'The King's Speech': Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper answer the critics

It’s been a month of highs and lows for The King’s Speech. The film has swept the four most important pre-Oscar prizes (Producers Guild, Directors Guild, SAG Awards, and BAFTA) and seems on track to win the Oscar for Best Picture as well. But at the same time, its front-runner status has made the film vulnerable to attacks: It takes historical liberties, it’s too obviously awards bait, giving it Best Picture would be the biggest Oscar crime since Crash, etc.

When I sat down with Speech costar Geoffrey Rush and director Tom Hooper recently, I asked them about all the criticism the movie has attracted. Watch their responses in Part 1 of our interview.

Check back for more with the duo in the coming days. And follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for Oscar updates between now and the big night. You can also try to top my predictions at our Battle of the Ballots Oscar prediction game.

Comments (67 total) Add your comment
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  • tracy bluth

    Personally I think 127 Hours should win, though I’m sure that would never happen.

  • Andrea D

    My definition of Best Picture is a film that possesses something that seems new, or better than anything I have seen before, and would want to see more than once. Indiviidual performances don’t fulfill that. Therefore, I would be DELIGHTED if any of the following won: Inception, Social Network, or Toy Story 3.

    • Chad Concelmo

      What Andrea D said.

    • Joe the Machinist

      How can you say that you want something new to win the Oscar for best picture when one of your choices has a “3″ in the title? Didn’t we already see it in “1″ and “2″? Not that it wasn’t a good movie, but let’s be realistic here. Toy Story 3 was a sequel, and True Grit was a remake. I don’t think you can call either of them original. And don’t compare Toy Story to previously nominated sequels, like Godfather – at least it was a new story and was a much better film than anything that came out this year.

      • Jason

        True Grit wasn’t a remake, it was jsut another version of the story.

      • Mathieu

        Sequel or not, Toy Story 3 was the best film released last year.

      • Mathieu

        @Jason – That’s the kind of two-faced justification people wheel out when a remake is good, or is made by respectable filmmakers. Regardless of the source material, if something has been filmed before, it’s a remake.

      • Bman

        @Mathieu…I completely disagree. The two True Grits are two totally different movies. I mean, by your standard, every Romeo and Juliet film is a remake of the one made in 1900.

        You want remake? Try the 1998 version of Psycho. There, you’d have a point. You could even say that Ghostbusters 2 is a remake of Ghostbusters. I’d agree with you on that one, too.

      • @Mathieu

        Someone is bitter at John Wayne’s irrelevance to today’s culture.

      • Dan Too

        @Bman-The 2 movies are more alike than different. There are only minor differences in the story. The major difference is visual–the new Grit is grittier.

      • steph

        I’d be fine with pretty much anything BUT Toy Story winning. I also think it’s bull that it’s still nominated for Best Animated Picture. Makes the category moot, no?

      • Joe the Machinist

        Jason, you’ve obviously never seen the original True Grit, or you’re just slurping the Coen Brothers kool-aid; I watched both movies within a day or two of each other. The scripts and cinemetography are nearly identical. Several scenes are 100% identical. The Coen Brothers may insist it’s not a remake, but that’s just semantics. The new version is “gritier”, but you can’t call it an original film. The point by Bman about Romeo and Juliet is valid. I would say that all of the post-1900 versions of Romeo and Juliet are remakes (with a possible exception to complete re-interpretations of the story like the Claire Danes & Leonardo DiCaprio version. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it’s just that they’re not original. A sequel or remake can win best picture, but I would vote for one only if it was hands-down the best picture of the year. This year there are several movies that are good, but I doubt any will become legendary, and I’d hesitate to call eny of these 10 a future classic.

    • Dave

      I don’t measure Best Picture nominees by what’s come before it. What matters is the year in which it is nominated and the nominees with which it competes. Oscar bait aside, THE KING’S SPEECH was my favorite of the Best Picture nominees this year. … Of the others, I own TOY STORY 3 and will only buy KS and TRUE GRIT when they hit Blu-ray, and I look forward to revisiting them the rest of my life.

  • Lenny

    Andrea I agree completely.

