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The Assistant Movie Review

On Netflix’s popular series Ozark, the words of Julia Garner’s Ruth often speak louder than her actions. Her boisterous character serves as a de facto assistant to Jason Bateman’s beleaguered money launderer and the performance has earned her Emmys. The Assistant, written and directed by Kitty Green, finds Garner in a much different occupation in terms of duties and with her overall demeanor.

Jane works as a film production assistant to a mostly unseen and unheard big shot. She works long hours steeped in tedium as she cleans up the literal and figurative messes of her boss and his minions. From travel arrangements from their New York office to L.A. to making excuses to the whereabouts of her superior to his wife, this is not the dream job that Jane envisioned. Even her hopes that this is leading to something bigger and better seem to be diminishing.

The camera rarely leaves Jane on the Monday that the proceedings occur. Aspiring actresses flow in and a mysterious and very young new assistant is flown in from Idaho and put up in a fancy hotel. Sitting with her fellow junior staffers (Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins), they develop a strained if well-meaning support system.

Yet our title character knows she’s in a hostile work environment. When Jane approaches the company’s HR head (Matthew MacFayden), it’s made chillingly clear that her complaints are falling on deaf ears. We get the idea that if she just keeps quiet, her mundane existence in this drab office will improve. At what cost? Her words and actions don’t matter.

Like that office, The Assistant is not flashy. The Weinstein type figure feet away from Jane’s desk is left to our imagination. All we have to see is her weary but expressive face to know that he’s dangerous. It is Garner’s performance, wildly different from her Ozark persona, that kept my attention. This is essentially a horror film where the scary incidents are usually hinted at or, more sadly, joked about. They develop over Jane’s long day where it seems the next day will be just as long and with no resolution in sight. That’s pretty frightening.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch – The Croods: A New Age

Seven and a half years after DreamWorks Animation had a prehistoric animated comedic hit on their hands with the original, The Croods: A New Age hits theaters this Wednesday. It will surely be a different box office story in these COVID times as part 2 will follow with its PVOD unveiling in time for Christmas. The toon is directed by Joel Crawford and returns the vocal stylings of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, and Cloris Leachman. New faces behind the mics include Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran.

The review embargo ended today and the results are mostly positive with a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s in line with the 72% achieved by its predecessor. In 2013, part 1 managed a Best Animated Feature nod. It was defeated by a massive Pixar front runner by the name of Frozen. 

2020 could see history repeat itself with the caveman family. One could argue that it’s easier to slide into the final five this year and A New Age looks to do so. Yet there is once again a heavy favorite to win the prize and that is Soul from (you guessed it) Pixar. Other acclaimed titles such as Wolfwalkers and Over the Moon appear to be likely nominees and Pixar has another hopeful with Onward (though after the snub of Frozen II from last year, it’s not a guarantee that one makes it in).

Croods could easily fill the fourth or fifth slot come nomination time, but I wouldn’t chisel its inclusion in pen just yet. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 21st Edition

We have new #1’s in three of the four acting derbies in my weekly Oscar prediction updates! Let’s break it down:

  • The reviews for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom have gone out of their way to praise the work of Chadwick Boseman. Best Actor now appears to be a race between the late performer and Anthony Hopkins in The Father. I have had Hopkins listed in first place for months at this point, but this changes today. That said, this is a competition that could come down to the wire.
  • In Best Actress, I have kept Viola Davis atop the list. However, while critics have lauded her in the title role of Ma Rainey, Vanessa Kirby’s work in Pieces of a Woman seems to gathering buzz. I thought about putting her in the pole position and we’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks.
  • Ironically, the placement of Boseman at #1 in Best Actor drops him from 1st to 6th in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods. This currently puts Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) on top for the first time in a seemingly wide open field. I have also dropped David Strathairn (Nomadland) from the five. Additionally, while I am waiting for Warner Bros to confirm, I am putting Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) back in this field as opposed to lead. So it’s him and Bill Murray (On the Rocks) back in the fold.
  • Last week, the poor reviews for Hillbilly Elegy caused me to take Glenn Close from #1 to #4. Like Supporting Actor, this race looks like anyone’s for the taking. I am elevating the veteran actress back to 1st as I could envision her overdue factor overtaking the bad critical reaction to the film itself. Also I’ve put Helena Zengel (News of the World) back in over Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari).

