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Top 5 Judi Dench Movies

Updated on September 23, 2014

My Top 5 Judi Dench Movie Picks

Judi Dench

When you say that name what comes to mind?

Dignity
Class
Excellence
Acting Perfection

~

James Bond
Queen Victoria
Queen Elizabeth
Armande Voizin

To my way of thinking - poised, polished, distinguished, and able to add an enduring quality to any role. I am indeed a fan of Judi Dench. She is a remarkably skilled and gifted actress, one of the greats; able to portray vibrant self-confident characters with a subtle touch of vulnerability.

Dame Judith Dench

Born December 9, 1934 in Yorkshire, England, UK, Judi Dench is an acclaimed English film, stage, and television actress with an equally respected following in the United States.

Known for strong Shakespearean roles as Queens Elizabeth and Victoria, numerous stage productions and BBC television roles, it was her performances as M in the James Bond movies that brought her notice in the US. She starred in six Bond movies, the first being Golden Eye in 1995

*spoiler alert: rumor has it her character will be killed off in the upcoming 2012 Bond epic

Her list of nominations and awards is staggering. She has received 10 BAFTA Awards, 6 Academy Award nominations, 6 Lawrence Oliver Awards, an Oscar, and 2 Golden Globes; plus the European Film Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

She was named into the Order of the British Empire in 1970, became Dame of the British Empire in 1999 and endowed a Fellowship at the Royal Society of Arts in 2006.

Chocolat

#1 Chocolat

My #1 Judi Dench movie pick released in 2000, Judi Dench plays a supporting role as Armande Voizin an aging woman at odds with her daughter and her ailments. On the surface she is disgruntled, feisty, and a bit cantankerous until soften by the schemes of the new Chocolatier proprietor Vianne.

Vianne and her daughter Anouk move into a small French village controlled by the Catholic Church and the Town's close-minded mayor. Their arrival and subsequent opening of the Chocolatier during Lent leads the town's people through a delicious path of personal discovery and eye opening revelations.

Vianne has an uncanny skill of being able to select everyone's favorite type of chocolate which leads them on their own path of self-discovery and some might say enrichment. In the case of Armande Voizin, well without spoiling the story let's just say that new appreciations are discovered.

Taming the Shrew - Judi as as Armande Voizin

CHOCOLAT collector's edition DVD

Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series)
Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series)

You must watch Chocolat and better yet add it to your movie collection as I predict it will become one of your favorites. It is an enduring comedy of the townspeople’s struggle between temptations, religion based self-discipline, and their paths to discovery. A sincerely entertaining movie one in which Judi Dench won the Best Supporting Actress award from the Screen Actors Guild and was nominated in the same category by the Golden Globes, the British Academy, and the Oscars.

 
Delightfully Dark Chocolate Peruvian Chocolate
Delightfully Dark Chocolate Peruvian Chocolate

I don't know if it is as good as that made by Vianne but won't hurt to find out

 

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown

#2 Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown

A surprising gem released in 1997, Judi Dench plays the starring role as Queen Victoria portraying the ruler after her husband Prince Albert has died. This is one of Judi Dench's strongest roles depicting the stern yet fragile stature of the Queen under tremendous duress.

The Queen with seemingly no one to confide in and overcome by grief becomes increasingly insecure and ill-mannered. Concerned over her downcast state a servant suggests she take up horseback riding and a Scotsman named John Brown is hired to be her guide. Naturally she does not take to this idea quickly but through time their relationship develops into one of true and honest friendship.

It is this friendship with a commoner that revitalizes the Queen's spirits and shocks public opinion. Even the two are caught unaware as their unlikely bond turns into a love affair. Judi portrays the Queen as only she can with stately class and grace.

A Most Unlikely Partnership - Judi as Queen Victoria

A True Romance - Queen and Commoner

Along the Lines of Masterpiece Theater

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown will delight you with its realistic portrayal of the late 1800's Queen and her struggle to find life after her comfortable, privileged and pampered existence is upturned. The true relationship between Queen Victoria and John Brown will always remain a mystery but Judi will have you immersed in the quality storyline of their alliance.

Judi Dench was nominated for 3 Best Actress and 1 Best Make-up award plus was awarded Best Actress by Golden Globe and Chicago Film Critics Association and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama by the Hollywood Foreign Press Foundation.

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

#3 The Last Blonde Bombshells

Judi makes this movie come alive, released in 2000, Judi Dench joins an all-star cast playing a leading role as Elizabeth a tenor saxophone player in the 1940s WWII era swing band "The Blonde Bombshells". When Elizabeth loses her husband she goes on a journey to decide what to do with herself and pulls her old saxophone out of the attic and picks up playing once again.

Judi is vibrant in this role of a feisty woman not ready to settle with becoming old, it made me think this may have a similarity to how Judi looks at her own life.

When the group's former manager and drum player catches one of Elizabeth's street performances they get the notion to look up all the old band members and reprise "The Blonde Bombshells". As each band member is found after 50 years we visit their character through short flash backs to the lively time when the band's music boosted soldier morale.

