‘The King’s Speech’ Wins Producer’s Guild of America Award, Opens Oscar Race

by Aly Semigran

With just one more day to go until the nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards are announced, the race suddenly just got very interesting.

Had you asked movie critics and buffs alike a few weeks ago which film was going to win Best Picture at the 2011 Oscars, you would have unequivocally been told the modern history game-changer “The Social Network” was walking away with the big prize. But, since then, the emotional biopic “The King’s Speech” has stepped up to the mic and shaken things up. While David Fincher’s “Social Network” had all but swept the awards season leading up to this point, Tom Hooper’s “King’s Speech” made an upset by winning the Producer’s Guild of America award on Saturday.

The film, which stars Oscar front-runners Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, not only beat out “The Social Network,” but fellow nominated films “127 Hours,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3″ (which won at PGA for Animation) and “True Grit.”

So why is this one win such a big deal for “The King’s Speech”? If the Academy’s history with the PGA holds steady with the way it has over the past three years, it could be heading to the podium for Best Picture. Since 2008, the movies that won Producer’s Guild of America (“No Country For Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Hurt Locker”) have gone on to do just that.

One could even argue that it’s a three-way Best Picture race, with “The Fighter” getting a late-in-the-game boost. It not only tied “The King’s Speech” for most Screen Actor’s Guild nominations (with four each) but support for its cast, including Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo could make it the official dark horse upset.

Still, don’t count “The Social Network” out. It got an earlier start in the Oscar race with its October release and its awards season run thus far has been nothing to frown at. Not to mention that run could be extended with the SAG Awards on Sunday as its cast (which includes likely Oscar nominees Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield) vies for Best Ensemble alongside “The King’s Speech,” “The Fighter,” “Black Swan” and “The Kids Are All Right.”

While both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” deal with leadership, friendship and communication, they both appeal to different sets of Oscar voters, which should lead to an unpredictable finale, to say the least.

Who do you think will take home the Best Picture Oscar?