'The King's Speech' vs. 'The Social Network': Is the Oscar race over?

Social-Network-Kings-SpeechImage Credit: Merrick Morton; Laurie SparhamSince the beginning of the awards season, I’ve had The King’s Speech at the top of my predictions list to win the Oscar for Best Picture. But even I never thought it would sweep the three major guild awards: Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. Speech‘s pre-Oscar hat trick has certainly relegated the once-invincible Social Network to underdog status. But has it also rendered the last month of the Oscar season completely moot?

In the 16 years since the advent of the SAG best-cast prize, six movies have won all three guilds. Five of those six -- American Beauty, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, No Country For Old Men, and Slumdog Millionaire — went on to take the Best Picture Oscar. There is, however, one movie that swept the guilds but failed to close the deal at the Oscars: Apollo 13. That Braveheart managed to top it on the big night wasn’t a complete shock, since Apollo filmmaker Ron Howard failed to score a Best Director nod from the Academy. But that one film has to be the lone glimmer of hope for everyone involved with Network.

Anyone who follows these things closely knows that this year’s competition is particularly juicy because it pits the two most savvy and larger-than-life Oscar campaigners — studio head Harvey Weinstein and producer Scott Rudin — against each other. The pair famously clashed when they worked together on The Hours and The Reader (Rudin even took his name off The Reader shortly before that film’s release) and now they’re battling each other for the film industry’s biggest prize. When I talked to Rudin on Oscar nominations day — after Speech had won the PGA and scored four more nods than Network — he still seemed confident that his horse would place first at the end of the race. Weinstein, meanwhile, was a bit muted when I congratulated him on Speech‘s DGA win at an EW party on Saturday night. In other words, these guys may not be bosom buddies, but they both know something very important: An Oscar race doesn’t end until the final ballot is submitted.

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  • jbird

    Having seen both, I just don’t see what all the accolades are when it comes to The Social Network. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written and well-acted, but The King’s Speech knocks it out of the park in every aspect! I’ll be pissed if it *doesn’t* win the Oscar!

    • Krispy


      • Movie_Pundit

        It will all depend on if the voters as a group can separate the movies from the subject of the movies. The Social Network is a “good” movie but certainly not a “great” movie. Most if not all of the other movies nominated are of higher quality. If The Social Network is selected as “best picture” is will be a result of the voters voting for Facebook not the movie. What Facebook has done with social interaction and communication is amazing but the movie is not. When the dark side of Facebook overshadows the benefits, a much more interesting movie might be forthcoming.

      • sean

        i think the social network is way better! The kings speech is a movie that only reaches out to a certain group of people. In my opinion a film that shows true depth and originality should win…not the kings speech. It is a brilliant film but 10 years from now which film will you remember more; A movie about the founders of the biggest website out there or a story of a stuttering king?

      • petuniafromhell

        True..but in 10 years, facebook is going to be irrelevant and the movie about it, will be a distant memory.

      • Emjay

        I can only speak for myself Sean, but I’ll never forget King’s Speech. I’ve already forgotten Social Network.

      • Erick

        If it wins it will be a “vote for Facebook”? You my friend have lost any chance of regaining even a shred of the credibility you dumped with that inane thought. TSN is the best movie of 2010 – fin.

      • Rock Golf

        Sean, in 10 years, no one may remember what Facebook even was any more. Think MySpace 5 years ago, or AltaVista or Yahoo only slightly further back.

      • JBD

        Disagree, I’ll never watch King’s Speech again. It was good, but not as amazing as The Social Network (which I’ve seen twice and am going to buy on DVD).

