Tom Hooper won the Director's Guild of America award late last night for Best Direction in 2010 for "The King's Speech." A whole host of Oscar watchers and critics are, again, dumbfounded this morning. Many thought that David Fincher would win for "The Social Network." Mmmmm....Nope.
The howling has been at a fever pitch for a week now. Beginning with the Producer's Guild Award to TKS last week and the "lead the pack" total of 12 nominations on Tuesday morning and culminating with last night's "surprise," The King's Speech" has been on a real roll...and it has the film "intelligentsia" up in arms..."How dare they?" has been the not-so-subtle refrain. Last night's DGA award, went the implicit narrative, will "restore some sanity" to the awards season. "Fincher gets the DGA," the thinking went, "because, surely, the directors 'get' the inherent superiority of "The Social Network." And that will also assure that the march of TKS to a Best Picture Oscar has been tempered and it's back to a real race...
And then, Boom!
A lot of people this week have been moaning that it's "Crash" beats "Brokeback" all over again...well...maybe.
But I'd submit the following:
1) I've been saying that TSN has been over-rated from the get go...I'd argue that it's overwhelming success with critics groups this past few months is at least as much a result of group-think and, really, a fear by some critics of an astonishing level of vitriol directed at any of them who dared to suggest that it might not actually be the year's best film.
2) As has been said in a lot of places, TSN certainly has a stronger appeal generationally to a younger demographic, and even older critics want to be regarded as hip...doesn't mean it's actually the best film or that it will win the Oscar...or should.
3) The "Crash/Brokeback" comparison stems, at least in part from the perception that the"Academy" is old and stodgy and scared of anything new or "controversial" and just doesn't "get it" which might explain why "Crash" won and probably does. But TSN "controversial"? Not really. And this week started with the PGA and ended with the DGA...NOT the Academy...I contend you can't use their results to paint that picture of the Academy..."the DGA doesn't get it?" Really???
4) Harvey Weinstein makes a salient point this week when he talks about "feeling" a movie...TSN celebrates its emotional distance...it's central to the film...how can anyone be surprised that that might not resonate with feeling, non-automatonic human beings?
5) Then there's this, maybe the majority of critics are just plain wrong...and make no mistake, I'm almost always on the side of critics...I live in a part of the world wherein the "celebration of film" is dwarfed by "what's on at the movies." Admittedly, I'm on the other side of the "generational" analysis mentioned above in point #2...and, further, I'm not even saying "The King's Speech" IS the year's Best Picture...I'd be inclined to vote for "True Grit." But, I have been pleased that the hubris of so many who had decided that it was all over months ago has been soundly shaken this past week.
"The King's Speech" opened (finally) in my town Friday night...of course, I saw it in September at Telluride...but I'm pleased to tell you that I'm going to go see it again tonight. I will be happy when it wins the Oscar for Best Picture in a month.