Dame Maggie Smith continues to defy her advancing years and hold her audience spellbound in her latest big screen role. So much so that she has been tipped for another Academy Award nomination. Her impeccable portrayal of a ‘bag lady’ in the Film adaptation of “The Lady in the Van” should ensure continued success, with Variety and the New York Post among her admirers.

End of Downton Abbey

Although the hugely popular “Downton Abbey” series has recently finished, with just the eagerly anticipated Christmas special remaining, Smith at the tender age of 80 shows no signs of flagging.

In an astounding career spanning sixty years and more than fifty films, Dame Maggie has become one of Britain’s most celebrated and instantly recognisable actresses.

Her role as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in ITV’s flagship period drama has continued her weekly connection with millions of television viewers in the UK and across the world. Memorable appearances in “A Room with a View”, “Death on the Nile” and “Tea with Mussolini” have cemented her film credentials down the years.

Change of character

Commonly associated with upper class ladies of refinement in recent times, her role in the Alan Bennett adaptation couldn’t be much further removed from such grandeur. In “The Lady in the Van” she stars alongside Alex Jennings as a cranky elderly woman, a vagrant who decides to park her vehicle in a man’s drive and then remains there for the next 15 years.

Bennett drew on his personal experiences for the work, as it is based on the true story of Mary Shepherd who left her battered van on his property. The play of the same name took the West End by storm back in 1999 and was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Impressed the critics

Smith’s ability to deliver an astounding performance clearly impressed Variety, as they compared her abilities to a “veritable Garbo of dingbat hauteur!

Hollywood Reporter and the New York Post agreed, backing the suggestion that she should be among the nominees for the Best Actress Oscar.

Academy Awards beckoning again?

The veteran thespian is by no means a stranger to the bright lights of the Academy Awards, having been previously nominated six times and winning the celebrated statuette twice.

She rose to global prominence in 1969 as a free-spirited Scottish schoolteacher in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, a role that was deemed worthy of the best actress award. Ten years later she repeated the feat, albeit as a supporting actress in Neil Simon’s intellectual but frenetic comedy “California Suite” alongside Michael Caine.

The Lady in the Van” has yet to be seen by cinemagoers in the UK, but is scheduled to be released with a 12A rating on 13th November.