Sometimes it makes sense to wait as this last week or so has brought festival news, category placement details and two big moves to 2022.
As I talked about in supporting actress, word that Cate Blanchett would be pushed lead for Searchlight Pictures’ Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures), leaving more room for Rooney Mara and Toni Collette there. It’s a risky move as Blanchett’s character should be pretty borderline based on the source material. I’ve dropped Kirsten Dunst in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (Netflix) from the Best Actress chart after learning that she’s most likely to be pushed in supporting. The entire cast of Mass is also being pushed in supporting, dropping Martha Plimpton from the list. I’m less sure about what to do with Jodie Comer in Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (20th Century Studios). Based on the trailer, she’s heavily featured and feels like a lead. But then it also feels like her character is taking a back seat to her own story. For right now, I’m putting her on both ‘Other contenders’ sections but not placing her until we know more. Now, as we all know after last season, where you want to get nominated is not necessarily where you will get nominated. Nothing like this is ever set in stone until nomination morning.
The two big moves, and they’re big, are Margot Robbie in the Untitled David O. Russell aka Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios) and Ana de Armas in Blonde (Netflix), but both for different reasons. For Robbie, Canterbury Glass was never intended to be a 2021 release (this was news to me until I was messaged by a rep) but for de Armas, Blonde is becoming something of an urban legend now. Filmed in 2019, it’s been lagging in post-production for longer than a Martin Scorsese film. Cannes head Thierry Frémaux saw it and loved it and said he offered Netflix an out of competition slot for the film. But, the ongoing battle of wills between Netflix, Cannes and the French government continue. Then rumors started circulating that it was rejected from Venice (that same rumor also befell The Tragedy of Macbeth, so make of that what you will, I’m not putting much stock in it), as well as possible conflict between director Andrew Dominik and Netflix on final cut. So, what is the truth?
All of this makes for a lot of room to stretch in the top 10 this month. With de Armas gone, and arguably the top choice for Netflix in this category, who takes her place from the streamer? Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up, Tessa Thompson in Passing, Melissa McCarthy in The Starling or Halle Berry in Bruised? Lawrence seems like a logical choice, with her Oscar history and what will ‘feel’ like a comeback in one of the year’s biggest and most anticipated films. But there is also a significant lack of women of color this year in films that, at least early on, are being considered to be awards contenders. We only just got two Black Best Actress nominees in the same year for the first time in nearly 50 years. I’m not sure if Berry will show up this year or not (her film debuted at TIFF 2020) but I do think Thompson could find a spot as her film is likely to hit some fall festivals before its release.
But let’s talk about the real news today and that was the (death) drop of the House of Gucci character posters ahead of the film’s first trailer (which has yet to drop as of this writing but is expected today). While we’ve basically seen the entire film unfold before our eyes via paparazzi and unofficial set pics all year long, today was our first look at the tone and mood of the film, which feels a bit dark. Gaga, in full funeral gala mode, richly drawn makeup and and look that says ‘fuck around and find out,’ is giving a lot for the little Gucci monsters to feed on today.
Cannes brought us two possible international contenders with Best Actress winner Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person in the World and Agathe Rousselle in the Palme d’Or winner Titane. Problem is that both of those films are being distributed by NEON and they already have a more likely contender in Kristen Stewart for Spencer. It’s going to be a landmark year for the studio, who just won Best Picture with Parasite two years ago, but as many small studios have found out, you often have to zero in your focus on just one film, or one performance, in order to take it all the way.
Jennifer Hudson in Respect (MGM/UA) rises this month on the strength of the history of this category loving its musical biopics but also the narrative propulsion of the Hudson and the film’s pre-release campaign, which has been stellar. From magazine covers to her in-depth interview with Oprah talking about the amount of family loss she’s suffered in the recent past, her relationship with Aretha Franklin and of course, her performance. Several of Hudson’s numbers are recorded live and the film concludes with Franklin’s “Amazing Grace” recording, the biggest-selling gospel album of all time. Hudson ambitiously re-creates her transcendent 10-minute performance in a fro and loose-flowing kaftan, drawing out the riffs and floating in the pocket of sustained notes as if Franklin were looking directly at her.. “I feel like it’s my tribute to her legacy,” Hudson told InStyle magazine, “and I just hope I did her proud.”
Here are my ranked 2022 Best Actress Oscar predictions for July 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Jennifer Hudson – Respect (MGM/UA) ↑
2. Lady Gaga – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↑
3. Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24) ↑
4. Kristen Stewart – Spencer (NEON) ↑
5. Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas) (Sony Pictures Classics) ↓
6. Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
7. Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ♦
8. Rachel Zegler – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↑
9. Tessa Thompson – Passing (Netflix) ↑
10. Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter (TBD) ♦
Other contenders: Caitriona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features), Melissa Barrera – Carmen (Sony Pictures Classics), Halle Berry – Bruised (Netflix), Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (20th Century Studios), Marion Cotillard – Annette (Amazon Studios), Penélope Cruz – Official Competition (Sony Pictures Classics), Beanie Feldstein – The Humans (A24), Emilia Jones – CODA (Apple), Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos (Amazon), Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Thomasin McKenzie – Last Night in Soho (Focus Features), Renate Reinsve – The Worst Person in the World (NEON), Agathe Rousselle – Titane (NEON)