I was finally given the chance to see Great Expectations at the cinema the other day after wanting to see the film since the trailer was first released last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it was certainly one of my favourites from the past year. However, I was thoroughly disappointed that it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars and these are my reasons why:
5. Directing – A talented director plays a strong part in whether a film turns out good or not. Luckily, Great Expectations was under the control of director Mike Newell, (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Four Weddings and a Funeral), and he did a wonderful job in directing the actors into giving flawless performances and directing the aesthetics of the film (which were visually gorgeous). I think his directing has improved significantly over recent years, and Great Expectations is without a doubt a film he should have been nominated an Oscar for.
4. Costume Design – This year boasts some of the best costumes in films I have ever seen, particularly in period dramas such as Anna Karenina and A Royal Affair. However, the costumes of Great Expectations were truly stunning, from Miss Havisham’s frail and dusty wedding dress to Estella’s elegant dresses and Pip’s sophisticated suits. The attention paid to costume detail was outstanding, and certainly a reason why the film should be nominated for a Costume Design Oscar.
3. Music (Original Score) – Great Expectations has one of the most beautiful and powerful soundtracks of the year, scored by Richard Hartley, composer of Alice In Wonderland (1999), who also worked on the soundtrack for Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Often the soundtracks in films are overlooked, but without it, the film may not have any emotional impact. The score for Great Expectations is truly stunning, with a diverse range of charmingly light-hearted melodies, to the stronger and more emotionally-centred themes, and is a reason in itself to go and see the film, and certainly a reason why the film should be nominated for an Oscar.
2. Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Great Expectations is one of my all-time favourite novels, and this is the first adaptation I have seen in a long time to even acknowledge characters such as ‘the pale young gentleman’. Alongside that, Mike Nicholls who wrote the screenplay provided a full back story to what had happened to Magwitch and Miss Havisham, leaving no part of the film unexplained. The film strongly captured the essence of what the story is truly about – love, poverty, and the complexity of human emotion, making this one of the strongest adaptations I have seen.
1. The Acting – Some of the best British actors starred in Great Expectations, from Helena Bonham Carter’s spooky portrayal of the withered old spinster, Miss Havisham, and Holliday Grainger’s mesmerising performance as the beautiful but proud Estella, through to Ralph Fiennes as the threatening convict Abel Magwitch and Robbie Coltrane’s performance as Mr Jaggers. The acting made the characters so believable that Helena Bonham Carter reportedly wore only one shoe throughout the production to mirror Dickens’s description of Miss Havisham in the original novel. Similarly, Holiday Grainger has really grown as an actress since I first saw her in Waterloo Road (2007) six years ago, and she is one of the most promising young actors from the past year. The whole cast of the film is fantastic, making this an absolutely unforgettable film.