Monday, 4 March 2013

Dame Judi Dench ... more, much more, than Skyfall...

 Bafta 2013: Dame Judi Dench finally recognised for James Bond role
Veteran British actress Dame Judi Dench has finally been recognised by the Bafta awards for her role as M in James Bond, as Skyfall receives eight nominations this year.
By Hannah Furness 09 Jan 2013 in The Telegraph /

Dame Judi Dench has been nominated as best supporting actress for her role as M in James Bond, receiving one of the eight nominations for Skyfall announced at a ceremony this morning.
It is the first time she has been recognised by Bafta for playing M, and comes as she finally finishes her 17 year stint in the role. Skyfall will be her final appearance in the James Bond franchise.
Her nomination is one of eight received by the film this year, including Outstanding British Film and Cinematography.
Javier Bardem was announced as a contender for best supporting actor, with potential accolades also including prizes for original music, editing, production design and sound.
Casino Royale has previously received nine nominations; a record high.
This year, Skyfall was narrowly pipped to the most nominations by Lincoln, which received ten, Les Miserables and Life of Pi which both received nine.
The award for best film will come from a short list of Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty.
Judi Dench was first recognised by Bafta in1966 as "most promising newcomer", and has gone on to receive and impressive 26 nominations.
She has already won ten times, including best leading actress for Iris and Mrs Brown.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of Bafta, said the nomination was richly deserved.
"The public have really taken the film to their hearts, they went to see it in their droves internationally," she said.
"Javier Bardem was the most amazing baddie so it's great to see him nominated too.
"Judi Dench was first nominated in 1966 as outstanding newcomer. She's never been nominated as M before, and it felt like her role was bigger this time.
"It was also her last performance. I just think it was a terrific film, really well made, with an outstanding cast.
"There are so many incredible films nominated this year, and so much talent internationally. The red carpet should be very exciting."
Dench is now up against Amy Adams for her role in The Master, Sally Field for Lincoln, Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables and Helen Hunt for her appearance in The Sessions.
Dame Helen Mirren has also been nominated in the leading actress category for her role in Hitchcock. She has previously received 11 nominations and four awards.
The other four contenders are Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook and Emmanuelle Riva for Amour.
The nominations, voted for by a panel of 6,500 industry experts, honour the best films, actors and directors every year.
The results of the EE British Academy Film Awards will be announced by Stephen Fry on February 10.

Will Skyfall really see the end of Judi Dench's reign as M?
Rumour has it that Bond's boss is going to die in the latest movie and be replaced by Ralph Fiennes. Will you miss Dench's take on the character?
Posted by
Ben Child
Tuesday 10 April 2012 17.57 BST /

Skyfall, the 23rd "official" film about the world's most famous suave secret agent, has been subject to more than its fair share of speculation, even for a Bond movie. There are those who still seem convinced that Naomie Harris is playing a version of Moneypenny in Sam Mendes's film, despite the actor's fervent protests to the contrary, and there have even been suggestions that 007 is about to swap his beloved Martini, shaken not stirred, for a pint of Heineken.
The latest rumour to hit the tabloid carousel originates from the previously little-known Brit website Best For Film, and has been swiftly picked up by gossip-hungry red-tops.

It suggests that Judi Dench's M, head of MI6, and 007's tough yet occasionally tender boss, has scolded 007 for the final time. "We've just filmed M's death scene. Judi Dench is leaving the franchise," a member of the Skyfall production crew reportedly told the site.

When my colleague Henry Barnes got in touch with studio Sony this morning, he was batted off with a polite but firm: "No comment." We do know (because it's in the official synopsis) that Skyfall sees Bond struggling to deal with revelations about M's past, and involves some form of attack on MI6. We also know (because he said so himself) that Ralph Fiennes is playing a government agent, which has already led to speculation that the Oscar-nominated British actor might be stepping in as the new M. Has somebody somewhere joined all the Skyfall dots to create a salacious "Judi Dench is quitting Bond" story? Or does Best For Film have the inside line on the biggest 007 scoop in years?

M's death would certainly be a suitably explosive way for Dench to go out. Her stature as a national treasure and impressive seven-film, 17-year tenure demands a fitting endgame, and now might be the right time to leave on a high. Where both the stern and sturdy Bernard Lee and the more avuncular Robert Brown often found their parts underwritten and left rather on the sidelines while Bond jetted off on his globetrotting adventures, the 77-year-old actor has generally presented a more-rounded, less cartoony take on the character.

Dench was allowed to show vulnerability in an extensive appearance in The World Is Not Enough without ever suggesting to the audience that she had lost her status as a shrewd and dispassionate operator. We saw her at home on more than one occasion, unusually for a character who seemed to be tied to the office in previous iterations. She may not be the only M to maintain something of a love/hate relationship with Bond, but neither of her predecessors had quite the same intuition when it came to really understanding their man.

When Dench first took the role in 1995 for Pierce Brosnan's debut in the role, GoldenEye, her appointment was inspired by the rise to prominence of real-life MI5 boss Stella Rimington, who had recently become the organisation's first female director general. Rimington retired in 1996, aged 61, after just four years in the top job, so Dench's M has really had a pretty impressive run. That's not to suggest that she is too old for the role: her rendering of the character has been such that Eon Productions would probably keep her on well into her ninth decade given the opportunity. She was, after all, retained for Casino Royale despite the incongruity of being joined by a new Bond in her fifth turn in the role.

If Fiennes really is being drafted into the role, he will be the youngest M (at 49) since Edward Fox in 1983's non-canonical Never Say Never Again. That in itself would create a different dynamic, since the new chief would be of the same generation (as well as once again the same gender) as his top agent.

But somehow it almost seems a little too soon for Bond's boss to take her leave, although at least she looks likely to go out with a bang. Are you willing to accept that this might be Dench's last roll of the dice as M? Or are you betting all your casino chips that she'll be back in the 24th James Bond adventure?

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