Daily Archives: February 19, 2010

Academy Award® Nominated: The Last Station

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The Countess Sofya, wife and muse to Leo Tolstoy, uses every trick of seduction on her husband’s loyal disciple, whom she believes was the person responsible for Tolstoy signing a new will that leaves his work and property to the Russian people.

The film explores the final year of the Russian writer’s life with Christopher Plummer in the lead role and Helen Mirren portraying his wife, Sofya. Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, and Anne-Marie Duff co-star in the Warner Bros. production, directed by Michael Hoffman from the novel by Jay Parini.

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The cast includes: Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, Anne-Marie Duff, Kerry Condon, and Patrick Kennedy

Reviews

IMDB member from Auckland
“If you are familiar with the name,Count Leo (Lev)Tolstoy,but have never read ‘War & Peace’,or any of his other novels,fret not. It’s not necessary to enjoy ‘The Last Station’. A young man,Valentin Bulgakov (played by James McAvoy)is hired by Vladimir Chertkov (played by Paul Giametti,adding a touch of class to his already impressive backlog of film work),who oversees the written work of Count Tolstoy,to spy on him at his commune/ashram in the Russian country side,in the guise of Tolstoy’s personal secretary. Bulgakov arrives to find a homestead overseen by the Tolstoy’s,Leo (played to perfection by veteran,Christopher Plummer,who has come a long way since ‘The Sound Of Music’),and his wife,Sofya (Helen Mirren-always welcome on screen). During his stay at the Tolstoy residence,Valentin finds out that things are not what he perceives (Tolstoy doesn’t exactly practice what he preaches in real life). He manages to take a tumble to Tolstoy’s youngest daughter,Sasha (played by Anne Marie Duff). All of the dirty laundry & family drama comes out to make this a tart,funny,entertaining film with winning performances by all. Michael Hoffman writes & directs the screenplay,from the novel by Jay Parini,in a film that will hopefully garnish attention beyond the art house screen.”


Did You Know?

Marks the first joint venture of real-life spouses James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff on a feature film.

Helen Mirren and Anne-Marie Duff, who play mother and daughter in the film, have both portrayed Queen Elizabeth I (Mirren in “Elizabeth I” (2005) and Duff in “The Virgin Queen” (2005)).

Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer replaced Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins, who were originally scheduled to play the roles of Sofya and Leo Tolstoy.

Two Nominations

Best Actress~Helen Mirren
Best Supporting Actor~Christopher Plummer

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Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ~ Christopher Plummer ~The Last Station

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Christopher PlummerChristopher Plummer has enjoyed 50 years as one of the most distinguished actors in English-language theatre and cinema. A Canadian from Montreal, Plummer made his professional debut on stage and radio in both French and English, and ever has since appeared in well over 100 motion pictures.

Since his New York debut (1954) he has starred in many prestigious Broadway productions, including his Tony winning performances in Cyrano (1973) and Barrymore (1997), and more recently as King Lear at Lincoln Center (2004). In 2007, Plummer starred in the successful Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind (2007), which earned him his seventh Tony nomination.

He has been a leading actor at Great Britain’s National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier, the Royal Shakespeare Company under Sir Peter Hall, and in its formative years, the Stratford Festival of Canada under Sir Tyrone Guthrie and his mentor Michael Langham. During his career in the theatre he has portrayed most of the great roles in the classic repertoire.

Christopher Plummer in The Last Station

Christopher Plummer in The Last Station

Since Sidney Lumet introduced him to the screen in Stage Struck in 1957, Christopher Plummer has appeared in a host of films ranging from the Oscar-winning The Sound of Music, John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King, to The Silent Partner, Murder by Decree, The Battle of Britain, Fall of the Roman Empire, Inside Daisy Clover, Eye Witness, Star Trek VI, Malcolm X, The Pink Panther, Wolf, Delores Claiborne, Twelve Monkeys, Oedipus the King, The Insider, A Beautiful Mind, Ararat, Syriana, Inside Man and the award-winning Man in the Chair. Prior to The Last Station he played the title role in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which is set to be released worldwide in 2009.

