Forget about Michael Myers. Here’s something that will really give Jamie Lee Curtis a reason to scream.
Her first-ever Oscar nomination.
No, this isn’t a Halloween prank or a desperate cry for awards attention. We need to take Hollywood’s most celebrated scream queen seriously as a contender this Oscar season. Here are five reasons why Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) could (and should) earn her first-ever Academy Award bid, for Best Supporting Actress in the A24 hit film.
1. She’s overdue for recognition by the academy.
She made her film debut in the original “Halloween” in 1978, and there’s no question that it’s the movie for which she’s best known. But we have to ask ourselves why the film turned into a phenomenon, and why audiences developed such affection for Laurie Strode – the heroine so perfectly portrayed by Curtis. It might have been a throwaway role, one that almost any young actress (with a solid scream) could have pulled off. But Curtis brought far more to the character than just what was written in the script. She added intelligence. Vulnerability. Complexity. She layered Laurie and turned her into someone fascinating rather than forgettable. And that’s why she’s now played the part in seven different films.
Of course, “Halloween” was just the beginning of a long and illustrious career. She won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for 1983’s smash comedy “Trading Places.” She placed again at the BAFTAs five years later, as a Best Actress nominee for the British heist film “A Fish Called Wanda.” The performance also brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. She would go on to win that Globe category for 1994’s action-packed “True Lies,” beating out big names (and previous Oscar champs) like Shirley MacLaine in “Guarding Tess” and Emma Thompson in “Junior.” She even managed to score a Screen Actors Guild nom for Best Supporting Actress, in the inaugural year of the guild’s laurels. Curtis competed in that Golden Globe category once more, for her skillful comedic turn opposite Lindsay Lohan in 2003’s remake of the classic “Freaky Friday.” And while she didn’t earn an individual nomination herself, she did play a key role in 2019’s “Knives Out” – a Golden Globe entry for Best Film Comedy. Those are just some highlights of a career spanning across six decades. And while the academy has never cited Curtis, it’s largely because she never quite had the right role. This year, you might say that JLC is bringing the knives out. Next point.
2. She delivers a delicious supporting performance.
And that’s what it’s all about. Curtis is cast against type as IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre. It’s a taxing act. She’s sharp-tongued. Not too sympathetic. Not terribly attractive. And Curtis nails it, stealing almost every scene that she’s in. Her work is reminiscent of several standout Best Supporting Actress nominees (and winners) of recent decades, like Frances McDormand in “Almost Famous,” Kathy Bates in “About Schmidt,” Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton,” Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” June Squibb in “Nebraska,” Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods,” Allison Janney in “I, Tonya” and Glenn Close in “Hillbilly Elegy.” As a veteran actress with an onscreen transformation and dynamic delivery, Curtis may be close to joining this list.
3. She’s a serious threat at Golden Globes and SAG Awards.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves its Jamie Lee. And by love, I mean LOVE. The group showed that love for Curtis in “Anything but Love,” naming her 1989’s Best TV Comedy Actress. A second nomination followed two years later. In addition to film work referenced above, Curtis would also see Globe noms as 1995’s Best TV Movie/Mini Actress for “The Heidi Chronicles” and 2015’s Best TV Comedy Actress for “Scream Queens.” Given her status as Hollywood royalty (produced by Oscar-nominated parents Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh,) the HFPA might want her back at this year’s banquet. As for the SAG Awards, it’s true that “True Lies” gave Curtis her sole nomination to date. But if they could single her out for a summer blockbuster, then they can easily select her for an acclaimed arthouse film. Keep in mind that most SAG voters have been watching Curtis for decades, and her name carries a lot more weight than other potential Supporting Actress could-be’s, such as Jessie Buckley in “Women Talking,” Kerry Condon in “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Curtis’s own cast mate Stephanie Hsu in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” If Curtis makes the Globe and SAG shortlists, she’s all at once a favorite to get in at the Oscars.
4. “Everything” is expected to show up “Everywhere” at Oscars.
Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh. Best Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan. Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay for Daniels (Kwan and Scheinert.) It’s one of the best-reviewed films of the year, and has a real shot at even taking the top prize. All that admiration for “Everything” almost “Everywhere” makes Curtis a most credible competitor. Her part may not be huge, but many small parts in robust Best Picture vehicles have managed to score Oscar nominations in recent years. Look at Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight,” Michelle Williams in “Manchester by the Sea,” Marina de Tavira in “Roma,” Amanda Seyfried in “Mank” and Judi Dench in “Belfast.” As the saying goes, it’s quality over quantity. And every time Curtis is on screen in “Everything,” her exceptional quality is everywhere.
5. She’s currently raising hell in “Halloween Ends.”
And that’s raising her awards season profile. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” premiered in cinemas way back in March. Some academy members may have forgotten about the film and many of the performances. But what better way to remind them than by starring in a huge commercial hit – and one that ends a franchise introduced more than forty years ago? In recent weeks, Curtis has been everywhere promoting “Halloween Ends,” and also reminding everyone of “Everything.” It’s a brilliant awards campaign, albeit one with irony. As Laurie Strode faces her bogeyman Michael Myers for the very last time, it’s star Jamie Lee Curtis who makes the ultimate killing by scaring up her first-ever Oscar nomination for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
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