Oscar buzz (or not) for Noomi Rapace in ‘Dragon Tattoo’

Posted by · 8:05 am · August 19th, 2010

If we didn’t mention last week’s big casting news of Rooney Mara landing the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s English-language remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” it’s because a) the story hardly wanted for coverage, and b) I don’t exactly share many people’s keen interest in Stieg Larsson’s mega-selling literary franchise. I find the books diverting but undistinguished airport fare, and the hit Swedish screen adaptation of “Tattoo” a one-note televisual slog.

That said, I’m fine with any phenomenon that compels mainstream audiences to read both books and subtitled movies — yet I draw the line when people start suggesting that the film should be in line for awards recognition. Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke, however, suggests that the film’s backers sense awards potential for the screen’s original Lisbeth, 30 year-old actress Noomi Rapace:

I’ve learned that Music Box Films is about to hire an Oscar publicist, probably Melody Korenbrot, to promote Noomi for a Best Actress nomination. That’s right, Best Actress. She’s already won the Swedish equivalency of that for the film. Her new agents at UTA and managers at Magnolia are comparing her to Marion Cotillard, who appeared in a small foreign film, came out of nowhere to be nominated and then win the Best Actress Academy Award, then landed big roles in major studio tentpoles.

Anne Thompson nonchalantly shoots down that rumor, claiming that Korenbrot has not been approached — and that, in what is already a crowded-looking Best Actress race, Rapace would be a long shot for an Oscar nod in any event. I take Anne’s side on this one. For starters, the Cotillard comparison is ludicrous: in terms of bluehair Oscar-friendliness, the vast chasm between a lavish French biopic of a legendary singer and a violent, contemporary Swedish thriller revolving around an ass-kicking, facially-pierced heroine need hardly be explained.

On a more subjective note, I must politely query whether Rapace’s performance merits a campaign at all. (Yes, I’m fully aware of how naïve it is to bring the performance itself into discussion.) Rapace may be a fine actress, and I can see why Hollywood casting agents might be drawn to her able screen physicality, but I personally thought her a slightly rigid presence in “Dragon Tattoo,” more hemmed in than piqued by the character’s dourness. Clearly, many disagree — she already has a European Film Award nomination for her pains — but the performance is too untextured to justly stand alongside the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Annette Bening and Lesley Manville (to name but three leading contenders that I’ve actually seen).

Those hoping to see some manner of Oscar acknowledgement for the franchise this year would do best to concentrate on the Swedes’ submission for Best Foreign Language Film, though that seems unlikely too. For starters, they would have to select the third film in the franchise, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” — the previous two instalments having been released in Sweden before October 2009, thus ruling them out of eligibility — which likely wouldn’t go down a storm with voters unfamiliar with the whole.

That’s even assuming the Swedish selectors would pick such a populist option; last year, they passed over the first two films in favor of the Cannes-approved arthouse pic “Involuntary.” Why should things be different this year?

[Photo: Buzzine]

→ 37 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

37 responses so far

  • 1 8-19-2010 at 8:13 am

    Joey said...

    I can’t see Rapace being any sort of threat to the Oscars, but I love her in these movies so much that I would love to have some Noomi Rapace For Your Consideration posters on my walls.

  • 2 8-19-2010 at 8:14 am

    Ryan Adams said...

    “Her new agents at UTA and managers at Magnolia are comparing her to Marion Cotillard…”

    my new agents are comparing me to Hunter S. Thompson, but I suspect they’re full of shit.

  • 3 8-19-2010 at 8:16 am

    RyanT said...

    Plus Marion Cotillard was hardly an unknown entity in Hollywood appearing in “Big Fish” and alongside Russell Crowe in “A Good Year” before taking on Edith Piaf.

  • 4 8-19-2010 at 8:38 am

    m1 said...

    HA, HA! This is funny!

  • 5 8-19-2010 at 8:54 am

    Zack said...

    Am I gonna get to be the first person to say she’d be more deserving than Sandra Bullock? Awesome!
    Oh, and um, she’d be more deserving than Sandra Bullock.

  • 6 8-19-2010 at 9:37 am

    Guy Lodge said...


  • 7 8-19-2010 at 9:38 am

    Nick Davis said...

    I’ve actually been worrying about this, and it doesn’t seem impossible to me. But have I mentioned that I am always wrong about this kind of stuff? (To me, the biggest discouragement would be that the remake producers wouldn’t want to give the original any higher a profile than it already has. A nominated Noomi only makes things harder for young Rooney.)

