One of this year's Oscar-nominated films is "Philomena," the latest from English director Stephen Frears. Because of his superbly cast and insightful character studies, Frears is a regular on the red carpet. The 2006 movie "The Queen" exemplifies his enormous talent.
"The Queen" is based on a true story. It begins in early 1997, when the British citizens and Queen Elizabeth (played by Helen Mirren) usher in a new Prime Minister: Tony Blair (played by Michael Sheen). A few months later, Princess Diana dies in a car accident, which makes the British people very depressed. They expect Queen Elizabeth to make a statement about the death, but she feels it is a family matter and underestimates their wrath. Over the course of the week, the British people become more and more upset that their queen has not said anything. Tony Blair works hard to convince her to acknowledge their grief.
"The Queen" explores the ups and downs of celebrity status. Queen Elizabeth had become accustomed to being revered by her subjects and is slow to understand that Princess Diana had amassed a loyal following. Tony Blair is able to capitalize on his celebrity status. Helen Mirren received a well-deserved Oscar for her depiction of the old-fashioned, but very competent queen. Michael Sheen exudes Tony Blair's likability.
The movie is very well-directed by Stephen Frears. He does a great job showing how the British people shift emotions over the course of a week.
"The Queen" ranks among the best films of 2006.