Why we should be watching Kristin Scott Thomas

Posted by · 5:55 pm · October 7th, 2010

Hey, did you know I’m something of a Kristin Scott Thomas fan? If you didn’t, chances are you only just met me. Welcome. The precis version is that I think she’s one of the few great contemporary actresses currently working on career-peak form, and in two languages to boot. The non-precis version — well, dig around.

It’s been nearly 14 years since her lone Oscar nomination for “The English Patient”; she’s more than due for her second, and while she narrowly missed it in 2008 for her French-speaking turn in “I’ve Loved You So Long,” I’m wondering if this year’s wide-open Best Supporting Actress race might prove more conducive.

I’m referring, of course, to her expertly brittle but moving performance as John Lennon’s aunt (and guardian) Mimi Smith in Sam Taylor Wood’s biopic “Nowhere Boy,” which opens Stateside tomorrow. US moviegoers are getting quite a fix of Scott Thomas lately. Last week, French romantic thriller “Leaving” — showcasing even more impressive work by the actress as a neglected housewife in an updated “Madame Bovary”-style melodrama — hit theaters, drawing mixed reviews but further critical huzzahs for her performance.

It feels odd for me to be bringing up these films again nearly a full year after I reviewed both of them at the London Film Festival, but such are the foibles of international distribution. (To put things in perspective, I’ll be seeing Scott Thomas’s next film, French psychological thriller “In Your Hands,” at the LFF later this month.) “Nowhere Boy” is particularly old news to us Brits: the film was released here back in December, earning BAFTA nominations for Scott Thomas and her co-star Anne-Marie Duff.

Presumably hoping for a similar strike with the American Academy, The Weinstein Company has savvily waited until now to ride the next awards-season wave. The film itself is surely too polite and low-temperature to make much headway with voters, but something tells me that, should she get a typically smart Weinstein campaign, Scott Thomas could be a dark horse to watch in a scattered race that has numerous hopefuls but few sure-shot nominees.

To recap, “Nowhere Boy” offers a scene-stealing turn from a respected, long-serving actress in a stoic-but-supportive role as a true-life figure (oh, and with a cut-glass English accent) — just count the number of Academy boxes ticked in that sentence, if voters are made aware of the movie. Team Harvey will obviously be pushing hard for fellow double-barrelled Brit Helena Bonham-Carter in the same category, but here’s hoping they find room for both (and perhaps Duff, too) on the campaign wagon.

Just to make me sound a little less like a solitary crazed evangelist, here’s Salon critic Andrew O’Hehir on why Oscar (and everyone else) should bow to the actress:

[“Leaving” has] got something none of those movies about middle-aged women finding love has: the amazing Kristin Scott Thomas, who keeps appearing in roles that seem bound to win her the Oscar she’s deserved for so long, but inevitably don’t … Scott Thomas can seem like a woman hoarding a prodigious buried treasure of sensuality. On the other hand, in the forthcoming “Nowhere Boy,” she is equally irresistible in a totally different direction as John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, a standard-bearer of lower-middle-class English propriety who has no discernible sexual identity.

My own year-old take on her “award-caliber portrayal” in “Nowhere Boy” can be found here.

[Photo: The Weinstein Company]

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 10-07-2010 at 6:19 pm

    Rae Kasey said...

    When is that film adaptation of “The Seagull” meant to get off the ground??

  • 2 10-07-2010 at 6:22 pm

    Lucas said...

    My favorite Scott Thomas performance is her great albeit small role in Gosford Park… Though it’s one of my favorite movies to begin with, so maybe I’m a bit unintentionally biased.

  • 3 10-07-2010 at 6:36 pm

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Scott Thomas vs. Bonham Carter. That hurts.

  • 4 10-07-2010 at 7:18 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Gosh. I can’t even contemplate a Scott Thomas vs. Bonham Carter vs. Miranda Richardson. I love … LOVE, them all. They all deserve Oscars from past performances.

  • 5 10-07-2010 at 7:24 pm

    MattyD. said...

    Everytime I hear of ‘Leaving’ I think of ‘I Am Love’ and I just can’t help but think how much Tilda Swinton put in yet another Oscar-worthy performance that won’t be recognized by the Academy. Fitting that it would be a Kristen Scott Thomas film that would make me think of one of hers since I see both actresses as fearless glamazon-actors who consistently put in earth-shattering performances of equal-parts subtlety and showmanship who seem to be overlooked over and over.

  • 6 10-07-2010 at 7:25 pm

    JR said...

    I adore KST – always glorious but only better with age. Can’t help but compare her to Michelle Pfeiffer – both extraordinary actors who happen to be exquisitely beautiful. The major difference? KST wisely remains based in Europe where they’ve long appreciated mature women. Pfeiffer, based in LA, rarely works, despite impeccable work in Cheri. Her IMDB page says it all – her last film was a Lifetime movie opposite Ashton Kutcher (WTF?) and nothing on the horizon.

    Cannot wait to see Leaving!

  • 7 10-07-2010 at 7:41 pm

    Brady said...

    As much as I love KST, especially in I’ve Loved You So Long, I have seen her give a not stellar performance. It was in this little known flop of a french film called La Doublure or The Valet.

    Either way, I think her shot for these movies are virtually nil. They seem to have very little buzz as a whole, and a movie needs a little bit of that if the actor is going to break through.

  • 8 10-07-2010 at 10:40 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Under the Cherry Moon

    We must never forget!
    “I just can’t help but think how much Tilda Swinton put in yet another Oscar-worthy performance that won’t be recognized by the Academy”

    The consensus believes the Michael Clayton win is about Michael Clayton. I’ve continued to hold onto it was a crossing the T[s] and dotting the I[s] situation for the Academy to award a sought after critical / international darling in a low profile category. Swinton has an Oscar. Of course, not for her best performance or one that will standout in her filmography. But at least no one can complain she’s without like so many worthy actresses: Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mia Farrow (never nominated), Joan Allen, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.

  • 9 10-07-2010 at 11:50 pm

    Glenn said...

    The Weinstein’s somehow couldn’t get Samantha Morton’s award traction off the ground for their last Brit music biopic, “Control”, and is anybody excited by “Nowhere Boy”? Like, really? It doesn’t even feature Beatles music, does it?

  • 10 10-08-2010 at 1:15 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Nowhere Boy” is a much softer lob to middlebrow voters than “Control” was, though.

  • 11 10-08-2010 at 7:37 am

    sosgemini said...

    And for this we have Prince to thank. :slowclap:

  • 12 10-08-2010 at 8:12 am

    RichardA said...

    KST is so fascinating to watch. My fav of her is Four Wedding and A Funeral. Let’s not forget: Tell No One, too. (When is the American version coming out?)

  • 13 10-08-2010 at 8:48 am

    JJ1 said...

    My faves from KST are 4 Weddings, Gosford, & I’ve Loved You So Long.

  • 14 10-08-2010 at 9:48 pm

    Derek 8-Track said...

    Why we should be watching Kristin Scott Thomas?
    because she is hott

  • 15 10-10-2010 at 3:09 am

    Simon Warrasch said...

    Kristin Scott Thomas could be nominated but i think she has no chances to win!

    I have this strange feeling that the Academy will give the Oscar for Supporting Actress to Melissa Leo! She is and outstanding Actress! She was brilliant in Frozen River and in 21 Grams! This year we can see her outstanding talent in Veronica decides to Die, Conviction, Welcome to the Rileys and in The Fighter! This is a Category i have no idea who will win?

  • 16 10-10-2010 at 7:21 am

    yopla said...

    Guy Lodge :
    When you’ll see “In your hands”, I’ll impatiently wait for your review.

    Because, in France, we’ll have to wait february 2011 to see it.

    Usually, it’s the reverse thing, you guys have to wait few months or 1 year to see a french movie but this time it’s the other way around.