Australian star Margot Robbie has rocketed into possible Oscars contention for the second year running – ironically for the most critically-panned role of her career.
On Wednesday (US time) Robbie landed a surprise Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for her turn as Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots, despite the historic drama and her performance being hammered by critics.
But other Australian stars including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Toni Collette may have seen their Oscars hopes fizzle after being left off SAGs lists.
Robbie’s inclusion in the list – one of the last major opportunities for stars to court voters before the Academy Awards nominations are announced on January 22 – was queried by entertainment publications.
People magazine called it a “shocker”, saying until now Robbie’s role “hasn’t received any awards love”.
Eyebrows were raised on mainstream and social media that Robbie’s co-star Saoirse Ronan, who plays Mary Stuart, drew rave reviews from critics but no nominations.
Hollywood site Gold Derby, which looks at betting odds for movie awards, said the Australian’s nod ahead of the highly-fancied Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) was the most “unexpected” of the SAGs.
Because her turn as Queen Elizabeth hadn’t shown up in major categories at the Golden Globes or Critics’ Choice awards, “we had all but written it off,” said Gold Derby.
It added that King was tipped to win at both the SAG Awards and the Oscars. Now, Robbie, who was an Academy frontrunner in 2018 for I, Tonya, may be a “surprise contender” for a second Oscar nomination.
Robbie’s rivals for outstanding performance by an actress in a supporting role are Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Amy Adams (Vice), and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, both for The Favourite.
During her career Robbie has regularly been a critics’ darling, but faced harsh treatment when reviews for Mary Queen of Scots – which opens in Australia on January 17 – came out in the US and Europe.
The Gold Coast native, 28, was pilloried for her “frightful” makeup, accent and for apparently being too beautiful to play the 16th century monarch.
The New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski panned Robbie as “the stodgiest Elizabeth ever filmed” and “wildly miscast”.
He said she “constantly whines … and tears up” about the trauma of her smallpox scars: “Coming from a real-life bombshell, it’s all a bit rich.”
The UK Guardian’s Benjamin Lee was another who found Robbie a royal flop, calling her the film’s “biggest stumble”.
While giving the film a solid four stars, he said Robbie is “a glaring miscast” who “never really convinces with the accent or the appearance”.
Audiences, he said, “almost feel her focusing on both so much that she forget to add much else to the role”.
The Observer hedged its bets, calling Robbie and co-star Ronan, “vibrant” then saying the Australian looks “like a Halloween zombie” in the role.
Robbie may have been expecting a rollercoaster ride, telling the BBC she had to be convinced she could play the role.
“To begin with I said … I’m not the right actress for this,” she said of a conversation she had with director Josie Rourke about her misgivings.
“I don’t have a degree, I didn’t do theatre, I’m not classically trained. I’m the wrong kind of actress to play a queen.”
Robbie’s nomination wasn’t the only surprise thrown up by Mary Queen of Scots.
After The Seattle Times came down heavy on “the wince-inducing meticulousness of Robbie’s post-pox makeup”, the movie was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for best hair and makeup.
— Mary Queen of Scots (@MaryQueenMovie) December 10, 2018
Other Australians didn’t have Robbie’s luck. Kidman was snubbed in the best actress category for Destroyer and supporting actress for Boy Erased.
Jackman was a non-starter in the best actor race for his turn in The Front Runner and Collette missed out with her lead role in horror flick Hereditary.
The biggest winner of the SAG nominations? A Star is Born, which landed nods for director Bradley Cooper (best male actor), Lady Gaga (best female actor), Sam Elliott (best supporting male actor) and best ensemble.