Andrew Scott sees dead people, but he could also see an Oscar nomination come his way with his heartbreaking and tenderly emotional turn as a gay screenwriter in Andrew Haigh’s drama “All of Us Strangers.”
Loosely based on Taichi Yamada’s 1987 novel “Strangers,” the film follows screenwriter Adam (Scott), who, after an encounter with his neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal), is mysteriously pulled back into his childhood home, where it appears his long-dead parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) are actually alive — and haven’t aged in 30 years.
Emmy nominee Scott (guest drama actor in 2020 for “Black Mirror”) has been seamlessly maneuvering back and forth between film and television, notably garnering massive attention for his “hot priest” role on “Fleabag.” He absorbs the underlying pain of losing parents, while also grappling with the lingering question of whether they would approve of you or not. It may sound like a broken record if you happened to read my tribute to Ron Cephas Jones, but being less than two years after my father’s passing, the movie connected with me deeply, especially considering what Scott brings to his role. The Actors Branch will have plenty to mull this season, and he will surely be in the conversation.
Mescal was a breakout in the Hulu limited series “Normal People” in 2020, and since, his star has continued to rise substantially with roles in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” (2021) and Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun” (2022) which garnered him his first Oscar nom for best actor. It might be a strange comparison, but I was reminded of Kate Hudson’s Oscar-nominated performance in “Almost Famous” (2000). Mescal feels like a reinvented version of manic pixie dream guy. “Strangers” is one of two potential vehicles that will put Mescal on the awards circuit, along with Garth Davis’ “Foe,” in which he stars opposite Saoirse Ronan, which will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.
Bell and Foy have flirted with potential Oscar noms on multiple occasions. For Bell, it began with his BAFTA-winning turn as “Billy Elliot” (2000) when he was just 14 years old, before he took on acclaimed roles such as “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” (2017). As Adam’s father, he has one vital scene that will put the tear ducts into overdrive, encompassing the British actor’s best acting in years.
Foy has experienced the same phenomenon as other performers such as Emily Blunt; often looking like a “sure thing” early in an awards season before eventually missing out on recognition. Most notable examples include “First Man” (2018) and “Women Talking” (2022). With the trickiest role of the foursome, she shows why she’s one of our most dependable and talented performers, worthy of an awards moment in the near future.
Writer and director Haigh has developed a passionate following with the indie community and cinephiles with acclaimed movies such as “Weekend” (2011), “45 Years” (2015) and the HBO queer television series “Looking.”
Pending a successful awards campaign execution by Searchlight, a run for one of the spots in adapted screenplay is attainable. Do the more conservative Academy members have any trouble embracing frank depictions of gay sex and romance? Hopefully not, as they would be missing out on a subtle and moving film. Beautifully shot by Jamie D. Ramsay, the purple hues and soft camera movements could capture the eye of the DPs in the branch.
Already a hit with critics, the queer ghost drama will now need to appeal to Academy voters to make a showing at the Oscars.