There’s also a change in Best Director with Florian Zeller (The Father) in for the first time over Lee Isaac Chung (Minari). Finally, there’s some release date news. Amazon Prime has moved Coming 2 America from December 2020 to March 2021. That takes it out of contention (where it could have played in Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling). And Warner Bros confirmed that Wonder Woman 1984 will receive a Christmas Day HBO Max streaming premiere. I don’t yet have it in the final five, but it could show up in Visual Effects.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. The Father (PR: 5)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. Minari (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 10)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

13. The Midnight Sky (PR: 14)

14. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

15. First Cow (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

7. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 5)

8. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 7)

9. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

3. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

4. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 5)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

7. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

8. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 6)

10. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 8)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 6)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

8. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

9. Colin Firth, Supernova (PR: 10)

10. Tom Holland, Cherry (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (moved to Supporting)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 4)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 5)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Nicole Kidman, The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Swankie, Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

2. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Best Actor)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 6)

5. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 1)

7. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 8)

8. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 5)

9. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

10. Shia LaBeouf, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

8. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Sound of Metal (PR: 10)

10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

8. First Cow (PR: 9)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

10. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Connected (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

7. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 7)

8. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

9. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

10. Lupin III: The First (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 2)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 3)

4. Time (PR: 4)

5. The Dissident (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Boys State (PR: 7)

8. 76 Days (PR: 9)

9. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 3)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 7)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. The Disciple (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m No Longer Here (PR: Not Ranked)

7. My Little Sister (PR: 6)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 8)

9. Atlantis (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Charlatan (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

New Order

True Mothers

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 5)

5. Mulan (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 7)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ammonite (PR: 10)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Coming 2 America

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Tenet (PR: 8)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 4)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 3)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

7. Mulan (PR: 5)

8. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

10. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Coming 2 America

Emma

Ammonite

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 4)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 7)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Minari (PR: 5)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

10. Ammonite (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

7. “Hear My Voice” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

10. “Carried Me with You” from Onward (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Love Myself” from The High Note

“Never Break” from Giving Voice 

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Mulan (PR: 3)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 8)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 9)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

8. Rebecca (PR: 5)

9. Emma (PR: 4)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Soul (PR: 5)

4. Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

8. News of the World (PR: 6)

9. Greyhound (PR: 7)

10. Da 5 Bloods (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. The Invisible Man (PR: 4)

4. Greyhound (PR: 3)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

7. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Mulan (PR: 6)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 9)

10. Mank (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Dolittle 

And that breaks down to the following number of nominations for these pictures:

12 Nominations

Mank

10 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

News of the World

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

Soul

3 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, Mulan, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Connected, Crip Camp, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, Night of the Kings, On the Rocks, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: Happiest Season

Hulu looks to have a holiday hit on their hands when Happiest Season holds its streaming debut on November 25th. The rom com stars Kristen Stewart as her character embarks on a holiday outing with the family of her girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis). Problem is, said girlfriend hasn’t yet come out to said family. Clea DuVall directs with a supporting cast including Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Victor Garber, and Mary Steenburgen.

The review embargo lifted today and the results indicate a winner. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating stands at 93%. Particular praise has gone to a trio of performances: Stewart, Plaza, and Levy (who’s having quite a year with his multiple Emmys for Schitt’s Creek). When it comes to Oscar, however, I am skeptical that Season has any impact (potentially similar to another acclaimed Hulu comedy Palm Springs).

The Golden Globes, on the other hand, could be a different story. The pic could contend in the Musical/Comedy race, but I especially think Stewart could be recognized in Best Actress. Ms. Stewart has had a number of critically appreciated roles in her post Twilight years. A nod in the Musical/Comedy category would mark her first Globes mention. Oscar may have to wait for another season. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

For Oscar prognosticators, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has looked to be a major hopeful for some time. Based on the August Wilson play and directed by George C. Wolfe, the 1920s set musical drama hits Netflix in December. The social media reaction embargo lapsed this weekend and confirmed hunches that it will be such a thing in various races.

