In defense of ‘The King’s Speech’

A movie like “The King’s Speech” doesn’t seem like it needs someone to stand up for it.

Just a reminder, this is a film that won four Oscars, including Best Picture, seven British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, two Critics Choice Awards, a Director’s Guild of America award, a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards and a Producers Guild of America award. It has a very full trophy case and everyone involved walked home happy

However, in the years since, the film hasn’t had the best reception. In fact, it has received some backlash for nearly a decade. Every year since when the Academy Awards ceremony rolls around, “The King’s Speech” is often pointed to as a wrong decision.

It’s understandable why some people weren’t too happy with the win. The year 2010 had its fair share of strong contenders, such as “Black Swan,” “The Fighter” and “The Social Network.” Those movies, in all fairness, had arguments that they could have taken the top spot rather than “King’s Speech.”

Whether its the matter of artistry or social commentary, many of the Best Picture nominees that year had their reasons. Would it have been better for another movie to win the award? That’s a fair question. Does that mean “The King’s Speech” need to be dragged down and maligned as a mistake. Not at all.


“The King’s Speech” has a lot to offer thematically, whether it be the many inter-personal relationships explored, to an individual overcoming a disability. In addition to being a compelling, endearing experience because of those reasons, the movie is also benefited from superb production, set and costume design to create a true period piece.

The film brings an audience into London at the time just before the second World War, and convincingly creates an intimate portrayal of the royal family.

The picture is also quite well shot by cinematographer Danny Cohen. There’s a real standout moment when the two main characters are discussing the future of the throne while walking through a rather foggy section of the city. It’s beautiful, but intense.


From a narrative perspective, “The King’s Speech” is rich. It features both a deeply personal story about a growing friendship revolving around a disability and a tale of political intrigue related to monarchy troubles in the face of World War II.

It’s fascinating to watch King George VI navigate the royal family’s tribulations as it prepares for war while also trying to treat his stuttering.

The emotional core of the movie is of course the friendship between Lionel and George. The two are completely opposite in terms of personality and their interactions start off somewhat rocky, but they do eventually become friends. Watching their interactions as their friendship develops into a strong bond to the conclusion where George gives the speech is captivating cinema.


This is of course possible thanks to the strong performances from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. Both did phenomenal work here and were deserving in recognition. The cast had a lot of good supporting performances, too, from Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon and Timothy Spall.

It’s also important to emphasize the importance of following George’s effort to overcome his stuttering. While attending Minnesota State University, as a student journalist, I wrote an article about Fargo-Moorhead’s Chapter of the National Stuttering Association.

For my story, I attended their meetings and met several individuals who were stutterers. I learned about how people with a stutter go through years of speech therapy to have fluency.


It’s a strenuous, tough process, and it takes perseverance. Like the people I met in my own experience, George had to work to overcome stuttering, especially during a time when the medical field hadn’t advanced far enough. Watching him do so makes for a powerful drama, especially as he has to provide leadership to a nation on the precipice of war.

“The King’s Speech” is a really damn good movie that had a legitimate claim to the Best Picture award. That’s not to say other 2010 films didn’t also have a good claim for it. As previously mentioned, 2010 was a good year. When all is said and done, “The King’s Speech” may not be the greatest Best Picture winner, but it was a fair choice thanks to the film’s high quality.

The defense rests.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

2 thoughts on “In defense of ‘The King’s Speech’”

  1. Great write up! I don’t hate the King’s Speech, I think it is a very well made movie, it just had the unfortunate timing of being released the same year as so many other good films. 2010 was so stacked. I disagree with its Best Pic win, but I’d never put it in the same category as films like Green Book which were actually bad and still managed to win. It’s good, I just liked others better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, 2010 was a really nice year! I think I was driven to write this to at least give the King’s Speech credit for being a quality movie.


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