Well, way back when I started reviewing all of the movies that had been nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, I said something dumb that isn’t true. I thought that The King’s Speech, this year’s Best Picture winner, was the last Best Picture nominee to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray. Well, I’m an idiot. The last film is actually True Grit and it doesn’t even have a release date yet, so that shows how much I know about movies. So, once I finish up reviewing the first nine films that were nominated for Best Picture (I still have Inception, The Social Network, and True Grit to go), it will be a while before I actually get around to that one. My bad. So, without further ado and any more of my inane ramblings, let’s jump into my review of the good but not great The King’s Speech.

The King’s Speech is the true story of Prince Albert (Colin Firth), the Duke of York who will eventually become King George VI of England on the verge of World War II. Prince Albert has a serious problem however. He has an uncontrollable stammer that has plagued him his entire life, and even when talking with his family and loved ones, he can barely spit a sentence out. Speaking in public is as frightening to him as stepping out of a foxhole in a firefight would be to a normal person. Yet, it is his duty as a member of the royal family to be a symbol of strength for his people, so he enlists the help of an unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to help him get over his stammer and lead his people in a time of need.

This movie absolutely reeks of award bait. Biopic. Check. Period piece. Check. Inspirational. Check. Involves a person with a disability. Check. You’ve seen this movie before. The parts might be different. The players might not be the same. And people might talk with a funny accent. But at the end of the day, you’ve seen practically the same story over and and over again. The only scenes in the film that to me have any freshness or real life are the scenes between “Bertie” and Lionel at Lionel’s office. The acting chemistry between Firth and Rush is absolutely superb and they play off of each other fantastically.

This film was carried beyond its source material by acting that can only be described as mesmerizing. Colin Firth was, simply put, spell-binding as King George VI. This performance wasn’t quite as good as his role in A Single Man, but since I consider that to be the second best performance of the ’00’s behind Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, don’t take that as an insult. I still haven’t made up my mind about whether he did a better job in this than Jesse Eisenberg did in The Social Network, but do not doubt that Colin Firth is simply put one of the finest actors of his generation. I imagine it won’t be long at all until he is Sir Colin Firth. Geoffrey Rush is actually tied in my mind with Christian Bale for the best supporting performance of the year. He plays Lionel with just the right charm and stubborness that you would expect from a common man that helped to cure a king. He’s brilliant and every scene with the two of them is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise conventional film. Helena Bonham Carter now officially has my vote for best supporting actress however as her role as the Queen. She is such an under-appreciated talent and its a shame that she still hasn’t gotten the major recognition she deserves. She is a rare breed of female actress that can play an astonishingly wide range of roles as well as anyone else.

The movie wasn’t great. It was good, quite good, and grounded in absolutely stellar performances, but this was not the Best Picture of last year. It was in fact, far from it. However, that’s a running theme I have with films that win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. They very rarely pick the film that I actually thought was the Best Film of the year to win, and they often reward directors for some of their least stellar work when they finally decide to recognize them (Scorscese, the Coens, etc.). Should you watch this film? Absolutely. If you love fine acting and an inspirational story, this movie will not disappoint. Just don’t go in with your hopes too high.

Final Score: B+

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