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King's Speech - Social Network

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Bob Cole
King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 3:11:42 am

I realize this is a very dated observation, but this is how out-of-it I am. It's nearly May of 2011, and I just saw the two "contenders" for Best Picture of 2010, on DVD.

I'm just stunned, looking back on the Best Picture Oscar for The King's Speech. Some other year, maybe, but over The Social Network? One was a very fine film, beautifully made. The other is state of the art storytelling. The voters who make up the "Academy" are really out of touch. It wasn't even close to being close. As for Best Actor, okay: more of a toss-up.

The "Academy" - gee whiz. Aren't they embarrassed? No, they're probably staying up all night tonight to watch the Royal Wedding.

My only criticism of each film was that the dialog was harder to follow than I would have liked. In each case, I had to use the captioning to catch lots of the dialog. But again, it was much more worth catching in the case of Social Network.

I think they should rename the Oscar: Ye Beste Piqueshoore.

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Scott Roberts
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 3:53:38 pm

Couldn't agree more. I thought he Social Network was something special. The kind of film that doesn't come along every day. And King's Speech kind of stuff shows up on the BBC quite a bit.

Sometimes the Academy makes embarrassing risky picks like 2005's Crash. And other times (more often) they take embarrassing safe picks like King's Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

To be fair though, they actually had a good 4 year streak going from 2006 to 2009, picking legit movies as best picture:

2006 - The Departed
2007 - No Country for Old Men
2008 - Slumdog Millionaire
2009 - The Hurt Locker

But King's Speech stopped that streak dead in its tracks.

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Tim Wilson
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 8:53:40 pm

This is always up for debate, isn't it?

The irony about the selection of King's Speech is that the Academy voting membership is getting younger all the time, and, frankly, more interesting. I put the list of the actors and directors alone at the end of this post.

It's really startling to me how many of these guys are working in the heart of the mainstream - Zoe Saldana, Adam Sandler, Ryan Reynolds, Adam Shankman (dir. of Step Up 3D), producer Jon Landau (should have gotten in for Titanic, but DID for Avatar), DP of Get Him to the Greek....not necessarily a King's Speech crowd, but hey, it was really good, which now might be all it takes, now that votes are split 10 ways and weighted.

My guess is that Social Network wound up at #1 on a bunch of lists...and then not at all on a bunch of other lists. It was polarizing. If you're honest, you can come up with some reasons why, starting with the least savory main characters since Bad Santa.

Keep in mind that with 5 pictures on the ballot, you could win with 20% of the votes plus 1. You get a bunch of good pictures that split the votes some years, well, hello lazy choice for Best Picture.

It gets worse with 10 pictures to choose from. You could win with 10% of the votes plus 1 -- except that the votes are weighted. Yeah, the most points for a picture at #1 on somebody's list, but with a polarizing movie like Social Network or Black Swan, maybe it's way down the list. Or maybe somebody only votes for a couple of pictures tops, because why wrestle over ranking all 10?

Which means that a movie got either 1 point or zero on somebody's ballot back in the day. But now, a single ballot might be worth 100 points or whatever, split between 10 pictures.

So now, King's Speech? A voter says, Oh I don't know, it was all right. There's a bunch of crap on the list though, so heck, put it at #3, behind Social Network and Black Swan. But it was at least very very good, so I think even more people would have put it at #2. You might have had it at #2 or #3 on almost every ballot, with a few putting it at, say, #4 behind Inception at #2 or something.

And don't think for a minute that Inception didn't take a lot of #1 votes. It was my favorite.

Keep in mind that in a straight-up yes/no ballot for 10 pictures, you could take Best Picture with 10% of the votes plus 1. But it's not straight up. Now, theoretically, you could with with ZERO first place votes.

But KS surely got SOME. Conceivably a lot more than 10%, right? But say it got 5% of the #1 vote, but 80% of the #2, and 60% of the #3, and with Social Network appearing lower on more ballots, and -- my guess, zero points on more ballots than KS --and that might be plenty to win in a screaming landslide.

