Gold Derby Senior Editor
So, 'The King's Speech' looks like it has the Oscar in the bag. The Best Picture award is in danger of becoming "the one that got away" for 'The Social Network' -- and the eight other films in the race. So where to go from here? With only a couple of weeks until ballots are in, how do the big players control the narrative heading into the final stretch?
'The King's Speech':
This film's campaign is currently controlling the narrative, and will continue to do so, by reminding people of the film's heart. 'The King's Speech' makes you feel better about the world. It's optimistic, it's triumphant, and it's about the power of friendship. Heart is probably the best weapon you can have in your Oscar-bait arsenal, because it's a message worth selling. As long as they keep the conversation about this, refrain from entitlement and keep Harvey Weinstein (who is a polarizing figure in the industry) in the background, it's theirs to lose.
'The Social Network':
This was a film that started its campaign by relying on critical acclaim, a strategy that worked well in the past for producer Scott Rudin with 'No Country for Old Men' and one that seemed to be working wonders once again. 'The Social Network' swept the critics' awards, and looked like the consensus choice of the year. Then the guilds went the way of the 'King.' If it's critics vs. heart we know where the Academy tends to go: with their hearts.
'The Social Network' needs to change its strategy. When speaking to Gold Derby's Chris Beachum, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin described the film as "a timeless story about friendship and loyalty and power, betrayal, class and jealousy." That's what needs to be placed front and center. This is not just a film that defines the moment, as critics have raved, but rather, a story with lasting, universal themes.
Is what they love about 'The King's Speech' fleeting and irrational, whereas what 'The Social Network' presents has more depth and substance, plus the ability to stand the test of time? Will snubbing 'The Social Network' be regretted? To get the Academy to ask themselves these questions -- without a campaign that explicitly tells them to -- the push behind the film needs to focus on the timeless elements of the script and direction.
'Toy Story 3':
Under the preferential voting system, 'Toy Story 3' may be the only other film with a slither of a shot. The animated film can compete in the same arenas as 'The King's Speech' and 'The Social Network' with its sympathy factor and critical success, respectively. Furthermore, its box office performance ($415 million domestic) leaves both front-runners in the dust.
'Toy Story 3' needs to sell itself on being the film with the heart and the critics -- the best of both worlds. It also needs to win those second- and third-ranked ballots so that if the race is closer than expected, Woody and Buzz can overtake the two lead ponies.
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