May December for the Oscars? Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore for Best Actress – Variety

Charlie Melton also delivers an award-worthy performance that could propel him to superstardom.

Todd Haynes is the latest writer to use Cannes as a launching pad for a potential Oscar contender, debuting his delicious dramedy “May December” at the ceremony on Saturday.

Less than an hour after Martin Scorsese’s 202-minute “Killer of the Flower Moon” conquered Cannes, torrential rain Saturday night couldn’t keep many viewers from taking in Haynes’ film. And not just because the film reunited the director with his muse, Julianne Moore, with whom he worked wonders in “Safe” (1995) and “Far From Heaven” (2002), the latter of which won rave reviews for Moore’s performance. Earned an Oscar nomination and Haynes’ script for a.

Add to that the excitement of Moore starring opposite Natalie Portman; How could this not be a winning recipe for success? With a whip-smart script from feature debut screenwriter Sammy Burch (and a “Story By” credit by Alex Mechanic) as well as a surprising standout turn from heartthrob Charlie Melton, “May December” lives up to those big expectations. The film is looking for a distributor, so depending on which studio picks up the rights to the film and when they choose to release it, it could be up for all the awards at the next Oscars, including Best Picture in several categories. Can be a player.

The film tells the story of actress Elizabeth Berry (Portman), who is set to play Gracie Atherton-Yu (Moore), a Georgia woman who becomes a notorious tabloid figure after having sex with a 12-year-old boy. Went. Charlie. Twenty years pass and Grace is trying to put the past in the past. But to prepare for her upcoming role, Elizabeth visits Gracie and Charlie (CHARLIE MELTON), now 36, married with children, and her arrival exposes fractures beneath a carefully constructed surface. “May December” is based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who had an affair with her teenage student Willie Fualaau and married him.

A two-hander in its purest form, Moore and Portman star in the equivalent of an Olympic fencing match. Using Burch’s words and Haynes’ direction as their blades, with one woman wriggling while the other flails, the two execute a masterclass of technique – one of the best performances of their acclaimed careers. No kidding, they’re that good.

Moore, a five-time Oscar nominee for “Boogie Nights” (1997), “The End of the Affair” (1999), “Far From Heaven,” “The Hours” (2002) and “Still Alice” (2014), The ending—which won her Best Actress—gives Gracie a sweet lisp and brittle edge (as well as an icy resolve). It’s a brave performance, which at various points makes you care for a woman who did the unimaginable. There are plenty of breathtaking visuals for awards voters to dig into.

The same goes for Portman, who picked up three career noms for her best actress wins for “Closer” (2004), “Jackie” (2016) and “Black Swan” (2010). First off, Portman’s Elizabeth is gracious and unmistakably polite. But her Hollywood chic barely covers a certain voyeuristic brutality. It’s her delivery of “This Is What Grown Up” at the end of “May in December” that brings all the themes of the film back to mind.

So, here’s the thing… how do you promote equally talented and charged female roles for Oscar attention?

In Best Actress history, only five films have managed to receive double noms in that category – “All About Eve” (1950) with Anne Baxter and Bette Davis, “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959) with Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, “The Turning Point” (1977) with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, “Terms of Endearment” (1983) with MacLaine (who won) and Debra Winger and “Thelma & Louise” (1991) with Geena Davis and with Susan Sarandon.

Growing disdain for actors who are widely considered to be lead actors has led to campaigns to support the recognition, widely known as “category fraud”.

Scattered throughout history, the worst crimes are Al Pacino’s supporting actor nominee for 1972’s “The Godfather” (resulting in the actor boycotting the ceremony) or Tatum O’Neal winning supporting actress for 1973’s “Paper Moon”. Can be seen with turning. In almost every scene. In recent years, when Rooney Mara successfully promoted as a supporting actress for Haynes’ “Carol” (2015), her co-star Cate Blanchett pushed for lead actress. That awards campaign sparked a debate within the industry community. According to Matthew Stewart, who professionally tracks screen time for Oscar-nominated performances on his website Screen Time Central, Mara appears in approximately 60% of the film. That is the second longest performance ever recognized in the category. Mara eventually lost to Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”, another performance considered by many to be the lead.

For movie studios and awards strategists, it’s all about putting an actor (and a film) in the best possible position to attract Academy attention. Is it right or proper? No, because it prevents other actors from getting recognition who do supporting performances. Take Sarah Paulson, too, from “Carol” or O’Neal’s nominated “Paper Moon” co-star Madeline Kahn. So will Portman take the lead while Moore competes for supporting actress or vice versa?

Francois Duhamel

With all this chatter about the two powerhouse women of “May December,” Melton, best known as Reggie Mantle on The CW’s television series “Riverdale,” almost stole the movie. The Best Supporting Actor category has been a welcoming place for Hollywood newcomers and relative unknowns — such as Troy Kotsur for “CODA” or Kodi Smit-McPhee for “The Power of the Dog” (2021). Melton’s choice to embody a man who never really got a chance to be a teenage boy is remarkably executed, a testament to Haynes’ surprising touch with his actors and what he can get out of them. , tells about.

It’s been 21 years since Haynes earned his only Oscar nomination for writing “Far From Heaven.” So how long will the Academy wait to recognize one of our greatest living filmmakers? Hopefully not anymore.

The film got the most love from the members of the Writers Branch. We know how much the Academy loves movies about movies, and a movie that follows one actor’s process could be the tipping point that moves it into the front-running idea.

Even though the music is one of the best features of the film, it probably doesn’t qualify because it uses pre-recorded material. Music branch rules state that a film must contain at least 35% original music in order to qualify. However, you can still find the film in the Contender list of other craftsmen, such as cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt and film editing by Afonso Gonsalves.

Fun fact: Will Ferrell, who was in attendance at the premiere, could earn his first Oscar nomination as a producer on the film if it is nominated for Best Picture. But, of course, it’s a long way from May to December — in the awards landscape, that is.

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