British Acting Royalty on Harry Potter Movies: My Top Ten Favorites

Last week, Roger Ebert tweeted ‘Why haven’t Helen Mirren and Judi Dench ever made a Harry Potter film?’ Hmmm, good question, Mr. Ebert… why haven’t they? I certainly would LOVE to see both of them in at least one or two installments.

Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Jim Broadbent and Daniel Radcliffe

Then a few days later, I read a piece of news report about Harry Potter beating Star Wars as the biggest movie franchise of all time. The George Lucas sci-fi saga stands at $1.9 billion in worldwide gross over the course of six films, whilst the last six HP films have earned $1.7 billion. Given HP7’s $300+ worldwide gross just on its first weekend alone, no doubt this franchise will take the top spot way before the 2nd final installment is out next Summer.

Well, one thing for sure, I think the Harry Potter franchise has the best ensemble cast in movie history. I must admit that the supporting cast are a huge factor of what drew me in to check out HP movies in the first place. I excluded HP in my top five notable ensemble cast movies because the supporting actors don’t have equal screen time as the principal cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, but as a franchise, I can’t think of any other one that boasts THAT many award-winning British thespians (you can see all of them on Wikipedia). Nearly all of the who’s who of British cinema seem to have done a Harry Potter film. Man, how fortunate are those young actors to be working alongside such massively talented actors!

Fiennes, Bonham Carter, Gambon w/ Radclife on HP set

My top ten list is based on a combination of the actors’ previous work and their stellar performances in the Harry Potter movies. Here they are on alphabetical order:

Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart

What fun it is to see the Shakespearean actor/director hamming it up as a self-observed celeb wizard.

I first saw Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing, but he’s also known for his other Shakespeare-related work such as Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and As You Like It. He’s one of the rare artists who’ve been Oscar-nominated for acting, writing and directing. Talk about a real triple threat!

Jim Broadbent as Horace E. F. Slughorn

As a Potions teacher, Slughorn was a key character in revealing who Voldemort really is and his way of attaining immortality.

Broadbent is one of those character actors whose presence always add something special to any movie. He won an Oscar for his Best Supporting performance in Iris, but he was also adept in comedy, as he displayed in Moulin Rogue! and Hot Fuzz. His most recent movie Another Year has been constantly gaining positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.

Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange

One of the most powerful evil witches in Voldemort’s inner circle, she’s one of the most loyal ally to the dark lord.

Having just seen her all demure and sweet in A Room with a View, it’s fascinating to see her get her freak on as Bellatrix. She’s done more than her fair share of costume dramas, hence her ‘corset queen’ nickname. But I remember her most from her contemporary fare Fight Club and her small cameo in Terminator Salvation.

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort

Even if you have not seen a single movie, no doubt you’ve seen his nose-less, pale face spewing all kinds of evil towards Harry & his pals.One of my fave British actors, there are too many movies I remember him for. Perhaps the most iconic is his portrayal in the despicable Nazi Amon Göth in Schindler’s List, but he’s proven his versatility in other dramatic fares. The English Patient, Constant Gardener, and The Reader are just some of my faves.

Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore

The wise and caring headmaster of Hogwartz Wizarding School is perhaps one of the most sympathetic of all HP characters.To tell you the truth, I didn’t immediately warmed up to Gambon when he replaced Harris, but by the end of the 3rd film, he’s won me over. His immense theater experience is beyond impressive, but did you know he was asked by Bond producer Cubby Broccoli to audition for the 007 role to replace John Lazenby? I had no idea. Some of his memorable roles pre HP were The Insider, Gosford Park and Amazing Grace.

Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore

The minute I saw Harris on screen leaving baby Harry upon the doorstep of the Dursley home, I thought he was perfect for the role. I also love him as Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator, Abbé Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as his earlier role in Camelot. I had no idea he could sing so well but apparently the late Irish actor was a singer-songwriter who have recorded several albums.

