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Entries in Maggie Smith (44)

Saturday
May122012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For the Elderly and Beautiful)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Outsource your elders. Ship them off to India!

Though some media pundits scoffed last weekend when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened for business the same weekend as The Avengers (previously reviewed) it turned out to be a savvy move. Where else were the spandex averse or Downton Abbey addicts to go? (Rather perversely, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel denies Abbey addicts additional showdowns between Lady Crawley and the Dowager Countess; Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith's stories don't intertwine much) In fact, this British retirees in India dramedy should have opened even wider since they had the nation's second best per screen average and could have cracked the top ten with far fewer theaters than the other movies.

But enough about money. Hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) is a dreamer, not a businessman. His family is losing patience with his dream and time is running out for the hotel. It's running out for the guests, too, as they near the end of their lives. The name of Sonny's establishment is actually “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People”. The movie's title lops off those last five words which only proves Sonny's business model's point: he believes that most countries don't care about their elderly so he'll outsource old age. Come to India and live out your autumn years. [More after the jump]

Dev Patel, drinking the hotel's entire coffee budget before each take.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr292012

First Best Actress Predictions of the New Oscar Year

"Are you actress psychic?" It's a question I've often asked in conjunction with prediction contests. I'm still working out details as to what we'll do for an Oscar contest this year but in the meantime I knew I had to wrap up my April Foolish predictions in April which ends... right about now.

To answer my own question I am somewhat Actress Psychic -- as long time readers know -- since my prediction ratio is pretty good early on before we've seen any films. This year I think I dropped the ball, the crystal one that is, not the "ohmygodthis postissoooolate" ball though that one as well. So many potentially interesting leading actress roles and so little in the way of sure things.

Maggie Smith in Quartet (1981) and Maggie Smith in Quartet (2012)

But let's pause for a moment to appreciate the beautiful coincidence should Maggie Smith be nominated as an opera diva in Quartet (2012). much much Oscary more after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec292011

The Oldest Living "Best Actress" Nominees

Let's hear it for ladies of a certain age!

Mary Tyler Moore, television icon and an Oscar nominee for a terrifically icy variation on one of Oscar's favorite archetypes 'the monster mom' in Ordinary People (1980) turns 75 years old today. The last picture I can find of her out and about is the one to your left taken at the premiere of "Follies" starring Bernadette Peters (DO NOT MISS IT IF YOU'RE IN NYC!) which is just about the most appropriate show an aging diva can be seen at since it's all about aging showgirls looking back on their lives. (It's also one of the best musicals ever written but let's not get distracted...)

Mary Tyler Moore got me to thinking about the endurance of our beloved Best Actress nominees. There have been various media Oscar mash notes over the years that have claimed that winning an Oscar helps you live longer and while I can't possibly aim to verify that it does give one pause to realize that Mary Tyler Moore and Vanessa Redgrave just barely made this list. Jane Fonda &  Liv Ullman didn't even qualify.

25 OLDEST LIVING "BEST ACTRESS" NOMINEES

01 Luise Methusaleh Rainer (nearly 102 years old)
This two time Oscar winner, the first back-to-back competitive Oscar winner (The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth) is the oldest living Oscar winner or nominee from any category. She turns 102 on January 12th.
Still working? Nope... though she still holds court on occasion. She left the movies behind pretty quickly after her prime.

02 Olivia de Havilland (95 years old)
03 Joan Fontaine (94 years old)
Still working? Nope. The famously estranged Oscar-winning sisters were born to British parents in Japan and became Hollywood stars in short succession in the late 30s. Though Joan beat her older sister to the first family Oscar, Olivia triumphed by winning twice. They're both retired and rarely seen in the media. Fontaine supposedly still lives in California. De Havilland, who has lived in France for decades, did show up at the latest Cesar Awards (the French Oscars) where she received a well deserved standing ovation.

Eleanor Parker was a member of one of the most famous Best Actress shortlists of all time in 1950. The year of Bette vs. Gloria when Judy Holliday snuck in and won.

