Original Release Date: Emma hit theaters on August 2, 1996.
Box Office Earnings: The film had a minor showing at the box office with a cumulative gross of $22.2 million against its production budget of $7 million.
Critical Acclaim: Emma earned mostly positive marks from critics, as the directorial debut for Douglas McGrath and the first major starring role for Gwyneth Paltrow. The film holds an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Original Score, the latter of which it won. Paltrow won a Satellite Award for her performance.
About the Role: Paltrow plays the title character in Emma, which is based on Jane Austen’s classic novel. Emma Woodhouse, a socialite in early 19th century England, occupies her time by playing matchmaker to those around her. She takes on her latest project, a debutant named Harriet Smith (Toni Collette), while also receiving her own attention from the handsome Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor). Although Emma’s intentions for matchmaking are mostly good, her meddling ultimately backfires and creates more problems for those around her and herself.
Simply the Best: Looking back, it’s unbelievable that Paltrow wasn’t nominated for anything more than a Satellite Award for her performance in Emma. Where was the Golden Globe nod? She’s positively radiant in the Jane Austen adaptation, shading in all of the character’s craziest colors and never losing the charm. As far as breakthrough and breakout roles go, Emma goes down as one of the most star-making, even if it wasn’t the biggest hit or a splashy awards contender.