Gary Oldman as Sirius Black

The famed escaped prisoner of Azkaban who’s the loyal friend of Harry’s parents. There’s not many actors as freakishly talented and versatile as Mr. Oldman. I can’t remember when I first saw him, but one thing for sure, he’s always wowed me every time he’s on screen. Famous for playing dark roles (in Dracula, Leon, True Romance, Air Force One) as well as real-life characters (Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK). I love his portrayal as Commissioner Gordon in Nolan’s Batman flicks, definitely one of my fave cast of that franchise.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

One of the revered professors at Hogwarts, Snape is easily the most layered and complex character in the whole franchise. You never really know whether he’s good or bad and where his true loyalties lie.I’ve mentioned Mr. Rickman numerous times on my blog for good reason. Not only is he an excellent actor, he’s got that perfect, iconic voice. I practically turn giddy watching him deliver his signature inflection, especially when he’s portraying bad guys. Love him as villainous Hans Gruber (Die Hard) and hopelessly romantic Col. Brandon (Sense & Sensibility). Not to mention his hilarious turn in the sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest.

Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall

The warmhearted Deputy headmistress who’s loyal to Dumbledore and his mission to protect Harry. Dame Maggie Smith is practically royalty in the acting territory. She’s won practically every major acting awards, including BAFTA, Oscar, and Golden Globes. I’m not familiar with her earlier work, but her most memorable roles to me are in A Room with a View, Gosford Park, Keeping Mum and Becoming Jane. 

Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney

I could hardly recognize her with her frizzy hair, nerdy glasses and gypsy getup as professor of Divination. Her character is sort of a comic relief and pretty fun to watch.As Sense & Sensibility stands as my favorite film ever, I’m always grateful for Thompson’s excellent script. I also love her sensitive portrayal of Elinor Dashwood as well as her roles in Stranger than Fiction and Last Chance Harvey.


Just to go a step further, here are eight other actors (besides Dench and Mirren) I’d love to have seen in Harry Potter films: Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth, Alfred Molina, Rufus Sewell, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Kate Winslet.


Well, now that’s my list, now your turn. Which British cast are your faves from Harry Potter and whom would you like to have been cast?

Musings on Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part I

After months anticipating this, I wasn’t going to wait another week to check this out. Early Saturday afternoon, hubby and I made our way to the cinema to see an HP movie for the first time on the big screen.

The gist of the story of the last installment of the series center on how Harry and his two BFFs, Ron and Hermione on their quest to find the evil Voldemort’s horcruxes, which are objects in which the dark lord has hidden a fragment of his soul into for the purpose of attaining immortality. Obviously, if you have not seen any of the HP movies, the plot wouldn’t make any sense to you, but basically, finding these objects is the key for Harry to destroy his nemesis. The movie picks up where the 6th movie (HP & The Half-Blood Prince) left off, which ended with a terrible sadness of Dumbledore’s death, which led the three main characters to quit school and hunt for horcruxes instead.

  • Alan 'Snape' Rickman

    Though the movie starts out pretty comical—which explains what in the world is going on with these multiple harrys in various outfits—this movie is dark and brooding through and through. I mean, I can’t imagine little kiddies not being terrified of this even if they had been a fan of the books. The scenes of Voldemort and his cohorts and that humongous cobra is pretty hair-raising stuff, though it’s great to see many of the series’ top notch supporting cast in one room. And man, that Professor Snape certainly knows how to make an entrance 😀

  • It starts out pretty strong and action-packed, what with that intense aerial battle with the Death Eaters as Harry & crew fled his home. And then there’s the sudden attack at one of Ron’s brothers’ wedding, which leads to an exhilarating chase in downtown London. But then the movie sort fell into a lull as Harry, Hermione & Ron (I’ll just call them HHR for short) hides out in the forest for a long period of time.

    Harry & his BFFs

    Part of me wish there had been a bit more ‘action’ in the second act, but at the same time, the quieter scenes kind of allow me as the audience to get into the characters’ head so to speak, which help me relate a bit with what they’re going through. The bickering, jealousy and tension between these friends practically ricochet through the small tent they share, but isn’t that what real friendship is all about? Given the circumstances, things wouldn’t have always been so rosy even to the best of friends. The long, slow scenes really put the young cast’s acting chops to the test. I must say that in all of HP movies, the most intriguing sequences usually involve the more mature supporting cast members. Yet because I’ve grown to truly care for these three main characters, I still enjoy those slower scenes. If anything, you can take your time enjoying the beautiful cinematography of the lush British landscape.

