21 Oscar nominations, 4 Golden Globes and a Metacritic score of 167.
To say that the combined amount of accolades awarded to both movies is unimpressive, is practically blasphemy against everything that cinema stands for. So what is it that's has made these relatively low budget films into international successes?
Of course, a film cannot be a good film without a compelling story, and both movies have it in abundance. The Fighter tells the true life tale of struggling boxer Micky Ward, as he clambers for fame all the while in the shadow of his former boxer brother, Dickie. But it's a troubled road to glory, as Micky must fight not just his opponents in the ring, but also his over pushy family in his personal life. The King's Speech, on the other hand, is all about King George VI, as he battles to overcome his confidence crushing st-st-st-stammer with the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue during a pre-WW2 Britain. So, they're both true stories and, at heart, both about courage. But with overall development of that courage, I think The King's Speech does better with it's mind firmly set on the one goal, not the overarching challenges seen in The Fighter, but both deserve commendation for narrative.
What surprised me about both films however, was the comedic side and how funny they actually were. I mean, who'd of thought that while watching a period drama invovling speech impediments, I'd be laughing 50% of the time? Or that out of the depressing themes (such as drug addiction and pressure) in The Fighter, such brilliantly funny moments could crop up? The King's Speech in particular has a genuinely unexpected and hilarious scene which I shan't ruin for you, but you'll know it when you see it..
But possibly the greatest part of both films is the acting. The casting has been chosen very carefully in both cases, cultivating in some fantastic ensemble performances. In The Fighter's corner, you've got Mark Wahlberg as leading man Mickey Ward, allowing Wahlberg to really make up for previous mistakes such as The Other Guys and M.Night Shyamalan's god awful The Happening. Alongside him is the perfectly placed Christian Bale as Dickie Ward, the crack head older brother. It's really good to see Bale coming away from his action blockbuster, gruff guy roles to play the cooky and complex Dickie, with no husky voice to be heard anywhere. Then there's Amy Adams as love interest Charlene, changing up her whole 'good girl' setup for this well played 'sexy bitch' role. And of course there's Melissa Leo as pushy mum Alice, balancing the character perfectly with spite and remorse.
|Left to Right: Leo, Bale, Wahlberg and Adams|
Meanwhile, on team King, there's pretty much every respectable mature British actor out there. Colin Firth gives the performance of a lifetime as the lovable and reluctant king himself, making it easy to see why he's been nabbing all the Best Actor awards lately and Geoffrey Rush is just splendid as Lionel, the speech therapist, adding style and energy to the part. Helen Bonham Carter is her usually dignified self, acting as a great pillar for Firth to lean upon. Other highlights include Micheal Gambon (Dumbeldore) as predecessor and father, King George V and Timothy Spall's rather interesting take on Winston Churchill; no joke. Plus, Outnumbered's Ramona Marquez also makes a quaint appearance as a young Princess Margaret.
|Left to Right: Rush, Carter and Firth|
The King's Speech uses this incredibly clean and simple style of direction, using close up facial shots to get across the characters emotions and feelings and doesn't waste time on busy and moving action scenes. The score is entirely original, with simple and charming melodies similar to those you'd hear those days. It's well fitted and helps to build emotion around the tale. Director Tom Hooper has really taken his time on such details as that and it shows throughout.
The Fighter, on the other hand, opts for this kind of gritty style, often as if it was a documentary. This kind of stuff really shines during the boxing matches themselves, presented like original footage live from HBO in 1993. Here, director David O. Russel goes for the realism approach, drawing audiences into the story and it pays off all the better. The soundtrack is all what you'd expect from a boxing movie; rock-type uprising tracks but with a feel sentimental ones thrown in too.
These are both groundbreaking movies, no matter how much they differentiate from each other. At the end of the day, it really depends on personal opinion as to which one's the best. I found both to be profoundly moving, heartwarming and uplifting. Whether it was the charm of The King's Speech or the realism of The Fighter, both exceed in what they're trying to do and both actually teach you something, be it history or moral.
I find it hard to pick between them, but if I was you I'd think "What is it I want to see now? A charmingly fun and moving period drama or a more modern uplifting tale of victory, family and fights?". But which ever one you don't choose immediately, make sure you catch it sometime, because you'd be missing out if you didn't.
The King's Speech: 5/5 Stars
The Fighter: 5/5 Stars
Wow, 2 hours that took. 2 hours! Glad to see the back of it to be honest with you, but I hope you like it none the less. I realise it's a bit sketchy and nowhere near the quality you'd find on official review sites or anything like that, but as long as you get what I'm putting across, I'm happy. Thanks for reading.