'King's Speech' Passes 'Social' In Oscar Buzz

   Feb. 2 2011—Contemporary personal drama The Social Network was most impressive in pre-Oscar awards wins but now is surpassed in Hollywood buzz by historical drama The King’s Speech, which just took best picture from The Producers Guild and also Screen Actors Guild honors for its cast.
     “Within Hollywood, the alignment of guild awards points to enormous good will for The King’s Speech, a British-made film that is distributed in the United States by the Weinstein Company,” notes a New York Times article by Michael Cieply. “While the film is small, with a budget estimated at only about $15 million, and its performance at the box office is still relatively modest — it reached $72 million over the weekend, after more than two months in theaters — it has so far gone down like a plateful of comfort food.”
   Sony Pictures The Social Network seemed to have unstoppable momentum previously. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also made King’s Speech a front-runner with 12 Oscar nominations, bettering eight for Social Network. Paramount Pictures western True Grit was actually second with 10 nominations. Other films considered to have a chance for Best Picture Oscar in the field of 10 nominees are Black Swan, The Fighter, Toy Story 3 and Inception.
   “On Friday the cover of Daily Variety carried an advertisement boldly proclaiming Paramount’s True Grit, with its 10 Oscar nominations, to be the ‘most honored American movie’ of the year — lest anyone forget that a vote for The King’s Speech is a vote to send the top Oscar offshore,” says the New York Times article.
   There is a wild card in the voting process with the “relatively-new Oscar voting system (for) the best picture category,” notes the New York Times article. “Publicists who represent films other than The King’s Speech — speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with the rules — point out that preferential balloting that was put in place in 2009, when the academy doubled its field of best picture nominees to 10, means that the movie with the largest number of first-place votes, at least in theory, can lose to a film with a strong second-place showing. That would happen if the first-place votes were actually spread among a relatively large number of favorites, as may happen this year.”
   Now it’s the front-runner, King’s Speech is target of criticism, including commentaries that the film white-washes history that the real-life King George VI of England favored appeasement in response to Nazi aggression during the lead-up to WWII. But Oscar voters, though overwhelmingly in Hollywood, tend to favor epics and historical dramas like King’s Speech over contemporary American themes. Social Network became front runner when it dominated the Golden Globe awards Jan. 16.
   Oscar voter ballots to select winners are due Feb. 22 and the Oscars telecast is scheduled Feb. 27.
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