For Your Consideration: Best Actress – Margot Robbie

This year has been a filled with richer female-driven films, and it’s going to be a photo finish for any year-end kudos. With solid work from Blythe Danner and Lily Tomlin (which could have been slam dunks in previous years, mind you) getting unfortunately left out already, and clear leads egregiously aiming for Supporting consideration, we finally have the photo-finish lineup we usually see in Best Actor. Year-end catch-up can often yield a robust surprise, and you should make time for a forgotten gem of the summer: Margot Robbie in Craig Zobel’s post-apocalyptic adaptation of Z for Zachariah.

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Her sharp-shooting trophy wife of The Wolf of Wall Street is unrecognizable to her unwordly farm-girl Ann in Zachariah. Her evident versatility lends the quiet and nuanced performance an edge upon which the film hinges – with plot moments developing slowly, every crucial relationship discovery and complication is plain on Robbie’s subtly expressive face. Unassuming, but fiercely present with her adept scene partners Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine, she sells Ann’s naive sexual awakening without getting lost in the film’s more overt themes.

Perhaps being ignored because the film is too unobtrusive and relaxed in its observations of primal human interaction to register against weightier fare at this time of year, Zachariah is at its most immediate when focused on Robbie’s precise acting choices. It may be less blatant, but her work is never undercooked. With a field of more showy emoting, it’s refreshing to see a lead actress performance as fully-realized, but with more delicate intentions.

For Your Consideration – Best Original Song : “I’ll See You In My Dreams”

see-you-in-my-dreamsI’ve been playing a lot of catch up the past few weeks, if you haven’t noticed steady updates on the Reviews page. One of the highlights that I dropped the ball on missing in theatres (blame it on a hectic summer) was I’ll See You in My Dreams. A quiet, unassuming drama about the unexpected new beginnings still available as we age, the film is centered by a subtle and fully realized performance by Blythe Danner. Finally given the chance to carry a movie on her shoulders, Danner reaches deep emotion without showboating and it’s reason in itself to see Dreams. However, the film itself is rich with honesty and unexpected depth for its deceptively light touch.

The title song, written and performed by Keegan DeWitt, comes at the end of the film, a delicate coda on the relationship between Danner’s Carol and her surprising pool-boy buddy played by Martin Starr (who performs the tune in the film). It’s a small capsule of the film’s tone and Carol’s melancholy – but not maudlin – state of being.

With more Top 40 and noteworthy contenders in recent years, the category has the chance to yield more recognizable than we’ve seen since the 80s. We’ll see how that translates to nominations: The Academy’s song branch prefers work that plays part in the respective film’s narrative, and we’ve yet to hear a contender that not only works both in narrative context but also encapsulates the film as a whole. Take a listen below: