“One stumbling block to an ultimate Oscar win for The Social Network could be the film’s lack of warmth and uplift,” L.A. Times “Awards Tracker” columnist Nicole Sperling wrote yesterday morning. “It’s a modern and edgy story, but there’s relatively little emotional connection with the characters. The King’s Speech, on the other hand, has audiences rooting for Colin Firth‘s King George VI and winds up on an emotional high note, a tone often embraced by academy voters.”
If I were Sperling I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to trot this one out again. I know that it’s gotten to the point that my body suffers an involuntary muscle spasm (the kind that I used to get whenever I’d trip on acid or mescaline in my early 20s) when I hear it. It’s the core rationale of the King’s Speech-predicting Guru cabal. Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone has explained/argued again and again and again that the “emotional warmth = Oscar gold” equation began to count for less and less starting about five years ago. No Country For Old Men wasn’t an emotional backrub movie; nor was The Hurt Locker.
On top of which the difference between The King’s Speech and The Social Network is the difference between (a) “very well crafted” and “highly satisfying” with a comfortable “triumph over a personal foible” theme and (b) distilled, jewel-cut, zero-body-fat perfection that re-animates classic themes about ambition, greed and betrayal.
I can only surmise that those who can’t let go of the “not emotional enough” argument are doing so for reasons of their own. They won’t give it up because it’s in their nerves and their flesh and the marrow of their bones, and is stronger than whatever conclusion their odds-analyzing, reality-facing side might be telling them.