The King’s Speech (2010)
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Running time: 118 minutes
Okay, so let me get this out of the way before we get cracking into the review, was anyone else really annoyed at the Academy Awards results last Monday?! I sure was! For one, Inception got bugger all! Sure, it won Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects; but let’s face it, those awards aren’t really ones that make a movie recognised. In fifty years no one will be like:
2061 Movie Night Goer A: “Hey guys, let’s watch Inception!“,
2061 Movie Night Goer B: “Yeah? What is it?”,
2061 MNG A: “It’s a sci-fi, action thriller.”
2061 MNG B: “Hmm, I dunno-“
2061 MNG A: “It won the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing.”
2061 MNG B: “Best Sound Mixing?! Sweet! Let’s rock n’ roll!”
That is never going to happen, so who cares about those awards. My main beef with the whole Inception being stooged thing is that director/screenwriter/producer Christopher Nolan himself didn’t receive any recognition. The man has made three amazingly brilliant films (Memento, The Prestige and Inception) and two pretty damn good Batman movies, and he still gets squat. All the while that people like that guy who wrote The King’s Speech and the guy who produced it as well (when it got Best Picture) were speaking, I was screaming in my head “Damn it people, the god of film making is sitting right there! So give him some goddamn recognition! Bow down before your new master!”… But I digress. And don’t even get me started on the Melissa Leo fiasco. The woman who played a character in the terrible film The Fighter who, as far as I can see, didn’t fulfill her role as something the audience should feel slightly attached to (due to her just being so unlikeable that I didn’t care about her), so as to understand Mark Wahlburg’s conflicting feelings between his career as a boxer and his family, got the Best Supporting Actress Award?! WHAT?! When the amazing Hailee Steinfeld presented (in her first film role!) such a strong, deep and entertaining lead female character in True Grit? This is ridiculous! Almost as ridiculous as the fact that True Grit was awarded nothing. Stone cold nothing. It was, in my opinion, the best film out of the five contenders for taking all the Oscars (True Grit, The Social Network, 127 Hours, Black Swan and The King’s Speech) because it was a film that simply told an enthralling story of revenge and was made with such care and attention to detail with four fantastically strong lead characters. Nothing. Just nothing.
Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough. I’ve just been holding all that for a week, and there is more I could say but I think it’s time I actually got on to some reviewing.
Now Showing this week is The King’s Speech, which wiped the floor at the Academy Awards last week. It was nominated for twelve awards and it left with four of them and those four were big ones (being Best Actor, Director, Original Screenplay and Film). Now I always have a tradition that I make sure I go see the film that is awarded Best Picture, regardless of whether or not it comes across as my kind of film, unless of course I have seen it already. Oddly enough, I had seen all the other four high contenders for Best Picture except for The King’s Speech so off I went the other day to go see it. Let me begin by saying, putting aside my bitterness that it took so many awards from True Grit, I was quite impressed with it.
The King’s Speech tells the true story (of course Best Picture is a true story) of British King George VI (played by Colin Firth) and his activities in the lead up to the Second World War. At the beginning of the film, King George is only the Duke of York and he has a speech impediment, which makes his public speaking duties rather difficult. He has seen numerous physicians who have failed to cure him and he has given up hope. His wife however (played by Helena Bonham Carter) has one more person try to help him: a man named Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), an unorthodox but very determined and wise speech therapist. What follows is a very heart warming story of how, through one man helping another overcome adversity, a member of the royal family became friends with a common man. Nawwwwwwwww.
Let me just say, this is a great film. Colin Firth did an excellent job portraying the disabled Duke/King and it was very easy to be swept up in his plight. Helena Bonham Carter showed to me that her only acting ability isn’t just a mad lunatic in some Tim Burton movie, but a kind, gentle but at the same time strong willed wife to the Duke/King. But the performance that really stands out in this film is that of Geoffrey Rush as the witty, brilliant and lovable Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue. Rush is fantastic in this role, and very much steals the show. I found myself sitting in the cinema thinking “say more Geoffrey, say anything, I’m sure it’ll be amazing!”. When he was on screen, you were having the time of your life; and when he wasn’t, you were wishing he was on the screen cause he’s brilliant! So, of all the things in this movie that deserves an Oscar, Rush for Best Supporting Actor was definitely one of them. That award went to Christian Bale though for his role in The Fighter (it was the only good thing about The Fighter, but wasn’t enough to save the movie), which I thought was deserved initially but now that I’ve seen this film, I eat my words.
So The King’s Speech is good, and definitely deserves recognition, but it would not have been my choice for Best Picture. For one, it didn’t feel like a Best Picture film. Do you know that feeling? The feeling that the film you are watching has been crafted by the very best in their field? I didn’t get that with The King’s Speech. Some of the editing was a bit awful, such as shot cuts between actors or even scenes feeling very sloppy occasionally. And there were some cinematography choices that were very strange, such as Colin Firth being on the far left of a shot when talking and the ugly wall paper taking up most of the frame. Or a character being too low in a shot so we saw them from the chin up and a lot of empty space above their heads. Now I’m sure some film student somewhere could write an average, wanky essay on what that blunder says to the audience but I just think it was a weird shooting choice that was there for no apparent reason. But that’s just me.
I guess my overall point is that while I really enjoyed The King’s Speech and would recommend it to all of you readers, I can’t help but feel it was such a landslide winner at the Academy Awards due to politics. A friend of mine said this week: “the Oscars are fifty percent skill and fifty percent politics”. And I reckon he is right. Whilst The King’s Speech was really good, I can’t help but think that it won all those awards because it was such an Oscars film. By Oscars film, I mean that is was based on a true story, about class difference, about someone over coming a disability, set around World War II; you know, the kind of movie that always wins all the Oscars? Yeah, that kind of movie. One of those strictly dramatic (it is also comedic, but it is not a comedy), no action, no horror/suspense, nothing that would draw any teenagers to see it, kind of movies. There is nothing wrong with those kinds of movies, I rather enjoy those kinds of movies, but my point is that that kind of movie always seems to have the edge at the Oscars.
And further more on the politics side, Colin Firth winning Best Actor I believe was down to him and Jeff Bridges (of all the nominees, I felt his role in True Grit was the most stunning) and the Academy thought: “Well, they both did amazing jobs in their respective films. But Colin Firth lost to Jeff Bridges last year so isn’t it his turn now? Let’s give it to him”. Now, both actors did amazing jobs in their films, they’re right, but this idea that the awards are handed out because an actor is “due for one” and all that crap just makes me pissed. It should be down to which performance by which actor in that particular year (and no other year) was the best, and if that’s a close call then they just have more work to do in deciding rather than just giving to the guy who didn’t get it last year.
I know this only my second review so I guess I have no business attacking the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but it just made me angry this week and I feel it needs to be said. Well, I hope you all enjoyed this week’s review, stay tuned for what’s Now Showing next week! See you next time!