As the awards race begins to take shape, one massive wild card remains: “Babylon.”
Damien Chazelle’s sprawling Old Hollywood epic has all the makings of an Oscar darling, but without any festival screenings, the content and quality of the film largely remain a mystery. Still, the A-list cast featuring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, as well as Chazelle’s proven ability to tell stories about Hollywood, make it a formidable contender.
At least, its cast certainly thinks so. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Eric Roberts gushed over Robbie’s performance, comparing it to Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis’ landmark performances in Mike Nichols’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” And even though it’s early in the Oscar race, Roberts is already predicting that Robbie will walk away with the Best Actress trophy.
“I don’t watch myself anymore, because I’ve seen everything I do,” Roberts said. “But Damien Chazelle’s movie, I have watched that. I will also tell you that Margot Robbie is going to win an Academy Award for that. She gives the most incredible performance in ‘Babylon’ that I have ever seen. The two incredible actresses in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ gave perfect performances, and it’s on that level. She blew me away. I couldn’t believe how brilliant every minute of every day she was. ”
While Roberts had high praise for Robbie’s performance, the film’s massive cast means she won’t be left to carry the movie on her shoulders. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Chazelle spoke about the ensemble nature of the film and the challenges that came with balancing a large cast.
“‘Babylon’ was the biggest cast, the biggest number of roles I’ve ever juggled by far,” he said. “The casting process took a long, long time. It’s a mostly fictional film where the characters are fictional, but inspired by composites of real-life people. Writing them I was getting inspiration from a lot of those real-life sources, but pretty quickly you move to the casting phase and you’re just looking for people to surprise you. That was the guiding principle, to demolish all preconceived notions of that era, those people, and find actors who would convey that spirit.”