      • LK

        @sean what do you mean “A movie about the founders of the biggest website out there or a story of a stuttering king?” Seriously? Yes, Facebook is the innovation of our time. But the king’s speech is about the FREAKING KING OF ENGLAND. Seriously? That’s not important to history? At all? That doesn’t fascinate you in the least? A king, leading a nation, who couldn’t speak in public? That isn’t a compelling and best picture worthy story to you? I loved The Social Network, do not get me wrong. But when it comes to a story, it’s not overly compelling. I wish I had the problem of my friends suing me for money that I don’t care about because I don’t need it. The king’s speech impediment was affecting his life personally, and for a life that is so scrutinized by the public, and the fact that he was overcoming that, is a powerful story.

        Get real.

      • Carly

        I think the Social Network is way better. I saw it three times at the theater and now own the DVD. Unfortunately the movie awards race can be so predictable and they will go for the Kings Speech. It was a good movie but didn’t stick with me like the Social Network did. The Oscars will have no surprises now.

      • mike

        For the umpteenth time, TSN is NOT a movie about facebook! That’s like saying Black Swan is a movie about ballet or 127 Hours is a movie about cutting off your arm. I’m tired of TSN being dismissed because people are contemptuous of facebook.

      • sean

        @ LK…The Kings Speech is an amazing movie but when it comes to something new the social network should win in all aspects. The Social Network will most likely not win. The Kings speech is compelling but way overrated in some ways. The social network is not a typical oscar movie. Why not award something different instead of being on the safe side and awarding the kings speech.

      • beebo

        I gatta agree with sean…the kings speech sucked though! BORING! TSN ALL THE WAY!

      • Sal

        @sean It will win not because it’s a “safe” choice but because it’s an amazing movie. And it reaches out to pretty much all groups of people. Everyone can relate to being unsure of yourself and being concerned with what other people people think of you- major themes in The King’s Speech.

    • Tajah

      I don’t get it either. I thought The Social Network was okay. Not nearly Oscar worthy though.

      • Canadian

        @Movie_Pundit…well if you say it isn’t great even though it topped most critics’ lists this year, received nominations from every award imagineable, then it MUST just to be “good”….please, the Social Network is a lesson on how to make a great movie where character drives everything. The King’s Speech too…they’re both great.

      • NotCanadian

        @Canadian Just because a bunch of critics bandwagon and say that a film is good does not mean that it’s true. The common consensus that I’ve seen is that most moviegoers think that The Social Network is a good movie, but it’s nothing special. Quick and snappy dialogue cannot simply make a great film. The one thing that Social Network has over everything else is that soundtrack. King’s Speech and Black Swan were both better overall.

      • Hey Canadian

        Critics all loved Crash, which pushed it to win Oscars. Most people I know think Crash was awful. Yet many of those same critics that loved it will now admit it was awful. They were swayed at the time by the “important message about our society” that they thought it told. Same thing with The Social Network. In a few years the same critics who love it will admit it was good, but not as amazing as they now claim. It certainly is much, much better than Crash, but suffers from the same exaggerated praise as Crash.

      • Rob

        People like “The Social Network” because it has as little substance as possible, which is true of most popular shows and movies. It does not really say anything about the implications of the Internet and social networking. It is mostly a soap opera about some rich kids, which is more relatable to the generation that made Gossip Girl a hit.

      • Niles

        TSN is rich stuff and does not have a wasted second. In 10 years, if it doesn’t win, everyone will believe that it should have won. “King’s Speech” is good, though on a second viewing its flaws come through very clearly. If it wins, it will join “Chariots of Fire”, “Out of Africa”, “Dances With Wolves”, “Shakespeare in Love”, etc as so many other all right/good/very good movies that won but are not studied or watched with interest. By the way, critics were not as ecstatic about “Crash” as they were about TSN. It’s all about pathos; the Weinstein campaign emphasizes how “Speech” makes people cry, it MOVES people, whereas TSN is cold; audiences are frustrated with it because there’s no one they want to identify with – we don’t like anybody. Of course, one could say the same thing about “Chinatown”, “Godfather II”, “Citizen Kane”, or heck, “Macbeth” and “Julius Caesar”, but you know…

        But mark my words, in retrospect TSN will be culturally significant. Speech – which has a nice subtext about the relationship between humans and technology – much less so. It’s victory will only be another demonstration of the Academy’s anglophilia and obsession with the regal. The wallpaper, though, was tremendous.

    • deedith

      I completely disagree. I like The King’s Speech but I wasn’t blown away by it, asides from the great acting there’s nothing more to it. I feel like I could’ve seen it at BBC or HBO. But I think it’s gonna win the OScars for sure. It has all the elements they like but this movie will be forgotten in a few years. It’s this year’s Shakespeare in Love imo….

      • Joe

        Agreed. The King’s Speech told a story and told it well, but its criticisms, moral statements, and accuracy ranged from heavily muted to questionable, whereas The Social Network, from start to finish, produced a clear question and set of hypotheses for its solution.

      • Doris

        I’m not sure what you mean, but I really loved Shakespeare in Love. I own it, and I watch it whenever it’s on. As for Private Ryan, I have not watched it and have no desire to. For me SIL was a great movie; SPR was not.

      • Danny

        I’m pretty sick and tired of all the Shakespeare in Love dissing. Watch it again. It is as perfect a movie as can be. It and SPR basically split the Oscar tally that year and SIL got the big one, probably by a hair. but it was totally deserving in its own right.
        And yes, as astounding as much of SPR was (Spielberg totally deserved his Director win), the script was not as strong as its direction, and it is not a film I have wanted to see again.

      • Tegan Jovanka

        Doris: You say SPR isn’t a great movie but have never seen it? Pray tell, how do you review movies you’ve never seen?

      • Ted Striker

        I second Tegan’s comment. When you say you have not watched a movie and then proceed to comment on its quality… well, that’s the perfect definition of crazy.

      • mike

        I suspect a lot of people posting are saying this or that film is the best without having seen all the nominees. At least Doris is being honest.

    • holly

      The Kings speech is in a differnt league. Wonderful film. The Social network is mediocre at best. Ridiculously over rated

    • Lee

      THE KING’S SPEECH is a boring retread of THE MIRACLE WORKER. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is 10x better than TKS.

      • Jackie

        You are aware that ‘The King’s Speech’ is a true story, aren’t you? It’s not a retread of ‘The Miracle Worker’.

      • Lois

        The Miracle Worker was a true story as well.

        @Lee, You think Helen Keller and King George VI have the same life story? Really?

    • Aaronf

      I completely agree if you switch the two titles around.

    • Nicole

      I agree! The King’s Speech is a masterpiece. The Social Network is just a good film.

      • Olivia

        The King’s Speech is an easily forgettable film that will fade from public consciousness in 10 years, only to be remembered on “Worst of Oscar Decisions” lists. The Social Network, however, will be remembered for decades as a masterpiece of writing, acting, and directing.

  • sam

    Toy Story 3!!

    • paige

      yea i still think its the best movie of the year- glad to see i’m not the only one

      • Gazza

        it would just make my nigh (or mid-afternoon aussie time) if, TS3 wins instead of the other two. I think TKS will win though, which ain’t bad; my one gripe with the TSN was how it portrayed women- I’m not asking for to wedge in empowered-female type characters or whatever, but it would’ve been nice to see them working at the offices, coding or whatever (not as sexy interns)- it would’ve made Ann Rashida’s role look less tokenistic.

        And that’s what really gets me when people say this is the movie of our generation or “the definitive movie of the 21st century”, it’s like “that’s how women are still viewed and treated by society?”

      • Gazza


      • Gazza

        *Rashida Jones, not ann rashida. ay, I gotta stop watching so much Parks & Recreation

  • katelyn

    If i had a vote, itd be for The King’s Speech.

