Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snap Judgments Pt. II: 'The King's Speech' vs. 'The Social Network'

STILL KINDA SLEEPY - but loving it. More snap judgments on why The King's Speech is perfectly positioned to upset The Social Network for Best Picture.

FYI - not saying that it WILL, but if it DOES, here's why:

Based on the fact that Social Network has won every single critics' award under the sun, it will - and probably should - still be considered the front-runner for Best Picture at the Oscars, even though it's tied for third (with Inception) in the nominations count with eight. Also, keep in mind that Inception was snubbed for two nods which I felt would be fairly obvious for it to grab: Director and Editing. But I digress.

Back to Social Network. Critics' prizes up the wazoo, as well as the Globe. But it got (relatively) little love from the Academy. Eight nominations is still a lot, but the real story this morning is how well True Grit did, along with the expected leader in the nominations count, The King's Speech. Meanwhile, Social Network has a not-insignificant snub to deal with in Andrew Garfield's lack of a Best Supporting Actor nomination. True, he didn't get a SAG nod, but most prognosticators felt he'd score an Oscar nod.

Much of the time, the film with the most nominations is the automatic front-runner. Not always the case, because sometimes big, bloated spectacle-style films can rack up a ton of nominations in technical categories but don't get nominated where it really counts (like in acting or writing). Think Avatar from last year: tied with eventual winner The Hurt Locker with nine nominations apiece, but it had no acting or writing nods - it was nominated for Picture, Director and a ton of technical awards, and that was it. It was dead on arrival.

This year, the film with the most nominations - The King's Speech - has a TON of love from the Academy, all across the board. It's nominated in every acting category but Best Actress (where it didn't have a nominee to push for a spot), plus writing, directing and lots of technical awards. True Grit, in a way, is almost King's Speech-lite as it's got double-digit nominations, and it's got 'em where it really counts. Social Network is a shoo-in for Aaron Sorkin's adapted screenplay, plus David Fincher's probably still got the Director prize in his back pocket and Jesse Eisenberg is nominated for Best Actor. But no Garfield is potentially worrisome. The film did get nods for Original Score and Editing, which always bode well for a Best Picture. But I think there's a real chance of an upset here.

Put simply, The King's Speech has the most nominations, strong support within the Academy, just won the Producer's Guild (PGA) top prize, is poised to win at the BAFTAs and possibly the SAG Awards - and everyone thinks the other film is a shoo-in to win.

My money is still on The Social Network, because I do think to some extent its relatively-small nomination total was unavoidable: it's a not a movie built to rack up the Oscar nods. Plus, it's the best-reviewed movie of the year, producer Scott Rudin will push it hard and it'd be a shame if the Academy didn't reward what is clearly the best American movie of the year. But there's a real path to an upset by The King's Speech, which might be the first 12-nomination, acting-writing-directing-editing nominated film in history that is still considered by many to be an underdog.

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