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.


  1. Pam, I loved The King's Speech. Forced into a role he never wanted, King George VI rose to the challenge with tremendous courage and heart. The power of words indeed.

  2. Pam, I heart your Oscar/Oscar post - what a tour de force! Oscar night is my second favorite night of the year after Christmas Eve - meaning I wait ALL year long for it to arrive. I've felt this way since I was old enough to understand what the Oscars were. I haven't seen either of the films but it matters not to me. The journey to the golden statuette is the same no matter who takes it home, and I celebrate everyone who steps breathlessly up to the podium.

  3. I haven't seen The Social Network yet but hope to before Academy Award night since it's now out on DVD. I did see the King's Speech and loved it.

  4. By some miracle, I have managed to see both these movies, and The Fighter as well, and I will be pleased with either of them taking home the statue.
    You're right - the are both stories about human connection, though in very difference circumstances.
    I do hope that Christian Bale wins for his supporting role in The Fighter. I think he should win the prize for the entire decade. Honestly, he blew my mind in that role.

  5. "Was there anything so real as words?" Oscar's right on.
    I've seen The King's Speech twice, so far. I'm fascinated by the whole struggle to get the words out, by a man who's whole country depended on him to do so.
    I haven't seen The Social Network, partly because I'm ambivalent about the whole Facebook/Twitter/Whatever phenomenon.
    Sometimes I feel that I'm being constantly spattered by words I never chose to hear. Rather like being surrounded by concentric circles of thousands of strangers wielding word-spraying super soakers.
    Guess which Oscar nom I'm hoping for?

  6. I think I saw maybe one of the Best Picture nominees last year, but this year I've seen 7 out of the 10. It's been a very good year for us movie lovers!

    Colin Firth was amazing in The King's Speech and I hope he wins, although Jeff Bridges was awesome in True Grit. Christian Bale hands down gets my vote for Best Supporting Actor.

    I'm not sure which picture I liked the best. My favourites are The King's Speech, The Fighter and The Social Network, so I'd be okay with any of them taking home the top prize.

  7. Love your post! You are so right about the meaning of these two films and why audiences have taken to both of them. I think Oscar would agree! ;)

    And i love the Red Carpet fashions too! ;)


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