The Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and one of the most highly anticipated titles to world premiere on the Lido this year is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. As Sarah wrote last week, it looks like Netflix will be putting everything they can behind this film as their Oscar contender, which isn’t surprising. Jane Campion already has a screenplay Oscar for The Piano and she adapted The Power of the Dog in addition to directing. And she has an impressive cast to work with here, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role and Jesse Plemons (who has quietly become the one actor every auteur director wants to cast) supporting him.
But let’s not sleep on Kirsten Dunst.
Kiki plays Jesse’s character’s wife. In the film, they marry in secret, and along with her young adult son move onto Benedict’s property. Benedict’s character then decides to destroy Kiki by using her son as a pawn. It’s psychological warfare and the target, really, is Kiki. So she’s not just there to play a wife. Kirsten Dunst has never been about that life in her work – and Jane Campion certainly wouldn’t be writing a role for her that’s that simple. Whatever acting fireworks Benedict is bringing to this role, Kiki will be matching it.
Does that mean, finally, after all these years, we may be looking at a Kiki Oscar nomination? She’s been underrated for a long time. And she has said as much, in an interview in 2019, Kirsten talked about how her projects and performances, like Marie Antoinette and Drop Dead Gorgeous, are often ahead of their time and that she’s “never been recognised in my industry”. This is a fact.
But that may be changing. And it might change in a big way soon. The Power of the Dog will be kicking off its award season run in Venice this week and early speculation is that the film could be in for several nominations, including Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actor. Again, it’s early, but if The Power of the Dog lives up to expectation, it is very possible that Kiki could finally be recognised in her industry…
It could be a married couple nomination because as just mentioned, Jesse Plemons has worked with almost everyone in the industry over the last few years. And if he’s giving the kind of performance in The Power of the Dog that he’s been giving in, well, everything (he’s in everything!), he’d be at the top of the Academy’s list.
So here’s Kiki arriving in Venice today, flexing in a Gucci jacket, and getting us ready for whatever red carpet magic she’ll be bringing to the gala. Kristen Dunst is never, ever boring on a red carpet. I can’t wait.