Kristen Stewart is now an Oscar-nominated actor. On Tuesday, the star landed an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her spot-on portrayal of Princess Diana in Pablo Larrain‘s Spencer, a jazzy tone poem about the late royal. The nod also reportedly makes Stewart, along with West Side Story nominee Ariana DeBose, one of the first openly queer actors to be nominated in a major acting category since Ian McKellen was nominated for Lord of the Rings in 2002. Stewart’s nomination, however, was the sole bright spot for Spencer, which was snubbed by the Academy in every other way.
Stewart was nominated in the best-actress category alongside Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman, and Olivia Colman. Some of those nominees were expected, like Kidman and Colman, both previous Oscar winners, while others, like Cruz, gained steam in recent weeks. Stewart, however, has long been the front-runner in the category. The role was a true transformation from the César-winning actor, who learned how to mimic Diana’s posh British accent and mannerisms, delivering a haunting, layered performance as the late royal. She’s also been playing the Oscar game, making appearances on the awards circuit at festivals, screenings, and luncheons. Shaking hands, kissing babies! The film’s path has also been guided by its distributor, Neon, which recently led parasite to Oscar glory in 2020.
However, the Academy singled Stewart out as the lone bright spot in Spencer‘s campaign. Despite the film earning critical acclaim ever since its debut at the Venice Film Festival, it seems Academy voters just didn’t care for it as much as critics did. Larrain’s movie, which is less a biopic and more a feeling, has been fairly divisive thanks to its loose, horror-inflected rendering of three miserable days in Diana’s life. Though he managed to sway Oscar voters in 2017 with jackie, his similarly contained portrait of Jackie Kennedy starring Natalie Portman, Spencer seems to have been too experimental for the Oscar set.
It perhaps didn’t help that some of Diana’s real-life friends have publicly taken umbrage with the film’s poetic license, a knock against Larraín and screenwriter Steven Knight. On Oscar nomination morning, the film was snubbed in virtually every other major category, including best director, best screenplay, and best picture.
Stewart’s campaign, however, has paid off. Ever since the film’s Venice debut, she’s continued to pick up accolades, including several critics group awards, festival awards, and a Golden Globe nomination. (Though the influence of the Globes–in any year, but especially this year—must be taken with a grain of salt.) However, she was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild in January, a surprising omission that suggested potential trouble ahead. The Oscar nominations announcement on Tuesday, however, sealed the deal, confirming the Academy was just as taken with Stewart’s performance as everybody else was.
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— Cover Story: Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Her Excitement for the Future
— Who Torched the Pornhub Palace?
— A Hot Dog and a Movie: Betty White’s Historic Week at SNL
— Dave Chappelle and “the Black Ass Lie” That Keeps Us Down
— Justice for Steve: And Just Like That… Writers Explain His Bummer Story Line
— cheer Season Two: Here’s How Jerry Harris’s Criminal Case Was Handled
— How The Lost Daughter Defies Centuries or Stereotypes of Motherhood
— Jordan Klepper Almost Saved Someone From Donald Trump’s Cult
— To Sidney Poitier, With Love
— Dakota Johnson and Andrew Garfield on the The Social Network
— From the Archive: The Lost History of LA’s Hollywood Studio Club
— Sign up for the “HWD Daily” newsletter for must-read industry and awards coverage—plus a special weekly edition of “Awards Insider.”