Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Deadlocked Duel of 2010

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Deadlocked Duel was the fourth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed. Since I started this feature back in 2010, I’ll now be filling in the past two years.

Each year after the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s at least one category where two nominees end up in a heated battle for the award right up until Oscar night, dividing predictors and keeping Oscar watchers anxiously in suspense. This series is devoted to analyzing the biggest and most intense of those battles each year, in any category.

The Deadlocked Duel of 2010:

The King’s Speech” vs. “The Social Network” for Best Picture and Best Director

The background: David Fincher, whose twenty-year cinematic career included such memorable hits as “Se7en” and “Fight Club,” and an Oscar tally of thirteen nominations for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was up against Tom Hooper, who had only two previous feature films credits to his name. “The Social Network” was a relevant, modern story about people and technology, while “The King’s Speech” was Oscar bait in every possible way.

Why it was just the two of them: Of the eight other contenders for Best Picture, “Black Swan” and “The Fighter” had acting trophies to serve as consolation prizes, “Toy Story 3” was a shoo-in for Best Animated Feature, and the other films didn’t have much of a shot. “Inception” was damned by its directorial snub, and, for some reason, “True Grit” didn’t have a chance, despite a somewhat unexpected Best Director nomination and a ten-nomination haul that resulted in zero wins.

Setting the stage: Things played out almost exactly like they had the year before with “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker,” except this time the roles were reversed, since the Oscar-bait film peaked late rather than early. The movie of the moment, “The Social Network” swept the Golden Globes with trophies for its screenplay, score, director, and drama motion picture, while “The King’s Speech” earned just one Globe, for actor Colin Firth, who had lost the previous year to Jeff Bridges. After that, things didn’t look good for the former, as the latter won the DGA Award and the SAG Award for Best Cast. When nominations were announced, the former earned eight, and the latter got twelve.

Oscar night: Instead of the expected split which would have seen David Fincher picking up the Best Director trophy and “The King’s Speech” winning Best Picture, the latter took home both awards, as well as a Best Actor award for Firth and the Best Original Screenplay prize. Tom Hooper probably felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

Consolation prize for the loser: Though it didn’t earn the top awards, “The Social Network” still did pretty well, winning Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score, just one trophy short of its competitor’s haul.

Come back next week for a new Oscar retrospective feature!

No comments: