'The Queen'

Helen Mirren is Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen.”

The following actresses light up the screen with some spectacular performances. These recommended movies focus on female protagonists and are available now on Netflix .

THE QUEEN (2006)

  Helen Mirren gives an Oscar-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II in an acclaimed film written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Frears. After Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in 1997, the Queen wanted to treat Diana’s death as a private matter without an official royal funeral. Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) attempts to convince Elizabeth to hold Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey.


Based on the memoir of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), the film recreates the filming at London’s Pinewood Studios of “The Prince and the Showgirl” during 1957. Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) costar in the period film. After Monroe’s new husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) returns to America, production assistant Clark escorts Monroe around London.


  Jessica Chastain stars in the true story of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier who moved to Los Angeles and worked for Dean (Jeremy Stone), a real estate developer who ran an underground poker games. Eventually, Bloom successfully founded her own secret poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, famous athletes and other wealthy people, but eventually she becomes the target of an FBI investigation. Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin wrote the script and directed the film.


  Looking back on her life, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) recalls memories from her girlhood as the daughter of a grocer and through her political career. Actress Alexandra Roach portrays the young Thatcher. Streep won her third Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role  (and her 17th nomination) for her highly acclaimed portrait of “The Iron Lady.” Abi Morgan was the screenwriter, and Phyllida Lloyd the director.

FRIDA (2002)

  Actress Salma Hayak, who grew up in Mexico, is well-cast as surrealist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in a biographical feature directed by Julie Taymor and based on Hayden Herrera’s “Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo.” After a streetcar accident at the age of 18, Kahlo spends the rest of her life in pain. Her volatile relationships include her husband, muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and exiled Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush).

LADY BIRD (2017)

  Saoirse Ronan was nominated as Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson in the coming-of-age story set in Sacramento, California and written and directed by Greta Gerwig. The recounting of Lady Bird’s senior year at a Catholic High School remains touching, funny and utterly real. Her relationship with her parents, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, who received a Best Supporting Actress nomination) and Larry McPherson (Tracy Letts) is uneasy.


  Keira Knightley portrays Anna Arkadievna Karenina in a lavish film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel which is directed by Joe Knight. Set during 1874, the romantic tale takes place in the Russian Empire. Anna, who is an aristocrat married to statesman Alexi Karenin (Jude Law) and the mother of a young son, falls in love with military officer Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Anna and the Count’s love affair caused a scandal, and Karenin learns about his wife’s infidelity.

(Note: This is the 7th sound version of the film following 6 silent versions. Noted actresses who played Anna Karenina include Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh and Jacqueline Bisset.)

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.

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