    Inception, social Network, toy Story 3. Any of those. Then 127 hours and true Grit!!!!! I like all of the nominees but I think those are the tied top 3, then a fleshed out top 5.

  • JB

    The Kings Speech was outstanding and I think Colin Firth deserves to win (Bonham-Carter didn’t even deserve the nomination) but it wasn’t half as good as The Social Network or Inception.

    • David

      I haven’t seen all 10 nominated pictures. But I have seen some of them, and I will say this. The Social Network is excrement. It’s lack of historical accuracy coupled with it’s portrayal of women as throw-away sex objects is absurd. Normally a studio spends something less than five million dollars campaigning for a picture at Oscar time, the NY Post estimates that Sony has thrown over $50 million dollars in the dumper trying to get the Social Network and Oscar or two. It didn’t deserve a single nomination. While the Kings Speech is an example of conventional story-telling, and perhaps a little staid for some peoples’ taste, it was a good movie. Social Network was dreck.

      • Mac

        David, the film is critical of how women are treated. The biggest smackdown is from a woman: when Mark Zuckerberg runs into his ex in a restaurant, she lets him have it. Excellent!

      • Lisa Simpson

        “The Social Network” is as historically accurate as “The King’s Speech” (or pretty much any historical picture or biopic). It’s an irrelevant charge, and one you could also make about Shakespeare’s history plays. As for the anti-women sentiment in the movie, as a feminist I say it’s a baseless charge. The fault is not with the movie but with the culture being depicted. And the two most honest characters (the girlfriend and the lawyer) were female.

      • Mike

        Apparently David has never been to college, or just sees what he wants. Sorry Dave, but girls like the “objectified” ones are run rampent in many college, and I say it SHOULD be like that. There are just as many guys like that, too, but you forget that. It’s really a double standard, but you perceive it as woman objectification b/c the story is from a males perspective, i.e. the main characters.

      • Jen

        The reason women are treated like throwaway sex objects in the movie is because that’s how those men treated them. This isn’t meant to be an indictment of all men–just these particular people because that’s how they acted at that point in their lives. The Social Network deserves the win because it’s the finest script with the best direction, superb acting performances, and unlike The King’s Speech, I think it has social relevancy–capturing a time in our history that may not be the most attractive, but is certainly accurate. I thought The King’s Speech was very good, but it didn’t go beyond the personal story of one character and it certainly had the potential to.

    • MCS

      The Social Network is open to the exact same attacks: historical liberties and obvious awards bait. I respect Karger, but this article is stupid.

      • Dee

        I agree. Karger has a very closed mind.

      • kaya

        Yea. Dave? A crime to give this best picture? You’re a moron to even put this in the same sentence as Crash.

        Try a new job after that comment. You’re jaded.

      • Olivia

        Historical liberties yes, but awards bait? Other than that its a sort-of biopic, which is already a rather tenuous accusation, there is nothing award-baity about this movie

    • akh

      JB – You are right. The King’s Speech connected at a visceral level. Inception and the Social Network were both good, interesting and different, but I didn’t care about anyone in former, and thought the people in the latter were too caricaturized.

      • akh

        Oops. Meant to say you’re half right as my comments clarify, I hope.

  • Nick

    People are going way overboard by saying The King’s Speech winning would be the biggest Oscar crime since Crash. The King’s Speech is a great film. I won’t mind at all if it wins. Nor will I mind if The Social Network wins, it’s also a great film. Personally, my favorite film was Black Swan, but I know that is not going to win.

    • Joe the Machinist

      It’s too bad the Oscars doesn’t release the ballot vote totals. I would suspect the Black Swan would have the most first place voters, but would not win the Oscar for best picture because it’s a movie you either love or hate. People will either list it 1st on their ballots, or 10th.

      • meme

        And you would be wrong. Black Swan is most definately not the best picture of the year.

  • Mindy

    Is this blog going to do a similar interview with Sorkin or Finher or Sony? Or Eisenberg? I’d like to see that. And maybe interviews from other nominees? Otherwise it kind of feels like advertising for one particular film.
    I too would prefer The Social Network or even Toy Story 3 to win. Although, I did really like Colin Firth’s performance.

