Monday, January 31, 2011

The State of the Race: Post PGA/DGA/SAG

What a difference a week makes. Okay more like 10 days, but in the end, the fact remains that within a very short period of time the Oscar race has been turned upside down, in a way that has not quite happened, at least not at this kind of magnitude, in recent history. In 2004, Million Dollar Baby upset The Aviator, but the Guilds were split up between those two and Sideways, and there was no clear winner. The other most recent one is the case of Crash, but that turnaround didn't come until Jack Nicholson read out the winner, and only a few inklings from people around the buisness even hinted at such an upset.

Of course the great turnaround I am referring to is the sudden surge of Tom Hooper's historical drama The King's Speech, and the sudden downfall of The Social Network. Despite The Social Network's unprecedented sweep of the critics' awards, when it came down to it, it seems to have run out of steam.

Or did it have any at all. Winning the BFCA, the GG, and tons of critics awards is nice, but none of them meet shit in this buisness because they are not Academy voters. The real awards, the ones that count are the guilds, as they are the ones that ultimately decide who wins the big award. And it seems that The Social Network simply did not have the momentum we thought. The question that has been raging is why? Why all of the sudden has the tide turned? The answer lies in many different areas, but really it lies with the voters. The King's Speech is a timeless tale, impeccably made, incredibly well-acted, and most importantly, it gives you someone, or in this case, three people to cheer for. I know what your thinking though, if this had been the case, then how did darker films such as The Hurt Locker, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, and Crash beat out more traditional tales of hope and triumph? While the Academy has tended over the last decade to move away from its more epic, inspiring past, to more gritty affair, it seems that this year, it has rediscovered its roots. The Social Network simply wasn't a movie that moved members' hearts, and in many cases, it was seen as a movie for college kids, not middle aged Academy voters. Remember, people are biased, the Academy still skews older despite recent young additions, and in the end, while they may reward The Social Network for its craft in specific categories, when they listen to their hearts, it thumps for The King's Speech.

While the race is far from over, and anything is possible, it is safe to say that it is going to take a lot of last minute campaigning to overcome this sudden surge from The King's Speech. I do however feel that Tom Hoopers position as the frontrunner for Best Director is rather shaky. His story reminds me a lot of Rob Marshalls, where he won the DGA due to the large number of television voters, but lost the Oscar to the veteran (Roman Polanski). I am still predicting that Fincher comes in and steals the BD trophy, while TKS takes the top prize.

The acting awards are also starting to solidify, as the four frontrunners continued their domination. While I still think that Hailee Steinfeld, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Amy Adams, and Annette Bening are quality challengers in their respective races, the frontrunners remain securly intact. The last show of importance for these awards is the BAFTA, where it should be noted that Melissa Leo was not nominated.

On a final note, I wanted to point out something ironic that I have noticed since this sweep began. Before the PGA's every blogger, pundit, and commentor was complaining about the redundancy of The Social Network. Now that there has been a shocking turnaround, these same individuals are complaining that the best film of the year is now losing to a "TV Movie". For the record, my favorite movie of the year was The Social Network. But The King's Speech is leagues above a TV Movie, and in this year of cinematic excellence, it is nice to see a close race that, for me at least, doesn't have  and ugh! contender, and whatever happens an excellent film will win a well-deserved prize. And to the hypocrites out there who keep complaining, get over it.

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