Julia Louis-Dreyfus is presenting at the Oscars this weekend – for this first time. Sunday night will mark her Oscars debut, as a guest or presenter. You’re surprised, right?
Sure, Julia has never been nominated, but she came pretty close during the 2013-2014 awards season with Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said (which I loved), earning a Golden Globe nomination and Critics’ Choice honour for her buzzy, tender performance opposite the late James Gandolfini. Typically, Oscar also-rans or the year’s contenders will get an invite to the big show, like Jennifer Aniston after Cake in 2015, or Sarah Silverman after I Smile Back in 2016. Either way, Julia’s yet to formally accept an invitation until now.
That’s not to say the Academy has not tried to get her there. According to The Hollywood Reporter, she was one of the Academy’s first choices to host the Oscars (remember those days???) back in 2015. She declined, and they gave the gig to Neil Patrick Harris. How’s that for Hollywood Sliding Doors?
Apparently now’s the time. Julia’s film Downhill opens next Friday, on Valentine’s Day. This is her first major project since Veep’s series finale aired in May, and it is also the first feature film she’s ever produced, pushing to get it made for about five years. Downhill is the American remake of Force Majeure (one of my favourite films of the 2010s), about what happens when a father abandons his family during a ski vacation in the Austrian Alps during an avalanche drill. The film, which also stars Will Ferrell, chronicles the fallout of the incident and the subsequent relationship decay, and premiered at Sundance last week. The movie got a mixed reception coming out of the festival, but Julia has already been singled out as the highlight. Yes, it’s too early, but Collider’s Jeff Sneider has already dubbed her performance Globe-worthy:
My first awards prediction of 2020: @OfficialJLD will get a Golden Globe nomination for DOWNHILL, a worthy companion to FORCE MAJEURE.— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) January 27, 2020
Prior to Sundance, Julia had been keeping a pretty low profile. While she was nominated at the Critics’ Choice for her final turn as Selina Meyer on Veep, the cast and team of misfits were mostly snubbed by the Globes and SAG Awards, and went home empty-handed at the Emmys in September, which was the show’s last hurrah or last chance to be nominated. She hasn’t been to a traditional awards show since September either.
Julia stopped by Ellen today, where she talked about her two “adult male children,” laughed about her indie rocker son Henry Hall, and how staying up for his gigs is pretty challenging. And before Ellen referred to Veep as one of the best shows “ever, ever on television” around the 6:05 mark of the first video, Julia spoke warmly about how the show would have handled the existing American President’s latest Twitter gaffe about what state Kansas City is in.
“It does and it doesn’t [make me miss Veep]. … I have to tell you, if I were doing Veep right now, it would be really fun to script those 12 minutes between him launching the tweet and then deleting it. … I mean, I have to say, I think he’s doing a better job of our show, except to say that it in fact isn’t even remotely funny. It does make me miss it. It was super funny. It’s just hard to compete with that crap.”
We miss Selina too, but now Julia is launching a new chapter with a pretty big first... on Hollywood’s biggest stage. Soon after, she’s reteaming with Pixar (she was in the Cars spinoff, Planes in 2013) for Onward, which is out March 5 in Canada, opposite Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. Even if Downhill doesn’t necessarily measure up to Force Majeure’s hype or critical success, her professional life after Selina looks pretty rosy.
Will Ferrell’s presenting too. Will these co-stars be our Oscars version of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler?
Attached: Julia and the Downhill cast at Sundance.