Monday, February 13, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 20: Gosford Park

Movie: Gosford Park
Year: 2002
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director - Robert Altman, Best Supporting Actress - Maggie Smith, Best Supporting Actress - Helen Mirren, Art Direction, Costumes, Original Screenplay - Julian Fellowes

Wins/Snubs: Original Screenplay.  This was the year of A Beautiful Mind, which took Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly.  Moulin Rouge took Art Direction and Costumes.  I think the film is definitely Best Picture material, and with the success of "Downton Abbey" maybe we'll get more of these movies.
A murder mystery set in 1932 in an English country estate with numerous guests visiting for a shooting party, as well as a house full of servants, Gosford Park stars some of the greatest actors ever.  Michael Gambon is the unlucky head of the house who is murdered.  Kristen Scott Thomas is his unhappy wife.  Jeremy Northam is a famous actor visiting with Bob Balaban, a Hollywood movie producer, with his valet Ryan Phillipe.  Gambon's aunt, Maggie Smith is being mean and torturing her maid, Kelly McDonald.  Also visiting are Gambon's married daughters who seem to want to ask their father for jobs or money for their husbands.  Meanwhile, Helen Mirren runs the house, and about a dozen other recognizable British actors fill out the cast. 

There's a strong storyline about how the wealthy treat their servants, and the gossip that is inevitable in a house with that many people.  The dialogue is continuous, as in any Altman film, and you have to watch it several times to catch all of the references that you really need to know to follow all the details of the story.  Which servants are sleeping with which of their employers, which of the friends are sleeping together, who knows all, and the ultimate reveal that must come out when a huge murder investigation occurs.  The murder investigation, led by a hysterically oblivious Stephen Fry, is almost secondary to the overall machinations that must take place in a house with so many people.  I've now seen this twice and I discover more and more about it every year.  Either Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren deserved the Oscar more than Jennifer Connelly, but then I don't care for A Beautiful Mind very much.  And Gosford Park, Moulin Rouge or Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring would have made a much better Best Picture than A Beautiful Mind.  


MrJeffery said...

this is def. where altman should have won best director. i also thought helen mirren deserved it (that crying scene is unbelievably good). i did not like 'a beautiful mind' much either.

Nick said...

I hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. It's been a while, so I couldn't go into specifics. I just... did not like any second of this movie. Except for Stephen Fry... he was fun.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I simply adore this film, one of my five favourites. And indeed, that crying scene from Helen is a beauty.

Jess said...

@Mr Jeffrey - I agree, Altman should have won for this.

@ Nick - I'm surprised by your surety that you dislike it, it's such an inoffensive movie to hate. But if that's the case, definitely stay away from the Amazingly Awesome Downton Abbey too.

Andrew - you'd LOVE Downton Abbey.