Monday, July 28, 2014
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Colin Firth: Royal Flush at Oscar Time?

It's officially awards season. We know this because the obligatory royals-are-just-like-us film is upon us. I'm a complete sucker for the genre. So is Oscar. These movies inevitably snare actor or costume honors.

Colin Firth: Royal Flush at Oscar Time?

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter (as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) in The KIng´s Speech.
Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter (as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) in The KIng's Speech.

It's officially awards season. We know this because the obligatory royals-are-just-like-us film is upon us.  I'm a complete sucker for the genre. So is Oscar. These movies inevitably snare actor or costume honors.

In years past, it was The Queen (she has in-law troubles!), Marie Antoinette (she has infertility problems!) and Young Victoria (she has a bossy mom!). This season, it's The King's Speech (he has a speech impediment!), starring Colin Firth as George VI, father of the present queen and the reluctant monarch who united his nation during World War II, and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, rhymes-with-rogue, George's unorthodox speech pathologist.

Saw it this morning.  Firth's turn as the repressed royal who battles his stutter with the resolve he would bring to his nation's fight with Hitler grabs you in the heart and doesn't let go til it wrings tears of joy. Rush, wily and poised and patient, is equally moving. Before today, I would have thought the presumptive Oscar front-runners were Michael Douglas as the slithery figure in Solitary Man, James Franco for his you-are-there performance as outdoorsman Aron Ralston, pinned under a boulder in 127 Hours or Jesse Eisenberg as the affectless Mark Zuckerberg, who creates Facebook in his image in The Social Network. Haven't seen all the Oscar-eligible films yet, but I can't imagine a performance to beat Firth's, whose constitutes a one-man royal flush.

My guess is that he'll join the parade of actors led by Charles Laughton (as the title character in The Private Life of Henry VIII, Genevieve Bujold (as Anne Boleyn in Anne of a Thousand Days), Cate Blanchett (as QE I in Elizabeth) and Helen Mirren (as QE II in The Queen) crowned Hollywood royalty for playing royals on screen.

What are the best performances you've seen this year? Alternatively, your favorite movie royals? (I'm fond of Garbo's Queen Christina, Marlene Dietrich's Catherine the Great in The Scarlett Empress, Nigel Hawthorne's George III in The Madness of King George and Mirren as The Queen.

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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