The way Jessica Chastain burst on to the scene, it’s hard now to envision a cinematic landscape that doesn’t involve her. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars, she mixes charisma, activism, and sheer talent to be one of the most high profile A-listers in the business. Already a favorite for the Oscars, nomination wise, she’s an icon. As such, and wish a new movie on the way this weekend, it’s a perfect time to pay her some tribute. Chastain makes for a perfect spotlight subject. That’s exactly what’s going to be happening today too, so let’s get this show on the road!
Chastain began her career by having a ton of films come out almost at the same time. There was Jolene, which shot first, but then The Debt, followed by the 2011 deluge of Coriolanus, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, and The Tree of Life. That group made her instantly the next big thing, with debate over which title would score her an Academy Award nomination. Obviously, it was The Help that actually did that, though a year later she’d be in contention to win with Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain had more than arrived, she’d begun to dominate. From there, it was one top notch work after the other, including The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (plus the other two versions), Interstellar, The Martian, Miss Sloane, A Most Violent Year, and more. In a matter of a few short years, she was a mega star.
This week, Chastain stars in the biographical drama Woman Walks Ahead. As per IMDb: “Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land.” Chastain plays Weldon, who quickly goes from somewhat passive observer to activist for Native American rights over the course of the film. Alongside Chastain in the cast are the likes of Bill Camp, Michael Greyeyes, Ciarán Hinds, Louisa Krause, Sam Rockwell, and more. Susanna White is at the helm directing, while Steven Knight penned the script. It’s a Chastain vehicle though, 100%.
Considering her acclaim, it’s almost strange that she doesn’t have an Academy Award win yet. She’s got a Golden Globe win for Zero Dark Thirty, but her Oscar nods have not turned into victories yet. One of her next noms should do it though, as she’s due. It’s unusual to be seen as due this early on, but her talent can’t be denied. If she doesn’t have an Oscar on her mantle in the next five years, I’d be surprised. If the statue isn’t in her home within the decade, I’d be shocked. Voters will embrace her before long, that’s just a foregone conclusion.
Here again is a look at what I feel is her best work to date:
10. The Martian
8. Take Shelter
7. The Tree of Life
6. A Most Violent Year
5. Molly’s Game
3. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her
2. Miss Sloane
1. Zero Dark Thirty
Honorable Mentions: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, The Help, Lawless, and Texas Killing Fields
Going forward, Chastain should be a mainstay in the awards race, as she’s an A-list Hollywood presence. We mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. Two projects in particular may be baity ones for her. Playing Ingrid Bergman in the biopic Seducing Ingrid Bergman, or playing Tammy Wynette in George and Tammy, another biopic, offer her potential awards opportunities. Whether they get her gold or not remains to be seen, but her A-list status should only continue to grow as the years progress. It’ll be a pleasure to watch her continue to dominate the industry. Chastain is a singular talent, plain and simple…
Be sure to check out Chastain in Woman Walks Ahead, in theaters on a limited basis this Friday!