Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel will be the closing night film at the New York Film Festival in October. It opens December 1, which means that it could be an Oscar contender, not just because of the director and the date but also because of the star, Kate Winslet. Kate plays Ginny who’s married to Jim Belushi. But she starts crushing on a lifeguard. Her stepdaughter, Juno Temple, also has a crush on the lifeguard. Justin Timberlake is the lifeguard. So, as I warned you a few weeks ago, JT might be in our faces again, for the second year in a row, during award season. Has he kissed enough ass in Hollywood to actually win something? God help us all. Especially since Kate seems to be doing some of the work for him.

Of the experience of working with JT, Kate tells Entertainment Weekly that:

“He’s such a wonderful person. I would turn to him and say, ‘Do you know what, Justin Timberlake? The best thing about you being in this film is that you’re really not “Justin Timberlake.” If you had really been “Justin Timberlake” it could have been a complete nightmare, but really you’re not “Justin Timberlake” at all, you’re just some guy named Justin.’ He’s totally unvain, he has an absolutely infuriating ability to learn lines fast, and he’s an all around great person — humble, fun, hard-working, easygoing, no ego. Such a joy, really.”
This is meant to be a compliment. And it probably is a compliment. But the compliment is such an on-the-nose, point-by-counterpoint rebuttal of all the sh-t that makes JT so f-cking insufferable that, in a way, you could also read it as … sarcasm? Maybe that’s just me because I will #NeverForget. The truth is, Kate’s selling JT. And now begins several months of selling JT, by JT and, evidently, by Kate Winslet too. Although obviously she’s working it on her own behalf too.

Kate Winslet, the Oscar winner, who was allegedly the Susan Lucci of the Oscars before she won hers, is saying that this role might be the most challenging of her career:

“There was not one single moment that I was not utterly terrified. It’s an incredibly complicated character — maybe the most complicated female character I’ve ever had the challenge of grappling with. Every day was like a white-knuckle ride day, and yet the most exhilarating acting experience I’ve ever had. But highly stressful as well — I didn’t sleep a solid night of sleep while we were making the film because I was always so anxious about the next day and could never quite switch off from it.”

And now Woody’s comparing Kate to Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett.

“There are certain actors and actresses that I consider great — there’s Cate Blanchett, there’s Meryl Streep — and Kate Winslet is one of them,” Allen says. “There are really just a few actresses that are deep enough to really give me a sensational rendering of the character.”

It’s AUGUST. We have six months to go before we know who the frontrunners will be. But as Sarah has already noted, this looks like an exceptionally strong year. So the jostling for position has already started. And if there’s anyone who knows how to swing his ringlets and his elbows around and get in front of the line, it’s Justin Timberlake.