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Oscars: Why 'The King's Speech' will win best picture Sunday

February 25, 2011 |  4:49 pm

The Kings Speech Oscar Win Peter Brown recently wrote an impassioned piece for Politics Daily about why "The King's Speech" shouldn't win for best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards because of its historical inaccuracies.

This view has nothing to do with the movie itself, but with the false impression it leaves that King George VI was the historical figure who rallied the British people during their darkest hours of World War II.

That figure, of course, was Winston Churchill.

By focusing on the small picture of King George VI's struggle with stuttering and how his overcoming it represented a remarkable individual triumph, however, the movie misses the big picture.

At the film's end, the screen fades to black and then tells us:

"Through his wartime speeches the king became a symbol of national resistance."

Perhaps so, but we need to be clear here.

The British leader whose mastery of the spoken word was most responsible for the country standing up to Germany in World War II, especially in the dark days before the United States entered the war, was not King George but Churchill.

My wish that the movie not win the biggest award in the film world stems from my belief that popular culture's power often leads public opinion to the wrong conclusion.

By that logic, "The Social Network" -- another inspirational film about how an odd character used technology to help shape the world we live in, and the other favorite to win best picture -- should also lose because, according to Mark Zuckerberg, the film got several facts wrong.

But if you want to win your Oscar pool Sunday, don't stumble over issues of historical accuracy -- Aaron Sorkin and David Seidler, after all, are screenwriters, not biographers.

Continue reading for how to predict Sunday's Oscar wins.

According to statistician Nate Silver, the odds are in favor of "The King's Speech" winning.

As I've noted, although "The King’s Speech" and "The Social Network" have won a roughly equal number of awards, "The King's Speech" has won those that matter most, like the awards from the directors' and producers' guilds. The statistical case for "The Social Network" rests on its victory at the Golden Globes, which does have some predictive power; the psychological one probably depends on it now having become the underdog since "The King's Speech" has been on such a winning streak. Nevertheless -- although we're retiring the pretense of decimal-point precision this year in favor of a softer, gentler approach -- "The King's Speech" is overwhelmingly more likely to win.

Gautam Dutta, a business and election lawyer, agrees. Writing for Zócalo Public Square, he deduces:

I've studied and advocated for ranked choice voting systems for years. Here is my educated guess of how this race breaks down -– and how the use of ranked choice voting will shape the result.

Although King's Speech probably heads into the polls as the top vote getter, it will fall short of a majority of first place votes (50 percent plus 1) in a crowded field.
So Best Picture will come down to whether King's Speech or Social Network get enough second-choice rankings to push either over 50 percent.

Here's my take on which of these Oscar favorites would be the second choice of the other seven nominees:

1. King’s Speech – second choice of fans of Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, and Fighter
2. Social Network – second choice of fans of Inception and The Kids Are All Right
3. Black Swan – second choice of fans of True Grit and Winter’s Bone

Based on this lineup, I would give King's Speech the edge. It is the sort of contestant built for a ranked choice contest, in that it offers something for everyone, and is likely to pile up second-choice and third-choice rankings.


Stuttering: It's on everyone's lips now

Banksy was here -- we think

Photos: Banksy redefines the Oscar campaign

Meghan Daum: During Oscar season, a rebel in a company town

'True Grit' vs. 'The Social Network'

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech." Credit: Weinstein Co.

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