Among his many honours, he has received Great Britain’s Evening Standard Best Actor Award plus one nomination; two Emmy Awards plus six nominations; a Genie Award for Murder by Decree, and Genie nominations for The Amateur, Impolite, and Blizzard. In 1968, sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth II, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the equivalent of an Honorary Knighthood. He has also received the Governor General’s Life Achievement Award, an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at New York’s Juilliard School and Honorary doctorates from five major Canadian universities. Plummer was elected into the Theatre’s Hall of Fame (1986) and Canada’s Walk of Fame (1999).

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Nominated for Best Actress ~ Helen Mirren ~The Last Station

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Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren is one of the best-known and most respected actresses with an international career that spans stage, screen and television, she has become renowned for tackling challenging roles and has won many awards for her powerful and versatile performances. This was never more so the case than with her recent role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, for which she won an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe together with numerous other awards from all over the world.

In the same year she filmed The Queen, Mirren won recognition for two other performances. For HBO, she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I in the miniseries Elizabeth I, winning an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award. Mirren also reprised her old role as Detective Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect: The Final Act, the last installment in the PBS series. The performance earned her an Emmy and also a Golden Globe nomination – but she lost to herself, for her role as Elizabeth 1.

Mirren’s film career began in the late 1960s with Michael Powell’s Age of Consent playing opposite James Mason. Her breakthrough role though was in John Mackenzie’s iconic film The Long Good Friday. After this Mirren starred in numerous acclaimed films including John Boorman’s fantasy adventure Excalibur and Neil Jordan’s Irish thriller Cal which earned her the Best Actress Award at the Cannes film festival in 1984. She continued to push boundaries in films that include Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover, Charles Sturridge’s Where Angels Fear to Tread and Terry George’s Some Mother’s Son, which she also co-produced. Her more recent films include Calendar Girls, Shadowboxer, Inkheart and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

Helen Mirren in The Last Station

Helen Mirren in The Last Station

Prior to The Queen, Mirren also played a monarch in Nicholas Hytner’s feature film The Madness of King George, a role for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award and won the Best Actress Award at Cannes film festival in 1995. She earned her second Academy Award nomination for her performance in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park and a Golden Globe nomination for Nigel Cole’s Calendar Girls.

This year she has appeared in Universal’s State of Play. She has also finished work on Love Ranch directed by her husband Taylor Hackford, working together for the first time since White Knights, Julie Taymor’s film version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Debt directed by John Madden.

Helen Mirren became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2003.

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President Obama’s Call to the International Space Station

Post by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama, along with Congressional leaders and middle school children, congratulate astronauts aboard the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour during a call from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, February 17, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President congratulates astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour on their successful ongoing mission. He is joined by Congressional leaders and middle school students from Michigan, Florida, and Nebraska.

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Academy Award® Nominated: Nine

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Famed Italian director Guido Contini is ten days away from the start of principal filming of his latest movie, ambitiously titled “Italia”. The general speculation by anyone who has followed production, including the press, is that Guido has lost his creative vision and that this production will go the way of his last two films: be a flop. The first part of that statement is indeed true as Guido not only does not yet have a script, but he has no idea for the movie at all. Guido escapes to a seaside resort to convalesce and get away from all the pressures of this production, this convalescence only to moderate success as he thinks about the women who have shaped his life.

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The cast includes: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Stacy Ferguson, and Ricky Tognazzi

44D’s Reviews

IMDB member
“The film is beautiful, visually stunning, and exciting, and the cast is remarkable, especially Penelope Cruz (no surprise there), Marion Cotillard (her singing is wonderful), and the gal who blows the doors off — an unrecognizable (to me, anyhow) Fergie! I was watching the credits to see who the hell played Saraghina, and was stunned to learn it was Stacy Ferguson. Go Fergie! Judi Dench is a smash as well. Nicole Kidman doesn’t reveal anything we haven’t seen before, but she does bring the large dollop of Movie Star shine for which her role calls. Even Kate Hudson pleases; her 60’s go-go dance will inevitably bring comparisons to her mother’s “Laugh In” heyday.”

Did You Know?

The original Broadway musical opened May 9, 1982 at the 46th Street Theater and ran for 729 performances with Raul Julia as Guido. It won five Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Featured Actress. The latest Broadway production, starring Antonio Banderas as Guido, opened on Apr 10, 2003 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre and ran for 283 performances. It won two Tonys: Best Revival of a Musical and Best Featured Actress. Banderas turned down the chance to reprise his role as Guido in the film version.

