Gosford Park is a mashup of all things cozy. There’s a sumptuous setting: an English country manor house. A collection of very different people: upper class and working class, old and young, wide-eyed and jaded, cruel and kind. A murder with dozens of suspects, all of whom had good reason to want the victim dead. As for the acting… well. Let’s just say it stars Maggie Smith (playing a proto-Dowager Countess), Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon (most famous to an entire generation as Professor Dumbledore), Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones), Kristen Scott Thomas, and many more. Julian Fellowes’s screenplay won an Oscar.
Gosford Park opens as lady’s maid Mary Maceachran (Kelly Macdonald) accompanies her new mistress, the imperious Constance Trentham (Maggie Smith), to a weekend shooting party. Overwhelmed by the great house’s complexity, she’s taken under the wing of an experienced servant, Elsie (Emily Watson), who helps Mary understand the rigid “below stairs” hierarchy. For the entire weekend, Mary won’t even be known as “Mary”–she’ll be “Trentham,” so the rest of the staff knows whom she serves. She’ll also sit at the head of the servants’ table, because “above stairs,” that’s where Constance sits. Despite her rigorous duties, Mary overhears fascinating gossip, flirts with a handsome valet (Clive Owen) and ultimately solves the murder, because as an “invisible” servant, she picks up many things the smug detective (Stephen Fry) cannot.
If you enjoy Downton Abbey, or if you’re an Anglophile who treasures English cozy mysteries, be sure to give Gosford Park a try.