Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

1. Colin Firth as George in A Single Man

The 1981 English play Another Country served as a showcase for a host of gifted young actors, among them Kenneth Branagh, Rupert Everett, Daniel Day-Lewis and Colin Firth. In the decades since, Firth has been an appealing, gently seductive leading man on TV (notably as the dreamboat Mr. Darcy in the BBC's 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice) and in movies (as Bridget Jones's modern Darcy). But he never got that Role of a Lifetime that actors pray for, until Tom Ford chose him to play George — an Englishman in California, quietly agonizing over the sudden death of his longtime lover — in this film of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel. Firth infuses George with his familiar warmth and delicacy, and an undercurrent of desperation that is all the more powerful for being so subtly expressed. As the camera keeps its close watch on Firth's gorgeous, grieving face; the impact is as thrilling as any megamovie special effect.