Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie give Oscar-worthy turns in the mostly average Mary Queen Of Scots
It will be Oscar nom #4 for Saoirse, but there are four big reasons why she won't win.
Saoirse Ronan's take on Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland and most-likely actual rightful heir to the English throne, is incredible.
Seemlessly, fluidly switching back and forth between speaking French in a spot-on French accent, to speaking English with a peerless Scottish accent, Ronan imbues her Mary with heart and passion, but also enough love and open-mindedness to ensure that she isn't completely alien to viewers.
She is, in this version of events, the hero, surrounded by men who can't imagine anything worse than a Catholic woman as their ruler. These same men constantly attempt to pitch her in a regal death-match against Margot Robbie's Queen Elizabeth I.
Prosthetics, heavy make-up, and completely uglified following a bout with "the pox", Robbie still shines through the layers to give a heart-breaking performance as a very lonely woman who has been forced to give up on things like finding love or having children, in exchange for being a ruler, a position that has consumed her completely from the inside out.
They are both fantastic in their roles, both likely to get Oscar nominations, but only nominations, unlike the make-up and costume departments, which are likely to go home with the actual trophies.
Saoirse won't win for four big reasons: Lady Gaga, Olivia Coleman, Glenn Close, and Viola Davis.
Some of these performances are for movies we've already seen (Gaga in A Star Is Born, Davis in Widows), and some have yet to arrive but are arriving on a wave of hugely positive reactions in film festivals around the world.
Either way, all of their performances are coming from actresses who haven't had Oscar talk about them lately, or ever, and if there's anything the Academy loves, it is the underdog. Poor Saoirse has been getting Oscar nominations since she was 13. She's only 24 now, and is likely to have a fourth nomination before her next birthday. Being predictably brilliant will likely work against her.
Robbie might actually have a better chance, as the Academy might reward for her going full Charlize-Theron-in-Monster for the role, plus she only has one Oscar nomination to date.
However, if anything, her category for Best Supporting Actress is likely to be even more competitive this year, with Amy Adams (Vice), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favorite), Rachel Weisz (also The Favorite), and Natalie Portman (Vox Lux) all potentially in with a shout.
Clip via Universal Pictures Ireland
The biggest thing standing against them both is that the film they're a part of... just isn't all that great.
First-time director Josie Rourke delivers a mostly-beautiful movie, one that feels very true to the time, but also one with themes that feel painfully current, but you'll swear this film bends the rules of space and time, as those 125 minutes feel like they're dragging out to twice that.
The script is by Beau Willimon, the executive producer of House Of Cards and screenwriter of Clooney-starring Ides Of March, clearly knows his way around political intrigue, but here seems unable to separate which parts of the story are vital and interesting, which are just padding to an already over-packed story, and which he should definitely not be avoiding altogether.
Towards the end of the movie, a major - MAJOR! - plot-point is brought up and brushed over within seconds, something that an entire second movie could have easily been focused solely on, but here is given a fraction of the attention that is paid to, say, Queen Elizabeth's love of a new horse.
Ronan and Robbie are usually the best parts of whatever their in, and never has that felt more obvious than in this movie.
Mary, Queen Of Scots arrives in Irish cinemas on 18 January 2019.