Actor's joy tempered by Oscar smear campaign

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The Independent Culture

Colin Firth is in pole position to win an Oscar after scooping a Golden Globe on Sunday night for his performance in The King's Speech.

But shortly after Britain awoke to the news yesterday morning, it emerged that an old story about King George VI's callous attitude to Jews trying to escape from Nazi Germany was being circulated in Hollywood in an apparent attempt to stop Firth from winning the award.

A leading Hollywood blogger revealed that a move is afoot to block the nomination by drawing attention to an article written in a British Sunday newspaper nine years ago on the King's attitude to Jewish immigration. It was based on a government document from 1939 which recorded that "having learnt that 'a number of Jewish refugees from different countries were surreptitiously getting into Palestine', the King was 'glad to think that steps are being taken to prevent these people leaving their country of origin'."

Hollywood blogger Scott Feinberg said the article has been circulated by a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards Oscars, in what he suggests could be a "co-ordinated smear campaign that is being orchestrated by someone with a vested interest."

The original was written in The Observer by the journalist Ben Summerskill, who pointed out yesterday that it should not be used to judge Firth's performance. "It's certainly a touching film, but no one pretends that it's realistic. The Queen Mother is seen through out not having a drink," he joked.

The Golden Globes are a curtain raiser to the more prestigious Oscars, although the two do not always coincide. There was a notable clash last year when the Best Picture Golden Globe went to Avatar, directed by James Cameron, but the Oscar was awarded to The Hurt Locker, directed by his former wife, Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win the top award in 82 years.

The two awards coincide more often than they differ. In the 66 years since the Golden Globes were launched, 45 of the films singled out by foreign critics have gone on to win the Oscar. The past 10 years have seen slightly more deviation, when five of the pictures that picked up a Globe also collected the subsequent Oscar, but five did not.

More relevant to Firth's hopes is the fact that six of the men who have won the Best Actor award at the Golden Globes in the last 10 years have gone on to win an Oscar, including Daniel Day-Lewis.

The main winner at the Golden Globes was The Social Network, based on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg. Natalie Portman won Best Dramatic Actress for her role in Black Swan, due for UK release on 21 January, while Toy Story 3 won best animated feature.