I was watching the Oscar’s Sunday night and reading and listening to some post-Oscar commentary on Monday. I’m not going to go so far as to say that The King’s Speech and it’s director Tom Hooper winning over The Social Network and it’s director David Fincher is a travesty, but I am going to say that I strongly believe that history will bear out that The Social Network and Fincher’s directing left a more important mark on films than Hooper and his film.
I have not seen The King’s Speech yet, and the last time I thought it was an outrage that one movie did not win an Oscar was when Pan’s Labyrinth lost to The Lives of Others for Best Foreign Film. I had seen Pan’s Labyrinth and was blown away by it. I did not see The Lives of Others until a few years later, only to realize that it was a completely deserved win.
Having said all of that, I am fine with saying that Colin Firth deserved to win the Oscar for Best Actor in The King’s Speech. I just don’t understand how The Social Network was considered the clear-cut best movie of the year for three solid months only to have that opinion change sometime in January to The King’s Speech. Where did the momentum come from? I don’t know the answer to that, but I have a hard time feeling like it was deserved. I will certainly be watching it as soon as it is available on Netflix, but it is going to have to blow me away to sway me from my conviction that the better movie did not win on Oscar night.
I think the biggest question that does not get asked enough is “Which movies from this year will stand the test of time?” In other words, when people look back at the movies of 2010, which ones will define the year? This year, I think the answer to that question is The Social Network, Inception, and Toy Story 3. It can be tough to judge that sometimes without the help of time.
Looking back though, you can’t in all seriousness say that Forrest Gump was a better movie than Pulp Fiction or The Shawshank Redemption in 1994. Or that Ordinary People is a better movie than Raging Bull, which is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. As much as I love Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the defining movie of 2000. It’s a shame that too often the best movie in the long run is not awarded Best Picture. As good as The King’s Speech may be, I think it’s going to be an entirely forgettable movie in 5-10 years outside of the performance of Colin Firth.
As for Fincher, The Social Network is a movie that finds a director at the apex of his powers. And I say that as someone who has Se7en and Fight Club in my list of all-time favorite movies. The Social Network will probably be the best movie that David Fincher ever makes. And it’s a shame that he is turning into the Martin Scorsese of this generation of filmmakers.
Take a minute and look at his IMDB resume. There is not an awful film on the list. A case can be made again Alien 3 and Panic Room, but he did the best job possible under the circumstances; a troubled production with the former and a limited story with the latter. Se7en is arguably one of the best movies of the 90s. The Game is eminently re-watchable. Fight Club is a modern classic. Zodiac is brilliant. Benjamin Button has mass appeal and groundbreaking from a technological standpoint. But the man has a bad reputation around Hollywood. Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke commented during the Oscars that “Fincher has been and apparently still is wildly unpopular in Hollywood because of his unmitigated arrogance which people who like him describe as iconoclasm. Someone at Paramount once told me a hilarious anecdote about how David refused to bow down to Oprah just to have her publicize his movie Benjamin Buttons. And everybody was saying to him, ‘But this is so important. You don’t understand,’ and he’s like ‘I don’t give a damn about Oprah’. On that I totally agree with him. But that’s what causes you to lose Oscars because this is first and foremost a popularity contest, folks.” It’s a shame. Fincher will hopefully continue to make quality movies and eventually he will get recognized, hopefully.
And while we’re on the subject of really good directors, how about wondering what is going on in the minds of the Oscar voters when it comes to Christopher Nolan? Not even nominated for Best Director? What gives? Nolan and Fincher are arguably the best directors making movies right now, and Inception was a film that knocked it out of the park. And again, like Fincher, doesn’t have a sour note on his resume.
I know it’s pretty pointless to get riled up about the Oscars, because they continually miss the boat on so many things. But I love watching movies. I like seeing things turn out the way they should. I’m sure there are probably people out there that disagree with my assessments; maybe even some people who think that Crash was a deserving winner of Best Picture. At the very least, I can take some comfort in the words of Steven Spielberg on Sunday night mentioning that there are a lot of great, memorable movies that lost out on Best Picture that have withstood the test of time far more than the winners did.