The truth of it is, in retrospect, what I failed to see is probably something a few people knew — that Weinstein was working the King’s Speech campaign from the top down. The critics were never going to matter. Not this year. Vanity Fair has just posted a story on Weinstein called “How Harvey Got his Groove Back,” and you can see how having friends in high places (Arianna Huffington throwing a special party for the King’s Speech last month) helped this campaign bypass the critics and go right to the industry and Oscar voters. The King’s Speech had it in the bag. This also could help to explain why there is the biggest divergence between critics awards and industry votes that I’ve ever seen in the decade I’ve been doing this.
Note to self: watch the backend.
On a chill Sunday evening last autumn, a group of powerful New Yorkers filed into a screening room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch slouched in an aisle seat with his wife, Wendi, rising just to accept a hug from Katie Couric. Leveraged-buyout king Henry Kravis sat a row in front of them, managing a weak smile as his rival Steve Schwarzman, clas in a battered barn jacket and worn jeans, eased into an adjacent seat. In the back, painter Julian Schnabel kibited with Jamie Rubin and Christiane Amanpour, turning in his seat every now and then to whisper with Debra Winger. In a darkened corner the evening’s co-hosts, Julianne Moore, Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson, and Christine Baranski, huddled together.
By and by the host, Harvey Weinstein, raised a microphone and in a scant seven sentences introduced the film’s star, Colin Firth, who introduced the movie, The King’s Speech. It was a glamorous evening, and a glamorous film, the kind of night–and the kind of film–that Weinstein once hosted regularly, that is, until his last few years in the wilderness, when he lost millions of dollars and, by his own admission, his love for making movies. Standing in front of the Murdochs and Kravises was the Harvey Weinstein people remember, the Harvey Weinstein whom, despite his infamous temper and penchant for infighting, people missed, the downtown impresario, the indie king, the man who with his brother, Bob, produced some of the best movies of the last 20 years, from Pulp Fiction to Shakespeare in Love to The English Patient. Here was the Harvey many had felt was gone forever.
I would, of course, have no problem with this, it’s worth saying, if I didn’t think The Social Network was the better film. Oh, I promised to stop whining….