Jessica Chastain does not have an Oscar. I have to double-check this CONSTANTLY. Because it seems like she should have one, yes? Surely she won for The Help? No? Well then she HAD to have gotten one for Zero Dark Thirty. Also no. She has not yet recorded a W at the Academy Awards, which seems impossible when you consider the level of work she consistently turns out. (In this, the HFPA has one over on the Academy, because they consistently recognize Chastain’s excellence, and they have rewarded it.) But maybe this will be her year, as she has a flashy role in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game. Chastain plays Molly Bloom, who ran that lavish underground poker game that Ben Affleck played in and where Tobey Maguire was such a f*cking douchebag.
The trailer for Molly’s Game has just come out, and man does Jessica Chastain have a first-class power-suit strut. And man, does she have chemistry with Idris Elba. He plays her defense lawyer and based on the sharpness of their exchanges I’m expecting some Shondaland-style office boning to immediately ensue. I don’t think that’s what they’re trying to accomplish in Molly’s Game, but that’s the vibe I’m getting from Elba and Chastain and now I desperately want to see them in a romantic movie together. Anyway.
I’m not super impressed by the trailer itself—this is a JUICY story and the trailer is going out of its way to be conventional and court-room drama-ish, and barely glancing at the overripe peach of gossip-juice that comes with Molly’s rags-to-riches poker story. Michael Cera seems to be playing Tobey Maguire, WHICH I LOVE, but if you don’t already know Molly’s story, do you pick up on that? They’ve changed everyone’s names—even the Viper Room has become the “Cobra Lounge”—but still, there’s got to be some clues as to who is whom in the real-world context. None of that is in the trailer. That’s the best part of the story!
But Chastain does command the screen so well, and she plays schemers so well (see also: A Most Violent Year), that it still looks entirely watchable. Molly’s Game has just been added to the TIFF lineup, so it’s in position for award season. And maybe that’s the issue with the gossip angle. Maybe they don’t want to go too hard on the very people they’re going to ask to vote for this movie for the industry’s most prestigious award. After all, Molly had some of Hollywood’s biggest players at her tables, and her story is their story, too. It will be interesting to see if Sorkin pulls his punches because he doesn’t want to get shut out of the party himself.