as opposed to the last two years when The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire were ordained by the critics and never stopped. The awards were dull as dirt both those years because everyone knew who was winning, and yep, that’s who won.

    “Social Network” could still win over “The King’s Speech.”
    “The Fighter” could sneak in and in wouldn’t be a total shock.

    It’s not a “set” season this year, and it would have been if “Social Network” had won the DGA, PGA, and SAGs.

  5. Robert Hamer says:

    I still think there’s a chance for a ‘Chicago’ event; a film that sweeps the PGA, DGA and SAG Ensemble award, but ends up with a Picture/Director split on the big night. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for (realistically speaking) at this point…

  6. Stephen Holt says:

    This is starting to me to resemble the year that another film won 12 for 12. “Ben-Hur” Tom Hooper is the new King of the World, and David Fincher is the new Martin Scorcese. He’ll be nominated over and over forever til he in his 60 and then he’ll win.

  7. Samuel Deter says:

    I just saw Black Swan… and wow

    if only Aronofski could win for such amazing work. It is arguably the one film of the whole ten nominated that will be regarded more highly in the future.

    It’s not just memorable… I would dare say it is iconic.

    I knew Aronofski had it in him to be brilliant.

  8. Greg says:

    Black Swan is indeed iconic – it’s the “Showgirls” of the 21st century. A film so jaw-droppingly campy and bad that it becomes an instant classic.

  9. Robert Hamer says:

    @ Greg: Sadly I agree, and this is coming from someone who loved The Wrestler. How critics could be so won over by such obvious and cheap tricks is beyond me.

  10. edkargir says:

    The Kings Speech is an excellent movie but The Social Network is a masterpiece the best film of the 21st century so far. The pga,dga and the sag are wrong and proved once again that Hollywood is the worst judge of their own industry.

  11. Warner says:

    Would love to see True Grit ride in across the finish line and provide a big suprising upset. It’s a better film than TKS.

  12. barry egan says:

    Enter the Void, The American, Valhalla Rising, Carlos, and The Way Back are all better than ANY of the movies nommed for best picture. The oscars is a fucking sham.

  13. theschu says:

    @barry egan Just because you’re the only person out of 6 billion to think that those movies are better than any of the nominated films doesn’t make the Oscars a sham. They’re a sham for other reasons 😉

  14. theschu says:

    One thing that many bloggers and prognosticators seem to be overlooking with all their talk about “The King’s Speech” being an “Oscar movie” and the BP frontrunner is that for the past six years the winner has been a movie that takes place in the modern time and is reflective of how we live in the world now, in the 21st century. “Million Dollar Baby”, “Crash”, “The Departed”, “No Country For Old Men”, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Hurt Locker”.

    The first few winners of the last decade were more “Oscar style” movies. “Gladiator”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Chicago” and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (although honestly the latter isn’t really an Oscar style movie either).

    So I’m not so sure that it’s clear that “King’s Speech” is more likely to win Best Picture over “The Social Network”.

  15. sean says:

    ‘No Country For Old Men’ takes place in 1980 or 1981.

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