Monday, February 21, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: The King's Speech

The King's Speech
Number of Nominations: 12
Categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costumes, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score
Availability in US: In Theatres (Click for Showtimes)
Trailer: Click for Trailer
The King’s Speech tells the true story of Britain’s King George VI (Colin Firth) and his terrible stutter. When his brother abdicates the throne and he is forced to become King, his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) convinces him to see an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who tries to help him overcome his troubles so he can give the speech his nation needs and demands of him. All of them are working toward an important goal: With war breaking out all over Europe, the King will soon need to address the nation over the radio and inspire them to stand together against Chancellor Hitler. An uncertain or wavering King cannot unite his nation behind him the way he must, so the King must overcome his disability for the good of the nation and the world.

Though a seemingly simple and odd concept for a film, The King’s Speech is, in my mind, the best film of 2010. At turns funny, poignant, uncomfortable, heart-wrenching, and inspirational, the film pushes all the right buttons. The Academy loves films about British royalty (The Queen, Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, etc.), and there's a lot to love here.

Colin Firth puts in an astoundingly authentic performance. His stuttering never feels like a caricature, and the pain and frustration he shows while trying to overcome his impediment is so real that the audience shares his frustration and ultimately his successes. Helena Bonham Carter stars as his patient and loving wife (who would eventually become the beloved woman Britons would refer to as the Queen Mum) who tries her best to help her husband get past his troubles. She never loses her cool, and is supportive throughout the whole ordeal while gently nudging him toward the treatment which helps him become the man she knows he can be. Geoffrey Rush may be the best of all; as Logue, he pushes and prods the King out of his (fairly small) comfort zone to try and aid him, knowing full well the dangers of angering a king. The film is well paced and keeps the audience engaged throughout. Thanks to an excellent screenplay and director Tom Hooper's vision, it is easy to both identify with and root for Firth's character as we watch his arduous yet inspiring struggles.

As I said, the Academy loves films about royalty, and this should help The King’s Speech to win at least 6 or 7 awards on Oscar night. Besides the likely win for Colin Firth (which would be his first Oscar, after losing last year to Jeff Bridges), I expect The King’s Speech to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costumes (period films ALWAYS win this category), and possibly Best Art Direction and Best Sound Editing. Additionally, the Best Supporting Actress race looks like it could go just about any way at this point, and Helena Bonham Carter has a real shot. (She would certainly deserve it just on work ethic alone; she worked on four Oscar-nominated productions this year: The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the animated short film "The Gruffalo"). Of course, the early Oscar buzz was behind The Social Network for Best Picture, but The King’s Speech seems to have pulled into the lead in recent weeks, especially since its Producer's Guild win, and should manage to pull this one out. It is still possible for The Social Network to eke out a win though, so in a close race, look for Best Director and Best Picture to go to different films.
Grade: A+

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