  • 8 8-19-2010 at 9:41 am

    James D. said...

    Zack is right.

  • 9 8-19-2010 at 9:42 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “A nominated Noomi only makes things harder for young Rooney.”

    Am I the only one totally digging the Noomi/Rooney rhymes?

  • 10 8-19-2010 at 10:29 am

    Chris138 said...

    Meh. I like this film a lot, but I didn’t see it as an Oscar contender, except maybe for best foreign language film. Even that feels like a long shot to me.

  • 11 8-19-2010 at 10:43 am

    McAllister said...

    “La vie en Rose” was becoming a festival circuit hit when Cotillard started getting buzz… it’s a little different than everyone having seen the film and talking about the Fincher remake then all of the sudden, “hey I have an idea!”

  • 12 8-19-2010 at 10:44 am

    red_wine said...

    The novel is everything a best-seller is, a mediocre-fast read that’s read between better books as a buffer and a break. But the plot was good. I liked the movie as well, well made and adapted but without any lingering impact. But the movie isn’t as good as to make Fincher’s adaptation unwarranted and the movie can certainly be improved upon. I am most intrigued by the magnificent choice that he has made in casting his leading man.

    But gosh no awards prospects besides the fact that the academy isn’t going anywhere near it. If any foreign actress deserves a full scale campaign mounted for her, it should be for Giovanna Mezzogiorno’s thunderous performance in Vincere.

  • 13 8-19-2010 at 10:51 am

    Joe said...

    Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party on this series. What is the eligibility around “Girl With Dragon Tattoo” and “Girl Who Played With Fire”? (They’re both playing at first-run theatres in my town.) My impression is that they were last year (at least “Dragon Tattoo”, anyway.)

  • 14 8-19-2010 at 10:54 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Anything to inject FYC life before Toronto, eh?

    You nailed it, Guy, in regards to the genre differences. Foreign does not just equal foreign; foreign biopics =/= foreign thrillers. If Uma Thurman couldn’t land a nod for Kill Bill ass-kicking, I fail to see how this chick can either. But at least this should help her cinematic prospects, which is great stuff.

    Also, who da fuck is Rooney Mara? I only recognize her name from The Social Network‘s cast. Another Disney tart? Well, Ryan Gosling was once one, so there’s always hope!

  • 15 8-19-2010 at 10:59 am

    The Other James D. said...

    …Is it just me, or does find Noomi a bit Anna Kendricky in the above still?

  • 16 8-19-2010 at 11:00 am

    The Other James D. said...

    *does anyone.

  • 17 8-19-2010 at 11:27 am

    Bryan said...

    Wouldn’t voters have to choose between 3 movies/performances since they’re all getting a stateside release this year?

    What if she saved her best for last?

  • 18 8-19-2010 at 12:01 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    calling it ‘televisual’ is disingenuous. There were some striking images in the first film. It’s also a rich and dark film. It needs to be separated from the follow-ups.

  • 19 8-19-2010 at 12:09 pm

    Tom said...

    Dragon Tattoo is leaps and bounds better than The Secret in Their Eyes, which embarrassingly enough won the Oscar last year. I haven’t seen Hornet’s Nest yet; waiting for it to come out on DVD. But I would have no problem with Rapace being nominated. I thought she gave a great performance. I also thought the film was beautifully shot.

  • 20 8-19-2010 at 1:04 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    How can there be buzz without a publicist generating it?

  • 21 8-19-2010 at 1:17 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    Hey Guy: Noomi and Rooney aren’t rhymes. They’re off-rhymes. (Okay–someone slap me for my pedantry.)

  • 22 8-19-2010 at 1:21 pm

    Creed Screed said...

    Rapace was serviceable in “Dragon Tattoo” but the movie was over-rated and the story, sexist and hurtful to women. Oscar campaign? Save the cash.

    But somebody should start working on promoting Gemma Aterton for “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”. Similar tough character. Much better performance, much better movie! I could see it making a best picture nomination, as well as best actress and best screenplay.

  • 23 8-19-2010 at 1:41 pm

    Ben M. said...

    the two films came out last year in their native country and are not eligible for foreign language, however, their US release was this year and thus they are eligible for general oscars like picture, acting, and the techs. I read that she would indeed be eligible for Dragon Tattoo but Hornet’s Nest would be the only film which could compete in the FL category.