  • Watching a group of kid actors grow up on-screen is definitely something I’ve never experienced before, which is fascinating. Most of HP fans have seen Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up in the span of 10 years, but as I just saw them as kiddies less than a half a year ago, it’s funny to see them now sporting scruff and dealing with grown-up issues such as sexuality. They’re definitely not kids anymore and that passionate kissing scene in one of the crucial scenes in the movie will definitely remind you of that 😉
  • The action sequences and special effects are top notch, which is what you’ve come to expect from a HP movie. Some of the tense scenes are also quite funny, which usually involve some form of disguise. I’ve mentioned the first one with the the multiple Harrys, and the second one was when HHR disguise themselves as adult civil servants of the Ministry of Magic. The three actors playing the real ministry bureaucrats did a smashing job capturing the nervous mannerism of the young cast, which makes for an amusing yet edgy scenes. For each of the comical scene though, there is a grim and melancholy one for good measure. The scene at Harry’s place of birth and parents’ graveyard really resonates with me and reminds me why the story of the orphaned Harry appeals to me in the first place.
  • Actor Rhys Ifans holding the Deathly Hallows symbol

    One of the most memorable sequence was the shadow-puppet animated sequence of “Tale of the Three Brothers” that explains the origins of the deathly hallows. It kind of reminds me a bit of Indonesian Wayang (which literally means shadow puppets). According to this site, apparently it’s created by a guy by the name of Ben Hibbon (there’s a video video featuring one of his work). The animation is stylish and beautiful, though it did take me away from the movie a little bit as I was transported into a world of its own.

  • If you ask me if I like this movie or not, I won’t hesitate to say yes. The fact that this is the first time we pay full price (and more for an IMAX viewing), I’d say the movie didn’t disappoint. Though it wasn’t thoroughly captivating, I did enjoy it for the most part. One thing though, as Andrew has pointed out in his review, the trailers might have been slightly misleading as they seem to promise a whole lot more, but most of them haven’t been shown in Part I. The despair and destruction of Hogwarts depicted in this poster is all to follow in Part II (to be released in July 2011), as there’s not one scene takes place in that Wizarding School here. But as my friend Ted who’ve read all the books told me, “…nothing really happened much in the first half from the book and then on the second half, all hell broke loose.” Well, in that case, the best really is yet to come. As of right now, what Part I does well is it makes me anticipate the FINAL movie all the more. The eight-month wait better be worth it!

***

Those who’ve seen HP7, what do you think of the film?

Everybody’s Chattin’: Five blog links for your reading pleasure

Happy Friday, all! Man, I can’t believe this is the last weekend before Turkey Day. My company gives away free frozen turkey every year, and the voucher is already available for pickup.

I had a Harry Potter-related post for today but I couldn’t finish it in time, so save that for early next week. Anybody else excited for HP7? Well, you already know my answer… I hope I get to see it Saturday afternoon. I have deliberately been avoiding too much HP overload, no more clips or even trailer viewings in the past week, though I did peek at RottenTomatoes just to see what the critical reviews look like and it’s kind of on par with my expectation. I’m so excited for this as it’s going to be the first time I see a HP movie in the cinema, and having just discovered it this past Summer, it’s a good thing the other six movies are still somewhat fresh in my mind.