When I began my weekly prediction posts in late August, it was assumed that Chadwick Boseman would compete for Supporting Actor here. At first, I had him ranked #2. Just days after my first estimates, the actor passed away. He rose up to #1 in Supporting Actor and stayed there until Netflix confirmed that he would vie for Best Actor. Early buzz suggests that he is unquestionably a lead and this sets up a real battle which I’ll get to momentarily. Critics are also calling it his finest performance and his inclusion in the category is a given now.

As for his costar Viola Davis, word of mouth suggests her part is a little smaller than expected. Yet the general consensus is that she’ll still stay in Best Actress. If Netflix chose to make a switch to Supporting, she would probably be the front runner (she won the race four years ago for Fences). However, by staying in the crowded Actress field, I question whether she remains in first place when I update my picks on Friday. The competition could be steep with the likes of Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman).

Back to Boseman. Not withstanding any unseen performances, Best Actor is shaping up to be a real showdown between Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Boseman. This appears bound to play out over the next several months. That said, a development could occur to shift the narrative. In Supporting Actor, Boseman is also expected to contend for Da 5 Bloods. If he gains favorite status in that field, it could help Hopkins remain the anticipated victor. As for Rainey‘s own supporting actors (Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo), the pair are long shots due to that category’s packed nature.

Could Rainey get a Best Picture nomination? Yes, but I think it’s far from guaranteed and I don’t expect Wolfe to make it in the final five for his direction. Adapted Screenplay is also a question mark while tech races like Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Production Design are surely on the table.

Bottom line: Boseman has absolutely established himself as a threat to posthumously take Best Actor with Hopkins as the significant competitor. Davis looks mostly safe in Actress, but a win is much more questionable. And my Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 13th Edition

Back at it again with another round of weekly Oscar predictions and there are changes to be discussed in every major category! We begin with the grand prize – Best Picture. For the third week in a row, we have a new #1 as I’m elevating The Trial of the Chicago 7 to front runner status for the first time. It displaces Nomadland, which falls to 2nd position while Mank goes from 2nd to 3rd.

While Trial gets top billing, I am still placing David Fincher at #1 for director as I believe that could be a bit of a career achievement recognition. As stated last week, I do think Chloe Zhao could be hot on his heels. It does feel a bit strange to have Trial as the Picture favorite while not believing Aaron Sorkin will take Director, but here we are in this strange 2020 Oscar season. Speaking of that race, I now have Lee Isaac Chung for the fast rising Minari over Paul Greengrass for News of the World. 

Moving on, the review embargo lifted this week for Hillbilly Elegy and the results weren’t pretty. The Netflix title stands at just 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and that takes it out of my top 15 for Picture and top 10 in Adapted Screenplay. It also hurts the chances of its leads. Amy Adams drops out of the top 5 for Actress and that’s to the benefit of another Netflix entry with Sophia Loren in The Life Ahead. Glenn Close has been listed at #1 in Supporting Actress since I began these posts in late August. This too has changed in a currently wide open Supporting Actress field. She drops from #1 to #4, but the irony is I still think she could win. However, it’s Amanda Seyfried in Mank that vaults to #1 with Olivia Colman (The Father) and Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman) following. There’s another move in Supporting Actress with Yuh-Joun Youn for Minari in over Helena Zengel for News of the World. 

In Best Actor, it’s Riz Ahmed back in the final five and that takes out Kingsley Ben-Adir in One Night in Miami. In Supporting Actor, I have David Strathairn (Nomadland) back in the predicted quintet and that drops Bill Murray (On the Rocks) to sixth. And I am starting to buy into the theory that Chadwick Boseman could be victorious in that race for Da 5 Bloods with Anthony Hopkins a seeming favorite in Best Actor for The Father. Boseman is now #1 for supporting.

