Chatting with some knowledgeable friends about Oscar over the weekend, the subject of the usually competitive Best Actor race came up.  And even with a nomination announcement less than two months away, the consensus was that four of the five nominees were pretty much set. George Clooney for "Up in the Air," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus," Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart" and Colin Firth for "A Single Man." The fifth slot?  There are numerous possibilities for the final contender, but out of those four it's clear if Firth gets in the nod will be the win.  And having met the always gracious Firth a number of times, the British actor who spends a significant amount of his time quietly working on philanthropic causes,  it's hard to see him complaining about not being in the "race."

 

A deserved nominee for his impressive body of work alone, Firth gives one of his finest performances as the heartbroken college professor George in Tom Ford's directorial debut.  Based on Christopher Isherwood's classic novel, "A Single Man" follows a day in George's life in 1960s Los Angeles. However, behind the stiff exterior of a seemingly content educator, is a man who still hasn't recovered from the accidental death of his longtime lover Jim (Matthew Goode).  Will a seemingly flirtatious student (Nicholas Hoult) bring him out of his shell?  Or, will he consider the proposal of his longtime best friend (Julianne Moore) to return to England and start over again?  It's hard to reduce the film to such simple terms, especially with Firth subtly conveying George's sadness during a time when being "out" was rarely an option for professional men.  The context and depth of the film is hardly "simple."

 

Firth, along with some of his "Single Man" cohorts, sat down to talk about the movie last month in Los Angeles.  Speaking to Firth it's obvious he'd prefer to give much of the credit to his director and his co-stars, but he did elaborate on where he found his inspiration for the role in what was an incredibly quick shoot.

 

You can check out the interview embedded in this story, or to watch a larger version of the interview, click here.

 

Look for sit downs with Tom Ford and Matthew Goode later this week.

 

"A Single Man" opens in limited release on Friday and expands nationwide on Dec. 25.

 

Is "A Single Man" on your viewing list?  Does Firth have a shot to beat Bridges, Clooney or Freeman?  Share your thoughts below.

 

For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory