Best Actress Chatter: Silverman and Smith

Every year is a weak year for the best-actress race – according to some, at least. But a few recent updates – including news on this year’s first Oscar screener – keep the conversation hot, especially considering that we’re not chatting top-tier candidates like Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Lawrence at the moment.

sarahsilverman_ismilebackSarah Silverman in I Smile Back (via IndieWire)

Oscar nominee Sarah Silverman? The comedian-actress will receive the Mill Valley Film Festival’s Spotlight Award, and will participate in an on-stage conversation about her work in I Smile Back, along with a screening of the addiction drama. MVFF runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 18.

Keep in mind, Smile also played Sundance earlier this year, and will play Toronto next month. Additionally, several recent Spotlight Award winners have gone on to Oscar bids in recent years; bold indicates actors nominated in the years that they won:

  • 2014: Elle Fanning (Low Down), Eddie Redmayne (won best actor for The Theory of Everything)
  • 2013: Jared Leto (won best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club)
  • 2012: Billy Bob Thornton (Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which he also directed and wrote)
  • 2011: Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marelene), Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
  • 2010: James Franco (nominated for best actor for 127 Hours)

Distributor Broad Green Pictures seems to have high hopes for Smile, and will give the film a limited release on Oct. 23 – the same day Suffragette hits select locations.


The Lady in the Van back on the road? It looks like the Maggie Smith-led dramedy is back on the schedule for a limited bow on Dec. 11 – the same day for which it was once scheduled.

The film premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and given its apparent December debut, I suppose Van may be an awards vehicle for Smith, who plays a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years, after all. The two-time Oscar winner originated the role in the Olivier Award-nominated West End play in 1999.

I earlier speculated that distributor Sony Pictures Classics put the brakes on Van to make room for other best-actress contenders, such as Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Bel Powley, Paul Weitz’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, and James Vanderbilt’s Truth with Cate Blanchett. All three may still get campaigns – for best actress, at least – but the apparent return of Van makes me wonder how confident SPC is in them.

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