By now, if you are reading this, it’s likely that you saw Pieces of a Woman on Netflix. The movie stars Vanessa Kirby in an emotionally-wrecking role about a woman who loses her baby. Critics have been talking about how the film features Oscar material performances since it premiered in September. Kirby may even have a Best Actress nod coming her way. Unfortunately, far too many headlines about the movie have been related to Shia LaBeouf's recent problems, and that's a shame given how incredible she is.
It all started back in December, just ahead of the release of Pieces Of A Woman. LaBeouf’s ex partner FKA Twigs dropped a lawsuit, and given the seriousness of the allegations, the coverage was everywhere. That suit claimed the actor had bragged about killing stray dogs to prep for a role and had allegedly choked her at another point, among a lengthy list of other accusations. Just a few scant weeks later, Pieces of a Woman premiered on Netflix.
Along with Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf stars in Pieces of a Woman as Kirby’s character Martha’s partner, Sean. in the lead up to the general public release of Pieces of a Woman, people were talking about both actors’ powerhouse performances. LaBeouf, along with Kirby, was a part of Netflix’s “For Your Consideration” campaign ahead of awards season. There was great hope one or both would be nominated; however, after the allegations of LaBeouf's abusive personal life behavior came to light, the actor was quietly scrubbed from all of those campaigns, though people noticed the change.
Meanwhile, on the press tour for Pieces of a Woman both Vanessa Kirby and the director of the film Kornél Mundruczó were asked about the Shia LaBeouf allegations. His co-star Ellen Burstyn said he was always “professional” on set, though Mundruczo did say the allegations were “serious and hard to read.” For her own part, Vanessa Kirby also clarified her stance in a statement ahead of the movie’s wide release, noting to the Independent:
I stand with all survivors of abuse and respect the courage of anyone who speaks their truth. Regarding the recent news, I can’t comment on an ongoing legal case.
The case is similar to what happened after allegations came out about James Franco and some of his practices on set and in his acting workshops the same year that his critical hit The Disaster Artist came out in 2018. In that case, The Disaster Artist was mostly shut out of the Oscars race, receiving only a screenplay nomination. In Shia LaBeouf’s acting history, the actor has won some awards but had previously not been nominated for an Oscar, despite earning good reviews for Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon. An Oscar nomination this year was far from guaranteed but it was within the realm of possibilities prior to the allegations against him going public.
The good news is that some people have still been paying attention to Vanessa Kirby’s powerhouse performance in the Netflix film, with reviews and fan reactions featuring descriptors including “striking,” “profoundly moving,” and “very well done,” though playing Martha certainly wasn't an easy role to take on. Here's an example of a positive reaction below...
Her performance had previously been touted as one to watch ahead of the Oscars and now that the movie is more widely available to the masses, Pieces of a Woman is still very much a part of that conversation. It's just too bad all of the conversation hasn't been about the really well done movie itself, or at least the wonderful performances of Vanessa Kirby and her co-stars. Outside of Shia LaBeouf, no one involved with the movie had anything to do with what allegedly happened, and they deserve to be recognized without caveats.
Oscar nominations will officially be out on March 15. The hope would be at the end of all of this, Pieces of A Woman will see a renewed focus, as Oscar nominees typically see interest rise after awards season noms are out. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes out. In the meantime though, what did you think of the potential awards contender?