Months ago when we were talking about the Emmys, even after the nominations, most people considered Zendaya to be an underdog, considering the other women in the Lead Actress Drama category – Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, and more. She was the youngest and Euphoria, for which she was nominated, isn’t exactly typical Television Academy content. But then look what happened: Zendaya pulled off the upset.
And now another award season is upon us, this time it’s film, and Zendaya once again is entering the conversation. She stars opposite John David Washington in Malcolm & Marie, apparently the first film to shoot during the pandemic – in one location, with the new safety protocols, and in a very aggressively short period of time. There wasn’t even an idea for it until the pandemic happened, when Zendaya reached out to Euphoria showrunner Sam Levinson and asked to write and direct a feature and she put in some money for it and somehow they pulled it off and there was a bidding war at TIFF and it was acquired by Netflix, which announced two weeks ago that the film would premiere in February, meeting Oscar eligibility and they believe enough in it to put a campaign behind it.
Which means, yes, in a strange pandemic year, the movie that inspired innovation during the pandemic, is going to be a contender. And Zendaya too. And also John David Washington who was supposed to be riding high on 2020 with Tenet (which did not make the impact it was supposed to) but wouldn’t it be something if the 2020 highlight of his career ends up being Malcolm & Marie?!
As for Zendaya, I mentioned in today’s open that in an ordinary year, we’d know some of the frontrunners by now in the Oscar race. Last year at this point Joaquin Phoenix was firmly established in the Best Actor Oscar lead. This year there are some candidates getting some heat, like Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Frances McDormand in Nomadland but we’re definitely not talking about it the way we used to because there are no public campaigning events, I wonder if that leaves more room – like if we’re not locking someone into the pole position, and we’re not all collectively cementing someone in the pole position, does that mean the race can be wider? And will it include Zendaya?
Even though she has an Emmy, again she’d be coming into it as an underdog when you consider that in addition to Viola and Frances, heavyweights to be sure, there’s also Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead) might be in the mix; Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy) could be a thing, although there are a lot of people who were not impressed with the film; Amy Adams; and Kate Winslet and Carey Mulligan. In that company, Zendaya for sure is the newcomer. We saw what happened last time though…
In other Zendaya news, they’ve released a teaser for the first special episode of Euphoria that’s airing this weekend. This is not season two. But I will take any Euphoria I can get.