Since 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt has etched her way into the lives of cinema-goers. This year, she finds herself in a precarious position as a dark horse entry for Best Actress for her work in Denis Villenueve’s suspenseful “Sicario” as DEA Agent Kate Mercer. With big names and performances ahead of her including Brie Larson (“Room“), Cate Blanchett (“Carol“), and presumably Jennifer Lawrence (“Joy”), the road to the Dolby won’t be an easy one. And we’ve been here with her before.
Nabbing some major notices along the way in the 2006-2007 awards season, she found love from the Hollywood Foreign Press for Best Supporting Actress for David Frankel’s comedy “Prada,” but they decided to reward her elsewhere for the TV movie “Gideon’s Daughter.” In 2009, she surprised many garnering notices from the BFCA and the HFPA for her work in Jean-Marc Vallee’s “The Young Victoria.” Her steam engine ran out by SAG and Oscar time. And just last year, before gaining mixed reviews and being overshadowed by her film’s co-star, Blunt was looking like a solid bet for her first nod for Rob Marshall’s “Into the Woods.”
So why haven’t Blunt’s stars aligned with Oscar voters yet? As Kate Mercer, she acts as a beautiful vessel into a drug trafficking war that’s littered with corruption and revenge. Mercer’s confusion and ambiguity on what’s happening around her is the focal point of the audience’s view. As the HFPA has proved with added attention for lesser works like “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” Blunt could easily make her way into a Best Actress (Drama) lineup. The recent announcement of Supporting Actress contenders Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl“) and Rooney Mara (“Carol“) have made the road even more difficult but alas, the Globes have been known to pass on presumed frontrunners from time to time. The question is, is there enough depth for an Academy voter to latch onto? As we’ve seen with nominees like Gary Oldman (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”), when the Academy finally wants to nominate you, they’ll find someway to do it, no matter how it looks. The comparisons to Jessica Chastain’s nominated work in “Zero Dark Thirty” have helped plenty but how will she maneuver the rest of the season when so many actresses campaigns are giving it their all?
It helps that “Sicario” assembles an impressive team both in front and behind the camera. Speaking with Cinematographer Roger Deakins a few weeks back, he continues to reinterpret the way we see film each and every time he steps behind the lens. With twelve Academy Award nominations under his belt, he jokingly talks about not winning because “then you all would stop talking about me.” In looking at some of the film’s most breathtaking shots, Blunt acts as the virtue of both innocence and ignorance. Honestly driven by truth and conscience, Blunt’s Mercer is put through the ringer with no mercy or hesitation by the film’s script and direction. Mercer cautiously walking through an underground drug tunnel has the audience at Level 10 of suspense.
It also helps immensely that Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro delivers his finest performance since “21 Grams” as Alejandro, a merciless hitman. Del Toro already finds himself in the serious hunt for his third Oscar nomination, tying him with Oscar-winner José Ferrer as the most nominated Puerto Rican in Oscar history.
So what’s next on the docket for Blunt? Well in April we’ll see her alongside Chastain, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth in “The Huntsman Winter’s War” before she takes on the lead role in Tate Taylor’s next project “The Girl on the Train,” due out in October 2016. Speaking with Blunt last year during the “Into the Woods” press day, she expressed her dream role to be “Sally Bowles” in any future adaptation of “Cabaret,” a role revered and recognized by Liza Minnelli, who won the Academy Award in 1972. I just about melted at the sound of that. Someone make that happen please.
In the case of Roger Deakins, he’ll be applying his signature style to the Coen Brothers upcoming “Hail, Caesar.”
Awards screeners of “Sicario” were sent last week and are in the hands of voting members of several guilds.
Where do you think the film will score with the Oscars?
Check out the LATEST OSCAR PREDICTIONS to see where “Sicario” & Emily Blunt rank!
PICTURE | DIRECTOR| LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR| SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE| PRODUCTION DESIGN |CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING |VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT