THE RUNDOWN: Flashback to 1930s Britain. George VI (Colin Firth) is prepping to take his father’s (Dumbledore, er Michael Gambon) place on the throne. Although he has got the passion and know-how to be king, two very big things are holding him back: his technically-next-in-line-but-not-politically-motivated brother, Edward (Guy Pearce) and his speech impediment. Yes, his speech impediment. You see, George had had a stammer, which prevents him from forming full, traditionally-flowy sentences in front of even his closest friends and family, including his wife and soon-to-queen, Elizabeth I (Helena Bonham Carter), for as long as he can remember. So naturally, everytime he tries to speak to Brit public, he comes across as the opposite of a leader: unconfident and unsure of himself and his words. In an effort to change all that and help her hubby guide his nation through an oncoming storm – Britain’s entry in WWII—Elizabeth takes George to a speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The rest is a truly inspiring retelling of a true tale of bromance and confidence-building.
WHY IT’S GOLDEN: This film has been praised (and nominated) countless times, but the buzz has been mostly about the heart-warming story and Colin Firth’s performance as George VI. If you ask me, those aren’t even the strongest points of the film. What makes this film more than a droning, stuffy historical drama is its unexpected quirkiness. While most are anxious about the film’s best pic and best actor noms, it’s also deservingly nominated for cinematography, best director and score. Some shots are daringly off centre, silences are equally as important as dialogue, and piano keys lightly bounce throughout scenes. It’s a box office “king” that dares to be a bit artsy. – Michelle
WHY IT’S NOT: Aside from an especially wickedly witty detour into sailor-speak (swearing, Lionel swears, is a great anti-stutter technique), The King’s Speech doesn’t really lead us into uncharted cinematic territory. Like most every historical drama, it sounds interesting enough at the outset (the king can’t talk!), but is actually rather slow-moving—until the obvious, overwrought and way-heavily scored ending (spoiler alert: the king actually can talk if he really tries!). And while that’s perfectly acceptable, you have to wonder if it truly represents where filmmaking at this particular moment in time. Some people also seem to have a problem with the fact that it brushes over the political struggles of the time (with the exception of the random mentions of Hitler and the war) and focuses on the personal struggles of one (albeit very important!) man. – Emily
THE FINAL VERDICT: This film is the top contender for the crown, only possibly to be overthrown by The Social Network. As for the other 11 noms, it’s sure to take a bite out of those as well.