I’m going to level with you here—I hated The Help. Honestly, 2011 felt like one of those years where I wasn’t really thrilled with most of the nominations simply because I wasn’t impressed with most of the movies they were in. But if anyone from The Help had to win an Oscar, which I put it to you they did not, I guess better Octavia Spencer than Jessica Chastain. Don’t get me wrong—I like Jessica Chastain, but I think we could do without having the white woman win for the movie about the Civil Rights movement.
I’m actually a little surprised to discover how little she’s done that I like. (My fault for not seeing Hidden Figures yet, I suppose.) I like her quite a lot, and I honestly don’t believe The Shape of Water would work as well as it does without her—and I liked The Shape of Water, you understand. But the majority of her film career seems to be stuff I haven’t seen, stuff I didn’t like, or stuff I didn’t see because I didn’t think I’d like it. I mean, I’m really not the audience for Bad Santa 2, you know?
However, I still have long had the opinion that I quite like her and wish I could see her in more things I enjoy. (Which is why I really ought to get around to Hidden Figures, which I’m pretty sure I’d like.) I’ll freely admit I don’t really remember her from Spider-Man, but it already seems as though it’s a great role for her. I can look back on the scene, which I do remember at least vaguely, and go, “Oh, yeah, okay.” And probably I’ll rewatch the movie at some point and surprise everyone with “hey, that’s Octavia Spencer!”
For years, we of the Dissolvespora have been saying that we’d love to see her in a biopic of Harriet Tubman. There’s one coming out at some point soon, and it appears she won’t be in it. But my goodness could she excel in that or something like it. Maybe Sojourner Truth? Or, of course, there’s always the possibility of an actual fictional role written to star her that she’d be good in. She’s talented enough so that I think she can carry all sorts of movies, if she’s given a chance.
Honestly, I’d love to see her in a comedy. A genuine female-led comedy. Not a Bridesmaids-style gross-out Women Be Fighting comedy, but a genuine comedy. One with some wit and style. She might be fun in a screwball-style comedy; strangely, it’s her appearance in The Shape of Water as much as anything else that makes me think she could do it. If nothing else, no one reacts quite like she does. That much was already apparent back when she was telling Peter Parker, “May God be with you.”