What I Said About the Oscar Winners Before They Became Oscar Winners
When I first saw a trailer for “The King Speech” I was almost moved to tears. I thought: “Colin Firth seems amazing. Geoffrey Rush looks like he’s having a ball.” Then I thought, “Except it feels like I’ve seen the entire movie now but for the last 10 minutes. And I can guess those.” (Psst: The speech goes well.)
And Colin Firth is amazing, Geoffrey Rush seems like he’s having a ball, and the entirety of the movie is in the trailer except for the last 10 minutes. And you can guess those. ...
“The King’s Speech” is a smart movie that’s fun to watch. I expect Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Firth, Rush, and Seidler. I was moved by the montage of the British people listening to the speech, all ears turned, all with a shared purpose. Other than that, there’s not much to say. It’s all in the trailer.
Tom Hooper went unmentioned in my review.
Firth does an amazing job making us care about this man born to privilege. We get a sense of how trapped he is by circumstances. He is, in fact, doubly trapped: by his role, which he can never escape, and by his speech impediment, which won’t let him carry out that role.
Oddly, I didn't mention Portman's performance in my review. Bad critic. I think I assumed everyone thought it amazing. I didn't know I'd be arguing with folks who found it one-note without finding, say, Jennifer Lawrence's performance in “Winter's Bone” one-note. But I did say this, which is the essence of the movie to me:
Has any recent movie gotten us into the head of its main character as well as this one? I kept having to take deep breaths after it was over. I’d been holding my breath for the last half hour along with Nina.
It helps to think of the white-swan part of Nina’s personality as less about innocence than control. Sure, Nina is sexually innocent, but one suspects it’s a direct result of her control and discipline. I mean, she doesn’t think about touching herself until Leroy suggests it? Until it might help get the part she covets? I’ll masturbate, but only to be good in the role. One way to get students to do their homework.
Best Supporting Actor:
OK, so how does it differ [from “Rocky”]?
For one, “The Fighter” has the advantage of being mostly true.
It has the added advantage of Christian Bale’s over-the-top, look-at-me-I’m-not-Batman performance as Dicky Eklund, a one-time middleweight contender, trainer to his half-brother, Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), and crack addict. ...
Wahlberg is fine, but he’s playing his gentle-voiced, blending-into-the-background leading man again. (See: “Planet of the Apes,” “The Truth About Charlie,” “The Italian Job.”) He’s a bit dull. In this way, the movie parallels its own story. Just as Dicky overshadows Mickey, so Bale’s performance overshadows Wahlberg’s. I’m not sure if this is ultimately a strength or a weakness, but I wish Wahlberg’s characters had as much in them as Wahlberg seems to.
Best Supporting Actress:
The HBO doc is, in fact, a turning point of the movie. It’s the moment Mickey comes to his senses about Dicky, Dicky half comes to his senses about himself, and the family’s eyes, at least momentarily, are opened. For a second I condemned this family, the awful mother, Alice (an incredible Melissa Leo), and those harpyish sisters, for needing HBO to show them how their son/brother lives. A second later I realized we all need such docs about our loved ones. My older brother is an alcoholic, about which he and I have no delusions, but I don’t know how he spends his days. The people closest to us are still unknowable.
Best Original Screenplay:
These early scenes—the clash between an uptight, stammering royal and an iconoclastic, unlettered therapist—are the best in the film. We get one good line after another from screenwriter David Seidler: My favorite exchange:
Bertie starts to light a cigarette from a silver case.
Lionel: Please don’t do that.
Bertie: I’m sorry?
Lionel: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
Bertie: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Lionel: They’re idiots.
Bertie: They’ve all been knighted.
Lionel: Makes it official then.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
There’s such a joy of intellect in Aaron Sorkin’s scripts that he’s almost unamerican. He makes brains and articulation seem like a superpower. He makes them seem cool.
His characters have so much to say that they don’t have the time to stop and say it; they have to keep moving. Sorkin was made to write the script for “The Social Network,” the story of the founding of Facebook, because it, too, is about supersmart, superarticulate people who are perhaps too smart and articulate for their own good. They speak before they should.
This was actually a fairly humbling exercise, for this reason if no other: In the future, I'll need to come up with superlatives besides “amazing” to describe great acting.