Anyway, instead of blabbing on about, why don’t I let you check out these fine blog posts from my blog friends around the world:

  • Well, though HP is probably on a lot of people’s minds, there are still people who have absolutely no clue about this kid wizard. Well, Dan has a comprehensive Harry Potter guide, pretty much everything you need to know about the franchise in one post, even jargon such as muggles, horcruxes, etc.
  • This week is definitely the week of trailers. ScarletSp1der has got a bunch of them in his Trailer Time Tuesday post so you can easily catch up on one you might’ve missed. I think the best one has got to be the sci-fi/western Cowboy & Aliens! Iron Man + John Wayne + 007 = strangely intriguing! 😀
  • If you need to catch up this week’s movie news, go no further than to my buddy Castor’s Weekly News Roundup. While you’re there, be sure to wish him a happy 1st blog anniversary!
  • In light of Darren Aronofsky working on the Wolverine sequel, Darren @ The Movie Blog ponders if indie directors are the best choices for superhero cinema.
  • Andrew at Encore Entertainment recently saw the Australian crime thriller Animal Kingdom starring Guy Pearce and had some nice things to say about it. Check out his review. I posted the gripping trailer back in May. It’s the one with the peculiar song choice of All Out of Love from Air Supply.

Well, before you go though, tell me what movie[s] will you be seeing this weekend?

Chat-worthy Flix Updates: Tintin, HP7, London Boulevard

I’m too lazy to write my mini reviews of the stuff I watched this past week, but I kind of have been busy sifting through a bunch of movie updates lately. Thanks to Twitter it surely is a lot easier to keep up with ’em. Well, since today’s the 3rd, here are three things I’m excited about from this week’s movie headlines:

  • If you know me or read this blog long enough you know I LOVE Tintin comics! I read the comics religiously as a kid (in Indonesian translation) and still have a few of them with me now. When I was in London last May, my hubby and I ran into the Tintin Shop in Covent Garden (Tintin isn’t well-known at all here in the US, so it’s such a treat to find such a store!). I was giddy like a school girl looking at all the Tintin paraphernalia. I wish I could buy the entire shop but even the t-shirts were expensive so I settled on just getting a few Tintin figurines and even bought some for my twin brothers who share my love for the Belgian comics.

    So imagine my excitement when I saw this new stills courtesy of EMPIRE. I’ve dedicated a post for this Peter Jackson/Steven Spielberg project back in November when it was reported that they’re bringing the comic to life in a motion-capture animated 3D film. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn will be the first in a proposed trilogy, starring Jamie Bell as Tintin, Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock, and feature the voices of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes. I’m liking what I’m seeing so far, but of course the trailer will be more telling how good this would actually look.



  • Ok, less than 3 weeks to go until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is released on Nov. 19. You’ve likely already seen the trailer and the various character posters, now check out the newly-released behind-the-scene featurette:



    I guess that explains what in the muggles earth is going on with the multiple Harrys in funny outfits gathering in the living room 😀 I think this’ll be the last featurette I want to see though, I just don’t want to get HP overload before the movie even comes out! As the case was with Inception, the less clips I see about the movie, the better the experience.
  • I’ve heard about this movie quite a while ago when I saw this still photo in one of those UK movie magazine. My initial reaction upon reading the plot about a repented ex con who falls in love with a movie star immediately conjures up thought of Notting Hill. Well, except it’s much darker and violent of course, that’s why they’ve got Colin Farrell in place of the foppish Hugh Grant. Because of the British gangster theme, people seem to be comparing this to In Bruges, where Farrell won a Golden Globes for.



    Keira Knightley plays the reclusive movie star, and Ray Winstone is once again in a familiar role as the crime boss. For some reason I can’t get get enough watching the trailer, it just looks slick, kind of Guy Ritchie-ish, but perhaps with a stronger script as it’s penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (for The Departed). This is also Monahan’s directorial debut based on a novel by Irish writer Ken Bruen. I’m not a huge fan of Farrell, by that I mean I don’t usually rush to see a movie just because he’s in it. But there’s something about a former-bad-boy-wanting-to-go-straight concept that I find appealing. I like the bad-ass quote at the end: “You don’t want me to be a gangster… nobody wants me to be a gangster. ‘Cause I can’t stop once I started.”
    ….
    (Added 11/6:
    Since a bunch of people seem to be wondering, the song used in the trailer is called London Calling by The Clash) .
    .

Well, now that I’ve shared mine. What movie news are you excited for this week?

