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Royals on film: 5 to watch

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 2010's "The King's

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 2010's "The King's Speech" starred Colin Firth. Credit: The Weinstein Company

The movies love royalty. They're particularly fond of English royalty. And they've got something of a soft spot for the Windsors, whose plentiful filmography probably ranks them alongside the Tudors (Henry VIII and all those Elizabeth I movies) among regal film families. One significant difference is that the current English royal family is the only one to have occupied the throne since the cinema was invented in 1895. Queen Victoria died in 1901; her son was Edward VII, and his son, George V, changed the family name in 1917 from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (inherited from Victoria's husband, Albert) because of anti-German sentiment. They all became Windsors -- the current queen is George V's granddaughter, and the fact that her whole family's been in the movies probably doesn't make her that happy.

THE KING'S SPEECH (2010) The winner of four Academy Awards (including best picture and best actor), nominated for eight more, director Tom Hooper's film told of how the stuttering King George VI strove for kingly eloquence as his nation prepped for war. It featured first-rate performances by Colin Firth as "Bertie" and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist Lionel Logue (say that five times fast).

THE QUEEN (2006) Wagering against Helen Mirren was a foolish thing in 2007, as she and her regal performance as Elizabeth II swept all the major film awards and established the actress -- not that there'd been much doubt -- as something of a queen herself.

W.E. (2011) Madonna directed this royally misguided effort to redeem Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough, terrific nonetheless), the American divorcee/adventuress for whom Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) abdicated the throne. The title denotes "Wallis & Edward"; the movie includes, for very little reason, a parallel story featuring Abby Cornish as a Wallis devotee bidding on Windsor ephemera at 1998 Sotheby's.

THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1939) Shirley Temple has a celebrated run-in with Queen Victoria (Beryl Mercer), who is visiting a military hospital during the Boer War and allows young Sara Crewe to search the facility for her shell-shocked father (Ian Hunter), who has been reduced to muttering "Sara . . . Sara . . ." You think someone would have figured it out a little sooner.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012) Bill Murray is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who forms a sincere but strategic friendship with England's George VI (Samuel West), during a royal visit by the king and his wife, Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), to FDR's home in the Hudson Valley town of the title. The main plot involves the wheelchair-bound prez and his usually retiring cousin Daisy (Laura Linney), who are having what they would have called a fling. 

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