Finally, it was announced that Supernova will campaign Colin Firth for Best Actor with Stanley Tucci in supporting. They are both listed in the top ten, but I believe it’s Tucci that could potentially see a rise from his #8 spot.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 3)

2. Nomadland (PR: 1)

3. Mank (PR: 2)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. The Father (PR: 7)

6. Minari (PR: 8)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 5)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 12)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

13. The White Tiger (PR: 14)

14. The Midnight Sky (PR: 15)

15. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Hillbilly Elegy

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

9. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

5. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

9. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

9. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

10. Colin Firth, Supernova (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

George Clooney, The Midnight Sky 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 3)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

4. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

5. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

7. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United State vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Swankie, Nomadland (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nicole Kidman, The Prom

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

7. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

8. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

10. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Charles Dance, Mank 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

8. The White Tiger (PR: 9)

9. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Hillbilly Elegy

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 8)

7. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 10)

8. Connected (PR: 6)

9. Lupin III: The First (PR: 7)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 2)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 1)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 3)

4. Time (PR: 7)

5. The Dissident (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Boys State (PR: 5)

8. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

9. 76 Days (PR: 9)

10. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. New Order (PR: 2)

3. Another Round (PR: 3)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. The Disciple (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: 5)

7. Night of the Kings (PR: 7)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 9)

9. Charlatan (PR: Not Ranked)

10. True Mothers (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Atlantis

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 4)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: 5)

7. News of the World (PR: 8)

8. Coming 2 America (PR: 6)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

7. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Tenet (PR: 7)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 3)

3. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

4. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

5. Mulan (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Coming 2 America (PR: 5)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

9. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 2)

3. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. Tenet (PR: 4)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

9. Ammonite (PR: 5)

10. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Love Myself” from The High Note (PR: 8)

9. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 3)

4. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Rebecca (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 8)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

8. News of the World (PR: 4)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 2)

3. Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

5. Soul (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 3)

7. Greyhound (PR: 8)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan (PR: 4)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

8. Mank (PR: 6)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 9)

10. Dolittle (PR: 10)

And that shakes out to these features nabbing the following number of nominations:

12 Nominations

Mank

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father, Minari, News of the World, One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

The Midnight Sky, Soul

3 Nominations

The Life Ahead, Mulan

2 Nominations

Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Birds of Prey, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, New Order, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Rebecca, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

The Gothams Have a Cow

2020’s first precursor to the big show arrived today with the Gotham Awards nominations. The group which honoring independent pictures with budgets of $35 million and under made a little history too. All five contenders for Best Feature are made by female directors: Kitty’s Green The Assistant, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, and Relic from Natalie Erika James.

The tight controls on eligibility (and some major studios didn’t submit their Oscar hopefuls) makes it tricky to prognosticate how these nods compare to what the Academy may do. This has always been the case. That said, in the previous decade, at least one Gotham Feature nominee almost always gets a Best Picture nod. In fact, from 2014 to 2016, the Feature winners (Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight) matched the Oscar winner. Last year, Marriage Story was the sole nominee at Gotham to make the Academy’s cut. In 2018, there were none. Three years ago, both Call Me by Your Name and Get Out got Oscar love.

First Cow led with the most nods and had itself a very good morning. However, its Oscar prospects are iffy while Nomadland looks to be the nominee that will almost certainly get recognition from the Academy (it could even win). The other three nominees are likely non-factors. We did not see another major picture from a female director with One Night in Miami make the final five, though Kingsley Ben-Adir did score a Breakthrough Performance nomination. Also left off: Minari, which seems to be rising in the Oscar chatter.

In the acting races, there were some high profile snubs particularly with Best Actress. Since this category’s inception in 2013, only one winner has matched up with Academy’s selection (Julianne Moore in Still Alice in 2014). In the previous year, none of the five women got Oscar recognition. In every other year, there’s been at least one.

The Gotham Actress hopefuls this year are Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth), Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things), Carrie Coon (The Nest), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). Only McDormand seems destined for the Oscars in lead actress while Youn could show up in Supporting Actress. What is a bit surprising is the number of Gotham eligible performers who appear to be likely Oscar contenders who missed out here. That list includes Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), and Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit). I wouldn’t read too much into it, but it’s worthy of mention.

