The Harder They Fall: Regina King and Idris Elba are Oscar underdogs

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The Oscars loved a good villain: Health ledger in “The Dark Knight”, Monsieur Anthony hopkins in “The silence of the lambs”, Denzel Washington in “Training day”, Louise Fletcher in “Flight over a cuckoo’s nest”, Javier bardem in “No country for old people”, Gene Hackman in “Unforgivable” and Joe pesci in “Goodfellas”, to name just seven former winners who broke the gold medal. But it’s been a little while since a true villain found favor with academy members, and based on the first list of nominees, the 2022 Oscars won’t embrace the dark side either. Unless, of course, the voters decide to go out west in search of fame, fortune and adventure, and get on “The Harder They Fall”, where two out-of-the-way law played by King Regina and Idris elbe steal every scene that isn’t nailed to the ground.

Scheduled to debut on Netflix from November 3 and in select theaters now, the director’s revisionist western Jeymes Samuel focuses on a bandit named Nat Love (Jonathan majors), who reunites his gang to take revenge on Rufus Buck (Elba), the man who killed Nat’s parents. Buck is a violent gunslinger with a dark secret, but he’s not alone: ​​King plays Buck’s right-hand man, “Treacherous” Trudy Smith, a saloon owner who is more than comfortable shooting first. and ask questions later – especially when faced with the pervasive racism of the Old West. Firmly supporting the pieces, Elba and King have ample opportunity to develop their skills and, like snipers, they never fail. These are juicy roles, and the two stars give performances that crackle with energy, a sense of devilish pleasure and, ultimately, deep heartache and tragedy. As “The Harder They Fall” heads to its conclusion, Rufus and Trudy are more complicated than they first appeared. Shading and shading prevent either character from being a note. “By design I wanted to play someone where what you learn about them is uncomfortable as you go,” Elba noted To Vanity Show in a recent interview. “I didn’t want the audience to hate him.”

Despite the remarkable work, however, few if any award experts and tipsters have seriously considered the King or the Island of Elba in the support races: the Island of Elba ranks 32nd among the candidate actors of support in the Gold Derby combined odds, while King moved to 40th place. Maybe it has something to do with the perception of “The Harder They Fall” as being more of a mainstream action film than a stark award contender, much like other Netflix 2022 Oscars offerings “The Power of the Dog ”,“ Passing ”and“ The Lost Girl. In fact, it would be easy to compile a Best Supporting Actress field just from those three films (Kirsten dunst, Ruth negga, Dakota johnson, Jesse buckley, and Dagmara Domiczyk), proof of the embarrassment of riches that the streaming platform has in its war crate this season. But King, the category winner in 2019 and a serious directorial contender last year for “One Night in Miami,” has to rank among the most beloved actresses of her generation – a performer with such broad approval that she was selected to open this year’s Oscars.

“With Regina, there is just a weight of knowledge that she brings”, former winner of the best actress Sandra bullock noted of King in an interview with Vanity Show earlier this year (the couple worked together on “Miss Congeniality 2” of All Things). “I learned pretty quickly, you come, when Regina is in the room, you let Regina have the room.” Everyone will benefit from it, even me.

Elba, meanwhile, has been on the cusp of being nominated for years – and his snub for “Beasts of No Nation” in 2016 remains one of the most puzzling of the past decade. (Elba won the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Spirit Awards although she was ignored by the academy.) Vanity Show, Elba attributed it to the fact that Netflix is ​​in the early stages of its awards season supremacy. “It was basically not part of an established system and therefore was not going to be recognized in the same way, was it? ” he said.

But that has all changed: The service has been the Oscars two years in a row – and has even landed several nominations for external contestants like “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and criticized flops like “Hillbilly Elegy” and “The Midnight Sky”. The reviews of “The Harder They Fall”, meanwhile, have been strong and it’s easily one of the most watchable contestants of the year because of its bang-bang pace and how Samuel elevates the film’s genre attributes to achieve something original and unique. (In an interview with Vanity Show, King compared the script for “Pulp Fiction” in this “The Harder They Fall”, centering black cowboys in a western, was unlike anything she had read before.)

All of this to suggest that those who sleep on both King and Elba in categories that remain wide open and seemingly without fleeing contenders should perhaps heed the West’s title message and focus on those early underdogs. After all, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

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