OFF THE CARPET: Written in ink

Posted by · 8:21 am · January 10th, 2011

I found it interesting over the weekend (and if you’re keyed into the ads on the site here and elsewhere, you noticed, too) that “The King’s Speech” finally decided to tap into the narrative that will serve it best in this year’s awards season.

The “Find Your Voice” campaign notes, “Some movies you see.  Others you feel.”  The “head vs. heart” debate has been going on all season, dismissed largely by advocates up in arms at anyone having the gall to bet on a film other than “The Social Network” for this year’s Best Picture Oscar.  Yet there are, by my count, 44 days left before final ballots are due to the Academy (because let’s face it, most of us are already living in phase two of this season).

But I wrote that column last week.  Rather than re-state my position over and over again, I’ll just offer up the mantra: It’s a process.

Fincher’s film took down the National Society of Film Critics award Saturday (which is really, for the most part, just a replay of the NYFCC and LAFCA awards, given the overlap in membership).  It just about ran the critics’ board.  A few Best Picture bones were thrown to “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan” and “Inception” throughout the circuit, but that’s about it.  Bravo indeed.

The “True Grit” camp has an amazing box office run to help it out.  It’s creeping into incredibly competitive territory.  But the film will be better positioned to gobble up nominations that threaten “The Social Network” more than anything else.  No surprise who’s at the top on both films.

“The Fighter” tugs the heart a bit, and has some heavy-hitting champions.  “Toy Story 3” also has the heart going for it, but the bias against the form is unmistakable.  And “Black Swan” also has great box office, and the indie cred, to add to the cauldron and turn up some strong campaign soup.  But one film is at the forefront of the conversation, no doubt about it.

The possibility of a backlash?  It’s there, I think.  I know a great many are revisiting Fincher’s film, wondering what the heck set the critics off.  But it’s smart of The Weinstein Company to begin switching gears now, and I imagine if any of the above campaigns think they have a shot at the gold, now is the time for them to find a phase two rhythm, too.

More likely, I think, is the idea that people will feel like they missed the boat if they vote for anything else.  It’s strong and significant to have the critics line up behind a contender like that.  And intimidating.  Take umbrage with Saturday’s “sheep” jab all you want, but a smart campaign is about being the Pied Piper.  And the higher-ups on this one have walked that path marvelously before, from “Crash” to “No Country for Old Men” to “The Hurt Locker.”

That’s before we even get to the issue of money.  When you have it to throw around, the sky is the limit.

The inevitability of “Best Picture winner ‘The Social Network’” is solidifying.  And it’s not the critics that did it.  It’s the campaign, the consistent timing and, to say the least, the environment created around this film, this season.  Believe it or not, it’s anything but the movie — one of the year’s best.  It’s the game.

The Oscar season has kind of become kind of like the difference between watching a pro football game and a college football game.  It’s a well-oiled machine with a few heavy-hitters who know how to Belichik it all the way to the Lombardi Troph-, er, Oscar.  And God bless ’em for being so good at their jobs.  I mean that.

Short column this week as I don’t have much else to offer.  With six of 10 industry guilds/societies having spoken up with their thoughts on the year’s best, I have updated the Contenders section to reveal, for the most part, those much more indicative choices.  The sidebar predictions reflect those changes as well.

Stay tuned today as the DGA will eventually join the party.

[Photos: The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures]

→ 27 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Off the Carpet

27 responses so far

  • 1 1-10-2011 at 8:29 am

    James D. said...

    It is weird. I liked The Social Network a lot, but it isn’t even in my top ten, nor is it my favorite of realistic Oscar winners, with True Grit being a better film to me. However, I want to see a film like it win Best Picture. What is that all about?

  • 2 1-10-2011 at 8:43 am

    ann said...

    Inception just sweep another critic award the North Texas Film Critics Association, I know it doesn’t mean much but it still nice to see something win that’s not social network.

  • 3 1-10-2011 at 8:43 am

    Andrej said...

    The VFX guild had their nominees announced earlier. Inception, Tron, Iron Man 2, HP7 and Alice in Wonderland. No Scott Pilgrim makes me a bit sad :(

    However… Texas winners are out! Inception’s the best picture for them. The Social Network is left out without a single award.

  • 4 1-10-2011 at 8:48 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Andre: That wasn’t the list of Visual Effects Society nominees. It was the bake-off finalists from the Academy’s visual effects branch. Two different things.

  • 5 1-10-2011 at 8:56 am

    Andrej said...


    Yes, I’m actually talking about the VES nominees. There’s a post about them in Awards Daily. Scott Pilgrim was in that bake-off finalist list for the Oscars.

  • 6 1-10-2011 at 8:57 am

    Graysmith said...

    Nope, those are the VES nominees for “effects-driven” films. There’s a PDF on their website with all the categories. Inception got 4 nominations in the various categories.

  • 7 1-10-2011 at 8:58 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Oh, wait, I must have been out to lunch. Sorry Andre! I saw “Scott Pilgrim” and just assumed you were talking about the short list. The VES nods are at The Circuit.

