‘The King’s Speech’ Oscar Backlash


01 March 2011| No Comments on ‘The King’s Speech’ Oscar Backlash     by Sean Chavel


Four Oscars, including Best Picture. I can’t imagine why there wouldn’t now be an anti-“King’s Speech” backlash.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t get upset by who won the Oscars on Sunday, February 27th. I have told myself just how silly they are, at least I tell myself that even though in truth I still put stock in them. But I threw a fit when I heard Tom Hooper announced as Best Director. Talk about losing my scruples for the rest of the night.

Let’s remind ourselves that “The King’s Speech” is a very good movie, and would have remained one had it never received any nominations. But it has several flaws, including being an incomplete movie that ends on type-card epilogue before any assault on England in World War II takes place. I also note that the screenplay introduces none of the speechwriters that prepared King George VI’s famous oration. Nor does King George offer an opinion on his speechwriters who prepared a proclamation that he would have never been able to prepare himself. Nor does the movie say whether King George even understood, the humungous implications, of what the speech was about. The direction of the film suggested that King George was out of touch with the public. Here was a speech that was a declaration of war with Germany, yet how much did King George understand what was going on in Germany? The movie doesn’t say.

But look here what I’m doing. I didn’t mean to subtract from “The King’s Speech” by making it sound bad. But I can’t help it. Click this to read my original review. True, nothing is wrong with Colin Firth’s marvelous Oscar winning performance.

The Social Network” picked up three quick Oscars and so I figured it was going to continue to sweep. David Fincher’s electric and blustery biopic, with ferocious dialogue and ambiguous shades of character, with hurtling speed and urgency, with relevant purpose that it represents how business is conducted in the 21st century among tech-nerd geniuses, seemed like a sure thing to win the big awards.


I now cast David Fincher in the same league of such case studies as Martin Scorsese (“GoodFellas”), Martin Scorsese (“Raging Bull”), Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”), Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”), Alfred Hitchcock (“Vertigo,” wasn’t nominated) and Stanley Kubrick (whom I think should have won four Oscars, at least) as the greatest directorial virtuosos to be overlooked for the Best Director Oscar. To set the record straight, “The Godfather” won Best Picture but Coppola lost Best Director to Bob Fosse for “Cabaret” which doesn’t hold up as an indispensable film today.

Indispensable is the key word, and “The Social Network” is indispensable. “The King’s Speech” will not be talked about within a couple of years, its Oscar history will be breezed over. In ten years, it will make one of those ridiculous MSN or EW lists of Best Picture winners that should have lost. The problem with those lists is that they would likely make “The King’s Speech” to be made out as some kind of crummy disaster. It’s not. And it is certainly not fair to label it as disreputable.

“The King’s Speech,” as too mild a film that I have certainly hinted for being, is nonetheless a reminder that throughout the course of human history there have been men, afraid and ineffectual, who have inherited seats in royalty that they are not up to undertaking. They depend on advisors in their entire lives to guide their decisions.

But “The Social Network” is a film about the 21st century. It is also a brilliantly made film told with breathless energy and unequaled intelligence.


So what happened, why did it lose? I think it lost for the same reasons that “Citizen Kane” and “Raging Bull” lost. One, Academy voters were not thinking about how the film would be looked back on in twenty years as a cultural touchstone. And the fact that – while it was perfect and electrifying to me in first viewing – it could be one of those masterpieces that need time to sink in for some viewers, that its genius is so furtive that it needed another six months and possibly another viewing before voters could have seen what a staggering tour de force it actually is. How difficult the film must have been to make and yet how effortlessly it pulls it off. “The Social Network,” the best film of 2010 by a landslide.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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