Hammond On 'King's Speech' Win At PGA

If The Social Network had been able to pull off a Best Picture win at the Producers Guild Awards Saturday night, as most everyone had expected, it might have been on an unstoppable path to doing the same at the Academy Awards. But it didn’t. The King’s Speech won. Now the race is on. For the second straight year, the PGA did the unexpected  and may have a major impact on the Oscar contest as it moves into its final phase. Last year Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, came into the PGA ceremony with a head a steam and expectations of a win. Instead the PGA, which was always thought to favor box office winners, stunned the room by choosing The Hurt Locker, the lowest grossing movie nominated. And the rest is history.

Preferential balloting played a part in both victories. The PGA, like the Academy, instituted that system where voters must rank their choices from one to 10 with the most weight given to their top films. It favors consensus choices. At the very least it’s a game changer that opens up the field again just as The Social Network had hoped to close it. As Mark Wahlberg, star and producer of the nominated film The Fighter said to me as he exited the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom, “This is very good for us,” meaning the presumed frontrunner’s momentum has stalled — at least this weekend. Graham King, producer of another nominee The Town, told me it’s all getting “very interesting.”

It’s entirely possible that next weekend’s two major guild award ceremonies — the DGA and SAG — could result in two different movies taking top prizes. The Social Network’s David Fincher is a current favorite to be named the DGA’s Best Director, while The Fighter could very easily pick off the Best Cast ensemble prize at SAG causing a mixed result that could really shake up this race.

Then again it’s that SAG award that Harvey Weinstein, distributor of King’s Speech also has his eye on. Before Saturday’s ceremony, The King’s Speech screenwriter David Seidler told me The Weinstein Company was sending him Sunday on a tour of cities with heavy SAG populations to do Q&A appearances after screenings of the film. “Harvey thinks we can win the SAG Ensemble Cast award”, Seidler told me as he prepares to hit San Diego, San Francisco, and Las Vegas among other cities before ballots are due in next Friday.

DGA ballots also aren’t due until Friday so it’s an open question what impact, if any, the PGA results will have on those all-important Guild contests. A DGA win, plus an inevitable WGA win for Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay on February 5th (where King’s Speech is ineligible), could put The Social Network back in the driver’s seat making this loss just a bump in what has been a very smooth road so far for the film that has dominated critics awards and the Golden Globes. Then again, The King’s Speech is likely to lead in nominations when Oscar nods are announced on Tuesday with what I think will be a minimum of 11 giving it more bragging rights just when they count most. The past three films to win the Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures have gone on to similarly triumph on Oscar night.

No matter what happens later, it was a night to remember for the three English producers of the film — Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin — who were toasting each other with champagne after making their elegant and heartfelt ‘thank you’s. Presenter Helen Mirren, star of The Queen, asked as she looked at the envelope, “Is this a set up?” Because ‘The Queen’ got to announce the ‘King’. Director Tom Hooper appeared dumbfounded afterwards. “I just came along to have a good time. I didn’t expect this at all,”  he told me. He was still gobsmacked  as he grabbed a copy of Deadline’s 5th Awards Print Edition in the hotel lobby and left to meet his car.  An excited Weinstein awards consultant was in the lobby calling Harvey in Sundance and telling him the good news. “He couldn’t believe  it. He’s thrilled.  He said  ‘You told me we weren’t gonna win. This is big’.”

The first three hours of the PGA ceremony weren’t nearly as dramatic as its final three minutes but they certainly had their moments, notably a touching tribute led by David Fincher to cancer stricken producer Laura Ziskin who won the Visionary Award. There was a nice presentation to Sean Penn who received the Stanley Kramer award for his work in Haiti, and another to James Cameron who won the Milestone Award. Larry Gordon presented Scott Rudin with the prestigious David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures by calling him “the greatest living producer”. Gordon noted that Rudin had pulled off the rare feat of producing two PGA nominees, The Social Network and True Grit, and predicted he will become one of the very few to do the same thing at the Oscars. In his acceptance speech, Rudin honored the role of a producer. “I love this job. I have wanted to do it since I was 8 years old.”

Judd Apatow was an amusing host and, as promised in his tweets this week, tried to one-up Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais whom he noted had made headlines in the same room less than a week earlier. “I’m an American. That was problem #1 the other night,” Apatow explained. He proceeded to skewer Gervais saying he had heard Ricky’s Charlie Sheen jokes on Leno the week before and criticized him for knocking Cher who has been in the business for over 40 years. “Ricky Gervais  does 12 episodes of a TV show, gets tired, and shuts it down,” countered Apatow.

Like Gervais, Apatow had his own funny lines at the expense of those in the audience. “They made Scott Rudin’s award out of nerf material so when he throws it at his assistant it won’t hurt,” he quipped. He also presented some video pieces including a Skype (who were sponsoring) session with Academy Awards host James Franco who promised to use some of Apatow’s best jokes on the Oscars where people will “actually see your stuff.”

