Tag Archives: Maggie Smith

REVIEW: “DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (2022) Focus Features

“Why would anyone want the actors to talk I would have thought silence would be a blessing.” Dowager Countess of Grantham

There is one thing you can always count on when visiting Downton Abbey – it’s a busy place. People hustling and bustling around, from the Crawley family themselves, to all the downstairs employees who are a family unto their own.

But as all things do – time goes on and things change. Hence we find ourselves with “DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA” and boy what an era this turns out to be for all at Downtown. So much is changing in the world and this new Downtown Era transfers beautifully to the film screen, mostly because it has a new vision and a new director in Michael Engler. The original cast whom we’ve all come to know and love is mostly back with Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), as always leading the way and as is tradition, she gets most of the best lines. The Granthams’ Robert (Hugh Bonneville), and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), as well as daughters Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), and sister Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), are back as well with their families, though notably missing is Henry Talbot whose is away racing cars. This doesn’t bode well with Mary as she feels this takes precedence in his life and this might lead to a ‘wandering eye’ here or there. Though front and center is Tom (Allan Leech), who opens the film with his marriage being celebrated by all to Lucy (Tuppence Middleton).

The family and titles might be a bit hard to keep up with, but fans of the series have no problems remembering them all, For new fans, this film really has done a superb job in opening up the plot and the setting in this film in a truly new era.

The are two revolving plot lines in a New Era, one brings us the future, but the other brings us to the past. More specifically, the Dowager Countess’ past. But as half the household vacates Downton leaving Lady Mary behind to manage things at home. The rest of the family including Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), vacate to a beautiful seaside villa in the South of France that Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham has mysteriously inherited from a Count that she met many many years ago. The Villa and the scenery surrounding the mystery is of course beautiful, but it also opens up the story to some very emotional family disclosures, and I will leave it there as the Countess herself notes: “I will say goodnight… and leave you to discuss my mysterious past.” And to tell you more would spoil it all.

On our other story set within the film, we watch as Downton Abbey moves to 1929 and with it, brings in not just the jazz age, but the movies itself within its doors. Movie lovers will remember that 1929, also heralded the end of the Silent movie era and talkies were taking over and the movie industry itself was being revolutionized with this. They manage to fit a lot in here with this theme as Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), comes to town as a director wanting to make a movie using Downton as his location, also something that is changing – shooting from the backlots of studios to actual location shoots. Since Downton has fallen into some disrepair, the large location fee is most welcome – as is some of the movies cast, bringing in two famous silent films stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), much to the enthrallment of Daisy (Sophie McShera) and Anna (Joanna Froggat).

The music score in this movie by John Lunn with the Downton theme that is so familiar to it’s audience, is effective in this movie and perfectly suits the family dynamics emotional side. As well, the wonderful soundtrack additions of the Jazz Age and songs of the era to round it all out. This film manages to have strong female characters and not only that but it’s also the perfect example on how to include gay characters without it feeling forced. Add in a certain amount of hi-jinx all around, and you’ve got yourself the follow-up movie we all needed.

The two stories are quite beautifully woven together and with so much of the original cast present, along with some wonderful new additions- this one works well in updating the story if this family we never seem to tire of.

Grade: B

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Review Screening: Friday, May 13, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA” FROM FOCUS FEATURES IS NOW IN THEATERS

“EMMY AWARDS” ~ 2014 PICKS IN DRAMA

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My favourite part of any Awards shows are the Drama categories.. In the last 10 years or so, there have been some of the best shows to ever grace a TV screen done in this category.  With cable jumping into the game around that time, it’s brought us loads & loads of great writing, acting & falling in love with TV all over again.  Have they missed a few shows over the years.. yes – they have – most notably ‘Sons of Anarchy’, ‘Justified’. and most recently Orphan Black & Rectify.  But so it goes.. Here are my picks of the shows/people that have been nominated..

 

Best Drama Series

“Breaking Bad”

One of the best shows to EVER grace the small screen.. I lived for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman every Sunday night..

“Downton Abbey”

Downton literally swept us off our feet in it’s first season with a wonderful portrayal of an era long past, but we all found so interesting..

“Game of Thrones”

The only season to disappoint so far in this series was S2 which after the “OHMYGOD” of Season 1 seemed almost explainable.  Season 3 came back with a vengeance and it’s been just jaw-dropping once again.

