Oscar Watch: Miss Sloane

Yet another piece of the Oscar puzzle revealed itself last night when Miss Sloane premiered at the AFI Film Festival. This comes from director John Madden (who helmed the 1998 Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love) and focuses on the issues of gun control and Washington lobbyists.

Some of the early reviews have been positive but others have been mixed (it sits at 60% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes). This looked like a potential long shot contender for Picture and Director recognition and the buzz out of AFI suggests it won’t happen.

There’s a sterling supporting cast that includes Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, John Lithgow, Jake Lacy, and Sam Waterston. Don’t look for their names, however, to garner any Academy attention. And there’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who’s been singled out in some notices and could be a dark horse contender in Supporting Actress (though that probably won’t happen).

No, where Miss Sloane could factor into awards season is the way it’s always thought to have been and that’s with the lead performance from Jessica Chastain. She’s been nominated twice before – in Supporting for 2011’s The Help and lead in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty. Initial reviews have praised her work and remarked that she carries the movie.

In a normal year, Chastain might be a shoo-in for a nomination. Not in 2016 and that’s because Actress is incredibly competitive this year. The trio of Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land) all look poised for nods. The final two slots look to be filled by a combo of any of the following: Chastain, Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Amy Adams (Arrival). Upset entries could include Isabelle Huppert (Elle) or Rebecca Hall (Christine). And we are still waiting on Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) and Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers).

See what I mean by competition? That said, Chastain (while no threat to win) solidified her name into this busy race with the Sloane screening.

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