Flix Posters of the Week: HP7 Character Posters

Is it just me or does anyone else think that seemingly every week we’ve got a new set of Harry Potter character posters. Even if you don’t read the books or watch their movies, it’s hard to deny HP is such a marketing juggernaut, a global business phenomenon with seemingly ‘magical’ powers when it comes to marketing their brand. There’s even a book dedicated to analyze and dissect the ginormous success of J.K. Rowling and her creation from a business perspective, which I’m sure is used as a curriculum in various marketing classes. The fact that AOL Time Warner own Warner Bros afford them such a wide, all-encompassing marketing opportunities to reach consumers through all kinds of medium: TV, magazines, social media, you name it.

In any case, the creative folks working for Warner Bros must be having a field day churning these out, especially if they’ve got a gazillion marketing dollars to burn! These three sets of character posters are from Impawards.com site.

These are probably my favorites of the three. The angles are interesting and I always like posters where the people aren’t looking into the camera. But they do remind me of those Inception banners a bit, maybe because of those building shots in the background and the cool, bluish tones.

I call these ones the duos character posters, I don’t see these type of ‘pairing’ style very often, but I quite dig ’em. It offers a nice variety from the usual trio versions, but the first one of Harry and Hermione kind of make me think of a romantic thriller for some reason. I mean, if I had never heard of the series and had no idea what HP7 stands for, I might deduce that this story involves this couple and perhaps takes place on some kind of a train 🙂

Ooooh, gritty, brooding… not to mention creepy. So simple yet perhaps the most striking. I mean, if you see this on a bus or an underground transit somewhere, it’d be hard to ignore these. And this one of Voldemort might actually give you nightmares if you come across it in a dark alley! These are decidedly darker and edgier and a not so subtle way to tell the world that Harry, Ron and Hermione aren’t kids any more! I mean, look, Harry and Ron are sporting the scruff now. And Hermione’s got that sinister look going on, piercing through your soul (ok, not really but she tries).

It’s less than a month before the first part of the final film is released on Nov. 19 and thank goodness they abandon the 3D version. I’m not against 3D technology of course, but I am against horribly-made 3D movies (i.e. Clash of the Titans). Why ruin a potentially good movie with something that probably add little or nothing to the overall enjoyment of watching it. Considering the crazy anticipation for this, you’d think the studios would want the series to end on a high note.

Anyway, back to the posters, what do you think of these sets? Any particular favorite?

THIS JUST IN! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Trailer 2

Apparently the trailer is up already, and by golly does it look epic! And the scene of the fashion-challenged Harry septuplet is in there, too 😀

Voldemort’s power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore’s work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for them, so everything they do must go as planned.

I’m a relatively new HP fan, and this trailer looks incredibly exciting and making me giddy with anticipation. Voldemort is like the Darth Vader of the new millennium and he doesn’t hold back his desire to finally finish off ‘the boy who lived.’ I get goosebumps every time I hear him hiss, “I’ve seen your heart… and it is mine.”

Though I can hardly wait to watch the conclusion of the series, I’m glad they decided to split this into two parts. The movies are kind of a summary of the books, according to a friend of mine who’ve read them all, so naturally they try to jam pack as much material into a 2-hour feature film. Hopefully they won’t feel so rushed this time, and the series will end on a high note!

The ubiquitous Bill Nighy joins the already awesome ensemble of British cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon and David Thewlis. It’s also amusing to see the trio of young lead actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson all grown up now, I mean they all literally grew up on the set of these HP films since it started a decade ago!

What do you think, all? Anybody else as excited as I am to see this one?

Just for Fun: Supply your caption for the latest Harry Potter photo

I’ve never done this before in this blog, but I thought it might be fun to see what you creative folks can come up with 😀

I can’t wait to see the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows come November, and the second trailer is supposed to be up sometime tomorrow. With less than two months away, the promos for this is in full swing with a throng of new stills released almost every week. But when I see this photo of multiple Harrys, I can’t help coming up with my own captions.

  • Harry, didn’t I tell you no cloning yourself at Hogwartz??!
  • What is this, the Potter version of the Von Trapp family or something??

Now your turn! Don’t pull any punches, I’m sure you’ve thought of something the second you see this 😀