I'm obviously speaking in broad strokes, and I know that there are Academy members all over the COW who can correct me, but you see where I'm going?

As for the run of late, it's good, but has room for improvement. I liked Hurt Locker, and am a humongous fan of both Bigelow and Renner, but I'm giving Inglorious Basterds the nod for best film this CENTURY until I see something better...which might be this afternoon when I see Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson punch each other in the face a few times in Fast Five. But until then....

Anyway, Bob, I think it's interesting that you sat and watched them back to back. It's illuminating, and it rarely happens, since voters see movies all year. I spoke to a guy who was at an ASC pre-Oscar event, and when they screened the movies (or presumably at least parts of the movies) back to back, this fellow said that the vibe in the room was overwhelming in favor of Deakins on True Grit...but at the same time, Inception had stayed with them when it came time to vote, and none of them had much of a problem that Wally Pfister won for Inception.

All of which is to say that it has always been complicated, especially when you factor in that the Oscars are the Academy members' way of voting for what they like best about THEMSELVES as well as the movies...which is fine, because I think that it has worked out fine most of the time, by a pretty long shot...but now, factoring in 10 weighted votes....we'll see.

I won't say that the days of good results are over, but it might be getting harder. There are more ways than ever to split votes, and the end result of "fairer voting" is to pull every election closer to the mean.

Anyway, here are this year's new members of the Academy in just 2 categories:

Tobin Bell – “Saw,” “The Firm”
Vera Farmiga – “Up in the Air,” “The Departed”
Miguel Ferrer – “Traffic,” “RoboCop”
James Gandolfini – “In the Loop,” “Get Shorty”
Anna Kendrick – “Up in the Air,” “Twilight”
Mo’Nique – “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” “Phat Girlz”
Carey Mulligan – “An Education,” “Public Enemies”
Jeremy Renner – “The Hurt Locker,” “28 Weeks Later”
Ryan Reynolds – “The Proposal,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
LaTanya Richardson Jackson – “Mother and Child,” “Losing Isaiah”
Peter Riegert – “Traffic,” “Crossing Delancey”
Sam Robards – “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “American Beauty”
Saoirse Ronan – “The Lovely Bones,” “Atonement”
Zoe Saldana – “Avatar,” “Star Trek”
Adam Sandler – “Funny People,” “Punch-Drunk Love”
Peter Sarsgaard – “An Education,” “Boys Don’t Cry”
Gabourey Sidibe – “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Shaun Toub – “Iron Man,” “The Kite Runner”
Christoph Waltz – “Inglourious Basterds”
George Wyner – “A Serious Man,” “American Pie 2”

Barry Ackroyd – “The Hurt Locker,” “United 93”
Christian Berger – “The White Ribbon,” “Cache”
Hagen Bogdanski – “The Young Victoria,” “The Lives of Others”
Shane Hurlbut – “Terminator Salvation,” “We Are Marshall”
Tom Hurwitz – “Valentino The Last Emperor,” “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”
Dan Mindel – “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible III”
Tobias Schliessler – “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Hancock”
Stephen Windon – “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “House of Wax”
Robert Yeoman – “Get Him to the Greek,” “The Squid and the Whale”

Interesting, no?

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Scott Roberts
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:09:57 pm

"but I'm giving Inglorious Basterds the nod for best film this CENTURY until I see something better..."

Well said, Tim! I actually watched again last weekend (probably the 6th or 7th time I've seen it now), it continues to stay riveting to me. I would have loved to see it win best picture in 2009 over Hurt Locker (I actually thought Up in the Air was better than Hurt locker, too), but I didn't mind that they went with it for the win, because at least Hurt Locker wasn't completely forgettable stuff like King's Speech.

And I know it isn't *the* Academy I'm about to talk about here; but I listen to Howard Stern, and he talks about how he still gets to vote for Screen Actor's Guild awards to this day, because he joined SAG in 1996 for his ONLY film role (in Private Parts) where he played himself. I guess I'm just pointing out it might not be that hard to get to vote at these award shows if you've participated in the industry in *any* mildly successful way.

