From a Cinderella story (“Ever After,” with Drew Barrymore) to ruthless, empire-building strategy that plays out over years (“Game of Thrones”), people just love royalty. However, there’s one family that seems to captivate Western attention again and again: the throne keepers of Merry Old England. Here is a royal flush of films to satiate your need for nobility.
“Elizabeth” — The most fascinating of the English queens, Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchette), rises to the throne upon the death of her half sister Mary. The prevailing advice is for Elizabeth to marry in order to solidify her claim of the crown. She instead carries on an affair with an English lord (Joseph Fiennes). But her court is awash in conspiracy and intrigue, so with the help of her ruthless adviser Frances Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth establishes her place as the “Virgin Queen,” who needs no man.
“Mary, Queen of Scots” — A liberal dose of history and two fantastically intriguing characters converge in this film that chronicles two strong women’s struggle to find respect in 16th-century England and Scotland. Margot Robbie is Queen Elizabeth I, unable to conceive and so with a tenuous command of the English crown. Saoirse Ronan is Mary, the Catholic queen returned from France to take her place on the Scottish throne.
“Victoria & Abdul” — Dame Judy Dench dons the crown as Queen Victoria. Ali Fazal plays Abdul Karim, a Muslim clerk from India dispatched to the court of Victoria to present her an honor: a gold coin printed with her likeness. Abdul is a welcome change from the suffocating pleasing of the courtiers, and Victoria adopts him as a friend, a friendship not without adversity.
“The King’s Speech” — Colin Firth (himself a bit of dreamy English star royalty) takes the central role as Prince Albert, future king of England, George VI. He suffers from a debilitating stutter for which he employs an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush). The film — a Best Picture Oscar winner — follows their long relationship, from the days before his older brother abdicates the throne through the preparation to deliver his most monumental of speeches: Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany.
“The Queen” — In a sublime performance, Helen Mirren captures Queen Elizabeth II in the days surrounding and following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car accident in Paris. Beloved by the public as Diana was, the response to her loss was botched by official royal sources. Michael Sheen plays Tony Blair, the British prime minister who attempts to manage the public and private perceptions about the role of the monarchy in a modern age.