There’s a scene in The King’s Speech where you suddenly realize you’re watching one of the all-time great movie performances. As the future King George VI, Colin Firth is a shoo-in for this year’s Best Actor Oscar; really, at this point we should just declare him the winner and be done with it. But it’s during that one particular scene, which follows the death of George V and Edward VII’s truncated ascent to the English throne, that Firth’s performance transcends The King’s Speech and becomes a master class on the art of film acting: with his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) prodding him along Firth subtly reshapes the entire film’s complexion, turning what had appeared to be a straightforward story about overcoming adversity into a two-pronged thematic study on the psychology of leadership and the legitimacy of monarchical power. Firth’s performance will no doubt garner attention because of how well he does George VI’s stutter, but it’s the quieter aspects that set it apart. Rush matches him nearly stride-for-stride, and the movie’s climactic sequence is brilliantly (and movingly) realized by director Tom Hooper. I’d happily endorse The King’s Speech if Firth’s performance were merely very good. The fact that it’s a lot better than that makes this movie unmissable.
The King’s Speech