04 Eleanor Parker (89 years old)
The star of Caged (1950) won the Venice Volpi Cup but Oscar always eluded her despite three nominations. If Oscar would ever think to give actresses honorary Oscars, rather than vaguely film-related female celebrities and men from any film profession, she would certainly be worth considering. She's most famous nowadways for her Baroness role in The Sound of Music for which she was not nominated.
Still working? No. Extremely low profile since that last gasp of TV guest work in the 80s.

05 Doris Day (87 years old)
Speaking of Honorary Oscars... her fans get noisy about that all the time. One of the few people you can say "living legend" about without anyone disputing the title. 
Still working? No. Some people believe that Oscar isn't interested in an honorary because she's not likely to show up.

06 Julie Harris (newly 86 years old)
She was an awards magnet in the 1950s, winning Emmys and Tonys and being Oscar nominated for The Member of the Wedding (1952). She played James Dean's girl in the classic East of Eden. It's on the stage where her legend truly resides though. She's won five competitive Tony Awards, which means she's tied with Angela Lansbury for the most wins ever.
Still working? Every once in a while -- her last film was The Lightkeepers (2010).

06 Fernanda Montenegro (82 years old)
The Brazilian legend won a well deserved Oscar nomination for Central Station (1998) which was also up for Best Foreign Film.
Still working? Yep. Next up is a role for Manoel de Oliviera, Portugal's 103 year old prolific director!

07 Joanne Woodward (81 years old)
Mrs. Paul Newman, one of the most acclaimed actors of her generation, won her gold man for The Three Faces of Eve but have you ever seen her work in her husband's debut directorial film Rachel, Rachel? Wow!
Still working? Very very infrequently. Her last major film year was 1993 when she played Tom Hanks's mother in Philadelphia and provided the narration for Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence.

More powerhouse legends after the jump... Gena, Baby Doll, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and a couple of Dames that are still acting and hugely beloved for multiple generations. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep162011

Downton Abbey Returns. The Emmys Are Coming.

Pssssst. Don't tell any Kate Winslet fans* but I'm secretly rooting for Downton Abbey to totally own Mildred Pierce this weekend at the Emmys.

*oops. That's like everyone reading. And me.

Whatever, Downton Abbey is primo tv, obscenely addictive. Closing Statement: Mildred Pierce doesn't have Maggie Smith. I rest my case.

P.S. I'll be live blogging and tweeting the Emmys this weekend so check in, won'cha?

Thursday
Aug252011

Your Fav' Sixties & Seventies Ladies

During Summer 2011  -- winding down at last! -- we've been asking TFE readers to choose the most memorable Best Actress nominated film characters. Which film characters have you taken into your hearts and headspace most fully? Who is always popping into mind unbidden? Below are the latest voting results for August's polls covering the 1960s & 1970s (previous results: 1980s and 1991-2010). We used five year intervals for voting and asked readers to choose the 5 most memorable characters from each group of 25 Oscar nominees.

If you're looking for these polls to provide a "face" of an era it looks like Julie Andrews wins the early 60s -- she was thoroughly modern back then! -- and Faye Dunaway takes over from there for a long run at the top (1966-1980) [* indicates that it was an Oscar winning role.]

1961-1965


  1. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany's
  2. MARY POPPINS* (Julie Andrews) Mary Poppins
  3. [tie] MARIA VON TRAPP (Julie Andrews) The Sound of Music and BABY JANE HUDSON (Bette Davis) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  4. ANNIE SULLIVAN* (Anne Bancroft) The Miracle Worker

Runners Up: Though the top five were never in question, DEANIE LOOMIS from Splendor in the Grass, ALMA BROWN* from Hud (who also tied) and DIANA SCOTT*, the "sunshine girl" from Darling each had deep pockets of swoony admirers.  The remaining two top ten'ers, further back in voting were MARY TYRONE from Long Day's Journey Into Night, and CESIRA* from Two Women.

Observations: The Julie Andrews characters flip-flopped for the first week of voting until Mary took flight and left Maria behind on the hilltop. Baby Jane tried everything to kick Maria off the mountain: writing letters to daddy, rat dinners, actual kicking; a very tight race that was for third place and in the end they tied. Aside from Audrey's win, there was little consensus.

