For this Awards Season we’re looking back at the films, the actors and the directors who should have been a contender for the Oscars. Here’s Morgan Roberts’ piece on why Rebecca Hall should have been nominated for “Christine”.
By Morgan Roberts
She sits at the table.Commanding the conversation. She asks the tough questions. Direct. Unfazed. Then we see her, alone. Practicing what she would say if she was interviewing then-President Richard Nixon. She is a television reporter full of darkness and dreams. This is how Rebecca Hall introduces you to her character Christine Chubbuck in the 2016 film, “Christine.”
The film, much like Hall’s performance, is nuanced. It is a slow-burn you cannot help but look directly at the flame. The film hinges upon Hall’s performance, her transformation and her unwavering authenticity. It is “Christine” which should have earned Hall an Oscar nomination, and dare I say, a win.
Hall is a dynamic performer. It is in her genes. The daughter of an opera singer and renowned English stage director, Hall was destined to command any forum. You may recognize her as practical and logical Vicky in 2008’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” or from her time starring opposite Ben Affleck in the Boston-mob thriller “The Town” (2010). Or you may know her from her work in Angela Robinson’s “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” (2017) as the dynamic Elizabeth Marsten.
The film, much like Hall’s performance, is nuanced. It is a slow-burn you cannot help but look directly at the flame. The film hinges upon Hall’s performance, her transformation and her unwavering authenticity.
However, it is her work in “Christine” that should have made her an Oscar contender. Christine Chubbuck was a real-life news reporter in Sarasota, Florida. She was a troubled woman. She physically suffered from pain. Emotionally, she had to deal with isolation from her peers, and being dismissed by her boss. She was creative, interested in human pieces. But in the mid-70s, the news mentality was, “If it bleeds it leads.”
I cannot give away too much of the plot. The less you know, the better. But I will say, that Chubbuck falls victim to the mentality above – as a fair and necessary warning. Hall does amazing work with this complex and easily dismissed person. She gives Chubbuck an air of confidence muddled with insecurity in several pivotal scenes. There is an authenticity to her portrayal. It is earnest, caring, and understanding. Something Chubbuck desperately needed.
“Christine” is not just a snapshot in time. It is also about mental health. It is hard to adequately and honestly portray mental health in film. Conditions are frequently reduced to caricatures. Hall does not let Chubbuck enter that pitfall. She gives Chubbuck a humanity the reporter was attempting to capture in all of her subjects.
I remember the first time I saw this film. The feeling that sank in my gut as the credits rolled. “Christine” relies completely on Hall and she delivers frame after frame. It is a shame that it was so severely overlooked when it was truly one of the best performances of the last decade. Hall was haunting, heartbreaking, steadfast, and captivating.