Saturday, April 15, 2006

Angel of Britannia

Happy 47th birthday to Emma Thompson, who seems to belong to that high-altitude class of women like Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and Annie Lennox whom absolutely everyone likes. Like most Americans, I "discovered" Emma via her pristine, Oscar-winning performance as Margaret Schlegel in Howards End—a performance so dextrous, subtle, literate, and intellectually alive that one can hardly believe that it won. That statuette was only the beginning of her annus mirabilis in 1993, when she snagged two more nominations for The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father. I recently revisited the latter film and liked the performance a little more than I had remembered, but still, neither one is any competition for her real triumph of 1993, the saucy, funny, occasionally short-sighted Beatrice she contributed to Much Ado About Nothing: a living, breathing human in a Shakespeare film, and a shimmering romantic vision at the same time.

If you've seen all of these movies, and if you're reading this site you probably have, may I recommend some of Emma's less heralded performances—as the spiky and grief-bitten photographer in The Winter Guest, directed by Alan Rickman, or the politico's wife she played so well in Primary Colors that Hillary Clinton, though hardly the same woman as Susan Staunton, seemed newly illumined, and that without the irritatingly direct mimicry that so preoccupied John Travolta in the same movie.

We see less of Emma these days than I'd like, especially since she's often inhabiting movies aimed squarely at the demographic of her own six-year-old daughter. But I'm sure we'll see more of her eventually, since she can do anything. Truly, anything. I still say she'd be a kicker of an Oscar host. Or she could pull a Glenda J. and dump acting for politics, which to a certain extent she has already done. Or she could share some draughts of that 7% Solution of Human Perfection that she's been hoarding all these years.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emma Thompson...she's *wide-eyed wonder* I love her. So much. Her performance in Howards End is absolute acting heaven.

3:40 AM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger John T said...

For me, it's all about the individual scenes with Thompson. I either think of that breakdown scene, after being confronted with the truth in Sense and Sensibility (sad, hilarious, and poignant all in one breath), or her cranking Joni Mitchell in Love Actually (haven't we ALL been there?). And of course, there's that spooky premonition in Harry Potter 3. I love Thompson, point blank, in everything.

6:14 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Javier Aldabalde said...

Has anyone seen Mike Nichols' "Wit"? She's absolutely fabulous in it.

12:16 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Indeed, though I like her adaptation of the screenplay even more than her performance, I think. (Both are very good.)

10:48 AM, April 23, 2006  

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