After headlining the summer comic book hit Suicide Squad, Will Smith switches to drama mode in the holiday season with Collateral Beauty. Out next weekend, the pic casts the Fresh Prince as a father who loses his child and begins writing letters to events and feelings such as Love, Death, and Time. It turns out those things are embodied by real people and some of them are famous actors. Costars include Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, and Michael Pena. David Frankel, who’s had his hits (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) and misses (The Big Year anyone?), directs.
The trailers for Beauty leave no doubt that this aims to be a tearjerker appealing to an adult (and probably more female) crowd. Word of mouth could cause this to play well throughout the Christmas season. For its opening, I don’t anticipate anything higher than to low to possibly mid teens. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is opening against it and I think it’s a rather safe bet it will dominate the charts and possibly siphon away some of the females Beauty is looking to attract.
Though they are certainly not apples to apples comparisons, I could actually see this performing very similarly to last year’s Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters. That pic also opened against the Star Wars franchise (in the form of The Force Awakens) at $13.9 million and subsequently managed to perform admirably from weekend to weekend.
Collateral Beauty opening weekend prediction: $13.6 million
For my Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prediction, click here:
The saga continues in the most powerful franchise force in movie history when RogueOne: AStarWarsStory hits theaters next weekend. It’s been one year since StarWars: The ForceAwakens broke a slew of box office records when Disney took over the series, including best opening of all time and highest grossing domestic earner ever.
All seven pictures that have populated the science fiction tales have been classified as Episodes as part of an ongoing story featuring some of the most beloved and feared characters (plus Jar Jar) on the silver screen. Rogue is our first spin-off and it takes place between Episodes III (2005’s RevengeoftheSith) and IV (the 1977 original ANewHope). That means it focuses on the team tasked with stealing plans for the Death Star. Felicity Jones headlines a new cast of characters that includes Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk. It also means the return of Darth Freakin’ Vader complete with James Earl Jones voicing him. Gareth Edwards (who lasted 2014’s successful Godzilla reboot) directs.
Simply put, the return of the franchise a year ago after ten years of dormancy couldn’t have gone much better financially. Awakens took in an astonishing $247 million out of the gate and reached a $936 million eventual domestic haul. The eagerly awaited Episode VIII will be out in the same mid-December weekend next year. RogueOne is not expected to take in what Force did last year or VIII will next year due to its spin-off status. That said, expectations are still very high.
So the question is: just how high can this go? Some reports have suggested a number between $130-$150 million and that’s certainly a feasible estimate. Yet I can’t shake a feeling that it’ll manage to get a bit more. Rogue is in the enviable position of being the first spin-off and arriving just a calendar year behind the franchise’s return to global domination. In order to accomplish 2016’s largest opening, it would need to top another huge Disney property, CaptainAmerica: CivilWar which made $179 million to kick summer off.
I don’t think it quite gets there, but generating $160-$170 million seems within reach. My estimate would give it the eighth biggest debut of all time between the final HarryPotter at $169 million and this spring’s BatmanvSuperman: DawnofJustice at $166 million. Yes, my projection is a bit higher than what I’ve seen thus far. Yet it’s StarWars, folks.
RogueOne: AStarWarsStory opening weekend prediction: $168.3 million
In the weekend before Rogue One and then a slew of Christmas releases populate the multiplexes, we have two pics opening in wide release: holiday comedy Office Christmas Party and Jessica Chastain political drama Miss Sloane. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:
Actually, there’s a third film scheduled to come out in wide (or semi-wide) release and that’s Tom Ford’s thriller Nocturnal Animals with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. The problem is that I don’t have a screen count on it at press time, so predicting its number is a bit of guesswork. I’ll say it manages $2.3M. However, when its count is released, I reserve to right to change that estimate.
Back to the newbies with theater counts. Office Christmas Party may benefit from being the only comedy out there (Bad Santa 2 has come and gone) and with its recognizable cast, I’ve got it pegged to manage a #2 opening, just behind Moana‘s third weekend.
Fantastic Beasts should slip to third with holdovers Arrival and Allied filling out the top five, with Sloane very close behind.
Here’s how I have the top 6 projected for this weekend:
Predicted Gross: $19.6 million (representing a drop of 32%)
2. Office Christmas Party
Predicted Gross: $18.4 million
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Predicted Gross: $10 million (representing a drop of 45%)
Predicted Gross: $5 million (representing a drop of 31%)
Predicted Gross: $4.7 million (representing a drop of 34%)
6. Miss Sloane
Predicted Gross: $4.6 million
Box Office Results (December 2-4)
The post Thanksgiving holiday weekend is typically a pretty sleepy one at the box office and 2016 was no different.
