''The King's Speech'' could help the previously nominated actor take home an award

By Dave Karger
Updated September 10, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
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With the film-festival triumvirate of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto heralding the prelude to the awards season, a handful of early contenders have begun to emerge. A year after scoring his first Oscar nod (for A Single Man), Colin Firth could become the first back-to-back Best Actor nominee since Johnny Depp in 2004, thanks to his charming and affecting performance as a stammering monarch in The King’s Speech. The spirited drama (out Nov. 26) also boasts strong supporting performances from Academy favorites Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter but is foremost a showcase for Firth, who seems at the top of his game. Fans shouldn’t get too excited just yet, though: One of his competitors could be the man who bested him at the Oscars earlier this year. With the starring role in the Coen brothers’ Western True Grit, Jeff Bridges, who won his first Oscar in March for Crazy Heart, may find himself at the forefront of the awards race again.

Also earning Oscar buzz…
Natalie Portman, whose daring turn as a mentally unstable ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s noir thriller Black Swan won raves at Venice…Michael Douglas, whose classy response to his cancer diagnosis is shedding new light on his strong performances in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (a supporting role) and Solitary ManBlue Valentine‘s heartbreaking duo of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who will attempt to slay Toronto audiences after doing the same at Sundance and Cannes…James Franco, who dominates 127 Hours (Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire), playing Aron Ralston, the hiker who cut off his arm after being trapped by a boulder…and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace, who has capitalized on her film’s Oscar eligibility by hiring the publicist who helped guide another foreign star, Marion Cotillard, to a Best Actress win two years ago. — DK

The King's Speech

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