But it was that surprising final award that left many in the crowd ‘speechless’.  As they left the ballroom, two of The Social Network’s producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti walked out carrying the gratis RealD’s 3D glasses. “Well, at least we got these,” De Luca said with a laugh.

  1. Apatow doesn’t have to worry about shutting his own series down… networks do that for him.

  2. Hi Pete, great article. Just to clear up one minor detail that people might be forgetting – Iain Canning & Emile Sherman, two of the three producers of The King’s Speech, are Australians, not Brits, and the film itself is a UK/Australia co-production.

    But what a great surprise to have it win to shake this Oscar season up, even if only temporarily.

  3. Okay, this reeks of jealousy or something. The King’s Speech is a perfectly fine, perfectly ball-less movie. Who the FUCK cares about the royal family? Come on. Whether we like it or not, The Social Network is about US. It’s about the world we live in. The producers of Social Network took a major risk making this movie. The King’s Speech follows the same fucking BEAT STRUCTURE as Good Will Hunting, The Karate Kid – any movie with a mentor/mentee relationship. The Social Network took a chance on a not necessarily lovable protagonist and a unique structure. PLEASE, people. Reward innovation. The King’s Speech could have been made ten years ago. IT’s such ON THE NOSE OScar bait – like Winslet playing a repentant German in a Holocaust movie. Comic, cliche, bullshit.

    1. I agree. The Kings Speech is so BORING and cookie cutter. Well made and Oscar bait, but best film? Please.

    2. I liked the social network, but i would hardly call that innovation. You want to talk about innovation — Inception should win. If you want something that moves you, than the fighter should win.

    3. Well, you obviously have a horse in the race, or you wouldn’t be so upset over this. Probably Dana Bruenetti, who posts here all the time.

      1. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Dana went from being Kevin Spacey’s assistant to possibly winning an Oscar for being one of the producers of “The Social Network.” Me thinks that’s quite an accomplishment! He probably deserves it. If Kevin needs a new assistant ……………..

  4. Little miss sunshine won the producers guild, deservedly and should have gotten the oscar, so although it is nice that the social network is not getting everything in sight, it truly is not as meaningful. It should be inception by the way — are producers and directors unable to see and understand the level of great filmmaking that inception is?

  5. So thrilled “The King’s Speech” won. People always say “Private Ryan” was robbed but truthfully “Shakespeare in Love” is by far the better film. Not to say Ryan isn’t terrific. Apples and Oranges.

    To have “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” be released in a year so dismal for film is a wonderful wake up call to these studio morons. Audiences want intelligent, engaging stories of inspiration and triumph. And these films deliver both.

    Maybe Hollywood doesn’t have to be so snarky after all.

    1. If it’s apples and oranges like you say, then how can Shakespeare in Love be “by far the better film”?

  6. “Last year Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, came into the PGA ceremony with a head a steam and expectations of a win. Instead the PGA, which was always thought to favor box office winners, stunned the room by choosing The Hurt Locker, the lowest grossing movie nominated. And the rest is history.”

    ‘The Hurt Locker’ was still the front-runner last year, even before the PGA Ceremony. Other than the Globes, what major pre-cursor had it won leading up to the PGA Ceremony?

    1. I agree the only reason that anyone thought avatar MIGHT win was because it was a big budget movie.

      They had the 10 films last year, was the voting not done the same way last year as well?

  7. This win is huge, not only because it evens out the race a little, but because Sony is outspending everyone at least five-to-one on buying the Oscar for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and this shows that at least some voters actually bother to watch both movies and really consider which is the better work of art, as a whole. If KING’S SPEECH, THE FIGHTER, BLACK SWAN or many others had even half the awards budget that TSN has, we’d be seeing a lot of different results from the critics’ circles and other corners.

    I also happen to prefer it when a true story is actually…you know…true, instead of a complete fabrication in order to make a better movie.

    1. the social network doesn’t need to BUY anything — it has won every critics award out there — and although i don’t think it’s the best picture of the year — it is certainly better than black swan. It is inception that should be spending the money to get the word out there.

      PGA do not always match.

      1. Thus proving the point that the more money you spend hosting dinners for critics, the more awards you garner, and the less likely anyone is to tell you that some other emperor (or “King”) has better clothes.

        1. the hurt locker had no money, yet won every major critics awards and if you are that cynical — avatar with all the money in the world would have won.

  8. I like this because it will create suspense on Oscar night. Much needed. Truth be told I’m fine with either winning. My favorite was Inception but that seems out of the question.

