Spencer is showing in cinemas and the critics have decided they like it, scoring the biopic a certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. And while audiences can’t quite determine yet whether they’re happy with the movie or not, one thing is for sure, and that is the movie has already started generating Oscar buzz. Spencer stars Kristen Stewart (Charlie’s Angels), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter), Jack Farthing (Love Wedding Repeat), Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), and Sally Hawkins (Paddington and Paddington 2). Directed by Pablo Larrain, who previously worked on another biopic, Jackie, Spencer is a fictionalized account of the moments leading to Diana’s decision to end her strained marriage to Prince Charles and leave the British Royal Family. Did watching Spencer leave you wanting more scoop into the lives of the late princess and the British Royal Family? Here are five movies you should see after Spencer.
Overwhelmingly derided during its release, Diana is still a must-see if only to compare its treatment of Princess Diana’s story with Spencer‘s. Starring Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and Naveen Andrews (Lost), Diana depicts the life of the People’s Princess during the last two years of her life, including her tumultuous divorce from the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and her subsequent relationships with surgeon Hasnat Khan and film producer Dodi Fayed. Largely based on Kate Snell’s 2001 book, Diana: Her Last Love, the movie was harshly panned by critics. Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine, who gave the movie a half a star over five stars, wrote: “Are the micro-biopics that don’t even bother to provide overviews of their famed subjects’ entire lives, but instead lean on the spectacle of celebrity impersonation, the new camp?” Suzanne S. Brown of the Denver Post took note of the film’s failure to faithfully represent its subject: “Diana might have been flawed and scheming and love-starved, but this film doesn’t help explain that. Nor does it illuminate the common touch and humanitarian side that endeared her to a global audience.”
2. The Queen
Not exactly about Lady Di, but about the figure around which the entire British Royal Family revolves. The Queen depicts the life of Queen Elizabeth II shortly after Princess Diana’s death, showing how she and the royal family dealt with the aftermath of a former royal’s passing. It also presents the attempts of then-prime-minister Tony Blair to influence the monarchy’s response to Princess Diana’s death. Starring Helen Mirren (The Madness of King George) as Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen (Romeo and Juliet) as Tony Blair, The Queen was critically acclaimed during its release, with many critics ranking it as the best movie of 2006. It also bagged multiple awards and nominations, most notably a Best Actress win for Helen Mirren at the 79th Academy Awards, a Best Actress in a Leading Role win for her at the BAFTA awards, and a Best Film trophy for the movie at the same awards show. Critiquing for Film Comment Magazine, Graham Fuller lauded the movie’s succinct portrayal of class differences, writing: “The film makes brilliant use of juxtaposition to underscore the class divide between the Windsors and the Blairs.” Bob Mondello of NPR was all praises for the film’s director, Stephen Frears. “A lesser director might make all of this deadly earnest, but Frears treats it as what you might call a tragi-comedy of manners, perfectly serious but human foibles everywhere.”
3. The Women of Windsor
Perhaps the least known entry in this list, The Women of Windsor is a dramatized portrayal of Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, two women who married into the British Royal Family. A Canadian television movie, The Women of Windsor stars Sallyanne Law and Nicola Formby. In a 1992 review for Variety, Patricia O’Connell lamented what she thought was a mere dramatization of tabloid fodder that has hounded both Diana and Sarah throughout their lives. She wrote: “The Women of Windsor is a good-looking but unabsorbing rehash of the marriages of the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York. There’s nothing in the telepic that hasn’t been screamed out in the tabloids or revealed in the recent spate of tell-all books on the hapless duo.”
4. Diana: The Musical
Less of a movie and more of a filmed musical, Diana: The Musical is yet another retelling of Princess Diana’s rocky relationship with Prince Charles and the royal family, albeit this time with show tunes. The main roles are played by Jeanna de Waal (as Princess Diana), Erin Davie (as Camilla Parker Bowles), Roe Hartrampf (as Prince Charles), and Tony-award winner Judy Kaye (as Queen Elizabeth II). Globe and Mail‘s John Doyle described Diana: The Musical as a “cringe-inducing vulgarity,” while The Spectator‘s Deborah Ross was dumbfounded by the entire production, writing: “It’s Diana: The Musical and it’s two hours of ‘whaaaaaat?’ and pinching yourself that this is really happening. (After two hours I was black and blue, with the pinching.) I don’t know what the best lyric is but ‘Harry, my ginger-haired son, you’ll always be second to none’ has to be up there. (Also: ‘It’s the Thrilla in Manila but with Diana and Camilla’ has to be in the game. The top spot is highly contested.)” Still, it’s a unique portrayal of Lady Di, which still deserves a spot on your list of movies to see after Spencer.
5. King Charles III
Of all the movies listed here, King Charles III is the most distinct, as this one doesn’t depict actual events, but rather events that may happen in the future. The movie shows the events that follow Queen Elizabeth II’s death and Prince Charles’s ascent to the British throne, with Camilla as her queen consort. Now King Charles III, he begins to see the ghost of Princess Diana. The late British actor Tim Pigott-Smith (Quantum of Solace) played King Charles III in the movie, while Katie Brayben (Doctor Who) played the ghost of Diana. It courted controversy when it aired in 2017, with Andrew Bridgen, a Tory MP, saying that it undermines the royal family. Kate Abbott of The Guardian says King Charles III is “surely the boldest BBC show of the year.”