If you thought “Borat” (2006) started a frenzy of pop culture and consumers citing rules for years, wait until we navigate the coming months with Lady Gaga’s take on famed murderess Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s campy “House of Gucci” — which makes Mother Monster herself one of the main contenders for the award for best actress.
Gaga checks so many of the boxes of past Best Actress Oscar winners: She’s a much-loved pop icon and stars as a sexy, crazy fame and money seeker. You can imagine the old-timers saying to each other over a cigar: “She’s like my first wife…”
At age 35, Gaga already won an Oscar for the original song for “Shallow” from Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” (2018), for which she was also nominated for Best Actress. She lost the acting prize to Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), who again this year competes for her turn in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s dramatically rich “The Lost Daughter”. Can the Academy donate an acting statuette to someone who is just making her second feature film appearance? Looking to past winners such as Cher for “Moonstruck” (1987) and Barbra Streisand for “Funny Girl” (1968), the Academy is known for falling head over heels for artists transitioning from one medium to another. What helps Gaga is that many of the leading female contenders are from movies that will be more challenging to compete in the best photo race. If she’s in a lineup that includes Jessica Chastain, Colman, Penélope Cruz and Kristen Stewart, voters could lean on the fun and entertainment that Gaga is bound to have in the part.
Jared Leto, a previous Oscar winner for “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013) and near-nominee earlier this year for “The Little Things,” should be gearing up for another trip to the Dolby Theater. He has been completely transformed with prosthetics and a receding hairline. The 49-year-old actor takes his profession seriously and every role is an opportunity to embody a new type of character. A similar role could be Gary Oldman’s take on Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” (2017). With a supporting actor as fluid as he is, and multiple men seeking recognition from the same film (i.e. “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog”), I wouldn’t consider the possibility of a second statue. account for. way, depending on the overall performance of the film within the Academy. Artisans Jana Carboni, Giuliano Mariano and Göran Lundström are likely to be honored for his transformation in makeup and hairstyling, potentially challenging alleged frontrunners “Dune” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Adam Driver has three films this year – “Annette” and Scott’s other film “The Last Duel”, and while he is beloved by Academy voters, he has received two career nominations to date (“BlacKkKlansman” and “Marriage Story” ), the category would be far too competitive this year to dent its low-profile performance. The same goes for Salma Hayek, a previous nominee for “Frida” (2002). Her role is too small to progress — although “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013) have captured all four acting slots, that opportunity looks like a longshot for “House of Gucci.”
The rest of the sprawling cast could appeal to the SAG nomination committee and end up in a cast ensemble lineup. With Oscar winners Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino, along with impressive performers like Jack Huston and Camille Cottin, the famous faces were able to capture the ensemble’s attention.
Scott, who also serves as one of the producers, is a much-loved figure in the industry. At the age of 83, his career has seen many highlights, with some duds in it. With three previous Oscar nominations for Best Director — “Thelma & Louise” (1991), “Gladiator” (2000), “Black Hawk Down” (2001) — and one as producer for “The Martian” (2015), he seems too late for a statue. Is this it? By performing double this year with “Gucci” and the epic “The Last Duel”, he shows that he still wants to challenge himself. If you look back at one of his critically panned films, “The Counselor” (2013), you’ll see hints of the English filmmaker looking to tackle a subject that is narratively ridiculous and stylistically rich. His two films could split the votes, and the mixed reception of “The Last Duel” is another problem.
The 164-minute crime saga could divide audiences and critics alike, though it is sure to have some passionate admirers. Adapted from Sara Gay Forden’s book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed,” screenwriters Roberto Bentivegna and Becky Johnston envision two different stories that could appeal to members of the writing industry. One focuses on the Gucci family, with their corruption and betrayal demonstrating their rise and imminent demise. That part is handled with great precision, but in a sprawling saga, the murder part of the story comes from left field. More seasoned writers might struggle with the structure, but with modified screenplay without the depth of contenders, you could see the witty screenplay making a game for space.
So where else could it find traction? Fresh off his overdue first nomination for “News of the World,” Dariusz Wolski gives the film an exciting look that may appeal to the American Society of Cinematographers. Oscar winner Janty Yates (“Gladiator”) costumes are impressive, and the film could follow the same Oscar-winning path as another fashion-obsessed film, “Phantom Thread” (2017). There isn’t enough score for Harry Gregson-Williams to find love from the music business, so voters can focus on “The Last Duel” to reward him with his first nomination.
With now ten Best Picture opportunities, the acting industry is the largest of the Academy’s various groups. When Gaga and Leto battle to win, it’s not often that the top category doesn’t coincide with such leading figures in those races. All I can say is count your blessings that Halloween is over, because next year you’ll see Patrizia recreations everywhere.
“House of Gucci” is distributed by United Artists Releasing/MGM and hits theaters November 24.