Focus Features delivered its teaser poster for the new Jeff Nichols film Loving, about the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), whose civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Greg Kilday writes that Loving should be “in the conversation,” but especially the actors
Given the material, Nichols could have delivered a standard-issue courtroom drama, culminating with soaring oratory before the nation’s highest court. But he chose to take a different route — the American Civil Liberties Union, agreeing to take on the case, doesn’t enter the picture until more than half-way through the two-hour-three-minute movie. Instead, the film is centered around the Lovings themselves: Richard, played by Australian actor Joel Edgerton, and Mildred, played by the Ethiopia-born Ruth Negga.
Both performers should enter the best actor and actress conversations. Edgerton, who previously received good notices for his violent Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and his conflicted FBI agent in Black Mass, plays Richard Loving as a man of few words, who keeps his eyes down and his emotions bottled up. Negga, though not as familiar to American audiences, plays the more optimistic half of the couple, rooted to the land and protective of her three children. Michael Shannon also makes a brief appearance as a Life magazine photographer, who captures an image of the couple that provides a powerful moment in the film, but his role isn’t large enough for supporting consideration.
Kilday cautions that awards obstacles facing the actors includes that they might be overtaken by bigger names later, and that neither is particularly well known. The Oscar game is such that if they want nominations they will have to make themselves suddenly very well known. This is especially true of women. Mark Rylance can waltz through Oscar season and do no campaigning at all and still win. Most women can’t. They have to play the game and play it hard, which means showing up everywhere. Look at how hard Brie Larson had to chase Oscar last year. Her clothes, her look had completely evolved by the end and everyone knew who she was.
The reactions seemed to be mostly split, at least from what this story by my friend Rebecca Lewis wrote, with women head over heels for it and men decently impressed, with Negga in particular.
Here is a good example of that juxtaposition:
Given my experience with going to Cannes in the past, parsing the excitement and expectations from way back in May to the end of summer when the Oscar race gets serious, I’d give this one a B+ in terms of making it all the way, though I will know better when I see it. There are five slots for Best Actress. There are going to be debates all year long about #oscarssowhite. Contrary to it being a plus for Negga, it will actually make it twice as hard for her because there will be that extra layer of scrutiny — is she THAT GOOD? It’s big part of the awards race that remains unfair.
Here is the newly released teaser poster.