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Scott Roberts
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:25:37 pm

Actually, now that i think about it, the biggest upset of the 2009 Academy Awards was the screenplay for Inglorious Basterds losing to Hurt Locker. I actually like Hurt locker, and have seen it several times, and I can't remember a verbatim line of dialogue from the film.

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Tim Wilson
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:06:42 pm

[Scott Roberts] "the biggest upset of the 2009 Academy Awards was the screenplay for Inglorious Basterds losing to Hurt Locker."

At least Christopher Waltz won. Wow.

Thinking more about King's Speech vs. Social Network: I'm a big Fincher fan, even bigger Sorkin fan, and think SN is a marvel of moviemaking, but when I stumble across them opposite against each other on cable, I'm almost always going to choose King's Speech.

It's that way with Rocky and Taxi Driver, isn't it? People call that one of the great injustices in Oscar showdowns. With the only lasting contributions from the sequels being Mr. T, Dolph Lundgren and "Eye of the Tiger," it's easy to forget that the first one was a real gem. Taxi Driver is one of the smallest handful of greatest pictures ever made...but I've seen Rocky a lot more times, and think that there are ways in which it holds up better....without, again, taking a thing away from Taxi Driver being one of the pantheon. In the end, I think that the voters got this right...

...and Best Director in 1976 absolutely wrong. I think that The Departed was great, but still think that the Oscar was partly, if maybe not mostly, for all the other times he'd been overlooked, don't you? Especially Taxi Driver, with Goodfellas in the running. Ditto Spielberg. He could have won it for Jaws, Close Encounters, ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark - heck, Sugarland, which I ADORE - and by the time it came for Schindler's List, yes, undeniably deserved it...but still, the award was also for a generation of wonderful work, some of which in retrospect deserved Oscars even more.


I absolutely understand the King's Speech vs. Social Network showdown, especially the way they traded blows (more boxing!) all season long...but I can't possibly be the only one who thought Inception got short shrift. Maybe because it was a summer picture? Maybe because people found it confusing? (Although I honestly don't have any idea why.)

I dunno know, but I'm curious what would happen if watching Inception back to back with either, or both of these others. That's a young man's game though, so one of you kids go for it and report back. :-)

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Bob Cole
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 10:22:04 pm

[Scott Roberts] "I can't remember a verbatim line of dialogue from the film."

Not sure, but I THINK I remember this one:

"uh oh."

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Stephen Smith
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on Apr 29, 2011 at 11:16:32 pm

Movie and TV awards are based on opinions so there will always be disagreements on what is the best and worst. My opinion, Inception was the best film of the year hands down. But I imagine Inception's award is the buckets of money it made.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials

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Mike Cohen
Re: King's Speech - Social Network
on May 2, 2011 at 3:11:24 pm

My wife and I watch both of these films the same weekend. I had seen Social Network previously, but a 2nd viewing made it even better (as did subtitles - too bad you can't get a DVD player with a dynamic tracking shuttle knob - it would be handy to slow down Jesse Eisenberg about 25%). I agree that Fincher, Sorkin and Trent Reznor have created a work of art. I listened to an interview with Aaron Sorkin about this movie and learned a lot about his process and the film making itself. That opening scene in the bar was filmed something like 85 times in a row over a few nights in the bar.

The King's Speech we had our doubts about. We generally do not watch historical dramas unless there is shooting involved. We loved it. Geoffrey Rush was brilliant and Helena Bonham Burton Carter performed her first watchable role IMO. Sure, my wife is British, so we have somewhat of a vested interest in the story, but it was enjoyable and somewhat historically accurate.

Interesting anecdote. The writer, after waiting 25 years for the Queen Mother to die, finally acquired Lionel Loge's diaries from the time treating the king and they were filled with completely useless information. Then he found out that his own uncle was treated by the man, and got lots of useful insight. So the dialogue was mostly made up but the actual broadcast speeches were obviously accurate, so the bookends to the drama were true.

Mike Cohen

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