This article would normally have appeared as the last paragraph in my recap, but I think that the impact of The King’s Speech win deserves its own examination.
Many will say that I backed the wrong horse in my prediction that The Social Network would win. But I still say that I am correct in my assessment that The Social Network is a better film, and on those merits should have won. I thought that AMPAS would attempt to stay in touch with the newer generation (as Anne Hathaway and James Franco joked last night). But they did not, preferring the classy historical drama (again) over a more relevant film to society.
Now, I do want to emphasize that The King’s Speech is not a bad film. This is not a situation where a truly terrible piece of work walked away with the Best Picture statuette, as happened with Crash, Titanic, Rocky, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Dances With Wolves. No, The King’s Speech was a wonderful drama. It showcased a figure that has been virtually forgotten by history and featured the best male performance of the year. The King’s Speech is a great film, and it was one of the best of 2010.
But was it THE best? Did it deserve it’s Best Picture win?
The win reminded me of the 1992 Grammys. Hear me out; that year, the “Best Rock Song” went to Eric Claption’s unplugged rendition of “Layla” as opposed to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” You can see the problem with this choice. Eric Clapton’s song was great in and of itself. But was it the best, most important song of that year? No – it was a quaint relic at a time when other people were trying to expose a revolution.”Smells Like Teen Spirit” is still considered a monumental achievement, and while Clapton’s reputation is cemented, that particular song has long been forgotten.
The Social Network, in this analogy, is “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It dramatized a far more important event in modern history and did so in a way that was entertaining. It turned Mark Zuckerberg (a previously little known figure) into the new Bill Gates and Time Magazine’s person of the year. The King’s Speech demonstrated how good of an actor Colin Firth truly is and helped dramatize a very dark time in human history…but that is the extent of its accomplishments. Besides, examining the time period leading up to World War II has been done to death in cinema. The Social Network was a landmark in helping us understand our modern world, and did so in a new way.
The Social Network was also a better made film. That is also what I would like to emphasize. I can understand The King’s Speech winning Best Picture. I cannot understand Tom Hooper’s win for Best Director. Fincher’s film was meticulously crafted from start to finish, and cleverly executed. Sure, there some great moments in The King’s Speech. But none compare to the skill that was present in the direction of The Social Network. Fincher has also proven himself to be far more talented with his body of work than Hooper. So has Black Swan nominee Darren Aronofsky. Hooper was mainly a television director that had very few memorable credits (outside the miniseries John Adams) to his name. Now, I understand that the Best Director Oscar should not go to a body of work. But Hooper was not the best director of the year, nor does he have the filmography to back up the upset. I was only half-joking when I suggested that Fincher get onstage and take it away in my recap.
This awards night is not one of the darkest in Oscar history. But it was still a wrong move. AMPAS ignored revolution for the sake of comfort. This goes against what any judge of art is supposed to do. The passage of time will demonstrate that The Social Network was the true landmark of 2010, just as Goodfellas was the true landmark of 1990 (the comparison between the two works stops there). I would just like to again congratulate David Fincher and The Social Network on its accomplishments, even if AMPAS failed to congratulate the director and the film properly.