The Contenders

Nicholas Barber sizes up the two main films for best picture:

[T]he choice between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” isn’t between a British film and an American one, but between a reassuring film and an unsettling one. As excellent as “The King’s Speech” is, it tells us that things were better in the olden days when everyone knew their place, and when a stiff upper lip was all it took to win a war against the Nazis. There are chilling momentsBertie’s stories of his abused childhood, David’s sneering at his younger brotherbut they lead us to the comforting conclusion that love and friendship conquer all, disabilities can be overcome, and, as long as you believe in yourself, good will prevail over evil.

“The Social Network” is another matter. It offers more questions than answers, leaving us to debate which of its characters are heroes and which are villains, who’s been exploited and who’s done the exploiting. It makes some viewers want to log straight onto Facebook, and others vow never to Update their Status again. And it doesn’t let us relax, as “The King’s Speech” does, by being set 60-odd years ago in the art-deco past. It’s a film about now.

My periodic Anglophobia has prevented me from making The King's Speech a priority for viewing. That - and the fact that I've come to hate going to movie theaters when you can see the same thing at home in the not-so-distant future without someone talking on their cell-phone, talking through the movie, and paying the cost of a real meal for an order of Bunch-A-Crunch and Coke Zero.

I don't really care about this Hollywood circle-jerk, but I'd love to see David Fincher's direction recognized, Toy Story 3 win Best Picture, and Restrepo win Best documentary. In general, I'd say this year's Oscars remind me a little of the new season of American Idol. I didn't think I could be weaned back on - but the emphasis on quality of singing/movie-making and the diversity of the field - has sucked me back in.