After SAG victory, expect ‘The King’s Speech’ to rule Oscars next

When “The King’s Speech” won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble, it was a key jewel in the crown it will likely wear on Oscar night.

That victory, along with Colin Firth‘s win for Best Actor, prove that “The King’s Speech” has solid support in the actors’ realm. On Saturday night, it revealed a suprising number of loyal subjects among directors when Tom Hooper pulled off an upset over “The Social Network’s” David Fincher and won the DGA Award.

One week earlier, “The King’s Speech” shocked award watchers by winning the Producers’ Guild of America Award. Previously, it had claimed no major Best Picture prize, so “The Social Network” was expected to continue its undefeated romp.

Now that “The King’s Speech” has demonstrated consistent strength across three sections of filmmaking – producing, directing and acting – it’s clear that it has the broad support needed to win Best Picture at the Oscars. That’s also clear from the Oscar nominations, which were announced last Tuesday. “The King’s Speech” led with the most – 12 – with bids for best editing, costumes, music score and writing, too.

What’s odd about this awards dominance by “The King’s Speech” is that it amounts to a dark-horse dash at the end of the derby, which appeared early on to be dominated by “The Social Network.” Just 10 days ago, “The Social Network” could boast of having won Best Picture from every major awards group up to that point: Golden Globes, Critics Choice, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The last film to pull off such a clean sweep was “Schindler’s List” (1993), which won the top Oscar easily next.

What’s behind the sudden shift? Most likely, it has to do with the sensibility of the voters. Nearly all of the top awards won by “The Social Network” were bestowed by film journalists, who tend to like cool, trendy films that are cynical, gritty and void of sentimentality. The guild awards and Oscars, however, are bestowed by members of the film industry, who love tear-jerkers.

Two good examples: When most of the critics awards went to “L.A. Confidential” and “Saving Private Ryan” in 1997 and 1998, the Oscars went to “Titanic” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

“The King’s Speech” is an unabashed weepie that also fits the old Oscar preference for historical dramas like “The English Patient: (1996), “The Last Emperor” (1987), “Out of Africa” (1985) and “Amadeus” (1984). Historical dramas haven’t done well at the Oscars recently, leaving some experts to believe that they’ve fallen out of vogue, but “The King’s Speech” proves that they’ve regained power.

Although 10 days ago the vast majority of pundits predicted “The Social Network” to win Best Picture, most of them have since defected to “The King’s Speech.” See the rundown of thier predictions here.

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