Spotlight On The Stars: Zoey Deutch

Almost a year ago, I saw Buffaloed at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and was absolutely blown away. Not only is it a wonderfully smart and razor sharp satirical dramedy, it features the best turn to date by Zoey Deutch, who is quickly becoming among the most exciting actresses in the business. With the movie finally coming out this Friday, it’s a perfect excuse to unveil the first installment for 2020 of the Spotlight on the Stars series, since Deutch is well on her way to being one of the biggest in the industry. Mark my words, ladies and gentlemen, she’s shooting straight to the top of the A-list.

The film itself is the year’s best title, without question. The synopsis, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes, is as follows: “Peg Dahl (Zoey Deutch) has never run with the Buffalo pack. As a young girl obsessed with making enough cash to get out of her blue collar existence, she’s betting on her sharp mind–and even sharper mouth–to get her into an Ivy League university. But when an acceptance letter to the school of her dreams arrives, she quickly realizes the impossibility of paying tuition. One scalping scheme, stint in prison, and chance phone conversation with a debt collector later changes everything. Director Tanya Wexler returns with a raucous comedy starring Judy Greer, Jai Courtney, Jermaine Fowler and Deutch (in a go-for-broke performance) that tracks one woman finding her calling in an ethically debatable industry. As much of an ode to the city of Buffalo, New York as it is to the millions of Americans struggling with a seemingly dead-end economic existence, Buffaloed wrings hearty laughs out of a particularly timely and honest reality.” The aforementioned Tanya Wexler directs a screenplay by Brian Sacca, with cinematography by Guy Godfree and music from Matthew Margeson. Deutch leads a talented cast that includes not just the above mentioned Jai Courtney, Jermaine Fowler, and Judy Greer, but also Kate Moyer, Lorrie Odom, Noah Reid, Lusia Strus, and Paulyne Wei, among others.

Zoey Deutch is amazing in the flick. She is an absolute firebrand, not just nailing the comedy inherent in the premise, but also the anger as well. Deutch is perfectly cast, embracing the aspects of the film that resemble The Big Short as well as those that are more broadly comedic. She even manages to be an imposing force when called for. It’s not just here fullest performance to date, it’s her best. Independent titles like this are always forgotten about at the end of the year, but she deserves to be remembered when the Best Actress race heats up. In a just world, she’d be a contender for her first Academy Award nomination.

Prior to this, Deutch (the daughter of actress Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch) got her start on television, but probably first was seen by audiences on screen with an uncredited turn in The Amazing Spider-Man. Then, it was parts in Beautiful Creatures and Vampire Academy. However, her supporting role in the guilty pleasure Dirty Grandpa is where her personality, quirk, and talent was first in evidence. She upped the ante by stealing her scenes in Everybody Wants Some, while parts in Before I Fall, Rebel in the Rye, and Why Him? showed more of her range.

More recently, she had a breakthrough with the under-seen but captivating Flower, where she absolutely blew me away. There’s also been small parts in The Disaster Artist and The Professor, as well as a strong turn in The Year of Spectacular Men. However, it’s been this year’s Zombieland: Double Tap, but especially 2018’s Netflix romantic comedy Set It Up that really introduced her to audiences as a comic gem. She’s building on that in Buffaloed, but the last few years have seen her star begin to really shine.

Going forward, Deutch is going to just become a bigger and bigger star. She’s going to be an Oscar nominee one day, that’s for sure. As we often say here, it’s a question of when, not if. She’s simply too talented not to eventually be cited by the Academy. Give a shot to Buffaloed for ample evidence of her talents, but stay tuned for whatever she chooses to do next. Anything Deutch does is worth keeping an eye on…

Be sure to check out Buffaloed, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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