In Best Actor, Chadwick Boseman picked up his first posthumous mention for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He is joined by Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Jude Law (The Nest), John Magaro (First Cow), and Jesse Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things). Some eligible actors with Oscar hopes that missed out include Winston Duke (Nine Days) and Steven Yeun (Minari). The same could be said for Bill Murray in On the Rocks, though he would compete in supporting with the Academy.

Bottom line: while the Gothams aren’t a reliable barometer for what happens months from now, it does give a fun glimpse at what could follow. Today’s actions unsurprisingly solidify Nomadland and could give a slight boost to Cow. My weekly Oscar predictions will be updated tomorrow so stay tuned!

James Bond and the U.S. Presidency: A History

A fascinating factoid is out now that the U.S. Presidential Election of 2020 is in the rearview. As fans of the James Bond franchise are aware, we are now approaching the 60th anniversary of the series in 2022. The release of No Time to Die will mark the 25th official feature in the 007 canon when it (hopefully) debuts in 2021. As you are likely aware, the fifth and final Daniel Craig appearance as the British super spy was originally slated for April 2020 before its COVID-19 related delay.

Why am I saying all of this as it relates to the election that just happened? Well, it turns out that the Trump presidency will be the first since the series began in which no James Bond picture was released. That means there have been 10 U.S. Presidencies in a row where 007 appeared on the silver screen… from Kennedy to Obama. Until now. This will clearly resume when No Time is released in plenty of time for when Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office.

Based on this interesting little nugget of trivia info, I thought it might be fun to run through the movies that were released under each former POTUS and take stock with how their administrations matched up with Bond’s adventures onscreen:

The Presidency of John F. Kennedy

The Bond Pictures: Dr. No (1962)

It seems more than appropriate that this franchise started under JFK’s tenure. President Kennedy was a self-professed fan of the Ian Fleming novels. The producers of Bond actually chose From Russia with Love to be the second in the series because JFK singled it out as a favorite book. Sadly, the last movie the President ever watched at the White House was From Russia (months before its actual US release, though it was out in the UK). That was on November 20. Two days later is when Kennedy took the fateful trip to Dallas.

The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson

The Bond Pictures: From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967)

I would say it’s hard to argue that Johnson’s time in the White House isn’t the most impressive when it comes to the 007 catalogue. This was, of course, the heyday of Sean Connery’s time in the role which turned him into an international superstar. The first two titles on the board are often cited as the greatest of the bunch (my personal favorite is Russia).

The Presidency of Richard Nixon

The Bond Pictures: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973)

Nixon wins having the most Bonds during his time in office. There were three as his Presidency marked George Lazenby’s one off in Service, Connery’s return in Diamonds, and Roger Moore’s first outing with Live. I would also say the trio is all somewhat underwhelming to a degree (though I know the Service diehards will not appreciate that statement).

The Presidency of Gerald Ford

The Bond Pictures: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Pretty slim picking for Mr. Ford with Moore’s second go-round as 007. This is deservedly considered one of the weakest in the franchise.

The Presidency of Jimmy Carter

The Bond Pictures: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979)

The best of times and worst of times for Roger Moore matched with the Carter Administration. I would easily call Spy the finest Moore pic in his run while Moonraker is the low point.

The Presidency of Ronald Reagan

The Bond Pictures: For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987)

It’s appropriate that some of the titles here incorporate the Cold War activities happening in Reagan’s 1980s era. The list here includes two solid Moore outings (yes, I think Octopussy is quite good) and the middling finale of View. It also marks Timothy Dalton’s fairly pleasing debut in Daylights. As a side note, while not considered an official Bond pic in the canon sense, Sean Connery returned to his signature part with 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

The Presidency of George H.W. Bush

The Bond Pictures: Licence to Kill (1989)

The last one term President until now had just one 007 flick. I maintain that Licence may be just the most underrated one of the whole series. It was Dalton’s swan song for his brief tenure.

The Presidency of Bill Clinton

The Bond Pictures: Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The Clinton Era matches with the Pierce Brosnan era as the franchise was revitalized financially with these three blockbusters which were all decent in quality.

