Although both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have worked tirelessly to establish themselves in the indie and arthouse scene post-Twilight, and both have garnered widespread critical recognition for their work there, mainstream audiences haven’t been so kind to either actor. Pattinson, ironically, had to take a major superhero franchise role before people were finally willing to accept that he’s matured as an actor. And while Stewart certainly isn’t struggling to find work, she deserves – and is consistently denied – the same generosity that people showed to Pattinson when he was cast as Batman.
But if any non-franchise role can be considered equivalent to Batman, it would be Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Decades after her death, she is still just as widely-adored by the public as she was in her lifetime, and any piece of media that deals with her story inevitably becomes the subject of online chatter, heated debate, and intense scrutiny. So when Spencer was announced, and Kristen Stewart was cast in the titular role, that should have been Stewart’s Batman moment. And…it wasn’t. A lot of people dismissed her out of hand because they only know her from Twilight.
Today, a very brief teaser trailer for Spencer was released. It could arguably have done more to showcase Stewart herself, and the work she’s clearly putting into capturing all the facets of Princess Diana, but it got people talking. And for once, they actually had something nice to say about Kristen Stewart. That could just be the Princess Diana love talking, but it seems to me that general audiences – or at least social media – has caught wind of what many Hollywood insiders have recently started reporting: that with Spencer, Kristen Stewart is well on her way towards her very first Academy Award. And just like that, all her haters are suddenly real quiet.
I mean, Spencer looks like classic awards season fare. The dreamy cinematography and faded color palette give it the look of an old family photo-album; a perfect aesthetic to capture for a film that deals with the breakdown of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ marriage in the early 1990’s, and their eventual separation. It comes from Pablo Lerraín, who previously directed the Oscar-nominated biopic Jackie about Jacqueline Kennedy. I think at the very least, Stewart will be nominated – just as Natalie Portman was for Jackie. But if the Academy feels that she’s waited long enough for the recognition she deserves, this could be the perfect moment for her.
Honestly, Stewart’s waited too long at this point. Although she garnered some buzz for Seberg in 2019, it’s been several years since her last serious awards season campaign with Clouds Of Sils Maria, which did earn her a number of awards nominations (the majority from regional critics associations) and several wins – including the first César Award ever presented to an American actress. Spencer is a strong comeback, especially following a few attempts at more mainstream action movies that, while unsuccessful at the box-office, did get Stewart back into the spotlight – right where she needs to be, heading into awards season. She played the long game, and it might pay off in Oscar gold.
Now obviously, we’ll need to see her performance in Spencer before we jump to conclusions – and it’s frustrating that this first teaser is more about setting the mood than it is about highlighting Stewart’s portrayal of Diana. For example, although attendees at CinemaCon who saw a longer trailer are adamant that Stewart’s Princess Diana accent is spot-on, it’s impossible for me to say the same when this teaser only has her speak two words. But I’m a big Kristen Stewart fan, so I’m willing to believe her accent is impeccable and her acting is incredible.
Trailer Rating: 7.9/10