Only the second movie musical for Sophia Loren, the first being Man of La Mancha (1972), even though she is a capable singer, as can be heard on many novelty and soundtrack recordings.

The number Nine refers to Fellini’s 8 1/2, which was his ninth movie (he directed 7 on his own and co-directed one other). Also, the number 9 refers to the age young Guido is in the flashback.

Four Nominations

Best Supporting Actress~Penélope Cruz
Best Art Direction
Best in Costume Design
Best in Music (Original Song)

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Nominated for Best Supporting Actress ~ Penélope Cruz ~Nine

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Penélope CruzAcademy award winner Penélope Cruz first attracted international attention in major Spanish movies like JAMÓN, JAMÓN, LA NIÑA DE TUS OJOS and BELLE ÉPOQUE. She is the muse of Director Pedro Almodovar who cast her in TODO SOBRE MI MADRE (ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER), which won the Best Foreign Language Film. Later he cast Cruz in VOLVER and she was nominated for an Oscar® as Best Actress, making her the first Spanish actress ever to be nominated in this category. Most recently, she starred in BROKEN EMBRACES for Almodovar.

Penélope Cruz was born in Madrid, the daughter of Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser, and her husband Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic. Her younger sister, Monica Cruz, is Spanish dancer and her younger brother, Eduardo, is a singer.

From a young age Cruz studied classical ballet at Spain’s National Conservatory, continuing her training with a number of prominent dancers. However, at 15 she changed her mind and became an actress.

Penélope Cruz in Nine

Penélope Cruz in Nine

In 2000 Cruz made her first American picture, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES with Matt Damon. Later she made VANILLA SKY, an American version of ABRE LOS OJOS. She starred with Matthew McConaughey in the action adventure SAHARA and appeared with her friend, Salma Hayek, in BANDIDAS. Cruz was highly praised for her performance in Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA as the mentally unstable ex-wife of Javier Bardem. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and won a BAFTA and an Academy Award® as best supporting actress.

Acknowledged as a fashion icon, Cruz and her sister Monica announced they were designing a collection for the Barcelona-based fashion chain, Mango.

Did You Know?

Meryl Streep and Penélope Cruz are the only performers who were also nominated last year. Meryl Streep was nominated for her leading role in Doubt, and Penélope Cruz won the Oscar for her supporting role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

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Academy Award® Nominated: Invictus

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The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.

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The cast includes: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern, Julian Lewis Jones, Adjoa Andoh, Marguerite Wheatley, Leleti Khumalo, and Patrick Lyster

Reviews

IMDB member from Canada
The story of how Nelson Mandela used the World Cup of Rugby to unite the people of South Africa. A very well told story with Clint Eastwood showing why he is one of the best directors in Hollywood. Morgan Freeman does a good job as Mandela, but it wasn’t my favorite performance he’s given us. However, Matt Damon, who plays Francois Pienaar, captain of the national rugby team, delivers an emotional and believable performance that really draws you into what was taking place during the conflict between the whites and blacks of their nation. The South African cities and landscapes are beautifully shot and the scenes during the rugby matches placed you in the action, without any nauseating feelings. An uplifting film that left me with a sense of hope and belief that we still have a chance for mankind to come together before it is too late.

Did You Know?

Nelson Mandela himself has said that only Morgan Freeman could portray him. And so Freeman was the first actor cast.

Before production began, Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary made a trip to South Africa to get Nelson Mandela’s blessing for the film. According to McCreary, Freeman started off by saying, “Madiba, we’ve been working a long time on this other project, but we’ve just read something that we think might get to the core of who you are…” Before he had finished, Madiba said, “Ah, the World Cup.” For McCreary, that was “when I knew we were heading in the right direction.”

The word “invictus” is Latin for “invincible.” It is also the name of a short poem written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley, a British poet. The poem was written while Henley was in hospital having to have his stricken foot amputated. Mandela is heard saying lines from the poem.

