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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Stewart

Nyad

First of all, I refuse to let this film be slept on. It’s an absolute must-watch that deserves to be a big awards player, and not only because of its actors. I now believe it will earn writing, editing (hello? obviously), and Best Picture Oscar notices in addition to multiple acting ones (I wish Rhys Ifans had a more realistic chance), and I don’t see myself wavering unless it goes totally bust with the precursors. I have to admit that many of the current consensus Oscar nomination picks don’t feel right at all, and I do hope the precursors will help make sense of things. At this point, quite a lot of predictors don’t seem to be thinking straight.


Annette Bening and Jodie Foster’s Oscar nominations shouldn’t be in question, and I say both would be worthy victors. This feels like the performance that should finally make Bening an Oscar winner, and I just hope Netflix throws its weight behind this and Maestro and calls it a day. I truly can’t remember the last time I had the pleasure of witnessing two such talented 60+ actresses play such incredibly rich roles, and I don’t want to even entertain the thought of them getting no recognition.


Regarding the sizes of their performances, I was most excited to see Foster’s screen time total, especially once I got halfway through and determined she was on track to hit 51% (whereas Bening was projected to reach 72%). In the end, Bening landed at 66.32% and Foster at 49.75%, which means that the latter’s would be one of the 10 longest performances ever nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It’s also longer than any of her three Oscar-nominated lead turns by at least four minutes / 2%. Even so – and even though she comes within 0.1 point of matching Margot Robbie’s percentage in Barbie – the supporting category is where she belongs.


No matter what anyone rashly assumes, I’ve never posited that screen time should be used as the top deciding factor when it comes to category placement. What I do believe is that every performance should be examined on a case-by-case basis and that, in some cases, screen time can be of use to varying degrees. In Foster’s case, her screen time doesn’t matter much at all (some will disagree there, and that’s okay). Her Bonnie quite literally exists to support the lead character, and that narrative truth never really changes as she consistently remains present (and admittedly gets a bit fleshed out) in all but a handful of scenes. In a way, I’m reminded of The Motorcycle Diaries, in which Rodrigo de la Serna appears for over an hour (52%) but remains supporting (imo) from a purely narrative standpoint. My stance on Green Book is similar, albeit more controversial.


By-the-numbers or not, I admire and appreciate Nyad and its stunning actresses and will be beating the drum for it and them all season.


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