Bulgarian actress, Maria Bakalova, 24 made her world debut in the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm this autumn. Less than two months after the release of the film, Bakalova was awarded best-supporting actress by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Indiana Film Journalists Association, the Florida Critics Circle, and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. An impressive collection of awards for a breakout star, especially from her background.
“You are changing the landscape of casting for Eastern European actors with these high recognitions” – said Bakalova after she received the awards for her hilarious performance as Tutar, Borat`s daughter. This also moves her one step closer to achieving her life-long dream of winning an Oscar.
The NYFCC Awards are the first major accolades of awards season. They have a history of recognizing comedic actresses, like Regina Hall for “Support the Girls” in 2018 and Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right” in 2010.
The awards are known for having an astonishing correlation to the Oscars. According to Variety, every film that has won the top prize from NYFCC has been nominated for an Oscar. Can Borat`s daughter earn an Oscar nomination?
Surely Bakalova`s talent won`t remain unrecognized by the Oscars committee. She came out of nowhere, became an overnight sensation, and blew our minds away. And it all began as a joke.
Bakalova didn`t really think she will get the role of Tutar. The whole secrecy around the audition made her think that it was not legit, and she sent her tape in as a joke. The actress was so far from the thought of the audition being real that she was keener to believe they will human traffic her, rather than give her a role in a movie.
“I recorded the tape at 5 a.m., after my prom at the university, and a friend of mine shot it for a joke. I was extremely scared that this was something sketchy” – said Bakalova for the Late Late Show with James Corden.
Despite her fears, Bakalova went through several auditions with more than 500 contenders for the role and amazed everyone with her talent. Up until then, she had only played in a few Bulgarian movies. Bakalova had never even done improv before and that was the whole concept of Borat. As Borat’s wild-child daughter, she had to interact with non-actors as a camera trailed her every move.
All the odds were against her and she did it anyway. She knew that such big productions rarely give leading characters to actors from her background or actors with a foreign accent. But the person who made her believe in herself and gave her the opportunity to shine on the world stage is Sacha Baron Cohen himself. He became her “biggest teacher and best friend.”
“The art that Sacha is doing is designed to make the world a better place”, said Bakalova. The mockumentary is designed to reveal ugly and unruly truths about contemporary American culture, and it is full of political outrage. Bakalova`s total commitment to the role made her character look like a real person, who gives us valuable lessons about strong women and modern-day misogyny.
One of the most shocking moments in the movie and an impressive scene is the one with Rudi Giuliani. Not many actresses can stay calm, improvise a fake interview, and seduce such a big fish.
But tricking the president’s lawyer into a private hotel room to discuss conspiracy theories about the coronavirus was the easiest part. When the movie`s most shocking scene happened, or when it appears as if Giuliani is about to pleasure himself on a hotel bed, Bakalova had to maintain her performance all the way through.
Does this make her worthy of an Oscar? IndieWire’s awards expert Anne Thompson noted in her Oscar analysis of “Borat 2” that “the slight Supporting Actress category might welcome rising comic star Bakalova.” However, Baron Cohen is certain that Bakalova deserves the nomination. “If she doesn’t win an Oscar,” the actor told talk-show host Stephen Colbert, “I don’t know what the Academy is for.”
Featured image credit: IMDB