Emily Blunt Turned her ‘Oppenheimer’ Deposition Scene Into a Master Class. In This 2014 Non-Blockbuster, She Proved She Can Do It All

I’ll admit I wasn’t fully sold on the greatness of Emily Blunt in Oppenheimer until her testimony, which comes close to the end of the three hour movie. This is not entirely her fault. As Kitty Oppenheimer, wife of J. Robert, her story invariably gets short shrift, as so many stories of wives have throughout history. With all that Oppenheimer is doing as it plumbs its title character’s scientific, political and emotional life, it sometimes feels like we check in with Kitty too infrequently as she descends into alcoholism and resentment of motherhood.

But then in the last thirty minutes, you get to that deposition scene, and Blunt turns the tables. It’s like a mic drop in the form of a series of small glances. Kitty, now a little wrinkled and hardened, faces off against Jason Clarke‘s Roger Robb in the claustrophobic room where her husband has been interrogated. Robb’s main desire is to make her admit that she and Oppie were Communists. But Kitty refuses to let herself be caught in Robb’s trap. At first she seems as if she may be crumbling under his line of questioning, and then she catches him on his syntax, effectively shutting him down. “Because I don’t like your phrase,” becomes an ice cold mantra, which she delivers with a little smirk. Blunt plays this not as the scorned wife supporting her one great love, but as a woman who has been through hell and back and knows where she stands. She tackles it with a mixture of wit and wisdom that makes you want to stand up and clap.

There are any number of Emily Blunt performances that have made me want to do the same over the years. Of course, I was first introduced to her as Emily, the snappy assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, where she rolled her black-linered eyes and delivered insults with a deadpan that could cut glass. But there’s maybe no Blunt turn more deserving of cheers than her standout, guns-forward effort in the underrated 2014 Tom Cruise action vehicle Edge of Tomorrow. (To be clear: When I say “guns-forward” I mean her arms, which are insane in this.)

Genre films never get the respect they deserve from the Academy, but Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow didn’t really get the respect it deserved from the general public, either. (In fact, it was so unappreciated that it was renamed Live Die Repeat for its home release.) Blunt plays Sergeant Rita Vrataski, known as the “Angel of Verdun” for the heroism she’s displayed in a war against an alien race called “the Mimics.” When Cruise’s military PR guy William Cage gets caught in a time loop after dying in battle, he eventually makes his way to Rita, who’s been through the same ordeal. She starts to train him as they try to figure out their way to beat their extraterrestrial enemy. Blunt is a marvel to watch in the role, a showcase for both her physical and mental muscle—turns out she’s as good with literal weapons as she is with a steely glare.

As we begin our final approach to the 2024 Oscars, we’re taking one more look back at the films and performances that blew our minds last year—and looking even further back, to spotlight earlier Oscar-worthy work from the filmographies of this year’s nominees.

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