Saturday, 2 June 2012

Best of the Best: The Kings Speech vs. The Artist


I've decided to try something new here at the Oscars Project. It's something I've entitled "Best of the Best". I'm going to pit 2 Best Pictures against each other, and lay out who I think would win. I'll try to make it as random and unbiased as possible. Sometimes I'll pit similar films against each other, sometimes old vs recent, sometimes I'll randomly select 2 films.

To start it off, I thought I'd do something recent, and relevant. The King's Speech (2010) vs. The Artist (2011). To me these 2 films are, in a way, similar. Both are about a man struggling with finding his voice. While Bertie, in the King's Speech was thrust into the limelight or being a King, George, in the Artist, was highly regarded and was suddenly cast down. Both are about a man's journey as he finds where he's meant to be, and finds their voice. Both learn to "speak".

The King's Speech was met with critical acclaim. It was first shown at the Telluride Film Festival, but really got it's start just a little bit later in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where it got a standing ovation and won the People's Choice Award. From there it picked up steam. However, when it came to awards season, there was another movie that came along. The Social Network. Most of the awards were pretty split between TKS and TSN. However, many called The King's Speech an Oscar-bait film, being a period piece, a true story, and about British Royalty, with a dab of WWII. It was also deemed a "feel good" film, many people saying it is a good thing, and others, not so much. While it sits with a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, many also felt it was the "safe" choice that year, beating out edgier films like The Social Network and Black Swan.

Aside from that, the King's Speech gave some incredible performances. Colin Firth picked up his first Oscar for the performance, and rightly so. He played the stuttering future King Bertie to perfection, and made us feel empathetic. He was able to capture the humor, but also the sorrow of the situation delightfully. Geoffrey Rush was also nominated, and did a splendid performance as Bertie's speech coach, Lionel. He was quirky and spunky, but was brave and honest. Helena Bonham Carter was charming and a bit snooty, but very loving. Also nominated.

The Artist, on the other hand, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011 and is a silent, black and white film. Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor Award, and the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The film was popular in many Film festivals, and when it came to Awards Season, the movie picked up tons of awards, with no real "second place" movie. It sits with a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. And while it was extremely popular, many called it "gimmicky", because of it being a silent films, shot in the aspect ratios of the 20s/30s, and being in black and white. They said the story was a mix of Singin' In the Rain, and A Star is Born, and that it wasn't very original, and was predictable. Another film that was deemed Oscar-bait, for being different and not being "very daring".  However, the music, the performances, the costumes, were all praised. Jean Dujardin spent most of the season in a tight race with  George Clooney for Best Actor, but won out on Oscar Night.

Being silent, the performances and the music were on a pretty high expectation. The music would have to carry the film in a way that sound movies don't. And the actors would have to express everything without talking. However, these worries were quickly set aside. Jean Dujardin, who plays the charming George Valentin, looks as though he really is from another era. He has the most expressive face, and has such a smile. And his little mustache! You'd think you were actually watching a movie from the 1930s. Berenice Bejo, additionally, was so phenomenal. She was perky and peppy (excuse the pun), and just a bubble of fun. You'd believe she really was a film star from the silent days.

But who wins? Both films had similar complaints laid against them. They were too feel good, they were too safe, and the performances were stronger than the story line. The films were even nominated for the same things. The Artist, having 10 nominations, and the King's Speech having 12, all 10 that The Artist was nominated for, The King's Speech was too (the only difference being screenplay and supporting actor).

What the King's Speech has going for it is the performances. Colin Firth is thrilling and perfect, and Geoffrey Rush is great. What the Artist has going for it is the performances, and the fact that it's a silent film, in black and white.

Verdict: I think the Artist is going to take this one. (Though I enjoy The King's Speech more than The Artist, though I love them both)

Not only was it more loved than The King's Speech, but it also had no other competition that year, like The King's Speech had The Social Network. The Artist is a lot more different than The King's Speech, and it did something unique. How can a cute, well-acted and directed film, that's silent and b&w lose? It's something that sticks out in your mind a bit more than a period piece about a British Monarch. However, I'd say that Colin Firth would beat out Jean Dujardin. Dujardin was great, but Firth truly, truly nailed it for me.

Sound off in the comments if you agree/disagree. Did I pick the right winner? For the right reasons? Or was I completely off? You let me know!
Or if you have suggestions for next time's Best of the Best, write them down there too.


  1. I have to argue with you about one little thing that you said near the end of your article. You said that The King's Speech had major competition in The Social Network, but that The Artist had none. I think that The Artist did indeed have a major competitor in Hugo. It was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Director and Picture, and I even thought that by the end of the night, it was possibly going to upset The Artist for Best Picture. Just my 2 cents. :-)

  2. Good point! However when I meant that The Artist had no big competition, I meant that it swept all the "Best Picture" awards of the season (except the SAG, which was Best Ensemble and the Help completely deserved it). Hugo was definitely competition, but never really gave it as big a run for it's money as Social Network did for King's Speech. But thanks for the comment, Hugo definitely was competition and I hadn't thought much about that.