Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli: Academy Awards
Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli arrive at the 2011 Academy Awards on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
For his performance as King George VI in Tom Hooper’s critical and box office hit The King’s Speech, Firth, as expected, took home the Best Actor Oscar. After receiving the statuette from the hands of Sandra Bullock, he remarked, “I have a feeling my career’s just peaked.”
Could be. Firth, who turned 50 last Sept. 10, has been featured in more than 40 movies. Chiefly notable among these are (updated in April 2015):
- Another Country (1984).
Director: Marek Kanievska.
Cast: Rupert Everett. Colin Firth.
- Apartment Zero (1988).
Director: Martin Donovan.
Cast: Colin Firth. Hart Bochner. Dora Bryan.
- Valmont (1989).
Director: Milos Forman.
Cast: Colin Firth. Annette Bening. Meg Tilly.
- The English Patient (1996).
Director: Anthony Minghella.
Cast: Ralph Fiennes. Kristin Scott Thomas. Juliette Binoche. Colin Firth.
- Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Director: John Madden.
Cast: Joseph Fiennes. Gwyneth Paltrow. Geoffrey Rush. Judi Dench. Tom Wilkinson. Colin Firth.
- Bridges Jones’ Diary (2001).
Director: Sharon Maguire.
Cast: Renée Zellweger. Colin Firth. Hugh Grant.
- Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003).
Director: Peter Webber.
Cast: Colin Firth. Scarlett Johansson. Tom Wilkinson.
- Mamma Mia! (2008).
Director: Phyllida Lloyd.
Cast: Meryl Streep. Amanda Seyfried. Pierce Brosnan. Dominic Cooper. Colin Firth. Julie Walters. Stellan Skarsgård. Christine Baranski.
- A Single Man (2009).
Director: Tom Ford.
Cast: Colin Firth. Julianne Moore. Matthew Goode. Nicholas Hoult.
- The King’s Speech (2010).
Director: Tom Hooper.
Cast: Colin Firth. Geoffrey Rush. Helena Bonham Carter. Guy Pearce. Claire Bloom.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).
Director: Tomas Alfredson.
Cast: Gary Oldman. John Hurt. Colin Firth. Benedict Cumberbatch. Ciarán Hinds. Tom Hardy.
- The Railway Man (2013).
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky.
Cast: Colin Firth. Nicole Kidman. Jeremy Irvine. Stellan Skarsgård.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).
Director: Matthew Vaughn.
Cast: Colin Firth. Taron Egerton. Mark Strong. Jack Davenport. Mark Hamill. Michael Caine. Samuel L. Jackson.
Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli photo: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.
Pictured above is Best Actor winner Colin Firth backstage at the 2011 Academy Awards.
Firth’s Oscar nomination for The King’s Speech was his second. Last year, he was shortlisted for his portrayal of a grieving gay college professor in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. He lost to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart.
Coincidentally, Bridges was also in the running this year for Joel and Ethan Coen’s Western True Grit, which ended up not winning any awards despite its ten nominations.
Colin Firth photo: Rick Slayer / © A.M.P.A.S.
Colin Firth Oscar acceptance speech: Upper abdominal ‘stirrings’
Colin Firth’s Academy Award acceptance speech included a reference to “stirrings” located “somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.”
Whether or not that meant Firth was in the throes of becoming possessed by the spirit of Fred Astaire and/or Ginger Rogers – or perhaps Jessie Matthews (like Firth, she was British) – will remain an Oscar mystery for the ages. After all, Firth didn’t perform any tap dancing on stage, explaining that “joyous as [the stirrings] may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.”*
As the stirrings traveled through his body, he thanked the cast and crew of The King’s Speech (“Geoffrey, Helena, and Guy, whose virtuosity made it very, very difficult for me to be as bad as I was planning to be”), in addition to screenwriter David Seidler, “whose own struggles have given so many people the benefit of his very beautiful voice,” and director Tom Hooper “for the immense courage and clear-sightedness with which he interpreted [the struggles of the film’s main character].”
Harvey Weinstein’s ‘child sensation’
Besides thanking The King’s Speech producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Gareth Unwin, Colin Firth also had a word for The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein, “who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation” and for A Single Man director Tom Ford, “to whom I owe a very big piece of this.”
Besides Colin Firth, The King’s Speech features Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, and Claire Bloom. Sandra Bullock, last year’s Best Actress winner for The Blind Side, handed Firth his Best Actor Oscar.
* While interviewed backstage at the Oscars, a reporter asked Firth, “You don’t want to let loose?”