Determined to live up to a promise made to her granddaughter she pushes on and with comedic qualities similar to the film "Fried Green Tomatoes" we witness how this quest changes each of their lives.

Fancy Bit of Fun - Judi as Elizabeth

Still Terrific - Amazing Jazz vocalist Cleo Lane

A Sassy True-Life Story

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

“The Blonde Bombshells” is one of those movies that will surprise you as being better than you thought it would be. It will make you smile, laugh and just be one of those “feel good, but not mushy” pictures. Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Movie by the Screen Actors Guild and won by both the Golden Globe and Hollywood Foreign Press Association in the same category.

 

Ladies in Lavender

#4 Ladies in Lavendar

Released in 2004, Judi Dench joins highly talented Maggie Smith together playing leading roles as two sisters living in a small fishing village during the 1930s. The sisters Janet and Ursula (Dench) Widdington discover a much younger man washed up on the shore near their beachside home. Injured and handsome, the two nurse the young man back to health then surprisingly begin to fall for him despite the age difference.

This creates a bit of sibling rivalry portrayed spectacularly by the wonderful pairing of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench; I enjoy watching them together with their wonderfully unique match-up much in the sense of two true sisters.

Along the way the young man proves to be a talented musician and falls for a visiting artist, as they become a pair he decides to seek out his career in London and fails to bid farewell to the sisters. Relief comes as they receive a letter thanking them for coming to his aid and they travel to London to witness his first public performance.

A Lavendar Retreat - Joshua Bell played the Original Sound Track

A Visit to Times Long Ago

Ladies in Lavender
Ladies in Lavender

This is one of the few movies Judi Dench did not win nor was she nominated for any award but it is none the less entertaining. Much in the character of a Hallmark production, Ladies in Lavender is charming, amusing, and purely pleasurable. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith seem to fit their roles like a pair of well-worn garden gloves, in fact it is their stellar performances that make this movie memorable. Buy the soundtrack below for some truly beautiful violin music.

 

As Time Goes By

#5 As Time Goes By

OK you're right it's not a movie but it just had to be included on my Judi Dench Top 5 list, I thoroughly love this BBC television series. Originating in 1992, As Time Goes By aired for 13 delightful seasons ending in 2005 but thanks to public television reruns I have watched many episodes over and over.

Judi portrays Jean Parteger-Hardcastle a part-time meddler and mother to two grown daughters. The story revolves around Jean and Lionel who fell in love in the 1950's but drifted apart when Lionel was transferred to Korea while in the Army. His departure letter to Jean was never received but 38 years later they find each other and their romance I rekindled.

The weekly storyline humorously follows their renewed friendship and marriage depicting two people definitely made for each other and comfortable in a relationship that may never have come about except for a chance meeting. The characters expertly portrayed by Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer will have you believing that the two were just meant to be

Don't We All Love Bloopers - Oh my, I have no Idea what I'm Saying

Classics your Friends will Beg to Borrow

What is your favorite Judi Dench movie?

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Judi Dench will forever be on my list of top actresses, her distinctive voice and unforgettable characters make her name one that will always beckon me to take notice.

Are you a Judi Dench Movie Fan?

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    • onyesvic profile image

      onyesvic 5 years ago

      wow

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 5 years ago

      It always seems odd that people always specify that she's a dame. Of course she's a dame, you can tell by just looking.

    • profile image

      halloweenprops 5 years ago

      Great to read your lens on Judi Dench - what an actress!

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 5 years ago

      A great lens about a great lady...

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Judi Dench is so real and brilliant in everything. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel drew my husband to the cinema for the first time in a hundred years and he loved it. My daughter and I saw it twice. It is one of those movies that you must buy for the DVD library to enjoy every year or so.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Judi Dench is a fine actress.

    • MarilynThompson profile image
      Author

      Marilyn Thompson 5 years ago from Washington State

      @LynetteBell: You know I have not seen that one, I'll have to rent it.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I think Judi Dench is a wonderful actress. I loved her in the comedy with her late husband, Michael Williams, 'A Fine Romance'.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      I like Judi Dench, but have only seen a couple of these movies/tv shows. I will rent them soon. Thanks!

    • MarilynThompson profile image
      Author

      Marilyn Thompson 5 years ago from Washington State

      @Barbie Crafts: Thanks so much for visiting and liking!

    • Barbie Crafts profile image

      Barbie Crafts 5 years ago from United States

      I am an avid fan of "AS Time Goes By," but i was unaware of all of the rest of this tremendous resume that she has! Thanks for sharing this lens, which would take an entire day to enjoy to its fullest. Great job.

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 5 years ago

      Judi Dench is Superb! I've watched the re-runs of "As Time Goes By" on PBS again and again. Great topic!

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      She is a wonderful actress....very nice you lens you have made! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Ah, I just caught out of the corner of my eye the link you shared to my review of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Thank you very much for that mention!