Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Best Actress 2017: Judi Dench in "Victoria & Abdul"

I managed to get myself to the theater recently to catch a showing of Victoria & Abdul. It was 1997 when Judi Dench sort of burst onto the Oscar scene for her performance as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown. I'm sure to this day, many believe she was deserving of the award for Best Actress, which she lost to Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets. Fast forward twenty years, and she's portraying the same character, this time in the queen's final years, when she meets and forms a bond with an Indian subject named Abdul Karim. 

The film itself is fine. I'm a big fan of movies depicting British monarchs, so I'd have been OK seeing it even if there weren't buzz around Dench. I definitely prefer Mrs. Brown, as V&A was pretty predictable and sanctimonious at times. They did a nice job of depicting how awful her family was to Karim (and to her), as her affections for this man disrupted the normalcy of the royal family. 

At this point in the season, Dench is most likely not going to crack the top five for Best Actress. But she does have a few things going for her: one, she's Judi Dench, and the Academy loves her. Two, it's a rather good performance from her, even if the film itself is only at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. Three, it's been doing quite well at the box office (at least foreign), as it's taken in $60 million worldwide. 

This wouldn't be the first time an actor was nominated twice for the same role. Coincidentally, Cate Blanchett did it for portraying another English Queen, Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, and then nine years later for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I happen to think both she and Dench were robbed for the former of their two films. 

Right now, although The Post has yet to screen (I believe the first will be for Academy members on Sunday in New York), the top five contending for Best Actress seem to be fairly firm at this point, with Meryl, Frances McDorman (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). Even though there will apparently be an embargo on reviews after The Post's screening this weekend, I'll keep an eye out for any prediction changes from pundits who were privy to reactions from the Academy. 


26 comments:

  1. Totally agree with you about Blanchett and Dench. Loved Mrs Brown but feel she won't make it in this year - too much competition!

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  2. Do you sincerely think Meryl will get her 4th Oscar with the Post? competition seems pretty high and I don't know how good of a performance this one is...

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    1. I certainly hope she does, but I don't necessarily think she will. I do believe that it's highly likely she'll score her 21st nomination. After last night's screening, she's probably boosted herself into the top three.

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  3. Post screened last night in NY and LA- buzz is strong for movie and Meryl- Jamie

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  4. I have been rather lukewarm about her last few roles but this is the one I'm SO excited to watch and I haven't felt this way since Prada and if memory serves me, all her movies as far back as Kramer to Angels in America. I hope she gets nominated for this (sorry I'm getting ahead of myself)! And I'm hoping The Good House gets made with De Niro SOON! David

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    Replies
    1. David you're a man after my own heart with your reference to The Good House. Sadly, I doubt it'll ever happen, just like Mary Stuart, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, Dewey, First Man and Dirty Tricks.

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    2. Jeff, I'll still hope for The Good House being made with Meryl until the author/studio says 'no deal'. It's too good a part based on what I've read. In fact, if the movie is as good as the book, I have the inkling this will be the 4th for Meryl. David

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