Since I last wrote, two rather major (and hopefully, fruitful) career accomplishments have occurred. I joined Actor's Equity, the prestigious performer's union with jurisdiction over theatre. Plus, I have finally signed with my first American talent agent. I'm pretty sure this now means I'll be on Broadway next month. That's how it works, right?
The next on 1998's list of Best Picture nominees is...
Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Kathy Burke, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant, Vincent Cassel
1 win, for Best Makeup
Queen Mary I (Burke) is reigning over a religiously divided England in the 16th century. She's Catholic and she's dying. Her advisers urge her to order the execution of her half-sister Elizabeth (Blanchett), the next in line to the throne, because of her Protestant sympathies. Fortunately, Mary saves her head and Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth I, much to the annoyance of the Duke of Norfolk (Eccleston), who remains staunchly opposed to her. Once on the throne, Elizabeth takes the ruthless Francis Walsingham (Rush) as her main adviser and the only person she truly trusts. But her troubles are far from over. She contends with assassination attempts and disrespectful counsellors. She carries on a secret love affair with Lord Robert Dudley (Fiennes) while rejecting the French Duc d'Anjou (Cassel). All the while, she is determined to unite England.
Elizabeth is a private look at a very public figure. While the production is a grand one, it maintains an intimacy as it explores the life of a powerful woman in a man's world. But it is, by no means, one of those quiet, upper-class, tea-and-scones types of period piece. In fact, all the elements of an intense drama are present - passion and lust, power struggles and corruption, violence and murder. And what use is a story about British royalty without a good beheading or two ... or three.
Speaking of eyes, many of the cast engage in a great deal of steely-eyed acting, particularly Eccleston and James Frain. French footballer turned actor Eric Cantona seems somehow out of place. And there are an inordinate number of scenes in which Rush creepily sneaks into shot from behind a pillar and stares at something. However, in the role that introduced her to international audiences, Australian Cate Blanchett (pictured) is divine, carrying the film superbly and earning a well-deserved Best Actress nomination.