No. I was struggling with the containment in that moment and I think I need some quality time alone. I don’t think this is the particular forum to display that. Anyone having seen Mamma Mia! will know what I’m talking about.
Colin Firth Oscar acceptance speech text: Courtesy © A.M.P.A.S.
Sandra Bullock and Colin Firth photo: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.
Colin Firth interview backstage at Oscars 2011
Best Actor Oscar winner Colin Firth spoke to the media backstage on Sunday at the Kodak Theatre.
Topics worth mentioning – “journalists” asked several embarrassingly inane questions – included Tom Hooper’s direction, Firth’s belief that The King’s Speech doesn’t really have a message (even though it clearly does), and his discomfort with the PG-13-rated version of the film. Unfortunately, the at times quite outspoken Firth was reluctant to discuss the demise of the UK Film Council. See below.
Colin Firth on Tom Hooper’s direction and the fact that he had to perform a key dramatic scene right at the start of filming The King’s Speech:
… I think it was very good because I put both feet in and so did [Tom Hooper] and he committed to a style he wasn’t quite sure about yet. He still had a few options open, but after we completed that day which could have ended up being about 10 percent of our entire film, he realized he had committed to a cinematographic style.
And I had committed to my approach and to be squeezed down in the corner of a sofa, and Tom kept telling me to shrink myself physically because I’m much bigger than George VI. He was very slight and he had a famous small disposition.
So Tom’s note to me was, “Try to disappear as much as possible.” And I think that’s partly why he put me on the edge of the big sofa and part of why he put me on the edge of the frame, surround[ing] me by what he thought was negative space. And I could feel all that going on and so it definitely informed what I did.
Regarding the message (or lack thereof) in The King’s Speech:
I don’t believe in messages in what I do. I don’t think we’re preachers. I don’t think we’re philosophers. I personally happen to be an annoyingly outspoken person, but that’s not because I think the storytelling involves prescribing what people should think or hear …
… Quite obviously speech therapists and people who have difficulties with their speech of whatever kind, have responded to [The King’s Speech], and that is very powerful to me to be on the receiving end of that kind of feedback because what we do is very often – it’s justifiably judged as completely and utterly frivolous. …
But the fact is that it overlaps with something that has connected with or resonated with people who’ve, you know, feel they’ve been heard about something for the first time. … I don’t think it sent a message. I just think maybe it shines a light on something which badly needed it.
‘The King’s Speech’ PG-13 cut
Regarding the PG-13 cut of The King’s Speech, which Colin Firth admits he hasn’t seen, he affirmed: “I don’t support it.”
When asked why not, his response was:
Because I think the film has its integrity as it stands. I think that scene [in which King George VI says the word “fuck” a few times] belongs where it is. I think it serves a purpose. I’m not someone who is casual about that kind of language I don’t relish.
I take my children to see football games, soccer. And I wouldn’t be able to, if I wanted to protect them from those kind of words at the expense of all else. …
… I don’t take that stuff lightly. But the context of this film could not be more edifying, more appropriate. It’s not vicious. It’s not to do insult [and] it’s not in any … context which might offend people, really.
It’s about a man trying to free himself through the use of forbidden words, and he’s so coy about it. I mean, I just can’t – I still haven’t met the person who would object to it. So I think the film should stand as it is.
Regarding the demise of the UK Film Council thanks to David Cameron’s Tory government:
Q. One of the reasons The King’s Speech actually got made in the first place is that it got a 1 million-pound grant from the UK Film Council. That Film Council has obviously just been scrapped by the incoming government. What do you think your success tonight and the success of the film says about that decision?
A. I don’t really want to get entangled in the political judgment on that. I tend to find that my rather insignificant opinions get more attention than they deserve, but I do think that on the face of it, that that was a short-sighted decision.
I do, however, think that the fact that the BFI seems to have taken up that role is very positive and I think that it was probably a sign that the government has recognized a need for a body like that … to find a way to get films financed with government cooperation. So I’m optimistic at the moment.
Sandra Bullock and Colin Firth photo: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.
Melissa Leo, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Colin Firth photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.
Mila Kunis: Oscar Red Carpet
Even though she failed to be shortlisted for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance as Natalie Portman’s fellow ballerina and (sort of) intimate acquaintance in Black Swan, Mila Kunis was in good spirits when she arrived at the 2011 Academy Awards, held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles.
