So when I first rented this film about seven years ago, I thought it was pretty, but boring. I watched it again last night hoping maybe my opinion would change. This was not the case. There are moments in this film that are truly wonderful, but as a whole it, for me, feels lifeless. It’s a pretty sexy subject, too, so it’s a shame they didn’t find a way to capture that (see The House of Mirth for a film that does it right). The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three: Best Art Direction (won), Best Costume Design (won), Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Denholm Elliott, Best Supporting Actress Maggie Smith, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Mission and winner Platoon.
This is one of those movies I remember really love when I first saw and then didn’t watch again for years only to rediscover it all over again. It features a stellar ensemble cast consisting of pretty much every British person ever. The cast went on to win the Best Ensemble at the SAG awards. I remember when Sir Ian McKellan won the SAG for his role in the first Lord of the Rings movie, he quipped something about being the only British actor not in Gosford Park. The film was nominated for 7 Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress Dame Helen Mirren, Best Supporting Actress Dame Maggie Smith, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and won Best Original Screenplay – Julian Fellowes. The curious thing about Julian Fellowes is that, at least for me, I loved this film to death and was absolutely bored by two of his latest efforts – Vanity Fair and The Young Victoria. It makes me wonder if perhaps those screenplays would have been fine if he’d had the same calibre director as Altman, or if this screenplay was a one hit wonder?