The Presidency of George W. Bush

The Bond Pictures: Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008)

A mixed bag. I consider Brosnan’s finale of Day to be the worst James Bond adventure of all time. On the other hand, Daniel Craig’s emergence in Royale is second only to From Russia with Love in my opinion. Quantum was just OK and the weakest of the Craig pics.

The Presidency of Barack Obama

The Bond Pictures: Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015)

Bond reached a billion dollars in the Obama era with Skyfall, rightfully considered one of the strongest of the two dozen pictures. Spectre didn’t match its quality, but was still pretty good.

The Presidency of Donald Trump

As I said… nada. No Time to Die would have been the one Trump time release if not for the pandemic. It will instead be unveiled when President Biden is in office and there could be even be a new 007 under his Presidency depending on how quickly the studio casts a new spy.

 

Oscar Watch: Hillbilly Elegy

Junebug. Doubt. The Fighter. The Master. American Hustle. Vice. 

The World According to Garp. The Big Chill. The Natural. Fatal Attraction. Dangerous Liaisons. Albert Nobbs. The Wife. 

These 13 pictures represent, respectively, the number of Oscar nominations received by Amy Adams and Glenn Close. And there’s not a podium trip for either performer in the whole batch. It’s certainly fair to say that these actresses are both considered overdue for Academy gold. So it is no surprise that their headlining roles in Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy have been circled for consideration of Oscar prognosticators for many months.

Based on J.D. Vance’s hugely popular 2016 bestseller, the adaptation hits Netflix on November 24th. The review embargo ended today. The critics have spoken and done so rather sharply. At press time, the Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a troubling 19%. However, before you write off the pic’s chances for any awards attention, you have to dig a bit deeper.

The trailer released weeks ago was met with some derision, but also some chatter that Close in particular has a very baity part for voters. The reviews today solidify that. I have had Close perched at #1 for some time in my weekly estimates in Supporting Actress. It is certainly possible that she stays right there when I update my projections on Friday. Ironically, her biggest competition may come from Olivia Colman in The Father. For those with short memories, it was Colman in The Favourite who scored an upset win over Close for The Wife in Best Actress just two years ago. There’s also Amanda Seyfried (Mank) generating solid buzz. That said, the 8th time may just finally be the charm for Close. Whether she can overcome the otherwise poor reaction from the critical community will be the question moving forward.

As for Adams, it’s more murky. Best Actress in 2020 is already shaping up as a crowded field. I’ve had Adams listed in third position for about a month, but now I’m questioning whether she even makes the final cut. Look for her to be in the 5-7 range when my Friday post is up and running.

Elegy could follow the example of 2013’s August: Osage County where its only nominations come for its two high-profile actresses (in that case it was Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts). The mostly weak reviews probably take it out of contention for Picture and Director. Same goes for the Adapted Screenplay by Vanessa Taylor (who was nominated in 2017 for her Original Screenplay in The Shape of Water). Lucky for Netflix, it has plenty of product that does appear headed for Best Picture inclusion (from The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Mank to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). There are two more nods that are feasible: Hans Zimmer’s score and its Makeup and Hairstyling.

Bottom line: Close is still a contender, but that’s the only category where I believe a victory is even imaginable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 6th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions begin with a blogger’s note. For the past two and a half months, I’ve been providing these updates each Thursday. This will now switch to every Friday (busy work schedule is the reason).

And we move on with a significant development in the rankings. For the first time since I began these predictions, the #1 slot for Best Picture is not named Mank. The David Fincher Netflix pic had its official review embargo lift today. Some of the critical reaction is excellent. Other write-ups, while still overwhelmingly positive, call into question whether this will take the biggest prize of all. It certainly still could in my estimation, but I’m currently giving an ever so slight advantage to Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland (and with The Trial of the Chicago 7 not far behind). I am still listing Fincher in top position with Director as I could envision a victory being a partial career achievement award. That said, Zhao is right on his heels as she would be the second female filmmaker ever to take the gold.