Kunis was a presenter along with her Friends with Benefits co-star Justin Timberlake, who kept making (unfunny) Banksy jokes. Timberlake’s fooling around was more effective when he imitated veteran Kirk Douglas teasing the Best Supporting Actress nominees. (The eventual winner was Melissa Leo for David O. Russell’s The Fighter.)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the dark psychological thriller Black Swan was received quite enthusiastically in some quarters, eventually landing Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations. The sleeper hit – more than $200 million worldwide on a $13 million budget (not including marketing and distribution expenses) also earned Natalie Portman the year’s Best Actress Oscar statuette.
Besides Portman and Mila Kunis, the Black Swan cast includes the following:
Mila Kunis movies
The Ukrainian-born, mostly Los Angeles-raised Mila Kunis has been featured in nearly 20 movies, mostly in supporting/minor roles. Her film credits include the following:
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008; her performance in this comedy reportedly impressed director Aronofsky).
Director: Nicholas Stoller.
Cast: Jason Segel. Kristen Bell. Russell Brand. Bill Hader.
- Max Payne (2008).
Director: John Moore.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg. Chris O’Donnell. Beau Bridges. Ludacris. Donal Logue. Amaury Nolasco. Olga Kurylenko. Kate Burton. Nelly Furtado.
- The Book of Eli (2010).
Director: Albert and Allen Hughes.
Cast: Denzel Washington. Gary Oldman. Ray Stevenson. Jennifer Beals. Evan Jones. Joe Pingue. Frances de la Tour. Michael Gambon. Tom Waits. Chris Browning.
- Date Night (2010).
Director: Shawn Levy.
Cast: Steve Carell. Tina Fey. Mark Wahlberg. Taraji P. Henson. Jimmi Simpson. Common. William Fichtner. Leighton Meesters. Kristen Wiig. Mark Ruffalo. James Franco. Bill Burr. Olivia Munn. Darren Le Gallo. Will.i.am.
Another image of Mila Kunis on the 2011 Academy Awards’ Red Carpet just outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Mila Kunis photos: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.
Céline Dion photo: Oscars’ Red Carpet photos
Singer Céline Dion arrives at the 2011 Academy Awards. The awards presentation ceremony was held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Dion has one previous major connection to the movies: the Titanic ballad “My Heart Will Go On.” Additionally, Céline Dion’s voice has been heard in movies as diverse as At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Sleepless in Seattle, Asterix and the Vikings, Stuart Little 2, and Mona Lisa Smile.
This year, she sang “Smile” during the Oscarcast’s “In Memoriam” segment.
The Oscars’ usually controversial ‘In Memoriam’ segment
Among those remembered during the 2011 Academy Awards’ ‘In Memoriam’ segment were Best Actress Oscar winner Patricia Neal (Hud), two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh (An Unmarried Woman, Starting Over), Forbidden Planet actors Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen, actor Robert Culp, filmmakers Mario Monicelli, Blake Edwards, and Claude Chabrol, and singer/actress Lena Horne, who also received a special tribute from Halle Berry.
Troubled actor Corey Haim (Lucas, The Lost Boys), who died at age 38 last year, was ignored. The omission led to online outrage.
Céline Dion photo: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.
Andrew Garfield photo: Academy Awards’ Red Carpet
Andrew Garfield is seen above on the Academy Awards’ Red Carpet just outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Garfield had been touted as a potential Best Supporting Actor Oscar contender for his performance in David Fincher’s acclaimed drama and Best Picture nominee The Social Network, but he failed to be shortlisted. The year’s Best Supporting Actor winner was Christian Bale for David O. Russell’s The Fighter.
Andrew Garfield movies
To date, Andrew Garfield has been featured in only a handful of movies. Titles include:
- Boy A (2007).
Director: John Crowley.
Cast: Andrew Garfield. Peter Mullan. Siobhan Finneran.
- Lions for Lambs (2007).
Director: Robert Redford.
Cast: Tom Cruise. Meryl Streep. Robert Redford. Andrew Garfield. Michael Peña. Peter Berg. Kevin Dunn. Derek Luke.
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
Director: Terry Gilliam.
Cast: Christopher Plummer. Heath Ledger. Andrew Garfield. Christian Bale. Johnny Depp. Lily Cole. Jude Law. Colin Farrell. Peter Stormare. Tom Waits.
In 2010, Garfield was also featured in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley.
Andrew Garfield photo: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem: Academy Awards’ Red Carpet
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards held on Feb. 27, ’11, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Bardem – one of the Oscars’ rare non-English-language nominees in the acting categories – was up for Best Actor for his performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Mexican-Spanish co-production Biutiful. As expected, the winner in that category was Colin Firth for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech.