Disney’s Moana easily held the top spot for the second weekend in a row grossing $28.2 million (on pace with my $28.8M projection). The animated hit has amassed $119M thus far.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them held the #2 position with $18.1 million, a bit under my $20.9M prediction for an overall gross of $183M.
Other holdovers held up quite well over the weekend. Arrival was third with $7.2 million (above my $5.9M estimate) for a $73M total. Allied was fourth with $7 million (I said $5.9M for it as well). It’s grossed $28M. Doctor Strange was fifth with $6.6 million (I said $6.1M). The Marvel property stands at $215M.
Last and least, horror pic Incarnate landed in ninth with a blah $2.5 million, though it did manage to just outpace my $1.7M forecast.
And that’ll do it for now, folks! Check out the blog tomorrow when my Rogue One: A Star Wars Story box office prediction is posted. Until then…
Pretty much every character in David Mackenzie’s HellorHighWater conceals a weapon in its desolate and beautiful West Texas setting. They don’t conceal their feelings that the system (think banks) works against them. So in these laid back locales, the brothers Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) robbing those establishments in order to save their family farm is something of a noble cause. However, the unpredictability and violence that normally follows those crimes (no matter how sensical they might be) are present.
Pine is Toby, a divorced father of two suddenly put in charge of the Howard ranch after the death of his mother. Tanner (Foster) is his loose cannon brother, fresh out of prison. When the pic opens, they are beginning their plot to pilfer enough cash from several branch locations to pay off a reverse mortgage that Mom was saddled with. Tanner’s outlaw past often interferes with Toby’s well-plotted scheme. Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is tasked with nabbing the duo, along with his half Comanche partner (Gil Birmingham), who’s often the brunt of Hamilton’s sort of good-natured teasing.
A peak into Tanner’s trailer home reveals a “Don’t Tread on Me” banner and it summarizes the general worldview of even the background players we see here. This applies to the Indian fellow Tanner plays poker with in the casino or the flirtatious waitress who gets a healthy tip from Toby. Yet one suspects that unseen forces have been treading on them for generations, as evidenced by the wasteland their small towns have become.
The typical genre fare we’re used to seeing are to be found here, from Hamilton being this close to retirement to Tanner’s combustibility. Where HellorHighWater succeeds is many facets, from the gorgeous cinematography to top notch performances. Pine sheds his leading man facade to blend in well with the scenery. Foster sells his off kilter criminal with relish (his reaction to being unexpectedly woken up by his brother tells you lots about who he is). Bridges’ Ranger gets opportunities to be a detective in ways he probably rarely does and it’s a joy to see the actor try out his garbled accent while doing so. While HellorHighWater may not be anything too different in the heist category of film, its fleshed out characters and actors playing them make it a worthwhile watch.
Audiences get a chance to get acquainted with MissSloane when it opens wide next weekend. The political drama stars Jessica Chastain as an influential DC lobbyist who takes on the powerful gun lobby. John Madden (director of ShakespeareinLove and the two MarigoldHotel pics) is behind the camera with a supporting cast that includes Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, John Lithgow and Sam Waterston.
Sloane is getting a bit of attention due to Chastain’s performance. Reviews have singled out her work and she may be in line for an Oscar nomination (though that is a highly competitive race this year and she could be on the outside looking in). That said, critical reaction has been mixed and it stands at 62% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Political movies always face an uphill struggle with moviegoers and this may especially hold true in a year where the subject is everywhere around us.
Debuting on approximately 1600 screens, Sloane may just get to mid single digits.
MissSloane opening weekend prediction: $4.6 million
For my OfficeChristmasParty prediction, click here:
Happy Friday y’all! Readers of my blog are aware that every Thursday for a few weeks now, I’ve been giving you my projections in the eight biggest races for the Academy Awards. Those categories are Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. You can peruse yesterday’s post here if you didn’t catch it:
What about the other categories, though? Well fear not because today is the first day I’m giving you my take on them as well. I’m leaving out (and will continue to leave out) Documentary Short Subject and the short film races in animated and live-action. Why? I don’t know anything about them and it’d be simple guesswork to predict them.
That said, we’ve got a bunch of other races to cover. As I’ve done with the others, I’ll give my 5 predicted nominees and list five other strong possibilities. Let’s get to it!