Matt Damon informed Clint Eastwood about Francois Pienaar’s distinct physique: “You know, this guy is huge!” Eastwood replied, “Hell, you worry about everything else. Let me worry about that.” By structuring set-ups and camera angles, Eastwood was able to make the average-height Damon look about Pienaar’s height

Two Nominations

Best Actor~Morgan Freeman
Best Supporting Actor~Matt Damon

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Nominated for Best Actor ~ Morgan Freeman ~Invictus

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Morgan FreemanMorgan Freeman (Nelson Mandela / Executive Producer) won an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” for which he also won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® and received a Golden Globe nomination. The film marked his second collaboration with director Clint Eastwood, following Freeman’s role in the Oscar®-winning Best Picture “Unforgiven.”

Freeman has been honored with three additional Oscar® nominations, the first for his chilling performance in the 1987 drama “Street Smart,” which also brought him Los Angeles, New York, and National Society of Film Critics Awards, and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He earned his second Oscar® nomination and won Golden Globe and National Board of Review Awards for Best Actor for the 1989 film “Driving Miss Daisy,” in which he recreated his award-winning off-Broadway role. He gained his third Oscar® nod, as well as Golden Globe and SAG Award® nominations, for his performance in Frank Darabont’s 1994 drama “The Shawshank Redemption.”

His more recent film work includes starring roles in Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “Batman Begins”; Rob Reiner’s “The Bucket List,” opposite Jack Nicholson; Robert Benton’s “Feast of Love”; Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone”; “Lucky Number Slevin”; Lasse Hallström’s “An Unfinished Life,” with Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez; the Jet Li actioner “Unleashed,” written by Luc Besson; and the comedy “Bruce Almighty” and its sequel, “Evan Almighty.” He also lent his distinctive voice to Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” and the Oscar®-winning documentary “March of the Penguins.”

Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Invictus

Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Invictus

Freeman’s earlier film credits include “The Sum of All Fears,” “High Crimes,” “Along Came a Spider,” “Nurse Betty,” “Deep Impact,” “Hard Rain,” Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” “Kiss the Girls,” “Se7en,” “Glory,” “Lean on Me,” “Clean and Sober,” “Marie,” “Teachers,” “Harry & Son” and “Brubaker.”

In 1993, Freeman made his film directorial debut with “Bopha!” and soon after formed Revelations Entertainment. The company’s most recent production was the Brad Silberling comedy “10 Items or Less,” in which Freeman starred with Paz Vega.

The Memphis-born actor began his career on New York stages in the early 1960s, following a stint as a mechanic in the Air Force. A decade later, he became a nationally known television personality when he created the popular character Easy Reader on the popular children’s show “The Electric Company.” Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in “The Mighty Gents” in 1978. In 1980, he won Obie Awards for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in “Mother Courage and Her Children.” Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer’s “The Gospel at Colonus” and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Driving Miss Daisy,” which brought him his fourth Obie Award. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” opposite Tracey Ullman. Returning to the Broadway stage in 2008, Freeman starred with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odett’s drama “The Country Girl,” directed by Mike Nichols.

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Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ~ Matt Damon ~Invictus

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Matt DamonMatt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera, including an Academy Award® for Best Screenplay and an Oscar® nomination for Best Actor.

Damon has a wide range of projects forthcoming. He’ll next be seen starring in the thriller “Green Zone,” directed by Paul Greengrass and slated for release in March 2010. Currently, Damon is filming George Nolfi’s thriller “The Adjustment Bureau,” opposite Emily Blunt. He will then reunite with director Clint Eastwood to star in the drama “Hereafter,” written by Peter Morgan, followed by the Coen brothers’ remake of the classic Western “True Grit.” Damon’s upcoming films also include the independent feature “Margaret,” directed by Kenneth Lonergan. In addition, for the small screen, Damon both executive produced and appears in “The People Speak,” based on a book co-written by famed historian Howard Zinn and featuring dramatic readings and performances from some of the most famous names in the entertainment industry. It will air on the History Channel in December.

Damon most recently starred in the title role of “The Informant!,” which marked his fifth collaboration with Steven Soderbergh. He previously teamed with the director as part of the all-star casts in the action comedies “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.” Damon also had a cameo role in the second part of Soderbergh’s two-part biopic “Che.”

