Movie review: 'Bombshell' is definitely Oscar-worthy

Fred Hawson

Posted at Feb 26 2020 11:57 AM

Once upon a time, there were three women who worked for the American right-wing, conservative cable TV news channel, Fox News. Invariably, like all other women featured on camera in this channel, they were not only confident and articulate when they speak, they also generally fit a common mold -- white, blonde, beautiful and sexy. The way the network blocked them on set made sure their legs were seen on TV. 

In the 2015 presidential primary, popular newscaster Megyn Kelly confronted then-candidate Donald Trump about his misogynistic statements and acts against women. When Trump and his rabid fans turned against her, Fox got her back. When an issue about sexual harassment erupted within Fox News itself, she hesitated to take any action -- at first. However, she knew in herself that she had to make an important decision soon. 

On the other hand, Fox & Friends co-anchor Gretchen Carlson (former Miss America 1989) had fallen from the graces of her bosses and was being fired from Fox. In retaliation, Carlson accused Fox big boss Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, something she had meticulously documented over the years. She opened a can of worms which had long festered within their organization where women who dared to complain were shut up.

Meanwhile one day, a pretty, young Fox new recruit Kayla Pospisil was called into Ailes's office. Aside from talking business, she was asked to raise her skirt, among other things. Being the new girl, Kayla was pressured to keep silent about what transpired behind Ailes' locked door, on the pain of losing her precious opportunity to be an anchor. Her liberal lesbian friend Jess (Kate Mc Kinnon), could not risk her job as producer to help her.

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Charlize Theron was nominated for best actress for her apt portrayal of Kelly's quandary of professional ethics. Nicole Kidman was also remarkable in her portrayal of the bitter Carlson. In another year, she could have been a nominee as well. Since their characters were based on real life people who were still actively seen on TV, the challenge for these actresses for authenticity was formidable.

Seeing Margot Robbie's innocent Kayla in front of a lecherous Ailes was one terribly uncomfortable scene to sit through. For that scene alone, her nomination for best supporting actress was unquestionable. 

Veteran actor John Lithgow was barely recognizable as he morphed into the predator Ailes, whose physical infirmities did not curb the sexual maniac within him. 

The initial buildup of this film's premise took some time with the Trump angle, which was just an introductory issue to set the mood of the whole proceedings. However, when it got into the main story about Ailes and his sexual predator ways, then things began to get focused and riveting. 

Theron and Kidman had been transformed into Megyn and Gretchen respectively, looks-wise. This achievement in makeup and hairstyling by Kazu Hiro was rewarded with an Oscar.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."