Geraldine Page finds "pure hard gold" in boytoy Paul Newman in Sweet Bird of Youth

I was disappointed at the lack of substantial votes for Natalie Wood's preggers single gal in Love With the Proper Stranger and Geraldine Page's bitch goddess superstar in Sweet Bird of Youth (though the latter almost cracked the top ten) but voting was all over the place in this round. 

Weakest Showing: No actresses suffered the "no votes" problem in this half decade grouping, but ALMA from Summer and Smoke, JANE FOSSETT from The L Shaped Room and MARGARET HAMMOND from This Sporting Life barely found any favor.

1966-1970


  1. MRS ROBINSON (Anne Bancroft) The Graduate
  2. MARTHA* (Elizabeth Taylor) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  3. BONNIE PARKER (Faye Dunaway) Bonnie & Clyde
  4. FANNY BRICE* (Barbra Streisand) Funny Girl
  5. [TIE] ELEANOR OF ACQUITAINE* (Katharine Hepburn) The Lion in Winter and MISS JEAN BRODIE* (Maggie Smith), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

still in her prime.Runners Up: update. whoops. I misread the chart. Maggie Smith's Oscar winning haughty schoolmarm actually tied with Hepburn's Lion in Winter character in the last couple of days of voting. I had missed that! What a relief, Miss Jean Brodie, still being in her prime!] The remaining four players in the top ten are as follows: GLORIA BEATTY danced as fast as she could for 7th place for They Shoot Horses Don't They? Then with far fewer votes came, JENNIFER CAVALLERI from Love Story, SUSY HENDRIX from Wait Until Dark and CHRISTINA DRAYTON* from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Observations: This was the closest the top spot has ever come to a tie with seductive Mrs. Robinson besting drunk Martha by just 2% of votes gathered. In other kindred spirit news, they're both fond of playing "get the guest".

This is also the closest your votes have ever aligned with the Academy's decisions as four of your top five actually winning the gold for their indelible creations and another top ten'er, too. The further back we go the more obvious it is which films are not readily available for home viewing and how much Oscar wins are worth for longevity. It's an easy way to draw people backwards to see old films. But about the availability of some films... I've said it many times but I'll have to keep saying it. Hollywood is a shameful place. It's an industry with gazillions of dollars in profits and far too few of those bucks get funnelled back into the art form to insure that films are preserved and/or available for the public. At the very least an Oscar nomination ought to mean that your film never disappears for good.

Weakest Showing: "Mary Wilson" from Happy Ending received 0% of the votes. The film is not available on DVD. Morgan!'s "Leonie Delt" and "Rosy Ryan" from Ryan's Daughter just barely escaped this fate.

1971-1975


  1. SALLY BOWLES* (Liza Minnelli) Cabaret
  2. NURSE RATCHED* (Louise Fletcher) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  3. EVELYN CROSS MULWRAY (Faye Dunaway) Chinatown
  4. CHRIS MACNEIL (Ellen Burstyn) The Exorcist
  5. ALICE HYATT* (Ellen Burstyn) Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order were BREE DANIELS* Klute, MABEL LONGHETTI A Woman Under the Influence, and KATIE MOROSKY The Way We Were, CONSTANCE MILLER McCabe and Mrs Miller and ADELE The Story of Adele H.

Jane Fonda as "Bree" in KluteObservations: This five year period surprised me the most of all the polls in terms of how well various women fared. Ellen Burstyn is a national treasure but I wasn't expecting either of her roles to show up in the top five, let alone both of them! It seems to me that her past star would not shine as bright without that shocking resurrection that was Requiem for a Dream (2000). Let that be a lesson to all actresses. Don't give up when you've crossed the senior citizen mark. An acclaimed golden years performance can restore major luminosity to to your earlier shining successes. Speaking of which, Jane Fonda could use one final hurrah performance herself to remind people of what an irreplaceable actress she is. I was personally very disappointed to see her Klute performance outside the top five (It was a narrow miss but it shocked me. I'd rank it among the ten best actress performances of all time). But the #8 rank for Barbra's famous romantic heroine from The Way We Were was the biggest lower-than-expect shocker and at the very least it suggests that Carrie Bradshaw was definitely not voting on these polls. 

Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Maggie Paul" from Cinderella Liberty received no votes with the little seen these days "Gitl" from Hester Street nearly meeting the same fate.

1976-1980


  1. ANNIE HALL* (Diane Keaton) Annie Hall
  2. CARRIE WHITE (Sissy Spacek) Carrie
  3. DIANA CHRISTENSEN* (Faye Dunaway) Network
  4. LORETTA LYNN* (Sissy Spacek) Coal Miner's Daughter
  5. NORMA RAE WEBSTER* (Sally Field)

Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order was composed of bad mommy BETH JARRETT from Ordinary People, Goldie Hawn's PRIVATE BENJAMIN, Bette Midler's MARY ROSE FOSTER from The Rose, delusional beige EVE from Interiors and "Yo, ADRIAN" from Rocky just barely knocked Gena Rowland's GLORIA and Ingrid Bergman's CHARLOTTE ANDERGAST of the ring to nab spot #10.

Observations:  I was surprised to see Mary Tyler Moore's legendary Bad Mommy performance in Ordinary People outside the top five but she was just one or two votes shy of making it a three way tie with the two biographical performances ahead of her. 

Marsha... no one is on the line!Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Jenny Maclaine" in Chapter Two received no votes. I thought about voting for this character myself but there were too many other strong options. I used to just love that movie though I have only the dimmest recall of it now so I couldn't say "most memorable!". Mason was a very hot Oscar commodity for a few short years but none of her characters have done well in the polls indicating that her films have either not aged well for one reason or another or people just haven't seen them or, most likely, some combination of both. Is it time for some enterprising young director to take her on as a project: Marsha Mason revival!

This is a lot to process, I know. Any surprises, disappointments or observations you want to share? Have you been inspired to add any of these pictures to your rental queues?

Wednesday
Jul202011

Team Experience: Harry Potter Goodbyes

Hey all. I asked the team here at The Film Experience to say their goodbyes to Hogwarts and the Potter franchise now that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two has been viewed by everyone and their werewolf uncle. Y'all know how I feel about it but a huge scale of opinions and emotions swirling about out there. Each wand is unique and chooses its wizard or some such; we're all beautiful unique snowflakes!

1. WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER?

JA: I always gravitate towards the nerdy girls so my first thought was Hermione, but then she was swallowed whole by a tidal wave of Luna Lovegood affection. The casting people worked magic pretty much across the board but Evanna Lynch was an amazing find.

Andreas: Bellatrix, at least as portrayed by HBC. Cackling, sadistic, sexy -- I'd take her delightfully evil turn any day over her Oscar-nominated cheerleading in The King's Speech.

Kurt: Minerva McGonagall, and she gets two of the best lines in the new movie! Maggie Smith, ready to bring the thunder. Great.

Michael: Neville, Neville, Neville. The same weight of tragedy and depth of character as Harry without the cushy celebrity status or the unfortunate bouts of "woe is me" whining.  All I care about in the last movie is his big moment with the Sword of Gryffindor. It should be the cinematic "Hell, yes!" equivalent of Viggo Mortenson jumping off that ship with the army of the dead at his back.

Jose: Snape of course!

2. WHICH PROFESSOR OF MAGIC WOULD YOU LOVE TO BE SCHOOLED BY?

oh baby, talk dirty Rickman to me!

Jose:  Snape of course! The Dark Arts sound like fun!

Michael: Snape, no contest. I don't care if he does nothing but heap abuse on me. I could still listen to Alan Rickman all day.

JA: Love Maggie Smith but Professor McGonagall would've made me cry with all those withering glances. Professor Flitwick would've been fun! I could've quotedWillow to him. "Some day, Burglekutt! Some day!!!"

