POSTED December 5 2013

Emma Thompson on The Nanny as Shane

UnknownFirst off, let me say that for me the top performances by women this year are Octavia Spencer as the mother in Fruitvale Station, Sally Hawkins as Cate Blanchett’s younger sister in Blue Jasmine, Julie Delpy as Ethan Hawke’s sparring partnering  Before Midnight, Oprah as the spouse of The Butler and — most of all — Emma Thompson as writer P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, the story behind the story of Mary Poppins, its author and her adversarial relationship with Walt Disney.

Next, let me share a quote that Thompson gave Time magazine about the nanny figure in movies:

The nanny story is essentially the western. It’s the stranger from out of town who comes into the situation of conflict, solves the issues using unorthodox methods and then must depart. Shane and Buffalo Bill turn up as Nanny McPhee and Mary Poppins in the female world.

Not only is Thompson an Oscar winning actress and screenwriter (for her portrayal in Howards End and her script for Sense and Sensibility),  she is a keen judge of genre conventions. As an actress she conveys convulsive humor and paralyzing grief, sometimes simultaneously. My favorite Thompson performances are as the ditzy patroness of the arts in Impromptu, the elder sisters in both Howards End and Sense and Sensibility and the blocked writer of Stranger than Fiction. Yours?

Alternatively, which other female archetypes are counterparts of classic male archetypes?



  1. Anmiryam says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Thompson performance I haven’t loved. I haven’t seen it for a while, but I remember being very touched by her performing with her mother, Phyllida Law, in “The Winter Guest”. I guess it’s time to find a copy and watch it again to see if my memory is correct.

  2. Debbie says:

    Much Ado About Nothing.
    Best Beatrice EVER.

  3. Her turns as writer and star of both Nanny McPhee and its sequel are brilliant and winning…I screen them repeatedly for grandkids and can’t look away,

  4. Carrie Rickey says:

    My pal Peter Plagens suggests that she immediately write the script for, and star, in “High Plains Nanny”

  5. wwolfe says:

    I love Thompson’s take on this – she’s absolutely right! In addition to the performances already mentioned, I loved her in “The Tall Guy.” (Which is also my favorite work by Richard Curtis.)

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