How Jessica Chastain became a favorite for the Best Actress Oscar

And two! On March 13 at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, all of Hollywood gathered for the Critics Choice Awards ceremony. Between the coronation of Succession and the victory of Will Smith, the association of 500 entertainment critics and journalists lined up the conventional picks. But what would the race for the Oscars be without its last-minute twists? Nominated alongside Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga, Alana Haim, Nicole Kidman and Kristen Stewart, Jessica Chastain won Best Actress for her portrayal of an exuberant televangelist in The Eyes of Tammy Faye (available in France on Disney+). Absent due to filming, the actress shared her joy on Twitter the same evening: “I am touched, honored and fucking excited. I was having dinner and drinking wine. Now I’m going to drink some more and celebrate the news.”

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Vanity parade – otherwise known as awards season – couldn’t have smiled on the actress more. Snubbed by the Golden Globes, she held her revenge last February, leaving victorious over the Screen Actors Guild. The ceremony, organized by the actors’ union, is reputed to be the true antechamber of the Oscars. That evening, on stage at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, the star seemed as surprised as the observers. Which did not prevent him from delivering the perfect speech: a touch of emotion, a message of universal love and, of course, a nod to his colleagues.


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Missed appointments

The accolades reserved for Jessica Chastain come after two missed chances, like the other favorite, Will Smith. A singular fact in the Hollywood industry, the former student of the prestigious Juilliard School experienced her first success at the age of 34 in The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick (2011). A year later, she was nominated in the best actress category for a secondary role in The colour of feelings, film recounting the fight of black servants in Mississippi in the 60s (with a good dose of whitewashing). The award goes to her colleague Octavia Spencer, but places her as the industry’s new hope. So she landed the role of the CIA agent who tracked Osama bin Laden, in Zero Dark Thirty by Kathryn Bigelow. Another defeat, but predictable this time: everyone had eyes only for Jennifer Lawrence. From Ridley Scott to Aaron Sorkin, via Christopher Nolan, Jessica Chastain subsequently aligns prestigious collaborations. But none of these films caught the attention of the Academy. Even his performance in the excellent, but too confidential, A Most Violent Year by JC Chandor, does not offer him the ultimate Grail.

A reward would appear today as a due, in view of his filmography and his place in the world of cinema. Especially since the actress is defending a long-standing project here. She has been trying, since 2012, to adapt the memoirs of Tammy Faye, evangelist-star of American television in the 70s and 80s. With her husband at the time, Jim Bakker, they founded a real religious empire at the time, consisting of a chain and an amusement park. Which collapsed following the revelation of their financial embezzlement. Jessica Chastain managed to produce the feature film via her company Freckle Films, after ten years of negotiations. A very clean storytelling film, in which Tammy Faye is portrayed as a victim and not an accomplice in her husband’s schemes. She is also erected as a progressive icon for her fight for the LGBT community and AIDS patients. The sympathy capital, above all.

The taste of the spectacular

In imagining her own role at Oscar, Jessica Chastain left nothing to chance. The biopic genre has established itself as a royal road to obtaining the golden statuette. It allows the actors to be at the center of the story and to praise the sacrifices made to stick to these familiar and very real figures. Before the presentation of the film at the Toronto Film Festival last September, the actress told the site IndieWire the “four to eight hours spent on makeup”, and the permanent damage caused by the products on her skin. The Jared Leto school has made followers. Fans of spectacular roles will undoubtedly be dazzled by the tattooed eyebrows and false eyelashes, covered with a layer of mascara, which she wears to embody this resolutely flamboyant character. This outrageous style is the opposite of the performances of Penélope Cruz or Olivia Colman, nominated for the Oscars in the same category, but is historically acclaimed by the Academy. In this very tight race, the most famous redhead in Hollywood benefits from an additional advantage: she acquired her status as favorite, right at the time of the opening of the votes at the Oscars, and was much more visible than her companions. With the exception of Kristen Stewart who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, W Magazine Where Entertainment Weekly. Is that enough to win the golden statuette? Reply March 27.

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How Jessica Chastain became a favorite for the Best Actress Oscar