Bombshell finally screened yesterday in Los Angeles, followed by Q&As with Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, and the star and producer, Charlize Theron. The pic is directed by Jay Roach and written by Charles Randolph. Formal reviews are embargoed until the film’s release in December but I don’t think I’m breaking an embargo to talk about the film’s impact on the Oscar race.
The crowd ate up the film at both screenings and what a treat to see a film like this in the race, a thriller-like film about such a serious subject as sexual harassment, driven by women. You often forget how great it is to watch women on screen and this year there is an abundance of these all-female ensembles — like Hustlers and the upcoming Little Women. Bombshell is the kind of film you might have seen in the 1940s, with powerhouse performances by divas throughout.
Charlize Theron is known as a shapeshifter, as are Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman. Many of the actors in Bombshell shapeshift, with the help of makeup, to transform themselves into the near-mythic figures we all know on Fox News. It is, indeed, its own tragic delusional universe but what fun it is to watch this team put that all together.
Two films that are currently under embargo will likely figure into the acting races — Queen & Slim and now, Bombshell. Both feature top-notch performances by actresses who are in line for a nomination. We are also waiting to see Little Women, which will move the pieces around even more in the lead and supporting actress race.
The first thing to know about Bombshell is that it’s a SAG juggernaut. It’s an ensemble piece with some of the biggest names in the biz. How SAG ensemble will go, since joining with AFTRA, is a little harder to predict — but if I had to guess right now, leaving out Little Women for the moment, these nominations seem like good bets:
Dolemite is My Name
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
And still waiting for:
Because Charlize disappears into the role of Megan Kelly she is a force to be reckoned with in the Best Actress race. It will depend on how well the Academy likes the movie overall, but if we’re talking actors, this is exactly the kind of actor-driven movie the Academy, and SAG, likes to reward. Why, because it doesn’t give any role the short shrift. Even the cameos are fully realized impressions of people we all know really well even if we aren’t Fox News viewers.
Margot Robbie is the stand-out in supporting because hers is the stronger character arc. She’s just a few moves to the left of a lead performance and indeed has so much star power she often tips any film she’s in in her direction. And she, like Scarlett Johansson, is going to be in two Best Picture juggernauts this year.
Margot Robbie is exactly the kind of actress Hollywood likes to reward — an up and comer who is hotter than hot. It’s a little more difficult for veterans to claim the prize and I wonder if this will be a showdown between Laura Dern and Robbie. It’s too soon to say because there is so much at play.
Nicole Kidman is another who could factor into the race playing Gretchen Carlson. Kidman is, as usual, fantastic but she doesn’t have quite the same screen time as Robbie. All three of the leads are standout performances from actresses operating at the peak of their talents.
Best Actress right now (to me) is looking like:
Renee Zellweger, Judy
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Alfre Woodard, Clemency
That is how I currently see it, though Saoirse Ronan in Little Women will likely supplant one of these.
In supporting, I see it looking like:
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Margot Robbie, Bombshell
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dolemite is My Name
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Alt – Shuzhen Zhao, The Farewell
And again, Little Women might land a few names in the supporting category too.
There are no male leads in Bombshell but there are strong supporting male characters. At the top of the list is John Lithgow as the supervillain, Roger Ailes. He should figure into the supporting race. It should be mentioned that Donald Trump is also a supporting player but as himself.
There is much more to say about the movie, about how it addresses sexual harassment, but that will have to wait until a later date.