  9. If the Oscar goes to King’s Speech, it will be a sad replay of Crash over Brokeback Mountain. That movie is all about Firth and Rush and they’re award-worthy. The rest of it is total mediocrity. To think it could beat out any of the other films, particularly for the SAG trophy, is scary. Bonham Carter was game as the Queen Mum, but hardly memorable. Gambon is a tremendous presence no matter where he shows up, but he had precious little to do. Jennifer Ehle is attractive, if bland, and was miscast. Worst of all, Claire Bloom was completely wrong for Queen Mary, a battleship of a royal if there ever was one, and she’s too pretty even in old age to play that gorgon. Still, King’s Speech is what the old guard really loves The Beethoven 7th in the background of the final speech was just the last straw for me. I hope at least the SAG goes to The Fighter. Every member of that cast, down to each of the blonde monster daughters of Melissa Leo, was indelible on screen.

    1. Sorry but the social network is no brokeback mountain. and the kings speech winning would not be that bad but i would prefer Inception, the fighter or scott pilgrim.

  10. I wouldn’t go so far as to call “Inception” as innovating cinema because while it was entertaining and pretty creative and definitely one of the best films of the year, it just seemed too much of a visual spectacle, and honestly the ensemble really didn’t impact me at all. It was cool, but to say that it was better than “The Social Network” is a stretch.

    “The King’s Speech” is supposed to be motivational and inspiring, just like “The Blind Side”. I haven’t seen it, but just about every critic agrees that Colin Firth’s performance was the best. That’s probably what the whole movie was going for, so I don’t know if this movie deserves the PGA award. Maybe it does, or maybe producers gave it to the movie just to shake things up a bit.

    1. I’ve seen the kings speech, colin firth is good and it is certainly than the mess of the black swan, but can someone please tell me what is so wonderful about the social network? It’s good — but it’s pretty straightforward and I do say that inception is still the better of the three.

  11. Y’know what I’d call innovative and daring?

    “TOY STORY 3″ for Best Picture!!!!!
    If not, my allegiance is with “THE KING’S SPEECH”.

    1. I’m with you, Toy Story 3 was definitely the best movie released in 2010 (or at least the best that meets the academy’s requirements for a best pic nomination). That said, if the hipsters and blue hairs don’t feel an animated is worthy for some reason then I would take The Social Network for Best Picture (though I would give Nolan Best Director).

  12. I think “Inception” is meant to be innovative in striving to, as Owen Gleiberman, put it turn what goes on internally out. I liked “The Social Network” better, but Sasha Stone who’s a HUGE TSN advocate noted that “Black Swan” and “Inception” are probably more in that direction. I thought Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt were pretty good.

    To tell you the truth, I have to respectfully disagree with the visual spectacle thing. There is definitely visual spectacle, but I’ve seen a fair number of movies focused heavily on eye-popping visuals, where the visuals are meant to “wow” amidst a lowsy story. I had a different experience with “Inception”–as many point out it’s really a movie about process…I was blown away by Paris folding, the gravity fight, and limbo city, but I think the “dream-within-a dream” concept is what lied at the heart of the movie, rather than showing off eye candy. How is this “dream within a dream” concept going to work out…and Jonah Weiner pointed out in Slate that the different levels can be read as proxies for derivatives. Dana Stevens, who was mixed towards the movie, noted that when someone mentions “Inception” you already have a connotation in your mind. I agree, and I don’t think that connotation is just visual.

  13. I don’t think Avatar really had much of a shot at winning the PGA, to be honest. The minute they changed everything to be preferential, Hurt Locker got the momentum. More people may have seen Avatar, but its hard to find many who actually took the movie seriously. And finding people who will admit they liked Avatar is about as difficult these days as finding people who admit they liked Titanic.

    Having said that, although I am still predicting Social Network for the Oscar, I wouldn’t be complaining if Kings Speech won. It is a great film and deserves all it gets.

  14. As Pete can tell you, the largest branch of the Academy is the Actors’ Branch. So the Academy usually gives Best Picture to the “actors’ pictures” (like “King’s Speech”, “Crash”, “Chicago”) the same year that they hand out the director award to a different movie’s long-overdue veteran (David Fincher, Ang Lee, Polanski) for making a more artful and ambitious movie.
    This year is looking like “The King’s Speech” for Best Picture and Fincher for Best Director.

    1. Ironically of all the big awards I think the one TSN is least deserving of is Best Director. TSN was much more of a screenplay driven film that a director’s film, and while there were a couple nifty tech tricks (tilt photograph for the boat race and the twins) I didn’t see anything all the fantastic in Fincher’s direction. (This is sort reverse version of why I thought The Hurt Locker should have won director but Inglourious Bastards should have taken Original Screenplay).

  15. Congratulations to all the Oscar Nominees they all have worked very hard at mastering their craft for all of us to enjoy. I wish them all the best and say ” Thank You All for sharing your Art.”

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