Saturday, 16 July 2011

Best Actor 2010: Colin Firth in The King's Speech

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.

The King's Speech tells of the story of King George VI's attempt to overcome his stammer, and fulfills his duties on the eve of World War II.

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to be trying to hard to portray his emotions to the full front, where frankly the King should be just a little more withdrawn than the way Firth likes to portray him.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.


RatedRStar said...

It is oscar baiting, I still think he should have won for a single man instead and given the oscar to a newcomer like Franco or Eisenberg

dinasztie said...

Too obviously baity for me. So is the movie.

mrripley said...

Ryan gosling unnominated was way way better!!

my noms

gosling,firth,dicaprio,bridges & eisenberg,i really did not like 127 hours or franco in it,i thought the whole field was adequate at best..

Tom said...

Wow. Only 3 points? I thought he was much better.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I disagree I think he was amazing! 5 for me and a clear winner!

Anonymous said...

What a forgettable winner - he's absolutely cringe inducing.

JJJ said...

I felt this was good enough. Even though I rooted for him because he deserved the Oscar all the way for the amazing A Single Man, I don't feel bad because the competition was no better - especially Eisenberg, who I found terrible in the sea of a terrible cast, even if almost everyone I know disagrees with me.

My favorite male performance last year was actually Sean Penn in Fair Game, which only had a box office about even with its budget and got no buzz. I quite enjoyed his, as the NYT put it, "splendid, swaggering and affectionate pomposity." He downplayed his usual movie persona, an effective subtlety that made the more actor-y moments worth that much more.