Ka-boom! ‘Bombshell’ explodes with Oscar-worthy praise for Charlize Theron

Watch your back, Renee Zellweger! As admiring as the critics are about your rendition of a late-life Judy Garland struggling through the autumn of her years, complete with singing through the tears, Charlize Theron might have just one-upped you with her own uncanny transformation into TV anchor Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell.”

Yes, Renee, you have been perched on top of the Best Actress predictions on the combined odds chart since September 15 after your performance in “Judy” won high praise at the Telluride Film Festival. But that could soon change.

The Jay Roach-directed fact-based drama that digs into the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) after being besieged by sexual-harassment charges by on-air female talent was screened in Los Angeles on October 13. By all accounts, attendees were duly blown away not just by the torn-from-the-headlines account that Roach specializes in after such acclaimed fare as “Recount” and “Game Change” (both won Best TV Movie at the Emmys), but especially the ladies in the cast. Joining Theron is Nicole Kidman who plays Gretchen Carlson, who also accused Ailes of sexual misconduct, as well as Margot Robbie as a composite character who goes from being a staunch Fox supporter to a possible whistleblower.

SEE Renee Zellweger’s 15 greatest films ranked worst to best

Here is what Sasha Stone, esteemed empress of Awards Daily and one of Gold Derby’s Expert prognosticators had to say about the crowd’s reaction to what might become the signature big-screen account of the #MeToo era: “The crowd ate up the film at both screenings and what a treat to see a film like this in the race, a thriller-like film about such a serious subject as sexual harassment, driven by women. You often forget how great it is to watch women on screen and this year there is an abundance of these all-female ensembles — like ‘Hustlers’ and the upcoming ‘Little Women.’ ‘Bombshell’ is the kind of film you might have seen in the 1940s, with powerhouse performances by divas throughout.”

SEE Charlize Theron’s 15 greatest films ranked worst to best

As Sasha notes, this awards season is rife with a “gaggle of gals” casting and “Bombshell” is just one of several films competing for SAG ensemble attention with a pack of formidable females. That includes the still-unseen “Little Women,” which — like “Bombshell” — opens in late December.  As for Theron specifically, Stone states: “Because Charlize disappears into the role of Megan Kelly, she is a force to be reckoned with in the Best Actress race.”

Much praise also poured down on Robbie for her supporting role as Kayla, although she might be competing against herself  for her endearing performance as actress Sharon Tate in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”  And, no, an actor cannot permitted by the academy to compete twice in the same category.

Stone wasn’t the only Gold Derby Expert entranced by “Bombshell.” Deadline’s Pete Hammond, who also attended the screening, described the real-life account as being “funny, fierce, powerful, timely and moving — qualities that ought to secure it a place in the Oscar conversation as the season ramps up.” He felt a definite buzz of excitement in the room once the end credits rolled, noting that “much of it centered around Theron’s uncanny and remarkable transformation into Fox News star Megyn Kelly.”

As of October 15, Theron is placed at No. 6 among Best Actress candidates while Robbie is No. 4 in supporting in the combined Gold Derby odds  — but it is for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” She is at No. 11 for “Bombshell.” As for the film itself,  it is wallowing at No. 18 for the time being.

As for the Gold Derby Experts, the movie is ranked only at No. 23, while Theron is at No. 8 among lead actresses with 11 backers putting her in their top 5 and Robbie is at No. 15  in supporting — even after the ecstatic post-screening reactions. However, seven smarties did move “Bombshell” into their Best Picture Top 10: Tim Gray (Variety), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere), Stone and Jazz Tangcay (Awards Daily), Eric Deggans (NPR), myself as well as the jockey in chief himself, Tom O’Neil.

Might I suggest that those making predictions  might want to beat the rush and move both the film and the two stars up a few notches? If you need more convincing, here are some Twitter reactions from other Oscarologists:

 

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