Chess, drugs and Golden Globes: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ star Anya Taylor-Joy could be an awards breakout

The period limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” debuted on Netflix on October 23 to strong reviews. Can it storm the upcoming Golden Globes? Star Anya Taylor-Joy could be a serious threat to win Best TV Movie/Limited Actress.

Based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis and adapted for TV by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, the series follows Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy), a chess prodigy in the mid-20th century striving to become the world’s best chess player despite struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Critics are saying that the actress “beautifully articulates the inwardness, the fury and the intelligence” of her character. She “lights up the screen” in a “transcendent performance.”

The 24-year-old Taylor-Joy’s career has been on the rise for a few years now, starting with her breakthrough role in the 2015 horror film “The Witch,” which won her a Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Actor along with other critical plaudits. She also won the Chopard Trophy as Female Revelation at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Rising Star Award at that year’s BAFTAs. But “Queen’s Gambit” could propel her to the next level of awards success.

The Globes often like to honor ingenues in breakthrough roles, like Angelina Jolie (“Gia”), Keri Russell (“Felicity”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”) and Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”). And she could get a boost from another role that could earn her a Globe nomination this year: she plays the title role in the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma,” for which she could contend for Best Film Comedy/Musical Actress.

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That’s reminiscent of last year when Kaitlyn Dever was nominated for her Netflix limited series performance in “Unbelievable” while also being considered for the big-screen comedy “Booksmart.” And Taylor-Joy is additionally helped by how open Best TV Movie/Limited Actress is this year. “Watchmen” swept the Emmys including the lead-actress prize for Regina King, but it was eligible at last year’s Globes, not this year’s, so it’s out. Will the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that decides the Globes go back to reward other Emmy contenders like Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”) or Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”), or will they instead look for new blood, as they often like to do in their TV categories? With no bandwagon to jump on, they might decide to go in a new direction.

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