    • philip freeman

      so it comes down to two fictionalized movies of ‘true’ events? I have seen 8 of the nominated film and think ‘Inception’ was by far the most original and brilliantly made movie (yet still entertaining, a rare feat) ‘the kings speech’ was good Masterpiece theater stuff, while the social network was strictly flavour of the month

  • Tom

    Aren’t you forgetting “Brokeback Mountain”? If my memory serves, it picked up awards left-and-right, including DGA & PGA; but “Crash” took home the Oscar. And last year, “Inglorious Basterds” took home the SAG Awards; “The Hurt Locker” snagged the BP Oscar. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

    • Kelsey

      And Crash took the SAG award the year it won Best Picture. The SAG awards are right a little more than half the time. Usually they really do go for the legitimate ensemble film (Crash, Inglourious Basterds, Gosford Park, etc.).
      It’s the DGA and the PGA whose percentages are the best. The DGA in particular has gotten its directors right something like 90% of the time.

  • graeme

    Inception, Toy Story 3, and 127 Hours were more impactful movies and made me LOVE them. Both TSN and TKS were very good flicks, but I’d rather see TKS win.

    • Boo Radley

      Inception is the movie I think actually deserves best picture. Sads.

  • psc

    Got to give it to Dave. He had “The King’s Speech” at the top of his list even when “The Social Network” was sweeping all other awards. Proves that his sources are indeed very reliable!

    • Mr. Holloway

      True. He definitely stayed the course even when boneheads like me where scoffing at him keeping “The King’s Speech” #1 eve as “The Social Network” was thoroughly dominating all those critics prizes and early awards.

  • mike peters

    Hello, hello! Where’s my two Oscars? Who cares about this year’s nominees? The issue of stolen movie scripts is more important. Anyway, “The King’s Speech” will get the Oscar.

  • Kelsey

    I’ve seen both. While The King’s Speech may, at first glance, seem to be the “safer” of the two, it’s the one I preferred.
    I think of a lot of it is, more and more people are seeing The Social Network and coming away thinking (or, if they’re braver, saying), “That was it? That’s what everyone’s going on and on about?”
    I saw it back in October before a lot of the hype had set in (to counter anyone who’d accuse me of simple backlash), and even then I thought it was good-but-not-great. So imagine my surprise when, over the next three months, everyone swore up and down that it’d sweep the Oscars.
    It kind of reminds me of Up in the Air last year, which started out incredibly strong, was a zeitgeist type of movie, won a lot of critics awards, and then did pretty much nothing at the Oscars.

    • Zach

      Loved Up in the Air and agreed with you on TSN. It’s a good comparison. But TSN’s pre-guild run was unprecedented and incomparable to Up in the Air.

      • Kelsey

        I was looking at the NBR sweeps, myself. And you’re right, TSN has gotten more outright pre-guild wins. They just strike me as being fairly similar in the general run-up.

    • Tiffany

      I couldn’t agree more. I saw The Social Network the week after it was released, and The King’s Speech just a couple of weeks ago. The King’s Speech knocked it out of the park. It still gives me chills when I think about it. The Social Network just…didn’t. It’s in no way a bad movie, I just don’t think it deserves praise nearly as effusive as it’s getting. I felt exactly the same way about Up in the Air-good, but I don’t quite get the hype.

    • Saracen Riggins

      I just think it comes down to personal preference. Granted, I can’t compare TSN to TKS becuase I only saw TSN. But I absolutely loved every second of it and that it was very, very well made, well acted film. I’m pulling for it.

  • Rolo Tomasi

    Usually comes down to two, that’s why nominating 10 is ridiculous to begin with.

  • Woot

    Dave, you are overlooking the fact that there are 10 nominees this year, compared to other years with five. The voting is now a little different so I definitely think the race is far from over.

    • PJ

      It’s over.

    • Kelsey

      Actually, I’d say that 10 nominations actually helps The King’s Speech. All it will take is one consolidated bloc of British Academy members, and that’s it.

  • Zach

    Well, I must have seen a different movie. What was so great about The King’s Speech that it should win anything more than Colin Firth, at most? Inception was the true original screenplay of the year, sorry, David Seidler.

