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Handicapping Sacramento’s Dueling Leading Ladies

Who’s got the edge: Jessica Chastain or Greta Gerwig?

Jessica Chastain (left) and Greta Gerwig.


Two of Sacramento’s favorite daughters play politics this month in a pair of new films. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) is a win-at-all-costs lobbyist pushing for gun control in Miss Sloane (opening nationwide December 9), while Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), the pride of River Park, plays an aide to Jackie Kennedy in the days following JFK’s assassination in Jackie (opens December 2). Can you—and should you—love them both? Yes. But only one can carry the mantle as the pride of the 916.

Oscar Chances
With early-December release dates, both films are set up for maximum awards-season exposure. Jackie is the kind of big-budget biopic the Academy tends to reward, but much of that attention will rightly focus on Natalie Portman in the titular role. Miss Sloane may seem more popcorn thriller than Oscar bait, but it has Academy Award bona fides, too: It’s directed by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden. Plus, Chastain, who’s been nominated twice, seems destined to bag a Best Actress award sooner or later. Edge: Chastain

Hometown Pride
Although they’ve each decamped for greener—like, money greener—pastures, both continue to rep their city in interviews. But extra points go to Gerwig, who’s been shooting parts of her directorial debut, Lady Bird, in Sacramento, where it’s set. Edge: Gerwig

Sneak Peeks
Bay Area audiences have had chances to get an early look at both films: Jackie was included in the Mill Valley Film Festival in October, while Miss Sloane had its U.S. premiere at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November. Edge: Tie

Staying Power
For a certain Noah Baumbach–loving kind of moviegoer, Gerwig can rightly claim a spot as the mumblecore indie queen of her generation. But c’mon: Chastain’s an honest-to-God box office draw. Oscars or no, Chastain’s already an A-lister. Edge: Chastain

Step aside, Anne Gust. Jessica Chastain is Sacramento’s leading lady.


Originally published in the December issue of San Francisco 

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