As long as I live I’ll always think of Colin Firth as the polar opposite of Ralph Fiennes. I’m perfectly aware that it dates back to me putting way too much credence in the duo they played over a decade ago in The English Patient– but when I weigh Fiennes’ austere cinematic countenance as against Firth’s easy joviality I can’t help it, which makes me just a little bit annoyed that Firth seems headed to that Oscar podium when such a future seems dubious for Fiennes. For, if there’s any British actor under 50 who should have been laurelled by now it’s Fiennes. Today’s his birthday, and watching over his credits I realise that he’s not done that many films – it just feels as if he has, but there’s ubiquity for you – and here are my top 5 performances of his.
Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show (1994)
“I've been swarmed by stockbrokers lately; I feel like a girl with a bad reputation.”
Maurice Bendrix in The End of the Affair (1999)
“ I hate you, God. I hate you as though you existed”
Justin Quayle in The Constant Gardener (2005)
“I can't go home. Tessa was my home.”
Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List (1993)
“The truth, Helen, is always the right answer.”
Count Lazlo de Almasy in The English Patient (1996)
I’d have give him an Oscar for the top two, easily and at least nominated him for the others – but you know when I’m nepotistic towards someone how it gets. I’m still waiting for his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus to be – the fact that he’s in a leading role and helming a film that just happens to star the absolutely luminous Vanessa Redgrave just makes me thrilled.
(I haven’t seen his acclaimed performances in either Spider or Land of the Blind, unfortunately.)