I've already made up my mind on 2010's best performance by an actor. In fact, I knew in early September, when I first saw Colin Firth in The King's Speech at the Toronto International Film Festival. Firth has carefully etched out a career in which his performances are as good as, and occasionally better than, his films: Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones' Diary, Love Actually.
Last year, in A Single Man, Firth was nominated for every acting award possible for what was perhaps the most nuanced performance of 2009--a tortured soul considering his final days. I would bet my last penny on Firth securing a back-to-back Best Actor Oscar nomination, a feat accomplished in the past decade by only Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp.
But Firth should have plenty of familiar company on the red carpet. The King's Speech boasts wonderful supporting performances from Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, and the best script of the year from David Seidler.
In Toronto, Seidler told me that The King's Speech was his life's ambition.
"I was a stutterer," Seidler said softly.
The film tells the little-known story of King George VI (father of current Queen Elizabeth), a man who may be the British Empire's most reluctant monarch. To complicate matters, George was afflicted with a terrible stuttering problem. All this at a time when his subjects needed his speaking capabilities the most (the outbreak of World War II). Carter plays his wife, Queen Elizabeth.
When Seidler wrote the Queen mother, to get permission to write the screenplay about her husband's affliction, she asked him to wait until after her death. She died in 2002.
"When I was a child, my parents told me to listen to King George on the radio," Seidler told BW. "They would tell me in very hushed tones that there was a rumor that the King was a stutterer, too. He became my hero, and I always knew I would tell his story someday."
When I asked Firth about the possibility of an Oscar, he was traditionally humble.
"It's such a bumpy ride," he downplayed. "Even if you had a prevailing feeling, there's no way to sustain it. But if people are throwing baubles at you, it makes up for the years of rotten tomatoes."
Other Hits ... Or Misses
127 Hours--When I attended the premiere of this drama, a few people ran to the lobby and required medical attention. This is the true-life thriller about Aron Ralston, the climber who became trapped by a boulder for nearly five days. By now, the world knows what happened to him and his arm. I'm pretty sure the audience members who left were more affected by what they thought was going to happen rather than what is actually portrayed. James Franco is amazing as Ralston.
Tangled--This is Disney's big animation release for the holidays. It has music. It has Mandy Moore and Zach Levi. It has adorable talking animals. And it has a girl having a very, very bad hair day.