Colin Firth won his Oscar from his second nomination for portraying King George VI "Bertie"/ Prince Albert, Duke of York in The King's Speech.
Colin Firth's performance here certainly feels like Oscar baiting, with his playing a famous person who must overcome a disability, during a time of troubles, the only thing really missing was for him to be an alcoholic as well. Being an Oscar baiting role does not make a performance bad though, Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger proves that one can give a great performance in an Oscar baiting role, unfortunately Colin Firth is not Jack Lemmon.
Colin Firth does one thing a whole lot in this performance, something that becomes more and more noticeable after each viewing is how he makes this almost constant hang dog expression through many if not most of his scenes. It just seems like laziness on Firth's part to have the King having this constant sadness apparently prevailing at all times. Yes sadness should be part of the character, but Firth simply overdoes it.
Firth's entire portrayal of the King's disability feels a bit actory as well. I particularly do not think it helps by the way the film is directed. In these scenes it always goes right up to Firth's face, where he really overly express the stammer, yes a stammer should be obvious, but Firth's way of portraying looks far more like a actors fake stammer than a genuine one unfortuantely.
Almost all of Firth's performance seems a bit overacted constantly, as he always seems to be trying to hard to portray his emotions to the full front, where frankly the King should be just a little more withdrawn than the way Firth likes to portray him. Also Firth fails to appropriately portray any inner strength of the King early on making it so when he has his more confronting scenes, like with his brother, they seem a tad discontinuous with the rest of the character.
I won't say Firth is horrible, by I will say he could have been a whole lot better than he is. Firth most certainly does have screen presence. I did not feel he completely failed to convey the emotions, but rather he just tried to hard to convey them. He does have some nice scenes, his final speech for example is well handled, as is his nice little scene where he tells a story to his daughter, but the overall effect of his performance is far less than it could have been.
Firth could have been amazing if he had been more willing to portray a wider array of emotions, as well as attempt to convey some of these emotions of the King in a little more subtle fashions than he does in this film. If he created a fuller creation in the King, the different separated emotional states of the King could have had a clearer connection but instead his anger, his sadness, his strength, and his weakness, feel disconnected. This is not a completely bad performance, but it could have been much better.