WASHINGTON, December 12, 2013 – Emma Thompson’s new film “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story of how Walt Disney persuaded P.L. Travers’ the author of “Mary Poppins” to bring her children’s tale to the silver screen, opens on Dec. 13. The British actress and writer has won two Oscars.
In honor of her latest, The List this week looks at Miss Thompson’s top ten films to date.
10. Stranger Than Fiction (2006) - In this 2006 film, Miss Thompson plays the author-narrator Karen Eiffel whose writing puts the main character in her book - Harold Crick, a lonely Internal Revenue Service agent played by Will Ferrell - in a crisis because she has to kill him off. When Harold sees author Eiffel interviewed on television, he recognizes the voice and embarks on a quest to change his story - both real and written.
9. The Song of Lunch (2010) - Miss Thompson earned an Emmy nomination for her radiant performance in this short BBC TV movie that aired on PBS in 2012 and was based on a bittersweet poem Christopher Reid. Former lovers, Miss Thompson and Alan Rickman, meet up for the first time in 15 years and bitter regrets are exposed.
8. Henry V (1989) - Miss Thompson played Katherine, the French Princess, opposite her then husband Kenneth Branagh in the title role in this critically acclaimed version of Shakespeare’s play. Miss Thompson mainly speaks French in the film, as she struggles to learn English from her governess in the climactic courtship scene. It was Kenneth Branagh’s directorial debut and was the first time we got to see the celebrated couple on the big screen.
7. Nanny McPhee (2005) - In this family fantasy-comedy, Miss Thompson plays a frumpy, grumpy, wart-infested yet magical governess similar to Mary Poppins. Miss Thompson spent 10 years working on the screenplay. She based the lead character very much on her own grandmother. The sequel “Nanny McPhee Returns” came out in 2010.
6. Love Actually (2003) - One of the few redeeming moments from this silly and superficial film was Emma Thompson’s moving performance as a wife who stumbles across evidence of what might be her husband’s infidelity. Probably the best scene in the film.
“I knew just how to play that part; I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer,” she told The Sunday Telegraph.
5. Dead Again (1991) - Miss Thompson starred with her then-husband Kenneth Branagh in this stylistic, romantic murder mystery in the couple’s first Hollywood production. Both members of this talented pair played dual roles in the whodunit that interweaves events from the present and the late 1940s, creating a wonderful aura of mystery and apprehension. Derek Jacobi plays a witty antique dealer who dabbles in hypnotism, while Andy Garcia and Robin Williams also have clever roles. Mr. Branagh directed the film.
4. Much Ado About Nothing (1993) — Never a dull actress to watch Miss Thompson, enhanced by a Tuscan sun tan, is radiant as Beatrice in her then-husband Kenneth Branagh’s movie version of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. It was the fourth and final film the couple starred in together. They divorced in 1995. The film is a richly sensuous delight with a strong supporting cast including Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard, Michael Keaton and Keanu Reeves.
3. Howards End (1992) — Miss Thompson plays Margaret Schlegel is this adaptation of E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel directed by James Ivory-Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The film won three Academy Awards with Miss Thompson winning the award for Best Actress. According to reports, at this time, Kenneth Branagh embarked on a relationship with Helena Bonham Carter who had starred opposite Miss Thompson in the film.
2. Remains of the Day (1993) - Adapted from a prize-winning British novel by the Japanese emigré Kazuo Ishiguro, the film reunited Miss Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, the star of “Howards End.” Miss Thompson plays housekeeper Sally Kenton in the aristocratic refuge of Darlington Hall. Her repeated attempts to dent the stubborn formality of butler Stevens, played by Mr. Hopkins, fail. Supporting roles by Christopher Reeve and Hugh Grant added glamor and cheerfulness to the film.
1. Sense and Sensibility (1995) - Miss Thompson doubled as leading lady and screenwriter on Ang Lee’s 1995 adaptation of the first Jane Austen novel, published in 1811. In a stunning performance, Miss Thompson plays Elinor Dashwood, who suffers in silence and provides a mature contrast to Kate Winslet’s headstrong Marianne Dashwood. The film earned a total of seven Academy Award nominations, with Miss Thompson winning an Oscar for the screenplay that she spent five years working on.
And now, to wrap things up, how about a trailer from that new Emma Thompson film, “Saving Mr. Banks, co-starring Tom Hanks? Both are pictured above.
Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, The Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, The Record (Bergen County, NJ), Associated Press.
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