Elizabeth (1998)

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Starring: Cate Blanchett, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Attenborough, Kathy Burke, Vincent Cassel, John Gielgud (his final film), Daniel Craig

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Summary: The early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what it is to be a monarch

Other Nominations: Actress (Blanchett), Original Dramatic Score, Art Direction, Cinematography, Makeup*, Costume Design

What would have been a very average to mediocre film is elevated considerably by Cate Blanchett’s breakout performance as Elizabeth. While they saddle her with some questionable characterization at times for narrative interest (making Elizabeth embittered and changed after a failed romance seems like a poor choice), she knocks the material out of the park and makes the movie far better than it otherwise could have been. As mentioned, there is a lot changed for the sake of narrative interest and this feels like the high-production values, exciting, sexed-up version of events and persons; sort of like Braveheart, but not quite as far off the deep-end as that movie was. In line with this, the Catholic Church are basically your villains of the movie, which historically makes sense in this context, but I’m surprised they got away with making every single Catholic in the movie just plain evil. For me, some questionable script choices that were made for mass appeal (it made $82 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, so I guess it worked) bring it down, but the central story arc is reasonably effective, the production values are strong and Cate Blanchett’s performance makes it worth watching.

Rating: B-

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