Best Animated Feature
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
4. The Red Turtle
5. Finding Dory
6. The Little Prince
7. April and the Extraordinary World
8. My Life as a Zucchini
9. Sausage Party
10. Miss Hokusai
Best Documentary Feature
2. O.J.: Made in America
4. Life, Animated
5. I Am Not Your Negro
6. The Eagle Huntress
8. Fire at Sea
9. Miss Sharon Jones
10. The Ivory Game
Best Foreign Language Film
1. Toni Erdmann
2. Fire at Sea
3. Land of Mine
5. A Man Called Ove
6. The Salesman
8. The Ardennes
9. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki
1. La La Land
5. The Jungle Book
6. Live by Night
8. Hacksaw Ridge
9. Hell or High Water
Best Costume Design
2. La La Land
3. Love and Friendship
4. Live by Night
7. Rules Don’t Apply
8. Florence Foster Jenkins
10. Hidden Figures
1. La La Land
5. Hacksaw Ridge
8. Hell or High Water
9. Live by Night
Best Makeup and Hairstyling (only three nominees)
2. Hacksaw Ridge
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. The BFG
6. Hidden Figures
7. Star Trek Beyond
8. Suicide Squad
9. Nocturnal Animals
1. La La Land
6. The Jungle Book
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
8. Hidden Figures
9. Hacksaw Ridge
10. Manchester by the Sea
Best Original Song
1. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land
2. “We Know the Way” from Moana
3. “City of Stars” from La La Land
4. “Dancing with Your Shadow” from Po
5. “I See Victory” from Hidden Figures
6. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls
7. “A Letter to the Free” from 13th
8. “I’m Still Here” from Miss Sharon Jones
9. “Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply
10. “Runnin” from Hidden Figures
Best Production Design
1. La La Land
4. Live by Night
6. Love and Friendship
7. Rules Don’t Apply
8. Hacksaw Ridge
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Best Sound Editing
1. Hacksaw Ridge
2. La La Land
3. The Jungle Book
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
5. Patriots Day
8. Deepwater Horizon
Best Sound Mixing
1. La La Land
2. Hacksaw Ridge
3. Patriots Day
5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
6. The Jungle Book
7. Deepwater Horizon
10. Live by Night
Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book
2. Doctor Strange
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
4. A Monster Calls
7. The BFG
8. Star Trek Beyond
9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
10. Captain America: Civil War
**And that leaves the following breakdown for all movies in all categories getting the following number of nominations (this will be updated every week):
La La Land
Arrival, Fences, Lion, Manchester by the Sea
Hidden Figures, The Jungle Book, Loving, Moana, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Live by Night, Patriots Day, Sully, 20th Century Women
13th, Doctor Strange, Elle, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Finding Dory, Fire at Sea, Gleason, Hell or High Water, I Am Not Your Negro, Kubo and the Two Strings, Land of Mine, Life, Animated, Love & Friendship, A Man Called Ove, A Monster Calls, Nocturnal Animals, O.J.: Made in America, Passengers, Po, The Red Turtle, Toni Erdmann, Zootopia
Next Thursday – I’ll have my predictions updated in all categories! Until then…
Hello all! Welcome to December and welcome to my weekly Thursday Oscar predictions!
It’s been seven days since my last Turkey Day estimates in the eight major categories. A lot can change in a week and there’s been significant developments since we were all couch bound after our Thanksgiving feasts.
Let us count them…
1) Martin Scorsese’s Silence finally held some screenings, meaning buzz is out. Official reviews are embargoed until December 10, but the first reactions indicate that the director’s latest could be a force in the Oscar race. My predictions reflect that. Furthermore, initial word makes one wonder whether it’ll be Liam Neeson or Adam Driver that get the lion’s share of attention in Supporting Actor.
2) A number of awards precursors have rolled out their winners and nominations. We begin with the National Board of Review. Yesterday, the NBR bestowed their winners upon us. They are: Manchester by the Sea (Best Film), Barry Jenkins for Moonlight (Director), Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea (Actor), Amy Adams in Arrival (Actress), Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (Supporting Actor), Naomie Harris in Moonlight (Supporting Actor), Manchester by the Sea (Original Screenplay), and Silence (Adapted Screenplay). The critics organization also lists ten other pictures on the year’s best list and they are: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail Caesar!, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Moonlight, Patriots Day, Silence, and Sully. Now – the NBR’s list of films have not and will not match what the Academy does. For instance, Hail Caesar! is not going to nab a Best Picture nod (it’s never been in my top 20 list of possibles and still isn’t). All the others, however, are at least feasible. The most notable snub is Fences, though I’d say it’s still near the top for Academy recognition. Lion is another notable omission.
