"And The Winner Isn't"

And The Winner Isn't is a satirical documentary charting Geoffrey Moore and his daughter Ambra's journey through Hollywood, as the pair track down celebrities and industry insiders in their bid to find out what it takes to become an Academy Award winner.

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"Nothing Like a Dame"

There is nothing like a Dame… well, yes: four of them. Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Eileen Atkins and Dame Joan Plowright meet from time to time and this time they have allowed the cameras in this friendship meeting, a friendship that goes back more than half a century.

Had Roger Michell directed a movie as easy as this one before? The director of Notting Hill and My Cousin Rachel had to give some indication to his four actresses, sit down and watch them talk, laugh and cry, just a little bit. This is because these four Dames are four of the most acclaimed actresses on the international scene. Friends for decades with Oscars, Baftas and Oliviers on the shelves of theirs homes (Plowright, of course, was married to the man who gave his name to the Olivier Theater awards, actor Laurence Olivier), this group of National Treasures are synonym of laughs and reminiscences. And the best thing is that they do it how any other godmother would do, without bumps or scripts or “you are wonderful, my dear.”

Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Eileen Atkins

Michell shot the film in the beautiful country house in Sussex that Plowright bought with Laurence Olivier. I guess that the choice of the place was because of Plowright's age —88, she is the oldest of the four— and because her vision has been much less than in recent years. In fact, Dame Dench, who also has problems with her eyes, asks in a moment: “Between all of us, do we have three eyes?”.

There are lot of laughs. I loved two moments: when Roger asked them if the they would work forever, all of them answered yes, but three of them complain because the good scripts never arrive to them because they are first offered to Dame Judi, in fact, Plowright says that his agent one recommended her to “look around for a nice little cameo that Judi Dench hasn’t got her paws on”. The second one is the reaction of Dame Maggie, less than enthusiastic, to reach international fame thanks to her interpretation of the Countess of Dowager in Downton Abbey (and when she says that she has not had time to watch the series “I won’t last long enough to watch the damn thing”, Dench is less morbid, saying she has not planned his funeral “because I will not die!” I hope none ‘they do it, to be honest). It is also a matter of laughing when Dame Smith relates when she congratulated Dame Dench for the title of Dame “It doesn’t make any difference, you can still swear”. Swearing, in fact, is one of the favorite things of Dame Dench, and it seems that when she does it she is as good  as when she plays M. “Fuck off!!!!!” she says when Roger asks them to talk about getting older, and there are also images of a young Dench shouting “brutally stuck coppers” and spitting on a policeman’s face in Z Cars (BBC). But there are also tears when they discuss love and loss.

Dame Judi Dench and Dame Joan Plowright

Nothing Like a Dame is sincere, funny, caustic, irreverent, endearing and absolutely fantastic and available on BBC iPlayer.