“The King’s Speech” gained momentum against the Facebook drama “The Social Network,” which dominated early Hollywood awards. Along with those two films, other best-picture nominees Tuesday for the Feb. 27 Oscars were the psychosexual thriller “Black Swan”; the boxing drama “The Fighter”; the sci-fi blockbuster “Inception”; the lesbian-family tale “The Kids Are All Right”; the survival story “127 Hours”; the animated smash “Toy Story 3”; the Western “True Grit”; and the Ozarks crime thriller “Winter’s Bone.”
“True Grit” ran second with 10 nominations, including acting honors for last year’s best-actor winner Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.
“The Social Network” won best drama at the Golden Globes and was picked as the year’s best by key critics groups, while “The King’s Speech” pulled an upset last weekend by winning the Producers Guild of America Awards top prize, whose recipient often goes on to claim best picture at the Oscars.
“I’ve been texting people in between interviews, and there’s a lot of excitement going on across the globe from our team. It’s really wonderful. It’s sort of like ’Ben-Hur’ proportions. It all seems a bit crazy, you know?” said supporting-actor nominee Rush, an Oscar winner for 1996’s “Shine.”
Along with Rush, best-actor favorite Firth and supporting-actress contender Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech” had nominations for director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler, plus honors in such categories as cinematography, costume design, art direction and musical score.
Supporting-actor favorite Christian Bale was nominated for “The Fighter.” The best-actress field shapes up as a two-woman race between Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” who won the Globe for actress in a musical or comedy, and Natalie Portman for “Black Swan,” who received the Globe for dramatic actress.
The supporting-actress Oscar could prove the most competitive among acting prizes. Melissa Leo won the Globe for “The Fighter,” but she faces strong challenges from that film’s co-star Amy Adams and 14-year-old newcomer Steinfeld, who missed out on a Globe nomination for “True Grit” but made the cut for supporting actress at the Oscars.
“I’m still reeling from the Golden Globe and its extraordinary and unique recognition,” said Leo, whose film emerged late last year as a low-budget underdog that parallels the story of “The Fighter,” about a late-blooming boxer who gets a title shot. “Is it art imitates life, or life is imitating art? What happened?”
For the second-straight year, the Oscars feature 10 best-picture contenders after organizers doubled the field from the usual five to open the awards up to a broader range of films. But even in a field of 10, the prize likely comes down to two films.
“The Social Network” casts Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who’s depicted as an interpersonal lout in one-on-one relations but a genius for the masses, creating an online hangout where half a billion people now keep connected with friends.
“The King’s Speech” stars Firth as Queen Elizabeth II’s father, the stammering George VI, who reluctantly came to the throne after his brother abdicated in 1936, a terrible time for a stuttering monarch as British subjects looked to their ruler for inspiration via radio as World War II approached.
The two films represent a showdown between classy, traditional Oscar bait and edgy, youthful, up-to-the-minute drama.
With its aristocrats, statesmen and perilous times, “The King’s Speech” is a throwback to the majestic, eye-filling costume pageants that dominated film awards in Hollywood’s earlier decades. Bonham Carter was nominated as the king’s devoted wife and Rush was nominated as his wily speech therapist.
“The Social Network” is an immediate story, set not in palaces but college dorm rooms, cluttered start-up space and anonymous legal offices where Zuckerberg battles former associates over the proceeds of his invention.
“I think that what resonated is that it’s not a timely story. I think what resonated is that it is a timeless story, one with themes as old as storytelling itself: of friendship and loyalty, of betrayal, power, class, jealousy,” said Aaron Sorkin, a nominee for adapted screenplay for “The Social Network.”
“These are things that Aeschylus would have written about or Shakespeare would have written about. And it’s just lucky for me that neither of those guys were available, so I got to write about it.”
David Fincher is the best-directing favorite for “The Social Network” after winning that prize at the Globes.
Along with Firth and Eisenberg, best-actor contenders are Javier Bardem as a dying father in the Spanish-language drama “Biutiful,” which also is up for best foreign-language film; Bridges as boozy lawman Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” a role that earned John Wayne an Oscar for the 1969 adaptation of the Western novel; and James Franco in the real-life tale of a climber trapped in a crevasse after a boulder crushes his arm in “127 Hours.”