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Spindle’s Top Judi Dench Performances

Thursday 14 November 2013
Words Spindle

Here at Spindle, we love Denching out while wearing a nice bonnet – so we were ecstatic when Judi Dench’s new film Philomena was released in the UK (sorry for our North American readers: the movie is released in the colonies at the end of the month).

We’ve come over all matronly, and to celebrate we’ve picked our favourite of Dame Judi’s performances:

Sarah Ferrari

Notes on a Scandal – Richard Eyre, 2006
It’s a tough one, but my favourite Dench film is Notes on a ScandalWe’ve all had an unrequited crush at some point or anther, but have (hopefully) never take it as far as Dame Judi Dench’s character. It’s great seeing how her character develops from a seeimgly sweet little old lady to something far more sinister.

Thomas Dearnley-Davison

A Room With A View – James Ivory, 1985; 
84 Charing Cross Road – David Jones, 1987
Before the Dench became a Hollywood movie star, she spent years quietly shining in a wide variety of supporting roles in classy costume dramas. In A Room With A View, Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham-Carter meet Dench’s flamboyant trash-novelist Eleanor Lavish in a pensione in Florence. Though only a small part, the character’s penchant for chronicling real-life stories provides a pivotal plot point later on in the movie.

Two years earlier in 84 Charing Cross Road, Dench plays the quietly stoic Irish wife of bookshop owner Anthony Hopkins, sidelined as her husband continues a trans-Atlantic emotional affair via letter with New York writer Anne Bancroft. Judi underplays beautifully, adding a quiet tension to an otherwise slight story.

Jen Hunter

Notes on a Scandal – Richard Eyre, 2006
Judi Dench takes a stark turn from winning Oscars for roughly eight minutes of work (Shakespeare in Love) to really grafting for a piece of poor Cate Blanchett. Cate unbelievably spurns the attention of one of Britain’s finest national treasures of acting for a spotty little urchin. I mean, look at the kid – he probably has a crusty sock collection under his bed. Now look at DAME JUDI DENCH. Sure, she’s old, creepy, and kind of mean and ugly, but she won an Oscar for being in a movie for not even 10 minutes! Surely that’s worth a clandestine lesbian affair or two?

Bonus: Bill Nighy. This is pretty much going to guarantee that I watch something.

Heather Falconer

Iris – Richard Eyre, 2001
The story of the enduring love between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, based on John Bayley’s book Iris: A Memoir and Elegy for Iris. Dench’s portrayal of Iris, who is suffering her her final years with Altzheimer’s is both moving and heartbreaking.

Check out the trailer for Philomena below, and let us know what your favourite Judi Dench performances are!