Top Picks: Emma Thompson

You have to hand it to Emma Thompson, who turns 60 this month: few people in show business have her work ethic and the talent to match. In researching this post, I was amazed at how many movies she's been in, even if I have seen a fair number of them. In the interest of space, I'm going to restrict myself to movies that Thompson has starred in, though it will not be all of even those (sorry, Harry Potter fans).

In the early years, when she was still Mrs. Kenneth Brannagh, she did a film with him that became one of my favorites in high school: Dead Again. Also starring Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, and Derek Jacobi, Dead Again follows the dual storylines of a postwar conductor and his musician wife and a woman in modern Los Angeles who has lost her memory. Also with Brannagh, Thompson starred in one of his most charming Shakespeare adaptations, Much Ado About Nothing, in which Beatrice and Benedick argue their way into each other's arms.

If political intrigue is more up your alley, there's Primary Colors, a fictionalized telling of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. Thompson does a spot-on American dialect as a certain political wife whose ambition matches her husband's.

Thompson's co-star in the acclaimed Carrington is Jonathan Pryce, as they play the artist Dora Carrington and author Lytton Strachey, emotional intimates in the Bloomsbury circle during and after the First World War. 

With 8 Oscar nominations, The Remains of the Day may be one of Emma Thompson's more famous outings, where she plays the housekeeper to Anthony Hopkins' repressed butler, who realizes too late that his employer has some unsavory connections and that he might have been ever so slightly in love with said housekeeper. 

Thompson actually did win an Oscar for adapting Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Costarring with Kate Winslet, Thompson breathes life into Austen's comedy of two sisters who are diametric opposites on the emotional scale and find their true loves, anyway. 

For the kids, there's Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns. Thompson plays the physically repulsive, magic-wielding babysitter who manages to both delight and discipline unruly children. 

Lastly, there's Saving Mr. Banks. Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the ultimate uptight spinster with writer's block to Tom Hanks' ebullient Walt Disney as he tries to convince Travers to sign off on Mary Poppins, triggering memories of her unhappy childhood.

That's not even half of the movies we have with Dame Emma at the library. What are your favorites? 

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