Oscar's Best Picture Race Is Battle Between Britain and U.S.

PHOTO  The 2011 Oscars is shaping up to be a battle between the United States and England -- as represented by "The Social Network" and "The Kings Speech."
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The 2011 Oscars is shaping up to be a battle between the United States and Britain -- as represented by "The Social Network" and "The King's Speech."

Both films have racked up nominations for writing, directing and acting, including for stars Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth, respectively.

Whichever film takes home the big prize -- best picture -- Sunday night will also be scoring a win for country. After all, both films couldn't be more representative of the countries they portray.

You can't get more British than "The King's Speech," a film about King George VI, father of the current Queen Elizabeth II, who, by the way, gave the movie two royal thumbs up. Its main stars are all verrry British, with the notable exception of Aussie Geoffrey Rush, who is nominated for best supporting actor.

On the other hand, "The Social Network," about the founding of Facebook, is a quintessentially American story. Where else but America could a bright young computer science student launch what would become a billion-dollar worldwide enterprise from his Harvard dorm room?

Matthew Belloni, news editor of The Hollywood Reporter, said age will factor in more than country. "'The King's Speech' appeals much more to older voters," Belloni told ABCNews.com. "The Academy's average age is 57."

"King's Speech" also has the momentum going into the final lap. "The safe money is on 'The King's Speech," Patricia Chui, editor-in-chief of Moviefone.com, said. "But it could go down to the wire."

Chui says the two films differ in other ways besides the countries they represent.

"One takes a look back at history, the other is very current," she told ABCNews.com. "One has these stars as big as British royalty, the other has a bunch of younger actors."

"The Social Network" was an early favorite in the Oscar race, after winning big at the Golden Globes and topping critics' best lists at the end of last year. But lately, it's been all about "The King's Speech," which won the top prizes at the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Firth is considered a lock for best actor, but the best picture trophy is still up for grabs. Will "Social Network" get enough hometown support to capture the big prize? Or will the Academy, which is made up of members from around the globe, continue its love for British films and give the prize to "King's Speech?"

A look at how the two films stack up:

"The King's Speech"

"It's the movie the Academy loves," Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone and host of ABC News Now's "Popcorn," said.

Travers, like most critics, predicts an easy win for Firth. "This is a no-brainer," he said. "This is the guy."

Chui agreed. "Colin Firth has it in the bag," she said. "Jesse Eisenberg is young and talented, he'll have his time," she said.

If "The King's Speech" has a sweep, Travers said, look for some upsets in the best supporting acting categories. Helena Bonham Carter, who played Firth's wife, the Queen, in "Speech," could take best supporting actress from favorite Melissa Leo in "The Fighter." Similarly, Travers puts his money on Leo's co-star Christian Bale, but said Geoffrey Rush, who is "somebody just as good," could take it from him.

"The Social Network"

Don't count "Social Network" out just yet.

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