    • Dave Karger

      Great question, Mindy. Here’s my interview with the Social Network cast: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2010/10/06/the-social-network-whose-side-are-you-on/

      • Mindy

        Thanks, but that is from OCTOBER. When the Oscar race wasn’t really in full swing. (And that film was considered the frontrunner.) And it doesn’t talk about the Oscars. You are asking them about how they feel about The Facebook case. And also, it would be nice to hear from *other* films about the Oscars.

  • LM

    “The Kings Speech” was an outstanding movie, period. Up until it started winning awards, no one disagreed with that statement. It may not be the personal favorite of the critics – or of the commenters above – but that doesn’t mean it deserves all the snide criticism it’s been getting now just because it’s the frontrunner. So what if it’s a “classic” story? So what if it’s not as “daring” and “innovative” as some of the other films nominated? Lots and lots of people love, admire, and were deeply moved by “The Kings Speech” – both inside the industry and outside of the industry. So, then, what’s wrong with awarding a univerally beloved film? Especially since art is subjective, and these awards are measuring the overall subjective tastes of their voting bodies?

    • Liz

      Ditto.

    • Woot

      I disagree, there were always a group of people who didn’t enjoy the film, but before it started picking up awards, a lot less people saw it. Once it started getting buzz, people saw it and thus stated their opinions. I went to see it expecting the best film of the year. Instead I just saw a well made movie that I had no interest in.

  • Frank Mondana

    Once again, people seem to think that the general public votes on the Academy Awards. They are a private award nominated by and awarded by Academy members only.
    Filmmakers are going to have a different take on what’s best and do not vote based on the popularity of a film.

  • Liz

    The King’s speech SO deserves to win! As does Colin Firth by the way, my, what an amazing performance. That film was so moving, smart, very well directed (the way they filmed the microphoned, I was terrified of it along with Colin!), it deserves to win.
    P.S: Helena Bonham Carter was really moving AND witty as the Queen. It was also a great performance, she deserved the BAFTA.

    • Mac

      Colin Firth, yes. The King’s Speech, no.

  • JDean

    The King’s Speech was good but I just wish they would enact a decade-long ban on making films about English royalty. There has to have been at least 50 films/TV series based on Henry VIII alone! I understand these people are extremely important and influenced history, but I think when the most interesting thing about a certain world leader is that he stuttered, we’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel. What’s next? A film about a king who struggled with chronic diarrhea?

    • bee

      LOL. kinda agree even though I loved The King’s Speech. There’s at least one movie/miniseries about the royal family every year.

      • DEe

        I agree with the chronic diarrhea comment. I thought The King’s Speech was boring because it barely had a story. Stuttering for two hours? Torture, though I did enjoy Geoffrey Rush as the heart of the film. I thought Colin Firth was great in A Single Man but I didn’t care for King’s.

      • chez

        Re DEe: these sort of comments make me love the film even more for drawing attention to the amount of difficulties stutterers face. If one can’t bear this for 2 hours, imagine what life must be like for real life stutterers?

  • RayT

    The King’s Stool, perhaps?

  • Jason

    Saying The King’s Speech will be the worst Best Picture winner since Crash is crazy. It will be the worst since A Beautiful Mind. Duh.

    • DEe

      Tee hee. True.

    • Cris

      ahem … ahem … “Slumdog Millionaire” … ahem … ahem

      • meme

        seriously. that movie was crap. as was crash. a beautiful mind was a good movie. i don’t go to the movies for a history lesson so i don’t care if all facts aren’t quite right.

  • Fish

    The Social Network was current and hip. Inception was dazzling and innovative. But neither of them moved me emotionally. True Grit did, as did Toy Story 3. But the one that moved me the most was The King’s Speech. If I vote with my heart, that’s Best Picture.

  • Jason

    The King’s Speech is not the best film of the year. It’s the one this particular group of movie people like best right now. You didn’t have to be a genius to know GoodFellas was better than Dances With Wolves, but Costner’s film was the one they liked at the time.

  • Mark

    I am one of those people that feel the Academy makes some pretty bad choices. So it seems like the King’s Speech will win. Nevermind that Inception was utterly brilliant and innovative. The Academy doesn’t care for science fiction.

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