Palaces, posh accents boost "King's Speech" shot at Oscars

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:21pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar looks set to bow before "The King's Speech" this coming Sunday, proving there's nothing quite like a British accent, some historic buildings, and, best of all, a few royals to get Hollywood all a twitter.

Few Americans had ever heard of King George VI -- the royal who led Britain into World War II and the father of current monarch Queen Elizabeth -- before Colin Firth brought him to life in "King's Speech" as a shy man with a crippling stutter.

Now, many Americans know his story, and if "King's Speech" wins Oscars on February 27, many more will want to learn about him. And it's very likely the movie will take home at least a few Academy Awards because it has a leading 12 nominations for the honors given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In fact, it is the front-runner for best film.

Throughout U.S. history, Americans have been fascinated by royal pomp -- even on a movie screen. In 1860, a New York ballroom floor collapsed under the weight of thousands gathered to see a teenage Prince Albert Edward. Currently, Americans have royal wedding fever over the April marriage of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.

"Even though we won the American Revolution, we still bow to British royalty. We are suckers for a British accent -- it sounds so much smarter -- and there is a clear bias throughout Oscar history for British films," said Tom O'Neil of awards websites and

U.S. critics, moviegoers and Hollywood's professional guilds have responded warmly to the movie's human story of friendship, courage and triumph over adversity, performed by a strong ensemble cast that includes Oscar nominees Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, alongside Firth.

A "recommendation" for the movie by Queen Elizabeth, whose aides let it be known that she found the film "moving and enjoyable" after a private screening in January, proved the ultimate endorsement.