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Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet in Ammonite

On the surface, director Francis Lee’s new film Ammonite feels like “Oscar bait.” Not a critique. Simply a realization that the idea of casting Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in a period lesbian romance drama sends off Awards indicators for people who normally track the race on an annual basis. The movie has been making the rounds at some film festivals, though getting in front of larger audiences has been a challenge in the year 2020. But the actresses are weighing in on the film’s production, and sharing fascinating stories from the production.

There are more indicators that Ammonite is an Oscar play. Set in the 1800s, Kate Winslet plays a paleontologist who falls in love with the subdued, repressed housewife (Saoirse Ronan). There’s a love scene in the movie, and Winslet admits to EW that she specifically made sure the scene was scheduled to film on Ronan’s birthday. Here’s here reasoning for the movie:

I just wanted her to have, frankly, a great memory in her film life, regardless of how the scene played out or the movie turned out. I knew that it would be [great] just because of the experience that we would share together. I knew that it would be very equal.

That’s a deeply personal and deeply professional move made by one actress who has a lifetime of memories in her film life, knowing that she could bestow a worthy gift to a fellow actor she respects. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and one that we assume Ronan admired from her colleague.

And in an effort to make sure that everyone was as comfortable as possible in what had to be a pivotal scene for the success of Ammonite, Kate Winslet revealed that they had an all-female crew in the room during the love-scene shoot, including a boom-mic operator who was six months pregnant at the time. Winslet continued:

We were all quite focused on making sure that she had enough space because the room was quite small. I just could feel that Saoirse and I had the same ideas in terms of what we wanted to express in the scene, the emotional underpinning of the scene, the connection between these two women — which is, of course, more important than anything in any love scene. We were on the same page in terms of that.

All eyes are on Ammonite, not only because it features two outstanding lead actresses, but because it’s Neon’s Oscar play after they pushed Parasite to a win last year. Can they maintain that momentum? Or will the quiet romance get overwhelmed by the fiery political players storming the marketplace, from Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Judas and the Black Messiah? The race for Oscar’s attention officially is on.

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