A few days ago the Toronto Film Festival consensus on The Danish Girl emerged as follows: (a) Tom Hooper‘s film is a handsome period slog — appropriately delicate but a little on the tedious side, (b) Eddie Redmayne gives his open-hearted, ultra-sensitive all in playing Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, and (c) Alicia Vikander‘s performance as Gerda Wegener, Redmayne’s spouse and loyal supporter as he goes through his gender-transforming travails, is the most popular element.
Yesterday Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil posted reactions from several GD hotshots about (a) whether Vikander’s performance should be classified as lead or supporting in the eyes of the Movie Godz, and (b) is it smartest to campaign her in lead or supporting?
Alicia Viklander as Gerda Wegener in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl.
Obvious answer #1: You can “sell” Vikander’s performance as a lead if you want to (in somewhat the same way that Felicity Jones‘ handlers flim-flammed everyone into thinking that her performance as Mrs. Stephen Hawking was a lead, not to mention Patricia Neal‘s undeniably supporting performance in Hud being successfully campaigned in the Best Actress category), but if you’re not playing the lead character and you are playing the wife/husband/partner of said lead then you’re giving a supporting performance — period, end of discussion.
Obvious answer #2: If a noteworthy performance has been given by a relatively young and newish face in industry terms, it’s always a smarter move to go for a supporting nomination. Always.
Bottom line: Anyone who declares that Vikander is absolutely playing a lead role and therefore should be campaigned for Best Actress is engaged in bullshit mental gymnastics or succumbing to wishful thinking or whatever. Or they’re just batting the conversational ball around for perverse reasons.
Good as she is in Danish Girl, Vikander has no chance to land a Best Actress nomination against Brooklyn‘s Saoirse Ronan, Truth/Carol‘s Cate Blanchett, Joy‘s Jennifer Lawrence, Suffragette‘s Carey Mulligan, Room‘s Brie Larson and Grandma‘s Lily Tomlin. None. Forget it. Don’t even fantasize.
But if she goes for supporting (like Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern should’ve done last year and like Tim Hutton‘s people wisely decided in ’80/’81 in support of his lead performance in Ordinary People), she’ll be in a strong position. She may get aced by Carol‘s Rooney Mara, Steve Jobs‘ Kate Winslet or Youth‘s Jane Fonda, but she’ll definitely be nominated.