Kurt: My first impulse is to say Dumbledore (he seems so cuddly), but he's technically not a teacher, so I'll go with McGonagall. To quote Larry Crowne (and I swear it's the one and ONLY time I'll quote Larry Crowne), she's tough but fair.

Andreas: I've always liked Remus Lupin. He's so mild-mannered and knowledgeable about all kinds of magic. He marries one of the other coolest people in the series, Tonks. And he's a conflicted werewolf, which is pretty badass. Definitely my prof of choice if I went to Hogwarts; I'm just disappointed that he got so little screen time before his sad off-screen death!

3. IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE SERIES, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Andreas: I know it's crazy, but why not make it all animated? I feel like Studio Ghibli could do wonders with a complex magical fantasy like this. At the very least, they would've made the characters in the epilogue look convincingly older. 

Kurt: That it could better balance its romances with its driving action. The juxtaposition of raging teen hormones and grave danger has usually been very effective, but the couplings have always felt like inauthentic footnotes. I really liked the final film, but I'd have been more invested had I given a hoot about Ron & Hermione, Harry & Ginny, and Luna & Neville "Never Met a Comic Relief Moment He Couldn't Fumble" Longbottom.

Jose: Have actual auteurs doing the directing work, other than Cuarón's film, none had any sense of real artistry and intention. They embodied the dullness that is adapting something just for the sake of it.

JA: Eight more movies!

Michael: Harry Potter and the Missed Opportunity

4. IN WHAT SORT OF OBJECTS WOULD WE BE LIKELY TO FIND YOUR HORCRUXES?

via

JA: My soul and all its pieces belongs to Victor Krum's underwear drawer.

Kurt: GREAT question. Mine would be: My "Lord of the Rings" Extended Edition boxed set, my grandfather's military pendant, my latest peanut butter jar (I, very unfortunately, LOVE peanut butter), a framed photo of Brandon from when we first started dating, my journal from 2003-2007, my first writing award, and my father's father's pocket watch.

Jose: My Blu-ray and DVD library, my Kindle, white CK briefs and bad dates.

Michael: Ticket stubs. I doubt I would present much of a challenge to Harry and friends. They would have me finished off by page 50 and spend the other 750 pages playing quidditch and making out in the room of requirement. 

5. WILL YOU BE HAPPY TO SEE RALPH FIENNES'S NOSE AGAIN?

JA: Are we sure he hasn't carved it off for method thespian purposes? Has anyone seen it lately? Maybe in real life he's actually wearing a prosthetic nose now and the Voldemort nose look is him without make-up. Nobody will ever know unless somebody jumps him on a red carpet and yanks at his ears! I think I speak for us all when I say that you have the permission of the Film Experience establishment to do this now, everyone.

Kurt: Yes. I like my Fiennes brothers au naturale ...and take from that what you will.

Michael: Kudos to Ralph Fiennes to playing the most iconic villain of modern pop culture. I refer of course to "Harry" from In Bruges. I found his Voldemort to be kind of a one note sinister ghoul to be honest.

Whenever I see Brendan Gleeson show up as Mad Eye Moody I am overcome with the desire  to see him confront Voldemort  at the Hog’s Head  In Bruges-style over some butter beers.

Moody: Voldemort, let’s face it. And I’m not being funny. I mean no disrespect, but you’re a cunt. You’re a cunt now. You’ve always been a cunt. And you’ll always be a cunt. Maybe make some more cunt horcruxes.

Voldemort: Leave my horcruxes fucking out of it! What have they ever done?  You retract that bit about my cunt fucking horcruxes!

Moody: I retract that bit about your cunt fucking horcruxes.

Voldemort: insult my fucking horcruxes? That’s going overboard, mate!

 

Want more?
Reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two from Jose and Nathaniel,  a teary goodbye from JA who loved the series the most of any TFE contributor, a series lament from Michael in which he posits that the films shouldn't have started production until very recently. (Interesting!)

Your turn! 
Talking about its box office is boring which seems to be the convo du jour. (The franchise continues to fill JK Rowling's endless vault at Gringotts. The end.)  You know you want to answer those five questions in the comments! Or just a couple of them. Your choice.