  • 8 1-10-2011 at 9:00 am

    Ben M. said...

    It will be interesting to see how the NBR, LA, NY, and NSFC sweep effects the oscar race as LA Confidential was not much of a threat to win even with the sweep, while I bet Schindler’s List would’ve won even without any critics group support.

    The sweep makes me think that Social Network is probably the frontrunner, but I still feel that The King’s Speech is very much in the race to win (and wouldn’t be at all shocked if it pulls off wins at SAG, PGA, BAFTA, and the Globes) with The Fighter the most likely upset contender.

  • 9 1-10-2011 at 9:06 am

    Andrej said...

    Oh! DGAs are out too!

    Aronosfky, Nolan, Hooper, Fincher and Russell.

  • 10 1-10-2011 at 9:07 am

    ann said...

    Omg David Russel got in the DGA!!!! the rest are the obvious. :)

  • 11 1-10-2011 at 9:10 am

    Graysmith said...

    If The King’s Speech brings home the BFCA and Golden Globe this weekend and then dominates the BAFTA nominations (as it is likely to do) that would swing the balance like a tidal wave hitting. And it’s still in theaters, doing gangbusters, and it hasn’t even opened wide yet.. There’s plenty of time for The King’s Speech to completely take over. A month from now and we may all think people predicting The Social Network as the Best Picture winner must be crazy. Well, maybe not that drastic.. But this race is far from over.

  • 12 1-10-2011 at 9:12 am

    Maxim said...

    Is ann, Anne Thompson? If so, I’d love to hear your take on O’Russell’s Oscar chances.

    Otherwise, I was right not to be against Aronofsky, Hooper, and Nolan. I was right about Coens too, which is a shame.

  • 13 1-10-2011 at 9:18 am

    Maxim said...

    But Greysmith, would it really be wise to look to BAFTA or Golden Globes for a tipping the balance of Awards consensus (ie the two groups that are made of non-voting types*)? Do they have anything to offer except momentum?

    And when it comes to it, isn’t a strong showing at BAFTA for King’s Speech practically a given.I recall Atonement did pretty well there too.

    *I know some BAFTA members are AMPAS members too.

  • 14 1-10-2011 at 9:19 am

    ann said...

    lool, no! :)

  • 15 1-10-2011 at 9:20 am

    Maxim said...

    Haha, Ann. Well since we are on this topic, care to comment anyway ;) ?

  • 16 1-10-2011 at 9:29 am

    Marshall said...

    Does Russell’s DGA nom change the sidebar predictions a little bit?

    And why still the stubborn persistency on Manville’s nomination…

  • 17 1-10-2011 at 9:31 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The reasoning behind Manville’s presence has been mentioned numerous times. I think perhaps the British block could get her in. The fifth spot is very much up for grabs.

  • 18 1-10-2011 at 9:56 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I think my main issue with the “sheep” jab was that it ignored the NSFC’s rather unique acting winners, particularly Best Actress and Supporting Actress. Just because they went with the flow on the big prize doesn’t mean they should be condemned entirely with the rest of the critics groups.

  • 19 1-10-2011 at 9:58 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well, clearly it was a direct reference to the TSN sweep. Obviously the out-of-the-box acting picks are commendable.

    I guess I thought that kind of went without saying…

  • 20 1-10-2011 at 11:33 am

    Marshall said...

    Apologies for not reading closely enough … it just seems so unlikely given her total lack of presence in the season thus far. But stranger things have happened (I’m thinking specifically of Tommy Lee Jones in 2007).

  • 21 1-10-2011 at 11:55 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I just think that there were several other critics groups this year that deserved a terse insult like “sheep” before NSFC’s picks rolled in, that’s all.

  • 22 1-10-2011 at 12:09 pm

    matt said...

    Just gotta say that I love the fact that grown ups is still in the running for the academy awa…I mean lombardi trophy

  • 23 1-10-2011 at 1:27 pm

    Andrew M said...

    @Greysmith I have a feeling The Social Network will win the BFCA, but they are kind of populist. The Kings Speech will most likely win the the Globe and, obviously, the BAFTA. If TSN does win the Globe though the race is over, but I don’t think it will.

  • 24 1-10-2011 at 1:33 pm

    Andrew M said...

    I meant Graysmith by the way, didn’t catch it.

  • 25 1-10-2011 at 4:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t disagree with that, Robert. The dangers of being last, I guess.

  • 26 1-10-2011 at 7:51 pm

    Andrew F said...

    Unless I’m having a brain-fart, isn’t the final ballot ranked? I wonder about the implications of this on TSN vs KS.

  • 27 1-10-2011 at 9:55 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Yes, Andrew, I believe this will be the second year of a ranked BP ballot, so he don’t really know how it will affects so far (I think the PGA ballot may also be ranked so that would be a precursor to keep an eye on).

    I could see some voters not caring for Social Network at all and placing it near the bottom of the ballot, while the safer and more crowd pleasing King’s Speech gets ahead on the strength of #2 and #3 votes, but that would be pure speculation until some voters give insight as to how they are ranking the contenders.