Maggie Smith has graced the stage and film with both thought-provoking and pleasant performances for over 60 years. Over a 40-year career, she has starred in everything from period pieces to fantasy blockbusters, earning five Oscar nominations. Her forthright and honest demeanour has a timeless charm that works in any situation.
Smith’s characters are frequently funny while also serving as symbols for vital concerns. She is one of the few female actors to have won the ‘triple crown’ of acting awards: the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony. Dame Maggie Smith demonstrates that women of any age can compete with men. Even at the age of 87, the actress has two projects coming out next year. Meanwhile, here are the top Maggie Smith movies and TV episodes to watch in the meantime.
Maggie Smith portrays the family’s calculating grandmother in Downton Abbey, a period drama set in the early twentieth century that follows the lives of all the residents of an English estate. Violet’s (or Granny’s) experiences and drive allow her to keep influence in the family’s activities, despite her advancing years. She also adds perspective to assist listeners immerse themselves in the period. Without Smith’s smart one-liners and display of intellectual strength, Downton Abbey would not be the same, making her probably the show’s most beloved character. It’s no surprise that her character in Downton Abbey: A New Era will have a larger part in the future film.
Hook (Honorable Mention)
Maggie Smith’s appearance in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Hook is brief; she only appears as an older Wendy for a few minute, yet her mere presence on screen adds to the film’s beautiful setting. Her resolve inspires the other characters, demonstrating that her persona, however fleeting, can enrich any film. She gives Peter’s character, who later decides to grow up, essential background information.
Lady in The Van
Maggie Smith plays Miss Shepherd, an old homeless woman with a justifiable chip on her shoulder, in Lady in the Van. When Shepherd parks (and lives in) her van in Alan Bennett’s driveway, it causes a ruckus, as the neighbourhood tries to assist her and get her out. Shepherd’s arrogant and demanding demeanour irritates almost everyone, but Smith’s portrayal of the character makes him attractive and likeable. Smith gives the character depth and a surprise likability, leaving audiences with a strong sense of empathy while they think on contemporary issues. She’s extremely stunning in this setting.
Maggie Smith demonstrated her dramatic range on stage early in her career and brought it to this 1965 production of Othello, in which she plays Desdemona, one of the most memorable female roles in history. Shakespeare’s vocabulary can be challenging to convey with emotion and flawless rhythm, but Smith appears to be up to the task. Smith plays a delicate and kind role in the traditional Shakespearean tragedy, which is a departure from her regular manner. Laurence Oliver’s contentious use of blackface to portray Othello (which is plainly problematic, but has been defended in fascinating ways) overshadows her role in the picture, but she still makes an important contribution. Olivier’s passionate and emotional performance is wonderfully balanced by her delicate but forceful performance. For this film, she was even nominated for her first Academy Award.
Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith, is a touching film about a former singer. After settling into a retirement community, musician Jean Horton feels out of place and judgemental of her neighbours. When the retirement home is in danger of crumbling, Jean is convinced to put on a final performance with the other senior musicians at the home to preserve it. Many romances teach the need of being open to love, but Smith takes it to a new level. Her portrayal not only wonderfully captures the inner bitterness and reasonable defensiveness of an elderly woman (who has had her life ripped away and moved to a retirement home), but it’s also just as convincing as the finale’s bright and generous performer.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Many people choose to retire to warm climates such as Florida or Arizona, but this group opts for a more exotic place. When a magnificent hotel in India defies expectations, a party of retirees goes on a trip unlike anything they could have imagined. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features Smith’s trademark clever humour. She is a great highlight, bringing humanity and gentle tenderness to even the roughest and prickliest characters.
The Harry Potter Franchise
Maggie Smith may be in a setting unlike any of her prior films when she plays Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, but she portrays her character with the same determination and ambition. The majority of people are unaware that Harry Potter chronicles the education and training of the titular young wizard. Smith Professor McGonagall, the Gryffindor head of house, is played by him. She is one of Harry’s harshest teachers while also being one of his most understanding. She is a rule follower, but she always manages to bend the rules for the greater good. Smith plays one of the nicest and most adored adults in the movie, alongside Richard Harris’ portrayal of Dumbledore.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Maggie Smith earned her first Academy Award for finest actress. The film follows school teacher Jean Brodie and her most brilliant students, and is loosely based on the true story of Christina Kay. Smith has always portrayed strong female characters that aren’t hesitant to stand up for what they believe in, even when she was younger. Her portrayal here embodies the wisdom of a teacher as well as the tenderness of a mother.
The Secret Garden
Maggie Smith plays Mrs. Medlock, the head housekeeper, in this rendition of the classic novel The Secret Garden. The story follows Mary Lennox, a young orphan who is staying with her uncle. Mary and her cousin are both entitled, spoilt, and obstinate. Smith’s acting wonderfully contrasts the children’s uncontrolled attitude, matching them at every step as the maid strives to keep order in the house. Mrs. Medlock’s rigorous yet controlled attitude is convincing, and Smith pushes the film’s younger performers to give it their all.