In a year when The Academy is trying to appeal to younger audiences, the perfect opportunity to be ‘down with the cool kids’ was sorely missed when The Academy awarded their top prize to The King’s Speech over The Social Network, the most important film in a generation.
What is fascinating about the both nominees is how they are incredibly similar yet different, both tell stories of protagonists who fail to communicate.
We see King George VI struggling to talk confidently to a nation on the brink of war, and lead his people. We see Mark Zuckerberg struggling to climb the social ladder, or join Harvard clubs that were once enjoyed by former presidents. They must overcome social disabilities, if they are to achieve greatness.
Technology is represented in both films as a powerful tool that will lead the protagonist toward greatness, radio in The King’s Speech, internet in The Social Network, but if you put these two films against each other in an Oscar race then you have an irresistible old media vs social media dogfight.
Old media may have won the battle, and The King’s Speech is a perfectly fine film, but it could’ve been made at any time, its about the good old days of radio, and its in many ways irrelevant.
When the King delivers the titular speech, the filmmakers use a series of extreme close ups of a woeful King standing behind enormous-looking microphones, and then cutaway again to families huddled around the radio, remember when radio was more important than Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg’s story however is more relevant, he reinvents himself too, but invents a revolutionary tool that will forever change the way we communicate in the 21st century. And if The Academy can’t celebrate that achievement, I think it’s indicative of their failure to reinvent themselves.
Before Steven Spielberg announced the winner, He reminded viewers at home that the Best Picture loser would join the long list of American classics that never won Best Picture including The Grapes of Wrath, Citizen Kane, Sunset Blvd, All the President’s Men, Network, Pulp Fiction, Raging Bull and Goodfellas.
I felt Mr. Spielberg looking directly into the eyes of everybody that attended my Oscar party, all of which were busy bashing keyboards, hastily updating their Facebook profiles to express their disdain at The King’s Speech win, and gently reminded us that years from now people will still refer to The Social Network as The Film That Should’ve Won.
Happily, The Social Network didn’t go empty handed, winning Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score respectively.