‘King’s Speech’ pulls off shocking upset at DGA Awards

The palace coup being staged by “The King’s Speech” at award shows continues with its most shocking result yet – Tom Hooper‘s upset at the Directors Guild of America.

Just one week ago it looked like the Oscar derby was over. “The Social Network” had pulled off a clean sweep of all major film critics’s awards, the Golden Globe and National Board of Review. It appeared to be unstoppable.

Everybody knew that “The King’s Speech” was going to have one bit of bright news when Oscar nominations came out. It wouild probably score the most bids because it’s a historical drama likely to be nominated in all of those crafts categories like art direction and costume design. Normally, the movie with the most noms wins Best Picture (75% of the time), but most pundits were still predicting “The Social Network” would win the top Oscar on Feb. 27. As of Jan. 21, “The King’s Speech” had not seized a Best Picture crown from a single awards group.

Then “The King’s Speech” pulled off that shockeroo at the Producers Guild of America last week. Over the past 20 years, the PGA has correctly forecasted the Oscar champ 13 times, but there was reason to believe that this year might be one of the exceptions. When the guild went its own way in the past, it tended to pick weepies like “The King’s Speech”: “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Moulin Rouge” and “The Crying Game,” for example.

But now “King’s” victory at DGA virtually seals its Oscar triumph, maybe even in the Best Director race. Over the past week, most pundits switched their Oscar Best Picture prediction to “The King’s Speech,” but continued to foresee David Fincher winning Best Director for “The Social Network.” Nearly all of them believed Fincher would win DGA easily. That’s the one award that seemed to belong to “The Social Network” no matter what happened to the film over all. Not anymore.

Since the guild began handing out awards in 1949, the winning helmer has gone on to take home the Oscar with six exceptions:

1968 — DGA to Anthony Harvey for “The Lion in Winter” and Oscar to Carol Reed for “Oliver!”

1972 — DGA to Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather” and Oscar to Bob Fosse for “Cabaret”

1985 — DGA to Steven Spielberg for “The Color Purple” and Oscar to Sydney Pollack for “Out of Africa”

1995 — DGA to Ron Howard for “Apollo 13” and Oscar to Mel Gibson for “Braveheart”

2000 — DGA to Ang Lee for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Oscar to Steven Soderbergh for “Traffic”

2002 — DGA to Rob Marshall for “Chicago” and Oscar to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist”

And in the 62-year history of the DGA prize, the guild choice for Best Director has helmed the academy’s pick for Best Picture 49 times. The 13 exceptions are:

1949 — DGA to “A Letter to Three Wives” and Oscar to “All the King’s Men”

1951 — DGA to “A Place in the Sun” and Oscar to “An American in Paris”

1952 — DGA to “The Quiet Man” and Oscar  to “The Greatest Show on Earth”

1956 — DGA to “Giant” and Oscar to “Around the World in 80 Days”

1967 — DGA to “The Graduate” and Oscar to “In the Heat of the Night”

1968 — DGA to “The Lion in Winter” and Oscar to “Oliver!”

1981 — DGA to “Reds “and Oscar to “Chariots of Fire”

1985 — DGA to “The Color Purple” and Oscar to “Out of Africa”

1989 — DGA to “Born on the Fourth of July” and Oscar to “Driving Miss Daisy”

1995 — DGA to “Apollo 13” and Oscar to “Braveheart”

1998 — DGA to “Saving Private Ryan” and Oscar to “Shakespeare in Love”

2000 — DGA to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Oscar to “Gladiator”

2005 — DGA to “Brokeback Mountain” and Oscar to “Crash”

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