Movie: Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown
Nominations: Best Actress - Judi Dench, Best Makeup
Wins/Snubs: This was the strange year that Helen Hunt won for As Good as it Gets, over Dame Judi, and Kate Winslet for Titanic. Men in Black took the award for Makeup. I think her terrific performance in this is a big part of why, just a year later, she won the Oscar for Supporting Actress in Shakespeare in Love with just 8 minutes of screen time.
This is a historical, costume drama based on real events during the reign of Queen Victoria (Judi Dench). After her husband, Prince Albert, dies, Victoria is inconsolable and withdraws from public life for years (she continued to wear black the rest of her life, they were married 21 years, she was Queen for 63). One of the things her aides does to console her is to bring her a pony from her Scottish Castle, Balmoral, and Albert's groom, John Brown (Billy Connolly). Brown obviously had a great relationship with Albert, much more friends than servant, and Victoria treats him with respect and lets him get away with bossing her around a bit. Victoria was queen in a fairly suspicious and threatening time (obviously it ebbed and flowed over her 60+ years) and eventually came to rely on Mr. Brown's advice and protection - he encouraged her to stay at Balmoral to remain safe. They were "together" for nearly a decade and her reputation definitely suffered from her absence, but eventually he gave her the strength to rejoin society and lead the country.
This movie focuses much more on their relationship than on what was really going on during her reign, and that's fine. It doesn't have to be a historically focused movie, but giving neither of the main characters much background makes the movie feel shallow too. Also it jumps from disconnected event to event years apart, but appear related. I found that hard to believe - that a particular conversation would have consequences a year later and the other days between don't matter. But Judi Dench's performance was terrific. She has to show the struggle between being a practiced monarch and being a woman with a broken heart who just wants to cling to her memories and stay safe. Also, random - Gerard Butler's first movie as Mr. Brown's younger brother. Good movie, not great, so I can see how it only got the two nominations.
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