Sauve. Debonair. Perhaps a little rough around the edges (“too street,” maybe?) but in like, a really cool way. Idris Elba is all of these things. What Idris Elba is not, however, is an Oscar winner. At least not yet. But we’re calling it — things are about to change.
James Bond or no James Bond (seriously, it’s practically mandatory to bring up Elba’s name when it comes to any casting speculation ever), the star has been shaking and stirring his resume with a slate of other amazing projects, including a fourth season of his BBC series Luther and the upcoming big screen flick Beasts of No Nation.
Being the film-loving, Idris Elba-shipping fans we are, we recently attended the Canadian premiere of Beasts of No Nation and we have to say, we were pretty impressed. The film revolves around a young boy whose family and village are torn apart during an African war. He then goes on the run, where he’s saved by “The Commandant,” a.k.a. the leader of a rebel army, who turns him into a child solider.
It’s dark and often depressing, but it’s also a hard look at the brutalities of war, and tells a very important story. At its heart is Abraham Attah as leading character Agu (he’s already been winning awards on the film festival circuit for the role), but Elba is the real reason we’re still feeling chills. Here are just some reasons why we think this could finally lead to some Oscar recognition for the actor.
1. He’s bone-chilling
Sure, Kevin Bacon, Christopher Walken, Kevin Spacey and William Dafoe are known to be the great actors who totally convince us with creepy-as-all-heck roles. Well we’re telling you, after this role, Idris Elba will reign among them. Without giving anything away, we just want you to picture a dangerous warlord who isn’t afraid to die, but is also able to convince everyone around him to do his bidding. That’s just the tip of what Elba is doing here.
2. The story matter sticks with you
War movies are hard to take, but war movies involving children? That’s a whole new level. That also means viewers will walk out of that theatre with a heavy heart, thinking about the emotional impact Elba and Attah had upon them. And that always bodes well with the Academy Award voters.
3. He’s really not a likeable dude
BEASTS OF NO NATION is incredible filmmaking. Brutal, brutal story. Idris Elba proves he’s one of the best actors working today. #TIFF15
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) September 16, 2015
At all. And that works in his favour the whole time. How many Oscars have been doled out to actors who played likeable roles? Unless you’re Tom Hanks, the odds are you won that award for playing a pretty unlikable dude. And that’s exactly what Elba is doing here. Seriously, at least Stringer Bell had a soft side to him.
4. That accent
A common refrain about Idris Elba’s thick English accent is that it can be a little… baritone. And while that might not do it for the ladies in a role like Luther, it’s pretty darned effective here, with an African spin. It actually makes him even scarier, if you ask us.
5. He’s surrounded by good people
Again, we call attention to child actor Abraham Attah. Every single scene these two are in together rips at our heartstrings. Just when you think that maybe, just maybe, the Commandant has a shred of decency and has taken this kid in as his own, everything you know is turned upside down.
6. Two words: Cary Fukunaga
— Indiewire (@indiewire) September 14, 2015
The famed director got all of the credit for the first season of HBO’s True Detective being so amazing, and his absence from the second season was also credited as a reason why the follow-up wasn’t nearly as impressive. With that in mind, Academy Award voters have been watching the director’s career choices pretty carefully since then. Given the fact that this is one of his follow-up projects, it’s going to get that extra bit of attention.
7. He’s in the press
Always Keep Smiling!! It takes no energy and never hurts! Learned that from the Street!! 😏 #septemberstillloveyou A photo posted by Idris Elba (@idriselba) on
Fans may have rushed to Elba’s defence when James Bond writer Anthony Horowitz said the actor was “too street” to play Bond. But really, Elba couldn’t have asked for better press. Even with the issue now buried (mostly thanks to Elba’s amazing Instagram response, above), Academy votes love them a good underdog story. And we think this is it.
Beasts of No Nation hits theatres Friday, Oct. 16.