  • 24 8-19-2010 at 2:48 pm

    milo said...

    we can’t compare Marion cotillard with Noomi at all. The buzz of “La vie en rose ” begin during the berlin international festival and after that in Cannes when Picturehouse bought the movie after seeing 5mn of it (this was a unique situation) The studio was behind her all the time during the oscar campain.The problem with Millenium, is that it was released a long time ago in Europe even in DVD. For american studios it will be an awkward situation, because Rooney was offered the role for the remake. A lot of pressure for David Fincher too!

  • 25 8-19-2010 at 3:11 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Dave Karger jumped the bandwagon too now.

  • 26 8-19-2010 at 3:36 pm

    Cameron said...

    I really dont understand the whole phenomenon born out of this film. When i saw it in theatres i thought it was well shot and atmospheric, but the characters were so underwritten and the film so determined to stay true to the book that it might as well may not have been. Rapace may have been the saving grace, but a Cotillard she is not

  • 27 8-19-2010 at 4:22 pm

    MattyD. said...

    Rapace’s performance in the first film of the series I found such a flat one. She gave the character even LESS depth and layers than Larsson gave her in the novel, and I found that incredibly disheartening. Now that I see the equally wooden Rooney Mara (I’m going only on Nightmare on Elm St. here) has been cast as Lisbeth, I’m wondering if that sort of performance was the intent all along. Yes Lisbeth is supposed to be both enigmatic and seemingly autistic, but that doesn’t have to be interpreted as “sit there and have no expression when you’re being sexually harassed”. UGH

  • 28 8-21-2010 at 5:43 am

    John said...

    If she can’t get nominated for this, then Oscar needs to throw in the towel (OK, maybe not, but it’s fun to start with that sort of comment). This is one of those iconic cinematic characters that’s going to be remembered 10, 20 years down the line. The performance was the more interesting because she hardly said anything, yet was easily the most interesting thing on the screen,.

  • 29 8-22-2010 at 10:20 am

    Angry Shark said...

    NO. This performance is hilariously overrated.

  • 30 8-23-2010 at 9:40 pm

    Josh said...

    Guy, all three Millennium trilogy films are eligible. They were released in Sweeden in 2009 but they were not submitted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. None of them were. City of God was in the same situation and we all know how that turned out.


    Rooney Mara is a very good actress. Her sister is Kate Mara, both come from a theatrical acting background. Rooney cut her teeth doing independent films. She was named one of the 25 new faces of independent film by filmmaker magazine last year.

  • 31 8-24-2010 at 3:14 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Josh: Yes, the first two films are eligible in general categories (nothing in the article says they aren’t), but they’re not eligible for Best Foreign Language Film. Academy rules clearly state that to be eligible for the latter award:

    The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2009, and no later than September 30, 2010…

    The first two films were released in Sweden prior to the start of the eligibility period (“Tattoo” way back in February 2009, “Fire” in September 2009), and therefore cannot be submitted — only the third film (released in Sweden in November 2009) can be.

    It’s not the same situation as “City of God” — which was submitted by Brazil in the year of its eligibility for Best Foreign Language Film, but not nominated by the Academy. (That snub enabled it to be nominated in general categories the following year, after its US release.)

    Trust me, we do this research so you guys don’t have to. ;)

  • 32 8-24-2010 at 6:29 am

    Josh said...

    @Guy Yeah but they aren’t submitting for Foreign Language film. What does foreign language film have anything to do with this? The film nay be in Swedish but it has successfully crossed over in the same way that Crouchibg Tiger did.

  • 33 8-24-2010 at 6:39 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “What does foreign language film have anything to do with this?”

    Sorry, I thought that’s what you were talking about — since nowhere in the article do I state that the films are ineligible in general categories. I’m not entirely sure what you were correcting me about in your first comment.

    Indeed, the possibility of their consideration — and the consequent Best Actress talk for Rapace — is kind of the point of this post. We have obviously misunderstood each other.

  • 34 12-18-2010 at 8:39 pm

    CO said...

    Noomi deserves the Oscar for Best Actress. Her Lisbeth was perfection. She captivated many hearts with her performance. Many have been re-energized by Noomi’s Lisbeth, and the trilogy will become a classic worldwide due to her acting. Hollywood voters should be fair and avoid playing American favorites or let’s protect the U.S. version of the films. Film lovers worldwide connected with Lisbeth due to Noomi’s acting strength in a very difficult trilogy, and that acting deserves the Oscar for Best Actress.

  • 35 1-28-2012 at 11:40 am

    DK said...

    I too thought Noomi Rapace’s performance was fantastic and that she deserved a nomination — but because the film Dragon Tattoo film (the first of the series) came out too soon, i suspect it would have had to have happened in a previous year — or is it when the American release occurred?

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