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« Beauty Break: George Hamilton | Main | Yes, No, Maybe So: "Decoding Annie Parker" »
Friday
Apr112014

Posterized: His Majesty Colin Firth Makes a LOT of Movies

The King speaks. Often in motion pictures, in point of fact. Colin Firth has been a mainstay in British and Hollywood cinema since his terrific debut opposite Rupert Everett in the boy's school classic Another Country (1984). But it's not all stiff homoerotic upper-class Brit movies (though there's a fair share of that). He seems to have no ego whatsoever working in large ensembles, occasionally headlining, and (we assume) gets along with everyone given how often he returns to the same co-stars and directors (multiple films with Kidman and Everett and Egoyan and more). This year US audiences are getting not one not two but SIX Colin Firth films: Gambit (released a couple of years ago in the UK), Atom Egoyan's Devils Knot, Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, and three (!!!) with Nicole Kidman: Paddington (he's the voice of the bear), the thriller Before I Sleep and the post-war drama The Railway Man which is in theaters now after a quiet festival bow last year.

 In the new film he plays a troubled WWII vet suffering from PTSD before there was a name for it. Jeremy Irvine plays Firth as a young man in his POW days and Nicole Kidman provides tough-love wifely support. Still, this is Firth's show through and through. He's quite good in it though I'll admit that the movie was a little tentative and basic for my tastes.

A temporary projection glitch in the screening at TIFF I attended (strangely the only film I didn't write about that I saw there) stopped the image just as Nicole Kidman entered in one of her only forceful scenes. A flock of gentlemen turned around to look at her and were then paralyzed for several minutes gawking at her. Which is exactly what happens to me whenever Nicole Kidman enters a movie. I haven't seen it acted out so literally since Ewan MacGregor and the patrons of the Moulin Rouge went slack-jawed in unison when she descended from the ceiling singing "Diamonds". 

But I digress.

We're here to talk Colin Firth. So anticlimactic now, right? Apologies to Mr Firth! How many of his movies have you seen? (Please tell me you've seen Another Country)

Stunning Debut (1984-1988)
He was also doing TV at this point but Another Country made both him and Rupert Everett instant stars and at first it was only leading roles. Apartment Zero was fantastically creepy and gayish as I recall.

Trying to Find His Place (1989-1995)
Doing any kind of movie whatsoever, high or low. Valmont had the misfortune of coming out after Dangerous Liaisons was a big deal and since its the same story audiences didn't turn out. But it's a very interesting counterpoint, much different in performance and tone in some ways and he's definitely more believable as a great seducer than Malkovich. The leading man thing wasn't happening 100% though in that the films weren't taking off. At the end of this period came Mr Darcy on TV in Pride & Prejudice (1995) which won him a hugely devoted fanbase.

 

His Standard Groove (1996-2008)
Weathering massive hits and regular flops in all kinds of genres with the same kind of just-keeps-on-working unfazed ease. But it's worth noting that he was never THE star of the hits, but only a frequent MVP in support.

The Career Peak? (2009-now)
Still in demand as he's always been for all sorts of projects. Well, he's either "in demand" or he just says Yes to any kind of offer. The one-two punch of consecutive Oscar favor in A Single Man and The King's Speech, films which he completely owned marked a real breakthrough for this charming ensemblist. He, not a co-star, was finally in the spotlight. 

Trivia Note: It is not at all common for actors to be in more than one Best Picture winner in their lives. Colin Firth has already been in three (The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and The King's Speech

HOW MANY HAVE YOU SEEN? 

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Reader Comments (39)

Not many including his two Oscar vehicles.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

A least seven including "Another Country " and "The Last Legion" a very entertaining old fashion adventure movie.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I've seen 26, and yes one of them was Another Country. It's a variable lot but he's always good even when the films are less so. Apartment Zero is one weird movie that is definitely not for everyone. The Advocate is another one that is a bit odd but I liked alot.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I love that he started with Another Country. I've seen a good few, but I think A Single Man was his peak (thus far).

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

25. But his roles in a few were small and I barely remember the performances. I really enjoyed Relative Values, Easy Virtue, and of course, Love Actually--such fun ensembles. Hope Springs, Main St. and Arthur Newman were so horrible I didn't want to count those (but I did.) His American accent is not great, so I prefer when he uses his own. Should have won for A Single Man, which is still his best performance. That phone call scene breaks my heart every time.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I love his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I've seen 19. I haven't seen Another Country yet, but he also costarred with Rupert Everett in The Importance of Being Ernest, and they are delightful together. Another great ensemble, which appears to be one of his strengths.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Only 9, to my surprise. The one-two-three (but not really) combo of A Single Man, The King's Speech and Tinker Tailor was glorious!

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I second the love of his performance in Tinkor Tailor Soldier Spy. Although usually I find him uninspiring (although I mainly blame that on the films themselves).

To me though, when I think of his work I think if Pride and Prejudice.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

5 and I haven't seen Another Country.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Don't love him too much. He tends to be a bit too predictable from movie to movie. But I relish his work in Valmont and Girl with a Pearl Earring. He works wonders with actresses more than he does with actors.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

20. He works too much, but he's consistently good.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Only 14, and one of them is Another Country. So I guess I'm not a hardcore fan, although I did attend (and enjoy) the taping of his Inside the Actors Studio episode.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

21 including the greatest hits. I like that he works often. I enjoy his performances and always know that I won't find him offensive so I'll see films on spec that I might not otherwise. I consider him comfort food.

