Oscar Weighs in on the Academy Award Frontrunners: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
By Pamela Callow
To do a proper analysis of the leading Best Picture Nominees, I required expert advice from Oscar. Oscar Wilde, that is.
And when he saw my title, he couldn't help but comment, "A simile committing suicide is always a depressing spectacle."( I refrained from pointing out that my title used a metaphor.)
I confess I rarely stay up to watch the Academy Awards (although I do love to check out the red carpet fashions.)
Oscar is wholeheartedly a red carpet fan: "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing." (Note, dear readers, the photo of Anne Hathaway was chosen to denote style - not a lack of sincerity. She's one of my favourite actresses).
Due to my work schedule, I rarely have the opportunity to go to movies. If I do go, I usually take my kids. So it is with some wonder that I realized I had actually seen the two movies that are neck-to-neck for the Best Picture Oscar come March: The Social Network and The King’s Speech.
The battle is being categorized as the modern, relevant movie vs. the period piece.
I think the pundits miss the point as to why those movies have been embraced by both critics and audiences. These movies are about how we, as a society, connect with one another.
In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg creates a more accessible internet experience, one where people can network as if they were back in university. In fact, he’s told by Napster creator Sean Parker to drop “The” from “The Facebook” to remove the psychological effect of objectifying the experience. (Although it is interesting to note that the producers of the movie used “The Social Network” not “Social Network”).
The King’s Speech finds the newly-crowned King George VI facing the rumblings war with Germany. He is very much aware that he will never inspire his people if he cannot overcome a stutter when speaking in public. As he says in the movie:
"Where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them."
During King George VI’s time, radio was the means to communicate to the general public. He was the voice during a turbulent time. He recognized the power of words to create unity. As did Winston Churchill: "All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.” Are those not the greatest unifying words?
Mark Zuckerberg applied it to a medium that had the power to let millions of voices communicate in a nanosecond. He recognized that despite the advances of technology which make people less dependent upon one another, there is a fundamental human need to share. To unite. To make real the human experience. Or in the immortal words of my friend Oscar, “Create yourself. Be yourself your poem."
I have no idea which movie will win the coin toss. However, as a writer, I'm gratified that public has embraced two movies which show the story of the importance of communication. Or as Oscar Wilde once said:
"Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?"
Pamela Callow is the author of the Kate Lange legal thriller series for MIRA Books. Learn more about DAMAGED (June 2010) and INDEFENSIBLE (January 2011) at her website. She often hangs around her book page in that place Mark Zuckerberg created, and you can also find her on twitter.