“House of Cards”

I hear nothing but raves on this show.. have yet to see an episode due to the comfy couch/big screen TV syndrome I still have.. 🙂

“Mad Men”

Who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with Don Draper..

“True Detective” – WINNER

Rust Cohle & Martin Hart.. need I say more – probably one of the most ingenious and original shows to come out of TV in a long time!! Can we say WINNER here!!

 

Best Actress in a Drama Series

 Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex”

Lizzy Caplan brings a fresh perspective to the 50’s perfunctory woman in this role..I love the show & her in it.

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

I love Homeland.. and at times Claire Danes does a wonderful job with the role of Carrie – but at others she is annoying as end all being like a contortionist with her facial expressions and that old adage that moms always tell you when you’re a child always pops to mind here – ‘be careful or your face will stay that way’  – sorry but you know it’s true.

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”

While I love the show – and her character of Mary has been through some moments – I just don’t think it’s a strong enough role to win here..

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife” – WINNER

Now we are talking… Let’s just give a slow clap first of all to the best season of ‘The Good Wife’ yet.  Season 5.  It was incredible and a lot of those kudos go right to this person here.

Kerry Washington, “Scandal”

What started off in Season 1 as an interesting premise did what Shonda Rhimes shows do and it so jumped the shark for me in Season 2 & beginning of Season 3 it’s pretty much unwatchable for me now.  Soooo over everyone trying to outfast talk the next actor.. so over this show and while I like Kerry.,you can’t compare her performance to that of Julianna Marguilies – you just can’t.

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Always have liked Robin Wright.. since way back in “The Princess Bride” – I wish I could say I’ve watched it here.

 

Best Actor in a Drama Series

 Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

One of the best performances ever done on TV – We felt sympathy at the beginning which later turned to fear of the man that was Walter White.

Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”

Great show – great character & performance ..

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”

Again, tell me one person that does not have a Love/Hate thing for Don Draper.. it takes talent to pull that off.

Woody Harrelson, “True Detective”

It’s a hard decision for me to pick between the two characters on this show as both were just fantastic

Matthew McConaughey, “True Detective” – WINNER

But I’m going with Matthew & Rust Cohle – why..because as good as Woody was it is Rust’s character that blew this show out of the box.  Probably have never seen a character nor performance like it..so please let’s continue on with the McConaissance …please!!! 😀

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

Kevin Spacey is also a consummate professional wonderful actor.  Keyser Soze anyone?? 😀

 

Supporting Actor, Drama Series

 Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”

Bitch.. hahahahhahaha

Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”

I  can keep saying how much I love the show – but I think it’s almost too much of an ensemble to just pick one character out of it.

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”

I LOVE PETER DINKLAGE.. there I said it.. he’s a spectacular actor in everything from ‘The Station Agent’ to “Nip/Tuck to  X-Men – but this role was definitely just tailor-made for him..

Josh Charles, “The Good Wife” – WINNER

Of course I would pick Josh Charles – why you ask.. because losing Will Gardner felt like losing a family member and anyone that can make you feel that.. deserves an award.

Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”

I’ve never related a ton to this character though I find him a complete necessity on the show.. I know..weird.

Jon Voight, “Ray Donovan”

For the whole first season of this show, I couldn’t figure out whether it was just plain brilliant or just plain bad.. I went with I like it and that’s all that matters.  Though I usually like my bad characters to have some redeeming quality to make me like them, Jon Voights character has never done that for me.

 

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”

5 seasons of Skyler White.. at times we pitied her, sympathized with her, didn’t like her and at the end, we were just overwhelmed with where her life started and finished in this show.. Bravo Anna Gunn…well done.

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

I mean she’s Dame Maggie Smith for crimeny sakes.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was on TV a few years back and she was so simply fantastic in that role..as she has been in pretty much everything she’s ever done.

Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”

Oh Lena, you play the gamut in this role of roles.. but you actually kinda scare me too much!!  ha!

Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife” – WINNER

Because dammit she IS and embodies Diane Lockhart.  Nothing else needs to be said.

Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”

I just don’t think she had enough in her role this past season to quantify this nomination.  Had it been last season, I would have said yes.. This season I’m sorry but the fact that Elizabeth Moss aka Peggy Olson didn’t get this nom instead is just wrong.. she blew it off the screen this year.. Christina did not.

Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”

I know this might be odd…but I think she is totally the long shot to win this and just might do so.  Her portrayal of Anna Bates was so spot on this season that in such a large ensemble cast – she stood out..waaaay out and excelled completely in this role.