The 10 Best Emma Thompson Movies

The 10 Best Emma Thompson Movies

Known for her wit, and matter-of-fact way of speaking which she exhibits both in real life, and in many of her characters, Emma Thompson is an actress that has always captured the attention of audiences, critics, and directors who seem to know which roles suit her perfectly. From her first foray into the entertainment industry beginning with appearances on BBC Radio, Thompson has always selected roles that show the varying complexities of women. She received her big break with the 1987 television series Fortunes of War, where she met Kenneth Branagh, whom she would go on to work with in future films Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing, both of which he directed.

Thompson became a cross-over success with North American (and international) audiences with the 1992 classic Howards End, for which she won both an Oscar BAFTA Awards for Best Lead Actress. Whether she’s playing a woman struggling to find her place in a restrictive society as in Sense and Sensibility or the voice of one of the most beloved animated characters Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (2017), Emma Thompson is sure to put her all into it, giving audiences a character they fully enjoy.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

After 20 years business mogul  Walt Disney convinces author P.L.Travers to visit him in California, to discuss Disney’s intention of adapting her famous Mary Poppins book series into a film. Due to her difficult upbringing, Travers developed a brusque nature, which causes her to have tense interactions with the film’s development team including its composers Richard and Robert Sherman, played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak respectively. Like Mary Poppins, the cast of Saving Mr. Banks is pitch perfect from Thompson as Travers, to Colin Farrell as her father, seen in flashbacks of her childhood in Australia.

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Nanny McPhee (2005)

Struggling to raise his seven rambunctious children, Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) accepts the strange and odd looking Nanny McPhee (Thompson), when she turns up on his front step offering to help. With the use of some magic, careful discipline and understanding Nanny McPhee whips the Brown children and their disorderly hose into tip-top shape.

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Howards End (1992)

Class, sex, forgiveness, hate, and independence are all topics discussed in this James Ivory adaptation of E.M. Foster’s novel of the same name. When wealthy businessman Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) becomes a widow, he attempts to prevent Margaret Schlegel (Thompson) from inheriting the hose his wife left to Margaret, by marrying her. But their marriage doesn’t go the way Henry anticipated, and he learns that Margaret and her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) are not the kind of women he’s used to.

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Primary Colors (1998)

Written by Elaine May, and directed by Mike Nichols, Primary Colors follows Jack Stanton (John Travolta), his wife Susan (Thompson), and Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) on Jack’s campaign to become president. With a supporting cast featuring Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thronton, the film takes a behind the scenes look at the plans and plots candidates and their managers come up with while on the campaign trail, and the effects it takes on their personal lives.

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The Children Act (2017)

As her marriage slowly falls apart Judge Fiona May (Thompson) is stuck in an emotional freefall as her focus turns to the high-stakes court cases that come before her, in particular, the case of 17-year-old Adam (Fionn Whitehead) who is refusing a life-saving blood transfusion for religious purposes. Adapted by Ian McEwan who also wrote the book the film is based on, The Children Act is a mature film where Thompson shines, in all aspects whether it’s in the courtroom, or at home where she interacts with Stanley Tucci who plays Fiona’s husband Jack.

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Brave (2012)

Rather than bowing to the expectations imposed upon her by tradition and customs, Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) decides to start on her own path, but on her way to do this, her conflict with her mother Queen Elinor causes unintentional complications. To undo a curse that changes Elinor’s physical appearance Merida will have to resolve her issues with her mother while using her archery skills to get them out of dangerous situations. Though she may not have much dialogue in the film, Brave like many of her other  (and Pixar) films, is a movie that shows great female characters, and the special relationship between a mother and daughter.

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Men in Black 3 (2012)

When Boris the Animals (Jermaine Clement), an alien threatens to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), his partner Agent J (Will Smith) travel back in time to 1969 where he finds young Agent K (Josh Brolin). Together, Agents J and K work to stop Boris and his fellow aliens from attacking Earth and changing the course of history. Its always fun to see actors known for dramatic roles, in lighter tones films and Thompson as Agent O, the new director of MiB operations, fits the humor of Men in Black 3. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Men in Black 3 is the third installment in the MiB franchise and is an entertaining, well-paced film that uses time travel in interesting and fun ways.

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Henry V (1989)

With Europe embroiled in the Hundred Years War, King of England, Henry V (Kenneth Branagh) leads his country on the path to fight against and subsequently conquer France in 1415 in the famous Battle of Agincourt. Based on the stage play by William Shakespeare, Henry V is a film known for its realistic battle scenes and famous speeches, and palace court scenes where Henry both prepare for war and woos the lovely Princess Katherine de Valois (Thompson).

Not available on Netflix

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

In a society where women are forced to rely on the support of men, the Dashwood sisters and their mother learn how easy for men too, and how to become independent while making a home for themselves. With the screenplay written by Thompson and directed by Ang Lee (Broke Back Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) Sense and Sensibility is a lovely adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s earliest novels, starring the late Alan Rickman as the dashing Col. Brandon who sees himself as a protector to Marianne (Kate Winslet), and Hugh Grant as Edward, Elinor’s (Thompson) shy suitor.

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Love Actually (2003)

In this Christmas classic, the lives of eight couples intersect in some of the most peculiar and interesting ways. As everyone prepares for the holiday festivities, they face challenges and questions on what love and family truly means, and what it means to be a couple. Yes, this 2003 British film has become a Christmas classic for many people all over the world. Filled to the brim with some of the recognizable actors today, like Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor and of course Emma Thompson, Love Actually is a funny, heartfelt rom-com with something, or someone everyone can appreciate.

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