Was 2014 the Most Significant Breakthrough Year for Emma Stone? Oscar Chances for ‘Birdman’

Was 2014 the Most Significant Breakthrough Year for Emma Stone? Oscar Chances for ‘Birdman’

By -Greg Brian- Nov 13, 2014 02:24 PM
Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

You might say that the thought of Emma Stone having a breakthrough in her career is a bit of a stretch when she’s already had several breakthrough roles since her acting career started seven years ago. While she was instantly memorable in her first movie (Superbad), some may not have paid that much attention to her until Easy A or even The Help for those older. In the beginning of her career, there might even be a few who thought she’d just be a Lindsay Lohan look-alike considering they both resembled one another back in the stone age of the late 2000s. Since then, Emma Stone has easily outshined Lohan in talent and intelligence.

Even though we can’t say Lohan still doesn’t have a possibly revivable acting career, Stone has finally had a breakthrough year this year that Lohan probably could have had a long time ago. The reason I say Stone had such a huge year this year is in the diversity of things she’s done recently to show her range. It’s only in comparison to last year where she was involved in only three projects, one of which was a bomb (Movie 43). That’s also in comparison to 2012 when The Amazing Spider-Man reboot proved its worth with her participation.

But the above film was the only film she made in 2012, which I could see was slightly limiting. It’s frustrating when you see an actress (or actor) you know could do so much more getting stuck in the superhero franchises. Despite those films making gobs of money and bringing a larger fanbase, Gwen Stacy is a far cry away in complexity from Stone’s character Sam Thomson in Birdman.

If there’s one lone project this year that kicked off her acting career to being an Oscar potential, it’s the above film. Her performance as the daughter of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson shows Stone’s ability to get into the inner core of a character and ably demonstrate their intensity. Her Sam may be the most memorable angst-ridden 20-something character done in at least a decade. And it should easily open a place for her to be at least nominated for Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards.

The above may be considered more of a wild card than anything, yet Stone’s association with Birdman alone will assure she’ll be at the Oscar ceremony. No doubt the film will be nominated for best picture as just starters. Plus, it seems inevitable it’s going to be a darling of Oscar voters considering it’s a movie about the hollowness of the film industry while celebrating it at the same time.

You could even consider the plot trajectory of Birdman to be close to Emma Stone’s own career trajectory this year. Some strange ironic parallels are there when you realize she went from a massive superhero franchise to wanting to do something significant on the Broadway stage as Riggan Thomson does. Yes, her debut as Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway at the time of this writing is also a turning point in her career that could ultimately swing back to the big screen.

However, we have to back up this year and show another side of her that we hadn’t seen before. It’s one of using her aplomb to fit in perfectly with period pieces, particularly Woody Allen’s bubbly view of the 1930s and ‘40s he’s frequently celebrated. In Magic in the Moonlight, Stone became Allen’s new female superstar thanks to her exuding more charm in that film than any actress has recently in a modern romantic comedy. Even though some bristled at the May-December romantic plot (in connection to accusations against Allen), she couldn’t have been more perfect in the role of a 1930s-era psychic. It was likely cathartic to do something on the other end of the spectrum from Gwen Stacy.

Regardless, she kicked off this year playing Gwen Stay again in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. She also made the character more complex while having a chance to escape the character in the future with Gwen’s death. Then again, with the comic book editions reviving Gwen in a variety of ridiculous ways, it may not be over for Stone playing the character.

In the meantime, she’s going to be in a Cameron Crowe project next, plus another Woody Allen movie. Both of those seem better fits for her in showing more dramatic chops and intelligent wit needed to make Allen’s characters shine on a movie theater screen. With her foray into Broadway’s Cabaret, she also sets herself up for possibly doing a movie musical adaptation/remake down the road. It’s been 42 years since the initial Cabaret adaptation was filmed, so it’s overdue for a reboot based on the Broadway revival costumes and set pieces. Stone as Sally Bowles seems like a no-brainer, unless Michelle Williams beats her out.

All told, you can tell Stone has a complete command of her acting craft and her life. Using Lindsay Lohan in comparison, we finally see there’s definitely a positive trajectory still achievable with the world’s new generation of acting talent.


Tags: Birdman, Superbad, Easy A, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Magic in the Moonlight, Cabaret, Emma Stone, Michael Keaton, Woody Allen, Cameron Crowe, Lindsay Lohan
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