Is Clarkson one to watch for ‘Whatever Works?’

Posted by · 3:57 am · April 3rd, 2009

Evan Rachel Wood and Patricia Clarkson in Whatever WorksAs Penélope Cruz, Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino and assorted nominees over the years can attest, if you’re an actress hungry for some awards attention, you can do a lot worse than take a supporting role in an (at least) halfway decent Woody Allen film. (Unless, of course, you’re Scarlett Johansson, who’s still holding an IOU for her startling work in “Match Point.”)

Allen’s latest, “Whatever Works,” has just been unveiled at ShoWest, and while much of the advance speculation has been centred on leading lady Evan Rachel Wood, I’ve heard a couple of informal reports that, in accordance with the aforementioned trend, Patricia Clarkson could be the story here. Which wouldn’t be a surprise, of course; she’s a great actress, and the film apparently gives her a chance to play entertainingly against type.

Judging from this faintly spoiler-ish description from a contributor at Nat Rogers’ Film Experience site, it sounds like a pretty showy role:

Patricia Clarkson storms into the movie after approximately 40 minutes, and plays a role in many ways comparable to Penélope Cruz’s tempestuous Oscar-winning Maria Elena. While I was initially skeptical of Allen’s treatment of Wood as a young Lolita, Clarkson actually plays the much more sexualized character. After showing up on Boris’s doorstep in a hot pink ensemble (scrunchy included!) fit for the Southern pageant circuit, she is quickly awakened to the culture of New York … Her character transitions from praising Jesus to opening an exhibit of nude collages. Clarkson is dynamic and sexy and once again demonstrates her unbeatable range. I don’t think it is any stretch to consider her worthy of this year’s Oscar race.

The film is still under embargo, so we’ll need to wait and see whether the critics confirm such inclinations or not. If they do, it can be beneficial to get on the radar this early: last year, breathless Cannes buzz installed Cruz as the de facto frontrunner for a whole six months before awards season even began, and (Winslet category confusion notwithstanding) she never once wobbled from that perch.

Clarkson is among the most overdue actresses out there: it’s a travesty that her lone Oscar nod to date was for the largely disposable “Pieces of April,” by no stretch of the imagination her best work. She’s coming off a good run of late: her graceful, quietly sexy scene-stealing in last year’s “Elegy” certainly deserved more awards notice than it received, and she did sterling work in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” even if her co-stars had more to work with.

With Allen seemingly giving her more of a platform this time, and a turn in Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” still to come, this could be another solid year for a real actor’s actor.

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13 responses so far

  • 1 4-03-2009 at 4:54 am

    Bernardo said...

    I think that Patricia C. is a stronger candidate then Michelle Williams or even Mo´Nique. After the sucess of VCB, this can be another great movie for Woody Allen. I really hope for…

  • 2 4-03-2009 at 5:39 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Of course, I assume you say this because you’ve seen all three films, Bernardo?

    It’s all conjecture at this point.

  • 3 4-03-2009 at 6:25 am

    Mr. F said...

    I love Patricia Clarkson. She almost made me like “Married Life,” almost. She does deserve at least another nod.

  • 4 4-03-2009 at 6:40 am

    James D. said...

    Clarkson is definitely due.

    Woody Allen can do no wrong. There, I said it.

  • 5 4-03-2009 at 9:05 am

    Ivan said...

    I have higher hopes on Evan Rachel Wood

  • 6 4-03-2009 at 11:08 am

    Billyboy said...

    I’m dying to see this…

    Looks like the ShoWest crowd really loved the film. I suppose reviews will come out right after the Tribeca Premiere on April 22.

    Fingers crossed on Patricia.

  • 7 4-03-2009 at 11:43 am

    Bernardo said...

    Guy L., no, I didn´t see all the movies. And conjecture is what every blog does at this point. As the owner of this one.

  • 8 4-03-2009 at 4:27 pm

    Melissa said...

    Well, you said she is a stronger candidate, so I would assume you saw all three films also. There are no reviews whatsoever on Michelle or Patricia ( just a couple of blurbs from blogs). Mo’Nique Imes has actually won an acting award and got RAVES so, I think she’s still the frontrunner thus far.

    Carey Mulligan is still the frontrunner for best actress at this point.

  • 9 4-03-2009 at 5:21 pm

    Brian said...

    None of the other reviews I’ve read really single her out, and are more focused on how great (duh) David is. So I’m skeptical. God knows she’s earned it, though.

  • 10 4-04-2009 at 8:19 am

    Patryk said...

    I fell in love with Clarkson after I saw her bravura performance in “High Art,” a great film unjustly overlooked at Oscar time. Then her revamping of Agnes Moorehead in “Far from Heaven” went un-nominated. Last year she gave us great work in “Married Life,” “Elegy,” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Glad to hear some early buzz for this upcoming role.

  • 11 4-04-2009 at 10:42 pm

    MichelleK said...

    Startling work from Scarlet Johannson in Match Point? Ugh…she almost ruined the film! Did you mean startling boobs from Scarlet Johannson?

    She can’t carry Clarkson’s underwear.

  • 12 4-05-2009 at 3:59 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Never compared Johansson to Clarkson, did I?

    You say she almost ruined “Match Point.” I say she was comfortably the best thing in it. I know I’m not alone in that view.

    (And yeah, she’s smoking hot in the film, but I think her physicality — and her the way she very consciously uses it — is part of what makes the performance compelling. Shoot me.)

    Can’t get on board with Johansson’s increasingly vocal detractors, even if she’s made some iffy choices lately. There’s a lot of talent there, but it needs attentive direction.

  • 13 4-05-2009 at 9:25 am

    Patryk said...

    I agree. I think Johansson has been great in “Lost in Translation,” ”Girl with the Pearl Earring,” “Match Point,” “Scoop,” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

    No need to compare Johansson and Clarkson.