Oscars 2019: The Case of Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story

My Case of posts for this year’s major Oscar contenders continues with my second entry in Best Actress – Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. Let’s get to it!

The Case for Scarlett Johansson

Despite acclaimed roles in films including Lost in Translation and Match Point, Johansson had yet to be nominated for an Academy Award until now. That’s a bit surprising considering she’s the highest grossing actress in box office history (thanks mostly to The Avengers pics). She not only scored her first nod, but her second in Supporting Actress for Jojo Rabbit (that post will be up shortly). Considering she also appeared in 2019’s biggest blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, it was quite an amazing year for ScarJo and voters might be obliged to reward her for it.

The Case Against Scarlett Johansson

Despite a few critics groups awards here and there, she’s come up short with major precursors. There is a front runner for this race as Renee Zellweger (Judy) is continually picking up the hardware. Marriage Story itself has fallen behind over the past couple of months as to potential wins. Only Johansson’s costar Laura Dern is looking solid for a victory based on what’s already occurred.

The Verdict

Very few performers have earned a double nomination in the same year. In fact, she’s only the eighth in 70 years plus. Four of the previous seven garnered one win of the two nods. ScarJo, however, has a tough hill to climb.

My Case of posts will continue with our second player in Supporting Actor… Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes!

Oscar Watch: Promising Young Woman

Ahead of its April 17th stateside debut, the revenge thriller Promising Young Woman has screened at Sundance. The pic marks the directorial debut of Emerald Fennell and casts Carey Mulligan in the title role alongside a supporting cast including Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Brody, Alfred Molina, Connie Britton, and Laverne Cox.

Early reviews are encouraging with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%. Some critical reaction is effusive enough to make one wonder if Mulligan could nab her second Oscar nod after 2009’s An Education. 

In order for that, Focus Features will need to launch an aggressive campaign to keep voters focused on her work in the months that follow. The Sundance buzz, at least, is somewhat promising. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Wendy

In 2012, one of the big (if not the biggest) Oscar shocker was the emergence of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild as a contender. Shot for under $2 million, the fantasy drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to a glowing audience response and critical accolades. The film would take the Grand Jury prize in Utah. It played through the festival season and maintained buzz throughout the year. The result? Four major nominations from the Academy: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis), and Adapted Screenplay.

Eight years later, Zeitlin finally has his follow-up with Wendy and it has debuted at Sundance too. A reimagining of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan tale, it is set for release by Searchlight Pictures on February 28th. With a cast of unknowns, Wendy is one of the more anticipated titles at Sundance due to Zeitlin’s previous credential.

The reaction has been mixed and definitely more so than the mostly fantastic Beasts reception. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 55%, despite some critics singing its praises. While it might have ardent admirers, I don’t see lightning twice for its director with Zeitlin’s sophomore effort. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Leonardo DiCaprio

For my second writeup in my Case of posts in the Best Actor derby at the Oscars, we come to Leonardo DiCaprio (perhaps you’ve heard of him). Here’s the storyline for and against a second trip to the podium:

The Case for Leonardo DiCaprio

Well, he’s probably the biggest movie star in the world and that helps. A six-time nominee and winner in 2015 for The Revenant, his work in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood garnered the usual raves and one heckuva meltdown scene. In a 2019 field that saw over 10 feasible contender in this race, he’s one of just three (along with Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver) to be nominated in all the higher profile precursors.

The Case Against Leonardo DiCaprio

Of the precursors, he’s lost them all to Phoenix. DiCaprio’s costar Brad Pitt has been receiving the lions share of awards love here with multiple Supporting Actor victories.

The Verdict

Had DiCaprio not recently won for The Revenant (Hollywood is his first movie since), there might be more of a path. However, the Phoenix factor and Pitt attention should leave Leo 1/6 on Oscar night.

My Case of posts will continue with the second nominated Best Actress… Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story!

January 31-February 2 Box Office Predictions

Super Bowl weekend at the box office is usually a sluggish one and this year should be no different. Two titles premiere with the Blake Lively spy thriller The Rhythm Section and Brothers Grimm horror reimagining Gretel & Hansel. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the pair here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/23/the-rhythm-section-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/23/gretel-hansel-box-office-prediction/

Let’s start with Gretel & Hansel. It’s been a rough year already for horror flicks (see The Turning below) and I don’t expect this to change that. My meager $4.4 million estimate puts it outside of the top five.

