The King's Speech is likely to win a clutch of Oscars on Sunday but Jack Houghton has found a value call in the Best Picture category.
The Social Network is a huge price at 5.5 to pick up the Best Picture award at the Oscars on Sunday night. I don't say this because of some deeply held artistic belief in David Fincher's film - to be honest with you, I haven't seen it - but because there are signs telling us that it is the American-written, American-made, contemporary all-American story that will prevail over the British-made story of a long-dead stuttering king.
That was certainly the view when betting opened on the event. Betfair punters offered The Social Network as their 1.6 favourite, mirroring the opinions of the Vegas oddsmakers who priced it up at anywhere between 1-3 and 4-6. But since then, there has been the most almighty betting flip-flop. Much of this has been driven by The King's Speech winning a couple of small-time Oscar warm-up gongs - the Producers Guild of America award and the Directors Guild of America - as well as picking up the BAFTA for Best Film.
The conspiracy theorists also suggest that The King's Speech PR team has been working overtime on the Academy's estimated 6,000 voters. This supposedly anonymous group are much-maligned for their conservative taste in film and so, the logic goes, it won't take much to persuade them to cast their vote for a film about that most conservative of institutions: the Royal Family.
There might be something in all this, but even a cursory glance back over recent Best Picture winners and defeated nominees suggests there is little in the way of a discernible pattern when it comes to the type of film that gets the eventual nod. Was the third Lord of the Rings flick the traditionalists' choice? Was Million Dollar Baby more conservative than The Aviator? Did Crash only win because the homophobic Academy rejected Brokeback and Capote? It's difficult to tell. It could just be that, each and every year, what must be a fairly disparate group of individuals vote for their favourite film, and one gets more votes than the others.
What has been clear in the past is that the Golden Globes are a relatively good predictor of Oscar success. In 59 years, the winner of the Globe for Best Drama has gone on to Oscar Best Picture success on 30 occasions. The Social Network was the most decorated film at this year's Golden Globes, picking up awards for best director, best screenplay, best score and, yes, best drama.
The King's Speech will certainly win its fair share of Oscars, but at the prices, The Social Network is the value call for Best Picture.
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