In 2002, Damon originated the role of Jason Bourne in the blockbuster actioner “The Bourne Identity.” He went on to reprise his role in the two hit sequels, “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” both directed by Paul Greengrass.

Damon’s other recent film credits include Martin Scorsese’s Oscar®-winning Best Picture “The Departed,” with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg; Robert De Niro’s dramatic thriller “The Good Shepherd,” with De Niro and Angelina Jolie; and Stephen Gaghan’s geopolitical thriller “Syriana,” with George Clooney.

Hailing from Boston, Damon attended Harvard University and gained his first acting experience with the American Repertory Theatre. He made his feature film debut in “Mystic Pizza,” followed by roles in “School Ties,” Walter Hill’s “Geronimo: An American Legend,” and the cable projects “Rising Son” and Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Good Old Boys.” He first gained attention with his portrayal of a guilt-ridden Gulf War veteran tormented by memories of a battlefield incident in 1996’s “Courage Under Fire.”

Together with his lifelong friend Ben Affleck, Damon co-wrote the acclaimed 1997 drama “Good Will Hunting,” for which they won an Academy Award® and a Golden Globe Award, as well as several critics groups awards for Best Original Screenplay. Damon also garnered Oscar®, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations for Best Actor. Also in 1997, Damon starred as an idealistic young attorney in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rainmaker” and made a cameo appearance in Kevin Smith’s “Chasing Amy.”

Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar in Invictus

Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar in Invictus

The following year, Damon played the title role in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan” and also starred in John Dahl’s drama “Rounders,” with Edward Norton. Damon earned his third Golden Globe nomination for his performance in 1999’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” under the direction of Anthony Minghella. He also reunited with Ben Affleck and director Kevin Smith to star in the controversial comedy “Dogma.”

Damon’s other film credits include starring roles in Robert Redford’s “The Legend of Bagger Vance”; Billy Bob Thornton’s “All the Pretty Horses”; the Farrelly brothers’ comedy “Stuck on You,” opposite Greg Kinnear; Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm,” with Heath Ledger; and a cameo appearance in George Clooney’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”

Damon and Affleck formed the production company LivePlanet to produce film, television and new media projects. LivePlanet produced three Emmy-nominated seasons of “Project Greenlight,” chronicling the making of independent films by first-time writers and directors. The “Project Greenlight” films produced to date are “Stolen Summer,” “The Battle of Shaker Heights” and “Feast.” LivePlanet also produced the documentary “Running the Sahara,” directed by Oscar® winner James Moll.

In addition, Damon co-founded H20 Africa, now known as Water.org, and is an ambassador for the children’s foundation ONEXONE.

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Academy Award® Nominated: The Young Victoria

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From Martin Scorsese & the makers of Gosford Park and The Departed, comes the story of Queen Victoria’s early rise to power, focusing on her early reign in the 1830s. From an object of a royal power-struggle in, to her romantic courtship and legendary marriage to Prince Albert, Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada) gives a stunning performance as The Young Victoria.

Packed with drama, romance, political intrigue, breath-taking cinematography and featuring an outstanding British cast including Jim Broadbent, Mark Strong, Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson and Rupert Friend.

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The cast includes: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong and Jesper Christensen

44D’s Reviews

Audiegrl
“I’m not sure what I initially expected from this film, but it did exceed my expectations. In visualizing Queen Victoria, it was always as a very plump and stern-looking older woman in a daguerreotype; the exact opposite of Emily Blunt’s head-strong and spirited portrayal of a young Victoria. Blunt did a wonderful job of breathing life into this character. Plus as with many historical films set in England, the cinematography and costumes were simply amazing. Anyone interested in history and a peek into the private lives of the Royals will enjoy this film.”

Did You Know?

Producer Sarah Ferguson’s daughter, Princess Beatrice of York, has a small role in the film as one of Victoria’s ladies in waiting. Beatrice is a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

The costumes that Emily Blunt wore were insured for £10,000 each.

Many of the interior scenes were filmed at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. The bed used in the honeymoon scene was slept in by the real Queen Victoria when she visited the castle in 1843. The bedroom is so small that all the cameras had to be placed outside the windows.

Three Nominations

Best Art Direction
Best in Costume Design
Best Makeup

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