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The Lost Daughter, Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s directorial debut, looks likely to bring acting Oscar noms to one, two or maybe even three other actresses for their work in Gyllenhaal’s dark drama about the struggles of some women to hold on to their identity, and sometimes even sanity, after having children: certainly Olivia Colman, who plays Leda, a British professor vacationing alone in Greece, and perhaps also Jessie Buckley, who plays the same woman roughly 20 years earlier when she was raising her two daughters, and Dakota Johnson, who plays a young mother who Colman’s Leda meets on a beach.
Adapted by Gyllenhaal from Elena Ferrante‘s 2006 novel of the same name, this uncommon depiction of motherhood is surely not for everyone — indeed, it would have been the worst nightmare of Louis B. Mayer and the other moguls of Hollywood’s Golden Age, to whom mothers were almost uniformly saints.
But members of today’s Academy’s acting branch, as much as anyone, are likely to respect the highwire act performed by the Brit and Irishwoman who portray the protagonist. The character is not particularly “likable,” and her motives are not always clear (particularly with regard to a certain doll, which could just as easily be a MacGuffin as Rosebud). But because of the skill of the performers, one still empathizes with her and is engaged every step of the way.
For Colman, who will surely be campaigned in the lead actress category, this could mean a third Oscar nom in four years — a remarkable and rarely-equaled run. And it could mean the first nom for Buckley and Johnson, who would be pushed as supporting actresses.
The Lost Daughter, which Netflix only recently acquired, will be released in select theaters on Dec. 17 and on the streaming service on Dec. 31.
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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures