Early last evening I attended a London hotel gathering for Jeff NicholsLoving (Focus Features, 11.4), and right off the top had an easy chat with costars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. I’ve been snippy about some of Edgerton’s work in the past (though not his performances in Animal Kingdom or his 2009 BAM performance as Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar), but after five minutes of party chatter that whole attitude melted away. If you like somebody, you can’t help it. I’m still no fan of The Gift (which Edgerton directed and costarred in) but he’s definitely off the HE shit list. That phase is over.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of Joel and Ruth, but I was at least able to manipulate this one, taken without flash, into looking semi-decent with the help of PicMonkey (i.e., Adobe Photoshop for dumbshits like myself).

After seeing Loving in Cannes last May I immediately predicted some Best Actress heat for Negga’s quiet, sad-soulful performance, and I wasn’t wrong. Right now she’s neck and neck with La La Land‘s Emma Stone, Jackie‘s Natalie Portman, 20th Century Women‘s Annette Bening, Elle‘s Isabelle Huppert and Viola Davis‘s not-yet-seen performance in Fences.

Negga was wearing some killer Rodarte slacks with safety pins up and down the left-leg seam. I told her that last weekend Kristen Stewart was wearing a Rodarte suit with the same safety-pin signature at the Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk premiere.

Ruth Negga’s Rodarte safety-pin slacks, worn to last night’s Loving party.

Kristen Stewart’s cream-colored safety-pin pants.

From my 5.16.16 Loving review, filed from Cannes: “I had forebodings about Jeff NicholsLoving (Focus Features, 11.4). I was concerned that a dramatization of the legal case surrounding a once-controversial interracial marriage between Mildred and Richard Loving might not amount to anything more than a rote retelling. Well, the film is better than I expected. A warm, measured, adult-level thing.

“The fact that Loving is a compassionate, plain-spoken, better-than-decent film will almost certainly result in award-season acclaim, particularly some Best Actress talk for Ms. Negga’s kindly, sad-eyed wife and mom. I suspect she’s the hottest contender right now for the festival’s Best Actress prize.

“If you’re at all familiar with the facts or if you happened to catch Nancy Buirski‘s The Loving Story, a 2012 HBO doc, it’ll be hard to avoid a feeling of being narratively tied down. Alessandra Stanley‘s 2.13.12 review of Buirski’s doc is a good place to start if you’re not up on the case.

Joel Edgerton‘s Southern-accented line readings are a little too actorish. Sample: “Ahm gohn build you a house…aayhehre…owhouse.” The real Richard Loving sounded like a back-country redneck, true, but he wasn’t as hard to understand because he wasn’t an Australian actor trying to sound like the Real McCoy — crucial difference.

“I understood maybe 15% of what Edgerton said in the film, and that was partly because I had help with the French subtitles. In the realm of his performance there’s nary a consonant that isn’t buried, a sentence that isn’t swallowed, an utterance that isn’t yokelized. In Buirski’s doc the real Richard Loving isn’t difficult to understand at all.

In his supporting performance as a racist small-town sheriff, part-Hungarian, part-Australian Marton Csokas is as hard to understand as Edgerton. Every drawly thing he says is covered in redneck puree.

The most intelligible actor in the cast is Nick Kroll, who plays the Lovings’ ACLU attorney Bernie Cohen, the guy who successfuly argued for the legitimacy of interracial marriage and the overturning of all anti-miscenegation laws in ’67. When Coen’s voice is first heard I sat up in my seat — a non-slurring northerner who respects diction!

Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga in “teaser” poster for Jeff Nichols’ Loving.