“Spencer” is slated to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September with Kristen Stewart front-and-center in the title role as Princess Diana. But even before its unveiling, seven of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed from major media outlets thus far think she’ll be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars. If so, she’d follow in the footsteps of Natalie Portman in “Jackie.”
Like “Spencer,” “Jackie” was a biographical drama from director Pablo Larrain that premiered at Venice and explored the inner life of a woman who struggled with life in the public eye. In that case, it was First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the time of her husband John F. Kennedy‘s assassination. In this case, it’s Diana in 1991 as she decides to divorce her husband Prince Charles. “Jackie” ended up winning Portman the Critics Choice Award for Best Actress. She also received SAG, BAFTA, and Oscar noms for her performance, though she ended up losing all of those to Emma Stone (“La La Land”).
Stewart became a household name thanks to the blockbuster “Twilight” movies, which weren’t exactly critical favorites. But since then she has become more of an art house darling, working with prestigious directors like Olivier Assayas (“Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Personal Shopper“), Ang Lee (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk“), and Kelly Reichardt (“Certain Women“). “Sils Maria” made her the first American actress to win a Cesar Award (France’s equivalent of the Oscar) in addition to prizes from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. So she might be right on the cusp of her first Oscar nomination. All she needs is the right role.
Will Princess Diana be that role? We’ll find out at Venice, but Larrain has a strong track record (he also directed the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee “No”), and though the 2013 film “Diana” starring Naomi Watts was panned by critics, playing the iconic princess has worked wonders for Emma Corrin, who won a Critics Choice Award this year and is nominated for an Emmy for portraying her in “The Crown.”
Might Corrin overshadow Stewart’s portrayal? Not necessarily. Remember that John Lithgow won an Emmy in 2017 for playing Winston Churchill in “The Crown” a few months before Gary Oldman won his Oscar for playing Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” And currently Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Clayton Davis (Variety), Shawn Edwards (WDAF-TV Fox), Joyce Eng (Gold Derby), Matthew Jacobs, Wilson Morales (Black Film and TV), and Keith Simanton (IMDb) are betting on her to earn a bid, with Jacobs forecasting her to win. Will the Venice fest indeed start Stewart on the path towards Oscar?
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