Javier Bardem had been previously nominated as Best Actor for Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls (2000) and took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men (2007).
Penélope Cruz also has three Oscar nominations, including one win, in her resumé:
- Best Actress for Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver (2006).
- Best Supporting Actress for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), for which she won the Oscar and in which Javier Bardem is also featured.
- Best Supporting Actress for Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009) – the only nominee among the film’s extensive and prestigious cast, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, and Kate Hudson.
Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem Oscar Red Carpet photo: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
Chris Harrison: Oscars’ Red Carpet
According to reports, The Bachelor host Chris Harrison was scheduled to interview Best Actress Oscar nominee (and eventual winner) Natalie Portman and Best Actor nominee and Oscar ceremony co-host James Franco.
Natalie Portman was honored for her work as a mentally unbalanced ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan.
Even though James Franco’s performance as hiker/mountain climber Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s existential adventure drama 127 Hours received much better notices than his Oscar-hosting abilities, he failed to take home an Oscar statuette. As mentioned above, Colin Firth was the winner.
Chris Harrison Oscar Red Carpet photo: John Selig / © A.M.P.A.S.
Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic at the Academy Awards
Eventual Best Supporting Actor winner Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic Bale are seen above on the Red Carpet of the 83rd Academy Awards, held on Feb. 27, ’11, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
The Welsh-born Bale took home the Oscar statuette for his performance as a boxer turned coach and junkie in David O. Russell’s boxing drama and sleeper hit The Fighter. His co-stars were Mark Wahlberg (who also co-produced the film), Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Amy Adams.
Christian Bale movies
The Fighter was Christian Bale’s first Academy Award nomination. Among his other movie credits are:
- The Dark Knight (2008).
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Cast: Christian Bale. Heath Ledger. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Aaron Eckhart.
- The Prestige (2006).
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Cast: Hugh Jackman. Christian Bale. Piper Perabo. Scarlett Johansson. Michael Caine. David Bowie. Rebecca Hall. Andy Serkis.
- Batman Begins (2005).
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Cast: Christian Bale. Liam Neeson. Katie Holmes. Michael Caine.
Sibi Blazic movies
As found on the IMDb, the Chicago-born Sibi Blazic did some stunt work in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Blazic is also credited as an “assistant” in four movies of the ’90s:
- George of the Jungle (1997).
- Red Corner (1997).
- Girl, Interrupted (1999).
- Autumn in New York (2000).
Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic were married in 2000.
Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic Bale photo on the Academy Awards’ Red Carpet: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
Best Supporting Actress nominee Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld poses for the camera while on the 2011 Academy Awards’ Red Carpet outside the Kodak Theatre. Steinfeld was nominated for her role as an Avenging Teenager in Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit.*
Although the 15-year-old was shortlisted as a supporting player, her character is in fact True Grit‘s female lead. Also in the film’s cast: Best Actor nominee Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper.
True Grit failed to win a single Oscar in spite of its ten nominations, including Best Director(s) and Best Picture. It’s now one of the top four biggest losers in Oscar history, along with the following:
- The Turning Point (1977; 11 x 0).
Director: Herbert Ross.
Cast: Shirley MacLaine. Anne Bancroft. Leslie Browne. Mikhail Baryshnikov.
- The Color Purple (1985; 11 x 0).
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg. Danny Glover. Margaret Avery. Oprah Winfrey.
- Gangs of New York (2002; 10 x 0).
Director: Martin Scorsese.
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis. Leonardo DiCaprio. Cameron Diaz.
Hailee Steinfeld movies
Last year, besides True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld was featured in two short films:
- Grand Cru.
Director: Aimee Long.
Cast: Alexandra LeMosle. Harrison Boxley.
- Sophie Without Wings.
Director: Megan Weaver.
Cast: Brian Spangler.
* Directed by Henry Hathaway, the 1969 True Grit starred eventual Best Actor Oscar winner John Wayne, Kim Darby (in the Hailee Steinfeld role), and Glenn Campbell.
A 1978 television movie also called True Grit was directed by Richard T. Heffron, and starred Warren Oates and Lisa Pelikan.
However, the plot of the TV movie was different. It was sold as a sequel of sorts to the 1969 box office hit and its 1975 big-screen sequel, Rooster Cogburn, starring John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.
Hailee Steinfeld photo on the Oscars’ Red Carpet: Ivan Vejar / © A.M.P.A.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.