23 year-old Saoirse Ronan, who was honored last night at the Santa Barbara Film Festival but is also unjustly destined to lose the Best Actress Oscar to Three Billboards‘ star Frances McDormand, is at the top of her game right now. She’s obviously got it, and is certain to fortify her Streep-like portfolio by leaps and bounds over the coming decades. Everyone at the Arlington theatre, including moderator Anne Thompson, was thinking this last night.
But for all her intensity and brilliance Ronan has chosen to star or costar in more than a few iffy films over the last decade, and when you get right down to it she’s scored big-time in a stellar, triple-A, bull’s-eye fashion only twice — as the titular character in Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird and as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn (’15).
She made a brilliant debut at age 13 in Joe Wright‘s Atonement (’07), playing a nearly demonic provocateur, and she acted the blazes out of her Susie Salmon role in Peter Jackson‘s The Lovely Bones, but the film was too Jackson-y and CG’ed to death. And she was completely delightful in Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel (’14). And that’s as far as it’s gone so far.
Ronan has three films due for 2018 release, but the only one of real consequence will be Josie Rourke‘s Mary, Queen of Scots, which Focus will release on 11.2. Reactions to Dominic Cooke‘s On Chesil Beach (Lionsgate, 6.15) have been muted, and her other ’18 release, Michael Mayer‘s The Seagull, was shot in the summer of 2015 — do the math.