We continue to Best Actor as Amazon has confirmed the acting placements for the performers in Regina King’s One Night in Miami. Of note is that Kingsley Ben-Adir will be campaigned for in Best Actor with Leslie Odom Jr. vying for Supporting Actor. In my view, this increases the chances for both to make the cut as they won’t be competing against each other. Odom was already on my Supporting list last week. Ben-Adir jumps into the Actor final five and that’s to the detriment of Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluuya could absolutely still get in, but there’s uncertainty as to whether he will be campaigned for in Actor or Supporting Actor. There’s also no confirmation yet as to when Warner Bros. will release the picture. So for now, he’s on the outside looking in until further information is provided.

The Actress and Supporting Actress contests remain the same without even any ranking alterations. That’s not to indicate those races aren’t fluid. There just wasn’t anything major in the past week to shift my thinking in the past 8 days.

Finally, Disney has delayed the release dates of both Death on the Nile and Free Guy to 2021 TBD. The former was a potential nominee in several tech races such as Costume Design and Production Design. The latter could have been a hopeful in Visual Effects.

And with that, let’s get to the guesstimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. News of the World (PR: 4)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

7. The Father (PR: 7)

8. Minari (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

12. Soul (PR: 12)

13. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

14. The White Tiger (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: 15)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

8. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 7)

9. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 6)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

9. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

4. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 4)

5. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Supporting Actor)

Other Possibilities:

6. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

9. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 8)

10. George Clooney, The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tom Holland, Cherry

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

7. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Nicole Kidman, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

5. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

7. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

8. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: 9)

10. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (moved to Best Actor)

Best Original Screenplay 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 6)

8. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 4)

4. Onward (PR: 3)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Connected (PR: 6)

7. Lupin III: The First (PR: 8)

8. The Willoughbys (PR: 7)

9. Bombay Rose (PR: 9)

10. Earwig and the Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 1)

2. Totally Under Control (PR: 3)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 2)

4. The Dissident (PR: 5)

5. Boys State (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Time (PR: 7)

8. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

9. 76 Days (PR: 8)

10. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. New Order (PR: 2)

3. Another Round (PR: 3)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. My Little Sister (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Disciple (PR: 6)

7. Night of the Kings (PR: 5)

8. True Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 10)

10. Atlantis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Wife of a Spy

A Sun

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Tenet (PR: 6)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 5)

5. Rebecca (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

7. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 7)

8. News of the World (PR: 10)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Death on the Nile

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 4)

7. Tenet (PR: 6)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

3. Mank (PR: 6)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

5. Coming 2 America (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 2)

8. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Mulan (PR: 7)

10. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Emma

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Soul (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Tenet (PR: 4)

5. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

7. Minari (PR: 5)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

One Night in Miami

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

5. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Love Myself” from The High Note (PR: 10)

9. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 8)

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

3. Mulan (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 6)

5. Rebecca (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 8)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 5)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Tenet (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 6)

4. Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 4)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Greyhound (PR: 8)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Invisible Man

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 6)

4. Mulan (PR: 3)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 4)

8. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 8)

10. Dolittle (PR: 9)

And this equates to these pictures nabbing the following numbers of nods:

12 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

News of the World

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

Nomadland, One Night in Miami

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father

4 Nominations

Tenet

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, The Midnight Sky, Mulan, Soul

2 Nominations

The Life Ahead, Minari, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Rebecca

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Ammonite, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Coming 2 America, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, My Little Sister, New Order, On the Rocks, Onward, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Sound of Metal, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Freaky Box Office Prediction

A slasher version of Freaky Friday comes from the Blumhouse shop with the release of Freaky next weekend. The low budget horror flick features a high school senior (Kathryn Newton) who switches bodies with a serial killer (Vince Vaughn). Christopher Landon (who made Happy Death Day and its sequel) directs and costars include Katie Finneran and Alan Ruck.

Shot for a reported $5 million, its studio has often excelled at turning a tidy profit for its ventures. Early reviews are encouraging with an 87% Rotten Tomatoes rating with particular praise for its two leads. The theatrical window here is unique as it opens on Friday on the 13th and will be available for streaming just three weeks later in early December.

The solid critical reaction and Blumhouse’s marketing talents could push Freaky to make its budget back in the initial weekend. I’ll project that it will.

Freaky opening weekend prediction: $5.7 million