Dear Gossips,

The Power of the Dog screened last night at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles. The whole cast and Jane Campion turned up, including Kirsten Dunst, Best Supporting Actress contender, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Best Actor contender. So far, Kiki’s campaign has consisted of turning up places looking amazing, and showing off her amazing house. Bendy Cucumber’s campaign, though, has taken an expected turn—he’s telling us how he SUFFERED for his art. In this case, he got nicotine poisoning three times from smoking so much on set. He also didn’t bathe and wouldn’t respond to his own name. We’ll see how his Method campaigning goes over when Will Smith brings the charm offensive to full bear next week.


As for Dunst, she’s still got good odds in the Best Supporting Actress race, but Ann Dowd and Judi Dench are in the mix, and Catriona Balfe is catching up, off the strength of Belfast’s showing so far. It’s a crowd pleaser in a way that Dog very much is not, so if it comes down to feel-good vibes, Balfe has an edge. But lurking ready to take over is Aunjanue Ellis, lately an Emmy nominee, who is getting a boost from the Santa Barbara Film Festival, a major stop on the campaign trail—she will share Performer of the Year recognition with Will Smith. This is why it’s way too early to start calling favorites. It’s clear that Dunst has a good shot at a nomination, but this year is SO competitive, every single momentum shift counts. For instance, the Palm Springs Film Festival, another major stop on the circuit, isn’t until January, and whoever they fete will benefit from being closer to the actual nomination period.


Whatever result it gets her, though, I appreciate Dunst’s low key approach to campaigning. She’s out there, she’s showing up places, but at least she’s not telling us how she wouldn’t respond to her own name. I get why actors want to be called their character names, but I also get that there are dozens, even hundreds, of people on a film set just trying to do their damn jobs. It’s not always about the actor, you know? Everyone has enough to get on with without having to remember if the star is using their own name or not. You know they’re talking to you, just listen to what the PA has to say and let them get on with their work. Not everything has to be a Method exercise. 

And now for some shameless self-promotion. I am a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which opens tonight with The Power of the Dog on the lineup. If you’re in the Chicago area, you can get tickets here.

Live long and gossip,