    • WhiteLady

      While I loved TKS, I agree with you. For me, Inception wins hands down this year.

    • Boo Radley

      Heck yeah. I don’t get why the academy doesn’t love Inception as much as I do.

  • Mr. Holloway

    It certainly seems like it’s over.

    The only chance I see for “The King’s Speech” losing is if it gets enough attention for people who have seen it to start picking at it and bringing out stuff like the overused “It’s overrated” slam. It happened to “Inception” and it certainly seems to be more prominent with “The Social Network” these days than when it first came out, and I understand it: the longer we have a look at something (TSN has been out and in the public’s conciousness MUCH longer than TKS), the more we find wrong with it.)

  • dguy

    I like both pictures the thing tha surprizes me is True Grit think if it hadn’t been a coen bros pic with popular stars no one would have noticed it

    • Zach

      I disagree. It’s not their best, but if they and Bridges were still overdue, I doubt TKS would be winning anything this year.

  • DougW

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite about this. I found the cinematic aspects of “The King’s Speech” to be somewhat ordinary, and while the script and acting were very good, I also thought the characters were failrly one-dimensional, with the possible exception of the King (I liked his bursts of anger!). In “The Social Network”, on the other hand, we were shown a much more cinematic film, with crisper editing, more interesting cinematography, and even better sound (the music was used very effectively!). Plus we got characters with some duality. At times, you liked, hated and even felt sorry for most of the main characters. To me it was a much more interesting film experience.

    • William

      @DougW I totally agree with you. I don’t think anyone will remember the king’s speech in 10 years but I would bet that film students will study the scoail network for years to come. It was really an impressive film that gets better with each viewing

      • Alisa

        I totally agree. TSN will be like Citizen Kane- only winning a few Oscars but considered to be a truly great film. No one will remember the King’s Speech in 10 years besides movie and Oscar buffs. It’s the “How Green Was My Valley” of 2011.

      • simon

        The social network is a third rate film. Not even a classic. The Kings speech is a classic. A top quality film that deserves its success.

      • Will

        TSN is a masterpiece. The script is absolutely perfect, the acting is phenomenal, and the pacing is impeccable. I truly think it will be one of those movies that people list as their favorite, like Forrest Gump or Brokeback Mountain. The characters were more modern too. It helped that it wasn’t just awards bait — that’s what I see TKS as…and I’ve seen both.

        TKS is a powerful awards movie that will win and not be remembered in 5 years. Good acting, but not memorable. TSN is a movie I can imagine watching over and over, while TKS is an awards movie I liked but will probably never see again.

      • Jeremy DC

        I think Inception and The Social Network were the two best movies of 2010. I’ve seen both 4 or 5 times now and they both get better on repeat viewings.

      • Claire

        Completely agree. I’m totally pulling for the Social Network to win. I saw it three times in theaters and in my opinion it’s definantly the best film of the year. I haven’t seen the King’s Speech so I can’t compare the two but I hope to soon.

    • Emily

      I definitely agree with you, too. I saw both films and thought they were fantastic, but the actual viewing experience was much more dynamic with Social Network. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and there was never a dull moment. It had much more engaging visuals and sound and the dialogue was ridiculously crisp, fast-paced, and engaging. I liked King’s Speech, but I honestly kept thinking “this is a great story, but it looks and feels like every other period piece.” Plus I loved the way the Social Network intercut the various stories: you had two different court cases happening in the present and a few different storylines going on in the past, and they were seamlessly woven together to make a perfect story. I’m still rooting for The Social Network, no matter what.

      • Lois

        What other period pieces would you say The King’s Speech reminded you of? This movie takes place in the 1930s. Please don’t make the mistake others have by saying Shakespeare in Love, which takes place in the 1590s. That only shows those people haven’t seen TKS.

  • bethany

    I like the way you think andy. screw the academy indeed. no need for snide remarks from anyone else.

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