One of the biggest astigmatisms to face any actor is overcoming the recognition of your most popular role. For Daniel Radcliffe, he will likely forever be Harry Potter. For Kristen Stewart, she will always be considered the Twilight girl. It is a tough break in a lot of sense, as it rarely allows for a performer to break free from these premonitions and do something different. As someone who openly defends Stewart's acting, I can only be met with skepticism. To be vague, nobody turns in their best role in a franchise film. It just too taxing. For Stewart, you need to see Adventureland, The Runaways, or The Cake Eaters to know what people see in her. Thankfully, the upcoming film from director Peter Sattler called Camp X-Ray will hopefully help to tear away the notion that she is just some lip-biting teen and that there is some depth underneath.
Much like my post that I wrote for Dear White People, I mostly write this post to help spread awareness. I attended Sundance this past January and had the privilege of seeing Camp X-Ray. While I plan to expand upon my thoughts as the release gets closer, I came out of it thoroughly impressed and was a fan. Some of my immediate thoughts was that it was one of Stewart's best performances to date and also reflected a subject that is likely going to cause controversy upon its release. Even then, from the camera work to the narrative to the performances, this is a really great film with a lot of thought provoking content. If nothing else, I am excited to finally hear people talk about it on a grander scale.
I will forewarn that I don't hold it on par with the greatness of Zero Dark Thirty. Even then, I have said enough about the film. I personally think that Stewart is great in it along with her co-star Peyman Moaddi. Going into the trailer, I was curious to see how it would be delivered, and it didn't disappoint. Without spoiling too much of the riveting third act material, it managed to get the point across, capture some intensity, and drive home the idea that this isn't your average Stewart film. If she is the only thing selling this film, then it does an effective job of making you care.
Here's the trailer:
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? For those who need more, here is the plot synopsis according to IMDb:
"A soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay befriends a man who has been imprisoned there for eight years."
It's a pretty simple film with a psychological twist. However, like every other post that I have written on this blog, there is the inevitable question: is this Oscar material? In all honesty, I thought so back in July. With it opening this October, it does fall in the sweet spot of Oscar season. I am just not sure if the controversy will drive it much like it did for Zero Dark Thirty, which even then failed to win more than half an Oscar. The film has all of the elements in place, including that it is a political film about a touchy subject, but unless the Academy is fine continuing their quest of recognizing more challenging subject matters like 12 Years a Slave, then I am a little skeptical.
In terms of performances, there is an off chance that Stewart could get a Best Actress nomination. Her performance is definitely gripping and surprising. However, the year is too early and there hasn't been any major hoopla over a potential front runner. We still have Interstellar, Gone Girl, and many others to potentially upset. While Stewart has appeared at the Oscars as a presenter, she hasn't quite proven herself in a way that would make Camp X-Ray a definitive success. The film also feels like it will be too much on the independent side and will barely get noticed in terms of nominations or campaigning. One can hope, but I cannot quite figure out what this year is going to look like.
However, I do recommend keeping an eye out for Camp X-Ray. I am personally excited to revisit it eventually and see if it holds up. Otherwise, it is one of my favorites for 2014 and has a lot of strong qualities to it. If nothing else, it reminds me why Stewart is a great actress in smaller material than bigger ones.
Is Camp X-Ray going to be Oscar material? Is Kristen Stewart ever going to get nominated for an Oscar? Will the potential controversy help or disrupt the film's success?