‘Women Talking’ Awards Opportunities at Telluride: Sarah Polley, Rooney Mara

Could Sarah Polley join the ranks of Jane Campion, Chloe Zhao and Kathryn Bigelow by becoming only the fourth filmmaker to win an Oscar for directing? After the rave reviews “Women Talking” received at Friday’s Telluride Film Festival, it seems entirely possible.

Even if that doesn’t happen, the ambitious film, a drama about a group of women in a close-knit religious community who come to terms with a legacy of abuse, has a stake in as the festival’s first slam dunk nominee for best picture stuck the ground. In fact, I think it will be a contender across the board.

In a Telluride franchise that relies heavily on documentaries and Cannes titles, Polley’s film is one of only four world premieres for narrative feature films. But what a launch pad Telluride will become for the film and its director, a critical favorite for her work on camera in The Sweet Hereafter and behind it with titles like Away From Her. The premiere of “Women Talking” began with a tribute to Polley, who was presented with the silver medallion by Frances McDormand, the producer and lead actress of “Women Talking”.

God bless the awards team whose job it is to nominate each of the outstanding actors in this film, for there is a wealth of compelling performances that deserve recognition.

A true ensemble play, “Women Talking” is an exceptional gathering of both new and veteran female stars that will spark much debate as to who the standout is.

Jessie Buckley, fresh from her first nomination for The Lost Daughter, and Claire Foy, still seeking revenge for her wrongly ignored role in First Man, could be the strongest contenders. They have some of the most memorable lines in the film and convey the characters’ growing anger in the film at how the male leaders of their cult denied their allegations of abuse.

But there’s also Broadway legend Judith Ivey, a two-time Tony winner, who will find support that could take her to the top. Expect the SAG community to possibly give her a boost, or a group like the New York Film Critics Circle to crown her as a contender.

Rooney Mara, her character who glows with positivity despite the horrors she’s endured, delivers her best performance since Carol (2015). If there is any performer who can run in the leading category, it could be her, which would help make room for some of the other candidates.

There’s one actor who’s almost guaranteed an Oscars invite. This is Ben Whishaw, the stage and screen star best known for playing Q on the James Bond series, who gets one of the best roles of his career as a sensitive schoolteacher and women’s ally. In a female-heavy ensemble with many great performances vying for just a few spots, Whishaw will have a clearer path. Despite acclaimed roles like Bright Star and The Lobster, Whishaw was never nominated. His moment of glory comes this season.

McDormand’s role is very brief. So her path to Oscar fame will be as co-producer alongside Oscar winners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, previously recognized for 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight. McDormand’s nomination would be historic as she would be the only woman to be nominated twice for producing a film in which she also starred. She is a three-time winner for Fargo (1996), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018). and Nomadland (2020), for which she also won Best Picture. A win for best picture would extend Gardner’s record for most wins as a producer with three. McDormand would be right behind with two.

Then there are the below-the-line categories. Since the film unfolds in a central location, production design could be a challenge. However, the gray and dark hues cinematographer Luc Montpellier paints with deserve a nod. Editor Roslyn Kalloo is a prime contender for the first female category winner since Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which pushed Women Talking to a brisk 97-minute run. And composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, a previous winner of Joker, brings a fresh and dynamic score reminiscent of Gustavo Santaolla’s winning notes from Babel (2006).

As TIFF approaches and brings with it the world premiere of The Fabelmans, Women Talking has just sent a clear message: You’re moving, Spielberg.

https://variety.com/2022/awards/awards/women-talking-oscars-telluride-sarah-polley-rooney-mara-1235359513/ ‘Women Talking’ Awards Opportunities at Telluride: Sarah Polley, Rooney Mara

Charles Jones

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