Theme Times – Judi Dench

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Season 2 – Top 7

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Judi Dench By Caroline Bonarde Ucci

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Dame Judith Olivia Dench CH DBE FRSA (born 9 December 1934) is an English actress. Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years, she performed in several of Shakespeare’s plays, in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. Although most of her work during this period was in theatre, she also branched into film work and won a BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer. She drew strong reviews for her leading role in the musical Cabaret in 1968.

Over the next two decades, Dench established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, working for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She received critical praise in television during this period, in the series A Fine Romance from 1981 until 1984, and As Time Goes By from 1992 until 2005, in which she held a starring role. Her film appearances were infrequent, and included supporting roles in major films, such as A Room with a View (1986), before she rose to international fame as M in GoldenEye (1995), a role she continued to play in James Bond films until Spectre (2015).

A seven-time Oscar nominee, Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998), and has received nominations for her roles in Mrs Brown (1997), Chocolat (2000), Iris (2001), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), Notes on a Scandal (2006), and Philomena (2013). She has also received many other accolades for her acting in theatre, film, and television; her other competitive awards include six British Academy Film Awards, four BAFTA TV Awards, seven Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Tony Award. She has also received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2001, and the Special Olivier Award in 2004. In June 2011, she received a fellowship from the British Film Institute (BFI). Dench is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

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Top 9

The Best Marigold Hotel 2011 – 1

Some British retirees (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy) decide to outsource their retirement to exotic — and less expensive — India. Lured by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and imagining a life of leisure in lush surroundings, they arrive and find that the Marigold is actually a shell of its former self. Though their new home is not quite what they had imagined, the retirees find that life and love can begin again when they let go of their pasts.

Notes on a Scandal 2006 – 2

Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), a veteran teacher at St. George’s, senses a kindred spirit in Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the school’s new art teacher. The younger woman’s charisma intensely draws in the older, and the two become friends. Then Barbara learns of Sheba’s affair with a teenage student and becomes the keeper of the explosive secret.

Victoria and Abdul 2017 – 3

Abdul Karim arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. The young clerk is surprised to find favour with the queen herself. As Victoria questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance that her household and inner circle try to destroy. As their friendship deepens, the queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes, joyfully reclaiming her humanity.

Shakespeare in Love 1998 – 4

Tale about a fictional relationship between William Shakespeare and a young woman who poses as a man in order to star in one of the writer’s plays. Suffering from writer’s block, Shakespeare is in need of a new muse. He soon finds inspiration in the form of a beautiful female aristocrat, but her daring determination to act in his play puts their already forbidden relationship on even more dangerous ground.

Philomena 2013 – 5

In 1952, Irish teenager Philomena (Judi Dench) became pregnant out of wedlock and was sent to a convent. When her baby, Anthony, was a toddler, the nuns took Philomena’s child away from her and put him up for adoption in the United States. For the next 50 years, she searched tirelessly for her son. When former BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) learns of the story, he becomes her ally. They travel together to America to find Anthony and become unexpectedly close in the process.

Mrs Brown 1997 – 6

After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) withdraws from public life, so the court appoints a former servant of the prince, John Brown (Billy Connolly), to help her recover from her grief. Brown’s unorthodox ways and disdain for protocol draw the queen out of her shell, and the brash Scot becomes her sole confidant. However, their growing closeness causes a stir, as scandalous rumors begin circulating about the exact nature of their relationship.

Skyfall 2012 – 7

When James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) latest assignment goes terribly wrong, it leads to a calamitous turn of events: Undercover agents around the world are exposed, and MI6 is attacked, forcing M (Judi Dench) to relocate the agency. With MI6 now compromised inside and out, M turns to the one man she can trust: Bond. Aided only by a field agent (Naomie Harris), Bond takes to the shadows and follows a trail to Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past who wants to settle an old score.

Chocolat 2000 – 8

When mysterious Vianne and her child arrive in a tranquil French town in the winter of 1959, no one could have imagined the impact that she and her spirited daughter would have on the community stubbornly rooted in tradition. Within days, she opens an unusual chocolate shop, across the square from the church. Her ability to perceive her customers’ desires and satisfy them with just the right confection, coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation — just as Lent begins.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 2016 – 8

When his beloved grandfather leaves Jake clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers – and their terrifying enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends. Based on the novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children,” written by Ransom Riggs.

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Judi Dench By Caroline Bonarde Ucci

Bonus

Dame Judi Dench, absolutely fabulous actress – but that’s my opinion … how about you? Fan or not and if ‘fan’, what are your best performances of her work?

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