January 27, 2011 at 01:55 PM EST

If there’s one thing this week’s Academy Award nominations accomplished, it was an instant leveling of the Oscar-season playing field. After playing second fiddle to critics-award and Golden Globes champ The Social Network, The King’s Speech rebounded with 12 Academy Award nominations compared to eight for Network.

So who will win the big prize on Feb. 27? It may come down to whether the Academy votes with its heart or its head. We talked to two of the masterminds behind this year’s Oscar front-runners — The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper and The Social Network producer Scott Rudin — and got their passionate thoughts on why their films will walk away with the trophy. See which argument you buy.

The knock on Speech is that it’s an old-fashioned Oscar movie that appeals to older voters — even though its director is the youngest to help a Best Picture nominee this year. “The film breaks a tremendous number of rules,” says Hooper. “You show me a film that’s had this kind of commercial success that uses music so sparingly, that uses silence so eloquently — a film that’s had this kind of success that has 10-minute two-handers between actors. It’s full of me actually challenging what you’d expect from this kind of film. All I can say is my obsession making it was to subvert, to be unconventional, to find a new way of telling this story. I’m incredibly pleased that I’ve made a piece of work that connects in this way to people and does make them feel better about themselves and does have them waking up in the morning and still thinking about it and does move them and make them laugh in this way. I definitely have faith that that’s something that’s going to be in people’s minds when they vote.”

Rudin, meanwhile, believes Oscar voters will take a more rational approach to their decision. “I’m very happy to have the movie that engages with the culture right here and now — a smart, contemporary, morally complicated look at a cultural phenomenon,” he says. “I’m a voter. Last year I had a better time at Avatar; I voted for The Hurt Locker. I thought it was the more important movie. I think people look at their ballot and they think, ‘What do I want to represent this year?’ There was a time when they voted the cuddly movie over the more difficult movie, but in a time in which No Country for Old Men, The Departed, and The Hurt Locker won, I don’t think we’re there anymore. I really don’t.”

So who makes the more convincing argument? Read all about the heated Oscar race in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.

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