Opinion: Why The King’s Speech Deserves More Love

The Oscars can ruin modest work.

Little films like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno feel elevated into larger conversations with their best original screenplay wins which are bad enough. But if one of these films should win the top prize, it’s devastating. The Artist was a lovely bit of cotton candy that suddenly had to answer for a status it didn’t need. Ordinary People is generally considered one of the best films of the 1980s, but because it won Best Picture over Raging Bull, it will forever have an asterisk. And the less said about the wonderful Shakespeare in Love the better because it will never escape this shadow.

That’s the fate that befell The King’s Speech. When I mentioned to a friend that I was writing on it, they immediately assumed I was going to tear into it. After all, it beat films including audience favorites Toy Story 3 and Inception, critical favorites like Black Swan and Winter’s Bone, and most unforgivably the audience and critical smash The Social Network. No matter what I say about this film, I have to argue that film.

I can’t of course. The Social Network absolutely should have won best picture. It was timely in 2010 and it’s somehow more timely now. It’s a meticulously crafted film with justly Oscar winning work from Aaron Sorkin and the scoring debut of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. David Fincher absolutely deserved best director. It wasn’t my favorite of the nominees–I prefer 127 Hours, Inception, and Winter’s Bone–but it’s an all time great in an absolutely ridiculous year.

The thing is that doesn’t mean The King’s Speech isn’t a great film too. It’s not on the same tier as those but I don’t think it was meant as that. It’s a warm fuzzy holiday movie about nice people that’s frequently laugh out loud funny. And approached on that level? It’s one of the filmds I keep in constant rotation.

The most obvious thing I have to note is that I approach this film from the perspective of someone with a neurological disorder. I’m autistic–reminder of what site you’re on–so I relate to stuttering. I understand the hell of not expressing yourself clearly. And David Seidler wrote this film from a first person perspective as a stutterer. The film is as much autobiography as it is biography with the scene that got the film an R rating taken from his life. The authenticity the film brings to this struggle in a way so many films don’t sets it apart.

It’s a deeply human film too. Are the characters sanded down? Yes. But I also can’t separate the fact that like Albert in this, I’m the father to at least one girl. I love that the film depicts fatherhood as the highest good. Albert and Lionel are both devoted fathers who reflect non toxic masculinity . Albert is also depicted as a deeply loving husband, a fact it pleases me to note is apparently very hard fact. I did look it up and the way their marriage is portrayed is indeed highly accurate.

The film is a marvel of craft too. Which means I have to discuss Tom Hooper. I feel like we misunderstand Hooper. He isn’t bad at directing. He’s not good at directing large films though. He thrives on intimacy. This movie is basically a stage play and he has a gift at finding the music in the scenes. Hooper needs more of this because this is his gift.

And now I come to the indisputable Oscar this won. Colin Firth’s win is brushed off as a make good for A Single Man. Nah. This is a thoroughly worthy win. Firth is an immensely potent force in this film and he’s matched by two equally fantastic supporting turns. Geoffrey Rush has never been better than he is here. Sure, he’s not straining as an Australian actor. But he’s so likable and funny he’s on fire. And I can’t say enough good about Helena Bonham Carter here. She’d gotten lost in the years of playing weird, dark roles and it’s easy to forget she started as an English rose. She’s the definition of a strong woman here, which again was her actual character. Also credit to Guy Pearce who is so slimy here. He’s great. Though yes the film needed to be much harder on his character.

Now here’s the thing. I’ve made a good case for this as a crowd pleaser. And the film did decent box office. But I still heard it discussed as homework. SNL had a joke about one of its sketches being the movie so now you’ve seen it. By which point I’d seen it twice in theaters. It was treated bizarrely as too stuffy for the mainstream and not good enough for high art. Which is true?

I think the film is a lovely film for a wide audience. And it’s come for me to symbolize how the Oscars force the conversation I began with, This is a minor film, the kind you watch on TNT. But it’s the kind of film you always stop to watch when it’s on TNT. It’s of a piece with The Shawshank Redemption. It shouldn’t have to carry the weight of the best film of an all time great year.

The Oscars really do ruin how we discuss films by putting extremes on them. When there isn’t a choose only one. Do I want only Inception, Best Worst Movie, or Winter’s Bone from 2010, to name three films I saw in a week? No. I’m better for seeing all. I’m better for seeing The Social Network. I’m better for seeing 127 Hours. I’m better for seeing True Grit. I’m better for seeing Scott Pilgrim vs the World. And yes, I’m better for seeing The King’s Speech.

Don’t watch it for high art. But watch it to get a well made piece of art.


‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ Review: The Death of Innocence in a World of Blue


NOTE: This is a revised review that best represents my current thoughts on the film as opposed to my previous review. You can read the original right here.

Twin Peaks is one of the most influential television series ever made but the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me has never enjoyed the same sort of acclaim – having been met with harsh reviews and also having flopped at the box office. I’m fairly biased in the favour of Twin Peaks as it is my favourite television series of all time but throughout the show you could always tell that Lynch had a particular love for the character of the deceased Laura Palmer. In fact, there are few people whose entire mystery has impacted an entire culture the same way that Laura Palmer has done so, and no one understands the effect her death has left upon many that same way David Lynch does. Yet few people knew her as a person too, which emphasizes the tragic beauty of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

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Get Out – Some Second Thoughts


NOTE: This is a revised opinion that represents my current thoughts as opposed to my previous review. You can find the original review right here.

When I first saw Get Out in the theater, I came out thinking that it was merely good; yet it managed to stick inside of my head far more in the days that came afterward. Not merely because of the fact that I was stunned Jordan Peele of all people was the director, but the scathing social commentary of this work is one among many things that makes Get Out among the most effective films of our own time. Effective in a sense that it plays as a reminder that we must change for the better and not just wear it on our sleeves that we are going to “accept” a change in pace. But because Jordan Peele chooses to tell us this story as a horror film, it gives us a grasp on a greater truth. It may not strike on the first watch, but knowing more about the world it presents and how it reflects our own is the most terrifying thing that Get Out opens us to.

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