Colin Firth in 'A Single Man'With his understated, devastating portrayal of a gay college professor mourning the death of his longtime lover in 'A Single Man' -- Tom Ford's movie based on the 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name -- Colin Firth has all but nailed an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Recognition for his performance has been steadily building: this week Firth nabbed a Golden Globes nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama; he's also been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among others.
Colin Firth in 'A Single Man'With his understated, devastating portrayal of a gay college professor mourning the death of his longtime lover in 'A Single Man' -- Tom Ford's movie based on the 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name -- Colin Firth has all but nailed an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Recognition for his performance has been steadily building: this week Firth nabbed a Golden Globes nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama; he's also been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among others.

Critics have been unanimous in applauding his interpretation of the sensitive, introverted George Falconer. Rolling Stone said, "The film belongs to Firth. Uncanny at showing the heart crumbling under George's elegant exterior, he gives the performance of his career." And the
L.A. Times raved, "We're always looking for those performances that truly define an actor, where we can sit back and simply watch the talent soar. For Colin Firth, 'A Single Man' is that film."

That's heavy praise for an actor who is probably best known for playing the stuffy but solid Mark Darcy in the 'Bridget Jones' movies. That relatively lighthearted role was a twist on Firth's iconic portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 miniseries 'Pride and Prejudice.' (Jane Austen herself would have been delighted with Firth's depiction of her brooding, conflicted character.) Since then, he's had several strong though unsurprising roles in movies such as 'Girl with a Pearl Earring,' 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and 'Easy Virtue,' and also showed his range in projects like the HBO film 'Conspiracy,' in which he played a Nazi, and 'Mamma Mia,' in which he sang Abba tunes. Though Firth's work has always been well-regarded, Mr. Darcy was probably the closest he'd come to a truly transcendent role ... until 'A Single Man.'

In one of the film's most powerful scenes Falconer receives a phone call informing him of the worst possible news. As the extent of the tragedy dawns on him, he manages to hold up his end of the conversation, though his face betrays his turmoil. It's one of Firth's finest moments onscreen.



As for the possibility of an actual Oscar win, he would be up against some tough competition. Probable fellow nominees include George Clooney ('Up in the Air'), Jeff Bridges ('Crazy Heart'), Morgan Freeman ('Invictus'), and possibly Robert Downey Jr. ('Sherlock Holmes') and Viggo Mortensen ('The Road'), among others. Complicating things, perhaps, is the fact that the Academy awarded Best Actor to Sean Penn last year for playing another gay character ('Milk'), which could work against Firth. But on merit alone, Firth's Falconer is the man to beat.


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CATEGORIES Oscars, Awards