3) The Critics Choice Awards came out today with their nominations. An important caveat: Silence (and Passengers and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) weren’t screened in time for consideration. The CCA nominates 10 pictures and they are: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Sully. Another note: the upcoming Jackie got no Picture love from the NBR or CCA.
There are seven nominees for Best Director and six each in the acting and screenplay races. They are:
Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Denis Villeneueve (Arrival), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Gibson’s nod is a fascinating one and he may have slightly increased his chances at Oscar attention. That said, it’s important to remember that Scorsese (who’s almost sure to get a nomination) was ineligible.
Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Tom Hanks (Sully), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Nothing out of the ordinary here, though Garfield seems more likely to get Acting attention for Silence via the Academy.
Actress: Amy Adams (Arrival), Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land). Note: No nod for either Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) or Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane).
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals). Note: While some awards prognosticators have listed Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins as a possibility, his fortunes seem to be dwindling. Also, no Mykelti Williams or Stephen Henderson for Fences.
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences), Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea). No real surprises here.
Original Screenplay: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight. Again, no shocks though the ignoring of Jackie continues here.
Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Nocturnal Animals, Sully. With Hacksaw getting Pic and Director and Actor attention, a bit surprising it didn’t land a nod here.
4) The New York Film Critics Circle named their winners today. La La Land (the current front runner for Best Picture) was victorious. However, Director went to Barry Jenkins yet again for his work in Moonlight. Casey Affleck took another Actor prize with Isabelle Huppert in Elle helping her case out with an Actress win. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Michelle Williams (for both Manchester and Certain Women) won their Supporting categories. The NYFCC combines screenplay into one and Manchester took top honors there.
Whew. Lots of information, I know, with plenty to digest! Taking all that into account and knowing there’s a bunch more precursors to come – here’s where I have the eight major races standing at this moment:
1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 4)
3. Moonlight (PR: 3)
4. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)
5. Fences (PR: 2)
6. Lion (PR: 5)
7. Arrival (PR: 8)
8. Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
9. Loving (PR: 7)
10. Hell or High Water (PR: 11)
11. Jackie (PR: 9)
12. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 16)
13. Sully (PR: 15)
14. Patriots Day (PR: 13)
15. 20th Century Women (PR: 12)
16. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 17)
17. Live by Night (PR: 14)
18. Passengers (PR: Not Ranked)
19. The Jungle Book (PR: 18)
20. The Founder (PR: 19)
1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 2)
3. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 4)
4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 3)
5. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
6. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 6)
7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)
8. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
9. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 8)
10. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
Pablo Larrain, Jackie
1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
3. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)
4. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 5)
5. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 9)
6. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 3)
7. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: 7)
8. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 6)
9. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 10)
Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply
1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)
3. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 3)
4. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 4)
5. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)
6. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)
7. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 5)
8. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)
9. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
10. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 9)
Best Supporting Actor
1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 1)
2. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 3)
3. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 2)
4. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
5. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 4)
6. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 6)
7. Adam Driver, Silence (PR: Not Ranked)
8. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 8)
9. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 7)
10. Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie
Best Supporting Actress
1. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)
3. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 4)
5. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
6. Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
7. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 7)
8. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 8)
9. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 9)
10. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: Not Ranked)
Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls
Best Original Screenplay
1. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
2. Moonlight (PR: 1)
3. La La Land (PR: 3)
4. Hell or High Water (PR: 4)
5. Loving (PR: 6)
6. 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
7. The Lobster (PR: 8)
8. Jackie (PR: 7)
9. Patriots Day (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Captain Fantastic (PR: 9)
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Fences (PR: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 3)
3. Lion (PR: 2)
4. Arrival (PR: 5)
5. Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
6. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 4)
7. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 8)
8. Sully (PR: 10)
9. Elle (PR: 9)
10. Indignation (PR: Not Ranked)
Live by Night
Whew! And there you have it…
Let’s see what transpires over the next 7 days until my next round! Until then…
Comedic holiday hijinks ensue next weekend as Office Christmas Party RSVP’s into theaters. The R rated pic features a cast of familiar faces including Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Matt Walsh and Kate McKinnon. Josh Gordon and Will Speck handle directorial duties and their previous effort was 2010’s The Switch, which featured Bateman and Aniston.
The Paramount release could benefit from both its cast and the fact that drunken and wild work XMas bashes are something many can relate to. Party comes from a story originated by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote The Hangover. It also has no competition in the second weekend of December in its genre.
I’ll predict a decent number of moviegoers attend this Party to the tune of a mid to high teens debut.
