"The King's Speech" may have received the most nominations this year from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., but in the end, the biggest prizes of the night went to the modern-day story of the founding of Facebook, "The Social Network."
"I think people are hungry for a movie that comments on how we live," said "Social Network" producer Scott Rudin on Sunday night after the film took away four prizes, including score, screenplay, director and picture. "It may be about people typing and talking. but it was done with bravado and genuine emotional authenticity."
The film has dominated the critics' prizes to date, and now with its Golden Globe Awards, it's gained momentum for the rest of the awards season, which will culminate with the Oscars on Feb. 27.
Some are comparing the film's trajectory to that of Fox Searchlight's "Slumdog Millionaire," which began the 2008-09 award season in first place and never lost steam. But there are a few hurdles "The Social Network" must overcome before it can close in on the top prize. The guild awards begin next weekend, with the Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 22 and the Screen Actors Guild Awards the following Sunday. Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 25.
It's likely the producers will go the way of "The Social Network," but there is no guarantee that SAG will follow. The strong ensemble cast of "The Fighter" may prove too tempting a choice for the actors guild. Sony is clearly looking for SAG support for the David Fincher-directed film, having sent screeners to all 93,000 members of the large guild. (Many other award contenders have opted for the less expensive high-tech option of free screeners by way of iTunes.)
One stumbling block to an ultimate Oscar win for "The Social Network" could be the film's lack of warmth and uplift. 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.
As for the acting race, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. effectively showcased what will be the most-anticipated showdown of the year, between Natalie Portman for her role in "Black Swan" and Annette Bening for her performance in "The Kids Are All Right." Both women won Sunday night in the drama/comedy categories, respectively. It will now be very interesting to see which way the academy leans, choosing Bening, who's been nominated three times but has never taken home the big prize, or Portman, who dedicated a year of her life to ballet training in advance of her role as the Swan Queen.
With regards to the actor race, despite a lot of attention to James Franco's tour de force in "127 Hours," Firth, the winner of the Golden Globe for best actor in the drama category, is likely to go through the rest of the season collecting trophies. Let's just hope he's got a lot of different ideas for speeches.
As for "The Social Network" filmmakers, it feels like it's their race to lose, a prospect that could portend a very dull awards season. But for Aaron Sorkin, winner of Sunday's screenwriting prize, that's just fine by him. "I hope it stays this boring the whole way through," he said with a smirk.
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: David Fincher accepts the best director Golden Globe on Sunday night. Credit: Getty Images