Devotees of eternal cinematic Movie Godz justice are tonight contemplating the drinking of hemlock, the inhaling of lethal gas and leaping from high cliffs. For Tom Hooper, a highly talented, handsome, intelligent and quite likable fellow who directed a very commendable 1993 film called The King’s Speech, has won the DGA award for feature film directing…and when I heard this news about 80 minutes ago, I folded. My face turned ashen gray and I died a little inside. Because I knew then and there that the Best Picture Oscar race was all but over. The King’s Speech will almost certainly win and The Social Network will lose.
As satisfying and well-wrought as The King’s Speech is in the realm of old-fashioned, emotionally reassuring cinema, this is an Oscar night that will live in infamy. The Academy’s fudge-pudge mentality has prevailed. Hooper’s DGA win echoes the triumph of Crash over Brokeback Mountain, Chicago over The Pianist, Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas, Ordinary People over Raging Bull and How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane. And the Best Picture Oscar wins of Driving Miss Daisy, Around the World in 80 Days and The Greatest Show on Earth.
Comfort, contentment and middle-class Masterpiece Theatre milquetoast values have prevailed. They “liked” The King’s Speech better, so there. Kick me, shoot me, run me over with a double-decker bus.
Early tomorrow morning the henchmen of Soviet Colonel Dimitri Ilyavich Karger will kick my door in and put me on a train to a Siberian gulag, and I’ll go willingly because I know when the jig is up. My spirit is spent. I’m feeling so downhearted I’m wondering if I can even sleep tonight. This is a very deflating moment for those who know the final truth of things vs. those who chose their little comfort blankies. We’ve suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. But there’s no choice but to be fair and gracious and respectful to the film that has won and….no! No! I am John Foster Dulles refusing to shake the hand of Chou En-lai.
A friend feels awful about this. I told her we all have an opportunity to be big about it, to be gracious and deferential…and to remind the world that ONLY IN THE TINY LITTLE CULTURAL POCKET OF THE LOS ANGELES FILM INDUSTRY (and among the even more fragmentary Academy member circles in New York City and London) DOES THIS KIND OF SHIT PLAY IN A PLURALISTIC VOTING-BODY SENSE. History will not look kindly. The under-35 generation will distance itself that much more from this bastion of backward-gazing, old-fart status-quo centrist values. The Social Network has swept the critics groups, is a far, far better film in the minds of the Movie Godz, and it will gleam for decades to come. What happened last night is a ensemble backslide move for the ages.
Lee J. Cobb has swung the jury in favor of guilty, and Henry Fonda is the one slowly walking down the steps in the early-morning light, his head hung in dejection.