Friday, February 24, 2017

Movie Review: "Gosford Park" (2001)

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Movie"Gosford Park"
Year Nominated: 2002
Director: Robert Altman
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

The goings on of the aristocrats and servants at a party at the English country home of Sir William McCordle. The party takes a turn, however, when McCordle is murdered.

"Gosford Park" is directed by Robert Altman, who is best known for films like "MASH" and "Popeye." It is written by Julian Fellowes, who would go on to create the wildly popular and similarly set television show "Downton Abbey." The movie has an ensemble cast, which includes Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles Dance, Camilla Rutherford, Bob Balaban, Jeremy Northam, as well as a few others who make up the aristocrats partying upstairs. Meanwhile, the downstairs servants are comprised of an equally impressive cast including Kelly MacDonald, Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, Ryan Phillippe, Eileen Atkins, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, etc. This party is taking place at a lavish English country home in 1938. The party has been thrown to gather this group together in order for the party goers to go pheasant hunting. The fun festivities of the weekend turn sour when the host of the party, Gambon's William McCordle, is murdered in his library. Because so many people upstairs and downstairs have ties to and may have a grudge against McCordle, there are many suspects, and with an incompetent police inspector, played by Stephen Fry, at the helm of the investigation, it may take a little more prompting to find the perpetrator.

Though "Gosford Park" is a bit of a murder mystery, it is really more about the lives of the servants, their employers, and the overall British aristocratic lifestyle of the 1930's. This lifestyle is loaded with elitists and snobbery, fancy dinner parties and lavish expectations, and a hefty, hearty dose of snide comments. Maggie Smith is the queen of such a nasty quip. She has many lines of dialogue that are very mean yet so very witty. She is definitely plays one of the best parts of the movie, which may be why she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her performance here. Honestly, does Dame Maggie Smith ever do wrong?

Of course, there is a ton of drama and scandal even before McCordle gets murdered because so many of those at this party rely on him for money and to maintain their lifestyle. Much of their status is more about heritage than actual wealth. Also, their are sexual affairs going on between some members of the downstairs servant staff and their employers upstairs, which plays into the eventual whodunit murder mystery. As we mentioned, the incompetent Inspector Thompson shows up and bungles much of the investigation, which creates many opportunities for humorous moments as he hasn't the slightest clue what he's doing.

"Gosford Park" was nominated for seven Academy Awards total, including best picture, best director, and two best supporting actress Oscars, including the aforementioned Maggie Smith, as well as Helen Mirren. The movie did wind up taking home one statue for best original screenplay, which we agree it deserved. This is a decent film that will greatly appeal to a very niche audience, and though it is not one of our favorite best picture nominees ever, it is still a mostly smart, sometimes thrilling crime drama full of scandal, intrigue, and double-cross.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
Last Oscar season, we were watching: "Fargo"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "The Great Dictator"

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