Tag Archive: the king’s speech


There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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The Academy Awards telecast is tomorrow. Here is who I think will take top honors:

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Oscar punditry isn’t an exact science, but it’s close. As the years go by, nearly two months of precursors are more and more accurately distilled into predictions, removing most of the suspense on the morning of Oscar nominations. Some of this year’s choices were more surprising than others (Javier Bardem in Biutiful, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone), but every single one was mentioned at at least one stop on the Oscar campaign highway. These days, the Oscars feel more like the victory lap than the race.

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Dir. Tom Hooper
(2010, R, 118 min)
★ ★ ★

The King’s Speech is burdened with self-ascribed import. It tells the story of King George VI, who ascended to the British throne in the years leading up to the Second World War. He suffered from a stammer that, at the dawn of the age of radio, crippled him as a leader. But of course by then the British monarch was a figurehead who, as George himself admits at a moment of self-doubt, appoints no government and makes no command decisions. As the symbolic representative of the British people at a time of crisis, his words had meaning, but the film almost gives us the impression that George’s improved speech all but won the war. As he steps out onto his balcony, received by his adoring subjects, the film seems to say, “Problem solved! War’s over! He successfully read a prepared statement!” (The specific words chosen for that statement seem irrelevant to the story; all we’re told before it’s put in the King’s hands is that the speech was approved, by someone or lots of someones who presumably know about such things as proper word selection at a time of war.)

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