Suicide Squad, starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, was not a 2016 movie well known for its critical reception. But many were surprised to see it take home the Critics’ Choice award for Best Actress in an Action Movie, nonetheless.
That actress, of course, was Margot Robbie, who for some critics was a bright spot in a movie they might have overall disliked (generally speaking). In fact, just going through many of the negative reviews for the film, you’ll find little less than muted praise for the character, if anything at all.
It seems that when compared with the other action movie actresses nominated, Margot Robbie’s outlandish performance as Joker’s psychologist turned demented lover was a clear standout, and as someone who wasn’t the biggest fan of the overall movie, I can certainly understand why.
Still, that hasn’t stopped a lot of people, even fans of the DCEU, from calling this out as inconsistent and undeserving for Robbie, perhaps because they don’t think Suicide Squad deserves any sort of positive recognition. Or perhaps because they didn’t care for the movie’s handling of Harley Quinn and Joker.
Of course, I have to disagree, and while this is a subjective topic, we can definitely address some compelling reasons for why Robbie deserves this award, starting with what should be the obvious:
#1 The Competition
A total of five actresses were nominated for Best Actress in an Action Movie (Viola Davis took home Best Actress for her performance in Fences). Gal Gadot for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Scarlett Johansson for Captain: America: Civil War, Tilda Swinton for Doctor Strange, and of course, you-know-who.
Looking at that list, it makes perfect sense why critics gravitated toward Robbie. While Gal Gadot certainly had her moments as Wonder Woman, she wasn’t nearly as crucial to the story of that movie. Often, these awards are meant to shine a light on how a particular actor or actress essentially elevated their film in a way that many other in the industry simply couldn’t. And in Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman wasn’t even much of a supporting actress when taking Amy Adams into account.
The same definitely goes for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One, who were both great characters to watch, but nothing quite that remarkable. Johansson especially brought very little to a role she’s played for six years now, and she was likely nominated merely out of respect for her other work over the years.
Swinton, on the other hand, was probably Robbie’s biggest competition. She did a great job as the Ancient One, and her action scenes were some of the best in the entire film, but her chances were likely hurt by the movie’s whitewashing controversy, and put up against Robbie’s strikingly close portrayal of Harley Quinn, this is an adaptation from the comics that just doesn’t quite reach that same level of effort to capture the spirit of the source material, while still bringing something new to the role.
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