And I'm yet to see him chew the scenery even when given the chance.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Henry: I'm hoping those are grey cases of "I could, but I won't." Because there's some characters that you NEED to go big or go home on.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Every movie you list except The Railway Man, which is out around here next week. Plus various TV movies. A wide range of enjoyable, insightful performances. So natural. I always enjoy his work whether or not I love the movie.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteremma

Colin apparently caught the Kidman bug because he said the other day that he hopes to continue working with her. He mentioned that they're next film together is "Genius" with Fassbender.

I don't know what her role in it is, but allegedly she's playing Fassbender's mistress and muse (whom he had a voltanic relationship with).

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

He's so charming. Every time What a Girl Wants comes on tv I end up watching it. I hate myself.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Ten and a half. Pam was correct when she called out Hope Springs for its awfulness. That movie is nothing but a waste of talented actors (as well as a waste of my time). Colin Firth was fine to great in the other 9.5 I've seen, though.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercash

All of the ones listed. Two of his best were TV films -- Tumbledown (a tour de force) and Hostages. He is consistently good. Even in bad projects. And, of course, he shines in good ones.

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadybug

I think he's one of those actors who shouldn't have Oscar (considering movies + performances). From what I've seen, what I think is his best ("A Single Man") is still not something that impressed me much (also, Jeff Bridges deserved that one so much, even though he won for the wrong reasons).

April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

I saw all of them except The Railway Man which only opens here next Decenber!!!!! and love Colin as an actor and as a handsome man. Imho not all the productions were great, to say the least, but Mr Firth Always gave it his best which is a lot!

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

I have seen all of them, also his made for television movies and series.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdrurylane

Genova! Now that movie is worth watching - Firth is excellent, but the star of that show is Catherine Keener. Everyone who says she's a one-note performer needs to see it - one of the best supporting performances of the decade, in my opinion... a woman so blindly in love that she ignores every sign that he's not interested...

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

40.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterB Sorin

Only 11! I definitely need to catch up. I really liked The Railway Man, Colin was great in it.

He filmed a scene from Secret Service on my street last year and the lightning guys + Colin's double/stand-in were hanging out on my doorstep and we got to talking, they said he's the best guy to work with. Lightning guys were much happier about this movie than they had been aboutg going to Scotland on Skyfall, heh.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I've only seen 14 (all the biggies basically) How weird. I guess he doesn't draw me out. My weirdest miss was CIRCLE OF FRIENDS which was a big (little) deal in its year. Somehow I never saw it.

April 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Never realized he was so prolific. I have seen 17 or 18 of his movies probably, will look for some of his early stuff that I missed.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterV

Shocked myself seeing only 17 of his films. I thought I would've at least seen half of it. Still need to see Another Country. It's been in my queue for forever.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I've seen 9 of his films and I actually thought he was great in all of them, even as the unsymphatic character in SIL.
I've recently seen "Where the Truth lies" and he was fantastic.
Really a wonderful actor and though I'd voted for him for "A Single Man", I'm fine with his win for "The King's Speech".
I'd never thought he has already worked that much and now there's so much more to come. Impressive!

I hope you can forgive him, Nat. For... you know... Being Meryl's good luck charm in 2012. Every television award he presented (Globe, BAFTA, Oscar) she did win. Though that Cinderalla moment at the BAFTAs is one for the ages.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

15.5 (I didn't finish Easy Virtue). I kind of loved the beginning of his career (especially the first 4) but I think A Single Man is his best work by a considerable margin (and he's often quite good).

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

When The King Speech came out and he was poised to win the Oscar, everyone was like "of course" and nobody really questioned it. I, not knowing Firth's career, was somewhat baffled at his wins throughout the season, wondering if he had really "earned it" (hate the term, but you get what I mean). Now I kinda get how big a deal he's been and the extension of his work.

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

I have seen 20 of them. I actually thought it was more.

P&P will always be my favorite but he was exceptional in A Single Man. I liked that role because it was very anti type and he was brilliant.

I do think for someone who's an Oscar winner, he still seems to pick some questionable projects. Main Street, Arthur Newman, Gambit, Devils Knot, were disappointments. The Railway Man was true to form and he and Irvine in particular, are great. Nicole Kidman does nothing for me, But a Woody Allen film, I am so on board with that.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I've seen ALL of them, I am a long-time fan and I love everything Colin Firth does. Even with a mediocre movie, He gives his best and is amazing to watch.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Hunt

29 movies plus of course the great pride and prejudice and some others on tv when I could get discs. Will see all his movies coming out this yr. Big fan of this man. Fantastic actor with eyes so expressive. He says pages of dialogue with his eyes. Amazing. Love him.

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Davis

I've seen all but one. Only because I can't seem to get the DVD of the TV movie series Lost Empires. Bridget Jones started it for me then it was an obsession to see them all. My 2 favs are The Girl with The Pearl Earring and A Single Man and how could I forget Pride and Prejudice!

April 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

I have seen all except St. Trinians 2 and Gambit, which I hear will get US release by Apr. 25th.
I saw 'Then She Found Me' at Miami Int'l Film Festival screening and wish more had been able to see it. The same goes for When Did You Last See Your Father.'
It looks like the author is also a Firth fan and I love that you found the old film posters. Great research.

April 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterelemacd

42, plus quite a few of his TV roles, too. In fact, Donovan Quick, Crown Court and Hostages are the only performances, other than theatre, that I've not seen.....yet! I'm ever hopeful!!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlly

I've seen all that have been released, including Gambit + all his tv films. The only one missing in my collection is the Pat Hobby: Teamed with Genius. Love Colin in everything I've seen, tho' not all are really great films. He just puts his all into everything he does and makes me believe his is the character.

May 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Anderson

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