Oscars 2022 Sporlight: Being the Ricardos
Late in the season Amazon quietly released Being the Ricardos, a film detailing an especially harrowing time for Hollywood stars Lucille Ball and Desi Amaz. Most of the discussion around this faithful, biographical depiction of the famed couple, centered on the year 1952, surrounded Nicole Kidman’s take on Ball. A few had faith she could successfully pull off the transformation, many remained skeptics. When the film did arrive it failed to make a real mark earning favorable to middling response despite, in my opinion, boasting a strong script, an understated period piece aesthetic, and strong performances. It’s a patient film but one that demonstrates a good deal of control and intentional restraint uderneath the surface of its suspected, and in some eyes failed, drive for popular appeal.
The Oscar Story:
I have been making the argument that the film has been vastly overlooked and underrated for a good while, so when it had a stronger than expected showing with the Oscar nominations I was excited. This includes nominations in Best Acor (Javier Bardem), Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) and Best Actress (Nicole Kidman). Bardem has zero chance at winning being largely in the shadows of Will Smith who is predicted to finally get his due. Simmons is equally out of the contest given Troy Kotsur laying a strong claim to that front runner status for his turn in Coda and Kodi Smit-McPhee holding strong in that second spot for his turn in The Power of the Dog. I believe Kotsur will take this as McPhee’s supporting performance I think represents the films popularity in other categories more than it does an exceptional or even visibly memorable performance.
That leaves Kidman. Kidmans story gets more interesting when you consider The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Oscars 2022 Spotlight: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Even if you haven’t seen the flm it’s likely you’ve heard of it because of Jessica Chastain who has been out there like crazy talking up this film leading up to and since its release. She of course plays Faye herself, and this film is largely a result of her persistant desire to get this film made. This was her passion project and she played a very hands on role in the Producers chair. She wanted to make it because she felt it was a difficult story that had something to say about the struggles women have faced and continue to face in society and in the industry. In researching Faye she found both a person and a story that has been largely misunderstood and misrepresented by the media and she wanted to bring the true story to light. And I personally think it is a wonderful biographical story that features not just a great pairing in Chastain and Garfield (the role he should be getting attention for rather than Tick Tick Boom) but some really excellent use of story structure which helps dive underneath the caricatures and bring some important thematic and spiritual tensions to the surface.
The Oscar Story
Unlike Being the Ricardos triple feat, The Eyes of Tammy Faye only has the single nom in the above the line categories- Lead Actress for Jessica Chastain. However, what makes this an interesting race is the inclusion of Tammy Faye in Makeup and Hairstyling. Don’t underestimate what this below the line nomination says about Chastains “visible” transformation, an added aspect of her performance that could, and some think should carry her over the finish line and earn her the Oscar. I do think Kidman’s performance offers her some decent competition and certainly in its own way checks a lot of those Oscar boxes, but Chastain’s boots on the ground appraoch paired with that readily recognizable makeup I think will pay the necessary dividends come Oscar night.