“If I were still doing ‘If We Picked the Winners’ with Gene Siskel, my preference for best film would be The Social Network,” Roger Ebert wrote about 12 days ago. “It was not only the best film of 2010, but also one of those films that helps define a year. It became the presumed front-runner on the day it opened, but then it seemed to fade. Oscars often go to movies that open after Thanksgiving. It’s called the Persistence of Memory Effect.

“There’s another factor. A lot of academy voters don’t choose the ‘best’ in some categories, but ‘the most advantageous for the movie industry.’ Hollywood churns out violent crap every weekend and then puts on a nice face by supporting a respectable picture at Oscar time. I mean that not as a criticism of The King’s Speech, which is a terrific film, but as an observation. A British historical drama about a brave man struggling to overcome a disability and then leading his people into World War II looks better to the academy than a cutting-edge portrait of hyperactive nerds.”