12-year-old wisecracking Gilly Hopkins finds herself shuffled from foster home to foster home until she meets Maime Trotter.


Stephen Herek


David Paterson (screenplay by), Katherine Paterson (based on the book by)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sophie Nélisse ... Gilly Hopkins
Kathy Bates ... Maime Trotter
Glenn Close ... Nonnie
Octavia Spencer ... Ms. Harris
Julia Stiles ... Courtney
Bill Cobbs ... Mr. Randolph
Billy Magnussen ... Ellis
Zachary Hernandez ... W.E.
Clare Foley ... Agnes
Sammy Pignalosa ... Rajeem
Toby Turner ... Ticket Agent
Richard Topol ... Principal Evans (as Richard Topal)
Cara Cooper Cara Cooper ... Woman with Book
Salvatore Rossi Salvatore Rossi ... Stevie
Cameron Clifford Cameron Clifford ... Ed


A feisty foster kid's outrageous scheme to be reunited with her birth mother has unintended consequences in The Great Gilly Hopkins, an entertaining film for the entire family. Gilly Hopkins (Sophie Nélisse) has seen more than her share of foster homes and has outwitted every family she has lived with. In an effort to escape her new foster mother Maime Trotter's (Kathy Bates) endless loving care, Gilly concocts a plan that she believes will bring her mother running to her rescue. But when the ploy blows up in Gilly's face it threatens to ruin the only chance she's ever had to be part of a real family. Based on the award-winning young-adult novel by Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia), The Great Gilly Hopkins stars Sophie Nélisse, Kathy Bates, Julia Stiles, Bill Cobbs, Billy Magnussen, with Octavia Spencer and Glenn Close. Written by Lionsgate Premiere

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family is where you find it See more »


Comedy | Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The author of the book Katherine Paterson has a cameo as the shop clerk in the bus station scene. The clerk tells Gilly to check out the books. See more »


This movie is set in Maryland during the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays, yet all of the trees and lawns are in full summer splendor. See more »


Agnes: Thanks for pretending to be my friend.
See more »


Features Sesame Street (1969) See more »


Performed by Cash Cash Featuring Bebe Rexha
Written by Samuel Frisch (as Samuel Warren Frisch), Brandon Lowry, Alex Makhlouf (as Alexander Luke Makhlouf), Jean Paul Makhlouf, Bebe Rexha
Published by EMI Blackwood Music Inc., BMG Platinum Songs
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

User Reviews

Oh well, a teen movie. But I kind of enjoyed it. Weird.
30 November 2016 | by peterp-450-298716See all my reviews

"Both of us are smart and we know it. But the thing that brings us closer than intelligence is anger."

Ready for another corny teen drama that'll move you to tears? One that has all the familiar clichés and where you'll know in advance how it will end? It's not a love story with a couple of lovebirds who first can't stand each other and in the end, in a moment of supreme bliss, they fall into each other's arms. It's also not a well-known story about a young criminal who's experiencing a drastic change of identity due to a certain trustworthy person and when he's converted he goes on a mission as a devout priest in poor Africa. No. This time it's a stubborn 12 year old girl (Sophie Nélisse) who changes foster homes one after the other because of her impossible behavior. Gilly Hopkins only has one wish. And that's to be reunited with her natural mother who left her behind while moving to San Francisco.

Then one day she's assigned to the religious Maime Trotter (Kathy Bates), who's a model of kindness and masquerades as the supreme mother-hen. Gilly does everything to come across as hateful and impossible to handle. She closes herself off, disclaims each friendly treatment, she treats W.E. (Zachary Hernandez) in a denigrating way, imitates in a ridiculing manner Maime's use of affectionate words, makes no effort to integrate and even steals from the nice neighbor Mr. Randolph (Bill Cobbs). In school she tries to keep up this rebellious attitude. The first school day ends already in a fight with six fellow students, she snubs at a young girl (Clare Foley as Agnes) who approached her in a friendly way and she acts aloof during lessons. It seems as if Gilly is trying to provoke with her behavior so everybody gets angry at her.

You could call her an obnoxious, disrespectful and rebellious teenage girl, to say the least. It amazes me that Kathy Bates hasn't tied her to a bed, pushed some logs under her legs and just like in "Misery" amputated her feet with a heavy ax. Despite Gilly's intense efforts to make Maime's (and others) life miserable, you can easily guess how she'll react when her wealthy grandmother Nonie Hopkins (Glenn Close) shows up and suggests to take care of her. That's the decisive moment when the rebellious girl breaks down emotionally and proves that deep down she truly has a human, sensitive heart. For most female viewers this is the right time to search for that handkerchief.

Although it's clearly a film meant for a youthful audience, I wasn't annoyed by it constantly. The way Gilly tackled the bullies at school was highly amusing. And the used subject about a teenager who wants to be united again with her natural mother (the mother's motivation to leave her, shows that she didn't have real maternal feelings) felt kind of mature. Maybe it was sort of Dickension, but I could live with that. Also, the performances were very worthwhile. Kathy Bates played a brilliant part as the caring foster mother who sees the good in every person. Her love for the outcasts in our society is endless. Therefore the goodness to invite the lonely neighbor to dinner every day. Also a splendid rendition of Bill Cobbs. Finally, Sophie Nélisse who nevertheless delivers a superb performance. Although she doesn't look 12 and isn't really sympathetic due to her behavior. The only thing that struck me was her rather rapid change of personality. The transformation from a rebel to a loving teenager was rather abrupt. "The Great Gilly Hopkins" is a perfect family film to watch together with your (older) kids.

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Release Date:

7 October 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Gilly Hopkins See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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