Last Oscar season, it was all about Jennifer Lawrence being adorable and frank and awesome. Well, it's a new dawn and a new day, and Emma Thompson is going to be this year's awards-season best friend.
Thompson has been fabulous for a long time, but as she campaigns for Saving Mr. Banks, she just seems to be going all out. Take, for instance, her all-singing, all-dancing appearance on Jimmy Fallon last night. First, she broke it down when she entered.
Then she, led the entire studio audience in a "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" singalong.
Singing has been part of Thompson's charm offensive since she began promoting the movie. The tale of the making of Mary Poppins, in which Thompson plays the character's creator P.L. Travers, does, after all, offer up a perfect opportunity. You have to be hard-hearted to not love a Sherman brothers tune and all the better if Thompson is the one who is singing it. Writing for Vulture, Kyle Buchanan described Thompson's pipes at a Saving Mr. Banks event in November:
Emma Thompson, in particular, was a standout: Her rendition of "A Spoonful of Sugar" was so on point and Broadway-perfect that she could easily handle a Julie Andrew biopic next, assuming she wants to run the table when it comes to Mary Poppins creatives.
She even got Sean Penn singing along.
But lest you think Thompson is all sweetness and songs, part of the reason she makes for such great imaginary best friend material is that she also has a wonderfully bawdy sense of humor and a no bullshit attitude towards Hollywood's treatment of women. She revealed in a talk with Variety how there was a period when she was being offered roles for women far older than she was. During The Hollywood Reporter's actress roundtable—usually fairly buttoned-up affairs—Thompson discussed roles she would not do:
Well, apart from the muff shot and things like that -- but let's not go there (laughter) -- there was a patch of time when I was in my 30s and just started [being offered] a whole string of roles that basically involved saying to a man, "Please don't go and do that brave thing. Don't! No, no, no, no, no!" That's a trope, the stock woman who says, "Don't do the brave thing." I said no to all of them. I'm so proud.
She later discussed tongue kissing Meryl Streep.
Meanwhile, in an interview in Parade she was asked why her films deal with love. (Never forget her Love Actually scene.) She said: "Partly because it’s one of the major areas in which women are allowed to take part. It’s not as if I’ve got the same kind of choices as Brad Pitt in filmmaking. But also because love is the only thing that matters. Not just romantic love…there’s affection, Eros, family love…it’s exactly what we’re designed to do." That's gracious, but also some real talk about the state of things for women in cinema. Then, in the same interview, she quipped about the perm she wore to play Travers: "It was a nightmare! People would bleat in the streets as I went by. I didn’t have sex for six months!"
We end up seeing a lot of the actors and actresses who get nominated for the Oscars. It's a long season with a lot of publicity opportunities. It's the rare actress who can make it out of such a campaign with their sparkling likeability intact. Jennifer Lawrence rode that all the way to an Oscar last year. As this year's most charming (potential) Oscar nominee, maybe Ms. Thompson has a shot at avoiding the backlash.