Lesley Manville has lost her previous two BAFTA Awards bids but third time could be the charm on Sunday as she contends for her scene-stealing turn in “Phantom Thread.” This home-grown talent could be the beneficiary of a split vote between two of the other Best Supporting Actress nominees: Americans Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) and Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”).
While Janney won the Globe, Critics Choice and SAG awards, there is still a sense that this race is far from being labelled a done deal. This isn’t a Gary Oldman situation, wherein his win is all but secured (clear your mantlepiece, Gary, you’ve got a statuette to make room for). Rather, this is still a race that is in flux.
That is where Manville comes in. She and her film made a surprising surge late in the awards race. The veteran character actress numbers among the six Oscar nominations for “Phantom Thread” that also include Picture and Director (Paul Thomas Anderson).
Her performance has been lauded by critics and she more than holds her own opposite Daniel Day-Lewis. In one pivotal scene, her character dares his to pick a fight with her. The actress outshines the three-time Best Actor winner. Her delivery of lines like “You certainly won’t come out alive, I’ll go right through you and it’ll be you who ends up on the floor, understood?” is sublime. She is curt and lemon-juice tart.
Regardless of whether she pulls off an upset at the BAFTAs, Manville could still take to the stage at the Oscars, just as Adrien Brody did back in 2002 for his breakout role in “The Pianist.” That year’s Best Actor race was thought to be a battle between Day-Lewis (“Gangs of New York”) and Jack Nicholson (“About Schmidt”). Day-Lewis claimed the BAFTA and SAG awards, Nicholson won at the Golden Globes, and they tied at the Critics Choice Awards.