As for Rhythm, I believe it will fail to reach double digits and that probably means a third place showing behind two-week champ Bad Boys for Life and Oscar front runner 1917. In its third frame, the disappointing Dolittle should drop to fourth and I’m actually predicting a tie for fifth between holiday holdover Jumanji: The Next Level and The Gentlemen in its sophomore outing.

And with that, my top 6 forecast for a weekend where grosses should be really soft in Kansas City and San Francisco (and Miami) on Sunday:

1. Bad Boys for Life

Predicted Gross: $19.8 million

2. 1917

Predicted Gross: $11 million

3. The Rhythm Section

Predicted Gross: $8 million

4. Dolittle

Predicted Gross: $6.9 million

5. Jumanji: The Next Level

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

6. The Gentlemen 

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

Box Office Results (January 24-26)

Bad Boys for Life easily held the top spot in its second weekend with a robust $34 million, topping my $31.1 million prediction. The Will Smith/Martin Lawrence threequel has amassed $120 million in its first ten days. For context, the second Boys in 2003 took in $138 million for its whole domestic run.

1917 was second with $15.9 million, in line with my $16.4 million take. The WWI epic has crossed the century mark at $103 million at it continues to build awards momentum for the following weekend.

Dolittle was third with $12.1 million (I was right there at $12.4 million) for an underwhelming two-week tally of $44 million.

Guy Ritchie’s crime caper The Gentlemen with Matthew McConaughey had the best debut in fourth at $10.6 million, just ahead of my $9.6 million projection. That’s pretty much right in line with expectations.

Jumanji: The Next Level rounded out the top five with $7.7 million and I incorrectly had it outside the high five. Total is $283 million as the triple century mark looks achievable.

Finally, critically drubbed horror pic The Turning was sixth with a weak $6.9 million showing. I was higher at $9 million. To add insult to injury, audiences hated it as it was marked with a rare F Cinemascore grade. That’s the second this year after The Grudge.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Kathy Bates

My Case of posts on the major nominees for the Oscars brings us to our first contender for Supporting Actress – Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell. Let’s see what the verdict is for the veteran thespian:

The Case for Kathy Bates

She’s a critically acclaimed performer who’s excelled in drama, horror (earning an Emmy for TV’s American Horror Story), and comedy (she’s famously Adam Sandler’s Mama in The Waterboy). In 1990, she went from relative obscurity to winning the Best Actress Oscar for her terrifying role in the Stephen King adaptation Misery. Since then, she’s picked up two Supporting Actress nods for 1998’s Primary Colors and 2002’s About Schmidt. For her work in Clint Eastwood’s Jewell playing the title character’s mother, Bates also nabbed a Golden Globe nomination and a win from the National Board of Review.

The Case Against Kathy Bates

Even with the Globes recognition and NBR victory, she didn’t make the SAG cut. Her nomination was a bit of a surprise with most prognosticators assuming it might go to Annette Bening (The Report), Nicole Kidman (Bombshell), and especially Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. Her nomination represents the only one for Jewell, which had decent reviews but struggled mightily at the box office.

The Verdict

Considering her inclusion wasn’t totally expected, I would rank Bates 5th out of five in terms of likelihood for the win.

My Case of posts will continue with the second Best Actor hopeful… Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Oscar Watch: The Glorias

The Glorias is one of the more closely watched titles currently playing at the Sundance Film Festival. This is a biopic of feminist activist Gloria Steinem with four actresses, including Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander, portraying her at various stages of life. In that sense, it resembles 2007’s I’m Not There. That unconventional Bob Dylan tale earned Cate Blanchett a nomination. The pic comes from famed theater director Julie Taymor, whose filmography includes 2002’s Frida which nabbed Salma Hayek a Best Actress nod.

Reviews are positive. However, as with everything else screening so early in 2020, time will tell when it comes to awards prospects. If The Glorias can develop buzz throughout the year, it will be interesting to monitor which performers garner attention. Obviously you start with Moore and Vikander (who have each previously won Oscars). Yet it’s supporting player Lorraine Toussaint who is being singled out for raves over Bette Midler (who could also contend) and Janelle Monae.

Whether any of the Gloria playing thespians and beyond are still in the mix months from now remains to be seen. Sundance has opened the door of possibility. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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