108. Shakespeare in Love

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Movie: Shakespeare in Love

Release Date: December 11, 1998

Director: John Madden

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Antony Sher, Imelda Staunton, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Williams.

Tag Lines: “A Comedy About the Greatest Love Story Almost Never Told.”

“Love is the only inspiration.”

Relevance: Ever since 1985, when I first read William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” I fell in love with its story and themes. Despite my realistic views on culture, society and life in general, I really am a true romantic at heart. I also love a really good tragedy. I have enjoyed quite a few of “Romeo and Juliet” revisions including the 1996 Baz Luhrmann film (see 324. Romeo + Juliet) as well as its ever popular 1960’s musical adaptation, which (spoiler alert) is in my top ten on this list of most influential movies of all time. So it will come as no surprise at all that ‘Shakespeare in Love’ also lands on this list just outside the top one hundred.

I saw ‘Shakespeare in Love’ in the theater either in late 1998 or early 1999. The specifics are a bit fuzzy although I know it was definitely around the holiday season. I was working as a retail manager for a music and movie store at the time, so I am guessing it was in early January after the brouhaha of Christmas. I do know that I saw it before January 24th of 1999, because that was the day of the Golden Globe Awards of which the film was nominated for six awards. I always try to see the nominated movies before an award ceremony, it is the one of few “geeky” things I do in life. I was still in a pretty fragile state of mind as 1998 was a tumultuous year for me personally, as previously discussed on this blog. I was grateful for the fresh start of the new year and what better way to forget about the past than with a critically acclaimed comedy.

‘Shakespeare in Love’ was at the time critically praised by both critics and audiences everywhere. It was a box office hit and eventually became the ninth highest grossing film of 1998. It won three of the six aforementioned Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards of which it won seven. One of those seven awards was Best Picture which happened to stir quite the controversy that year. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was the favorite to win, but it was snatched away by ‘Shakespeare’ making it the first comedy to win that prestigious award since 1977’s ‘Annie Hall.’

I however wasn’t surprised at all. I absolutely adored the film and fell in love with it and its two stars, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, immediately. It was beautifully directed and acted and its story was witty, sweet and romantic and it completely swept me off of my feet. I laughed and boy oh boy, did I cry. Leaving the theater, I knew that I witnessed something special. As much as I loved ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ I did go against the trend and picked ‘Shakespeare in Love’ to take home the coveted Oscar. And I was right. Many critics today say that this film is the worst Best Picture winner of all time and that ‘Saving Private Ryan’ was robbed, but I couldn’t disagree more. I mean, just look where ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is on my list (see 234. Saving Private Ryan) as compared to ‘Shakespeare in Love.’

Because of its Best Picture Oscar win, I own ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on DVD as I eventually buy all of the Best Picture winners. However even if it didn’t win, it would have been purchased. It is a movie that I watch quite often and am never, ever bored or disappointed. I am always entertained in every way possible. Each time I fall more and more in love with it and am grateful to William Shakespeare for its inspiration.

Today’s Thoughts: “Pay attention and you will see how genius creates a legend.”

‘Shakespeare in Love’ is still a glorious film and I thoroughly enjoyed it today despite me just watching it a few months ago. Like I said, I never get tired of it. I laughed (and cried) as much today as I did during its previous viewings.

Its direction is stunning as is its first rate cast led by the gorgeous Gwyneth Paltrow. She is amazing in this role, and oh so young and beautiful. Equally amazing and beautiful is Joseph Fiennes as the bard himself. Their chemistry together on screen is breathtaking. I could watch them fall in and out of love every second of every day. The rest of the ensemble including Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Antony Sher, Imelda Staunton, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Williams are perfectly cast. It is such a treat to watch such talent in one movie.

‘Shakespeare in Love’ might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine. I absolutely love it. Despite its negative history in cinema, due to the Oscar controversy and its ties to Harvey Weinstein, it really is a delightful romantic comedy that should be viewed by anyone that believes in the true nature of love. Those bohemians will definitely not be disappointed.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Gwyneth Paltrow (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (winner). Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (winner), Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Martin Childs, Jill Quertier (winner), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Sandy Powell (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score, Stephen Warbeck (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, John Madden (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Geoffrey Rush (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Richard Greatrex (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Robert O’Donoghue, Dominic Lester, Peter Glossop (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, David Gamble (nomination), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Lisa Westcott, Veronica McAleer (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Gwyneth Paltrow (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, John Madden (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Judi Dench (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Geoffrey Rush (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Geoffrey Rush (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, David Gamble (winner), BAFTA Award for Direction, John Madden (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Gwyneth Paltrow (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Joseph Fiennes (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Tom Wilkinson (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Richard Greatex (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Martin Childs (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Sandy Powell (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Peter Glossop, John Downer, Robin O’Donoghue, Dominic Lester (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Lisa Westcott (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Gwyneth Paltrow (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Joseph Fiennes (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Geoffrey Rush (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Judi Dench (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Original, Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Breakthrough Artist, Joseph Fiennes (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, John Madden (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress, Judi Dench (winner), National Society of Critics Award for Best Screenplay, Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Marc Norman. Tom Stoppard (winner) New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Judi Dench (nomination), Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick, Marc Norman (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Marc Norman, Ton Stoppard (winner).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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