Office Christmas Party opening weekend prediction: $18.4 million
A home invasion horror flick where the home invaders are kind of the good guys, Don’tBreathe is a pretty nifty and sometimes nasty little experience. It comes from Fede Alvarez, who’s shown himself as a gifted filmmaker in the genre after making 2013’s EvilDead remake.
We open with three Detroit youngsters who earn some pocket change ripping off nice cribs. It’s rather easy work for them because nice guy Alex (Dylan Minnette) has a dad with a home security business, giving him access to precious info. There’s the harder edged Money (Daniel Zovatto) and his gal Rocky (Jane Levy), who Alex has a crush on. Rocky is our central heroine character. She lives in a low income Motor City neighborhood with a very trashy mom, her loser boyfriend, and a sweet younger sister that she wants to show a better life. I half expected Eminem to rap during her background scene.
The trio get a tip on a new property to focus on and it’s not a typical one. The new mark is a military vet who resides in a poor neighborhood where the homes around him are abandoned. Yet they believe there’s a lot of green there as he received a big settlement after his daughter was killed in an auto accident. It’s a large enough potential payout to send them California dreamin’, so off they go.
What they discover is this robbery victim is unlike any other. First, he’s blind. He’s also got a vicious dog and a casa with all kinds of surprises in store. This sets up a scenario where the criminals become the hunted in The Blind Man’s twisted playhouse.
The occupant is played with supreme creepiness by Stephen Lang. A character actor who’s impressed in all kinds of roles, it’s a kick to see him let loose here. As a side note, he was also the best thing in the long forgotten Michael J. Fox/James Woods buddy cop comedy TheHardWay 25 years ago in which he also played one disturbed dude. The rest of the cast looks appropriately mortified during their during their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad burglary. For that reference, look up Minnette’s filmography. I had to in order to remind myself what I’d seen him in before.
There’s some twists that come later and the main one is a demented doozy. With its grindhouse title and lower end budget to match, Don’tBreathe should please slasher enthusiasts with its welcome uncomplicated story. When we are introduced to one character unexpectedly, the levels of plausibility are stretched greatly if you seriously ponder it. However, we don’t go into pics like this holding our breath for that nor should we care. This delivers enough of the goods that we honestly don’t.
A few years back, George Clooney revealed a list of his top 100 films released between 1964 and 1976. It’s an era he considers the best in the history of the medium and that’s certainly a valid hypothesis. In his impressive career, Clooney has appeared in movies that could have come out in that time frame. GoodNight, andGoodLuck and TheIdes of March deal with themes of corporate corruption and dirty politics in ways that entries on his list did more often forty to fifty years ago. Titles like 1976’s Network and George’s all-time #1 AllthePresident’sMen. Both of those features also deal with the positive and negative aspects of journalism and so does MoneyMonster. In 1976, 24 hour cable news didn’t exist yet. There were no programs like the one in the title where over-the-top host Lee Gates (Clooney) tells viewers how to invest their cash. Think Jim Cramer… except he looks like George Clooney.
Lee is set to tape his Friday show with his trusty director Patty (Julia Roberts) in his ear. Shortly after the cameras roll, Kyle (Jack O’Connell) crashes the set with a gun and explosive laden vest for Lee to don. His beef? He lost his life savings in a company that his now bomb strapped captive heartily endorsed. As millions of ciewees watch the situation live on TV, Monster becomes a rumination on the themes mentioned earlier.
That list Clooney made also correctly included 1975’s DogDayAfternoon. Like that excellent effort, this is a real-time New York City hostage drama with humor frequently injected. Al Pacino gave one of his richest performances of his filmography in Afternoon and his riveting character made the tension substantial in it. That’s a problem here as the character of Kyle is neither fleshed out enough or believable enough to create any significant suspense. It’s not O’Connell’s fault really. He’s just written that way. And therein lies the film’s biggest drawback.
Often, Monster manages to coast on the considerable charms of its two leads and their nice rapport. We’ve seen plenty of pictures with this one’s “Wall Street is bad” theme but few with the star wattage. The quick running time (99 minutes) is a plus. This is never boring, though it’s credibility does dip in the third act.
The director, by the way, is an actress you may have heard of named Jodie Foster. She appeared in 1974’s AliceDoesn’tLiveHereAnymore and 1976’s TaxiDriver. They both also made that Clooney list. MoneyMonster probably won’t be listed on anyone’s all-time top 100 of anything. You may not regret investing a short amount of time in it, but there’s lists of similarly themed fare that’s far superior. Even this movie’s star did one.