Affection for affliction

   Momentum is everything going into the Oscars, and this year Big Mo has been with one picture since the nominations were announced.

“The King’s Speech” — about King George the 6th’s stuttering problem has struck the proper chord as the crowd favorite to win the best picture Oscar.

“The King’s Speech” has the trifecta going for it:

1. It’s a period piece about a real person (Oscar loves biographical movies.)

2. The story centers on the affliction of the main character (Oscar loves movies about real people who suffer and somehow overcome their affiction.)

3. It’s British (Oscar loves the Brits.)

Ten British movies that have won best picture Oscars:


2. “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

3. “Lawrence of Arabia”

4. “Tom Jones”

5. “A Man for All Seasons”

6. “Gandhi”

7. “Chariots of Fire”

8. “Mrs. Miniver”

9. “The English Patient”

10. “Shakespeare in Love”
   The last two movies mentioned on the list also have something else in common —– actor Colin Firth, the king of “The King’s Speech,” played a supporting role in each Oscar winner.
   Firth has a lock on the best actor Oscar this year. He meets the same three requirements in the film trifecta.
   Most of all the affliction thingy.
   Think of the great characters Al Pacino played, like Michael Corleone, Serpico the undercover honest cop in a city full of corrupt cops, or Sonny, the unhinged failed bank robber in “Dog Day Afternoon.”
   But Pacino didn’t win the best actor Oscar until 1992, for “Scent of A Woman.” In that film, he played a blind retired military officer who, by the way, was also suicidal.
   Then there’s Dustin Hoffman’s autistic Raymond Babbitt in “Rain Man.”
   Or “My Left Foot,” where Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis played Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy and learned to paint and write with his only controllable limb, his left foot.
   Then there’s the most popular of all movie afflictions: the drunk. From Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend” to Nicolas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas” to last year’s winner Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” the drunk looking for redemption can get Hollywood attention faster than a starlet in a low-cut dress.
   Firth’s stuttering King George 6 is something new to film. Still another affliction that the movies can deal with in ways that only movies can.
   Firth’s competition in the affliction actor category this year is formidable enough:
   Bridges (who won’t win back-to-back best actor Oscars, for Tom Hanks’ sake) is the crusty drunkard Rooster Cogburn, who of course wears a patch over one eye. Bridges takes on the role of American icon John Wayne. A lofty task to be sure. Not only that, but in the role where the Duke won his only best actor Oscar.
   James Franco’s character in “127 Hours” cuts off his arm to save his life while trapped in the mountains. That’s stomach-turning affliction. And self-afflicting affliction. Disqualified.
   Firth has been eloquent and humorous when accepting the awards he has been garnering for his performance.
   It’s those damn Brits. They always know what to say and how to say it.
   Ironic then that Firth will win for portraying a Brit who had great difficulty speaking in public.
   That’s got to be a hell of a role for an actor to play.
   The words must roll off the tongue.
   So to speak.

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