Early praise and awards buzz is steadily building for “Nightcrawler” star Jake Gyllenhaal as creepy Lou Bloom (he’s currently a long-shot Best Actor contender at 100/1 odds) but equal praise should be given to his co-star, big-screen vet Rene Russo.
Russo’s career spans four decades and includes blockbuster films like the third and fourth “Lethal Weapon” installments, “Tin Cup,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and both “Thor” films. Yet for all her movie hits, her biggest awards nomination to date is still her SAG bid as part of the ensemble for “Get Shorty” way back in 1995. Now she’s getting some of the best reviews of her career for her knock-out performance as Nina in “Nightcrawler,” and it’s Oscar’s turn to take notice.
In what could have been a thankless role for Gyllenhaal to bounce his monster performance off of, Russo adds layers to Nina, the news director at LA’s lowest rated TV news station, making her a strong equal with an impressive range of emotions. Nina initially comes off as strong and stubborn, but Lou slowly breaks her down into someone scared, desperate, and submissive — all of which Russo plays to perfection.
In one scene, possibly her big Oscar scene, Lou takes Nina out to dinner on what she considers a “professional” outing, but he soon turns the tables by demanding she sleep with him or else their business arrangements will be terminated. Russo expresses the shock, horror, anxiety, confusion, and the bit of strength she has left all with very few words. This is not only one of Russo’s finest performances but also one of the best of the year.
You can now predict Russo for Best Supporting Actress in our predictions center, but should you? Let’s consider what works for an against this Gold Derby Oscar MVP:
Rene Russo is garnering the best reviews of her career in a film that was thought to be all about Gyllenhaal. And we awards followers know all too well that when there’s a stand-out male performance the academy often likes to bring a supporting actress along for the ride: “Nebraska” (Bruce Dern, June Squibb), “Crazy Heart” (Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal), “The Wrestler” (Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei), “Capote” (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener), and “Pollock” (Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden), to name a few.
Did we mention Russo has been acting for four decades? She’s worked with most everyone in town, and if the “Nightcrawler” becomes a moderate or major hit at the box office, coupled with her previous lack of recognition, this may be the kind of comeback Hollywood loves.
Supporting Actress seems pretty weak this year. Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood“) currently leads our Oscar predictions with 9/5 odds, and everyone behind her has a film that hasn’t even released yet! With “Nightcrawler” opening on October 31, this could give Russo enough time to build a solid base of support before other films and performers start filing in.
Rene Russo is far from an awards magnet. Though she earned the aforementioned SAG nomination with the “Get Shorty” cast, her biggest career win came from long-defunct Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for “Lethal Weapon 4” back in 1999.
Will people be able to look past Gyllenhaal’s bravura performance and notice Russo’s work as Nina? She’s at risk of being overshadowed and falling by the wayside.
Do you think Russo will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress? Use our drag-and-drop menu to make your predictions below.