The Woman King came out of TIFF with good reviews. Then it opened at #1 at the box office. In the weeks since it has pretty much recouped its budget, and with strong word of mouth, it should continue to see steady business; I went on Saturday and my theatre was full. So now that the money matters are out of the way, it’s time to look to the awards. And The Woman King intends to compete for all of them.
Gina Prince-Bythewood is trying to become the first Black female director to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. Per Variety, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, and John Boyega will run in the supporting acting categories. And Thuso Mbedu will also submit in the supporting category, even though her role is more of a co-lead alongside Viola Davis. More on Viola in a minute, let’s talk about Thuso.
Because OMG Thuso. Her outstanding performance in Barry Jenkins’s series adaptation of The Underground Railroad was overlooked (as was the entire show) so this, really, is her breakout moment. She is wonderful in The Woman King – tough and vulnerable, irresistibly fresh and spunky but also emotionally affecting. I mean you would have to bring all that to be able to share so many scenes with the great Viola Davis, right? Thuso, right now, is riding the high of The Woman King and her next project has yet to be announced. But she should be at the top of the list going forward for casting directors because there is so much she can do. I’d like to see her next in a romance. Like if they’re going to turn Bolu Babalola’s Honey & Spice (I LOVE this book) into a movie, I nominate Thuso as Kiki.
As for Viola, no surprise, she’ll be submitting for Oscar in the Best Actress category. She has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Fences and that was a little bit of category shenanigans (like Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl) but she is unmistakably the lead in The Woman King and she’s also a producer on the film along with her husband Julius Tennon so if The Woman King does make the cut of ten films nominated for Best Picture – and they’re going for a Best Picture nomination for sure – it’ll be the first time a married couple is nominated in that category.
The Woman King is a crowd-pleaser, not unlike Gladiator and Braveheart and films in that genre, both of which were major contenders at the Oscars. There’s no reason why The Woman King can’t do the same. Except for, well, you know… there’s that one reason. Which Viola and company are trying to overcome.
Here's Team Woman King in London at the UK gala screening, crushing the red carpet. Every outfit here is excellent. Can they carry this momentum through the fall and deep into award season?