A Supporting Actor Oscar History

In the eight decades of Oscar history, we have seen the Supporting Actor category honor actors from the same picture about one-fifth of the time. It’s a fairly rare occurrence, but it’s been especially so as of late. It’s been 26 years since the Academy last did so and that serves as the longest gap by a lot. 2017 could change that.

Before we get to that, a little history lesson…

The first multiple Supporting Actor nominees happened in 1939 when Harry Carey and Claude Rains were nominated for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. 

It was 14 years before it happened again with 1953’s Shane bestowing nods for Jack Palance and Brandon deWilde. The following year gave us our first three actor nominations when Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, and Rod Steiger all had their names up for On the Waterfront. The 1950s would do this twice more – in 1957’s Peyton Place for Arthur Kennedy and Russ Tamblyn and 1959’s Anatomy of a Murder for Arthur O’Connell and George C. Scott.

1961 would bring Scott another nod for The Hustler, along with Jackie Gleason. 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde nominated both Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard.

1971 was the first year when one of the multiple picture nominees actually won. Ben Johnson emerged victorious for The Last Picture Show, while costar Jeff Bridges was nominated.

The Godfather saga would bestow six nominations among its two classic films. The 1972 original nominated James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino. The 1974 sequel had Robert De Niro winning the statue, along with the nominated Michael V. Gazzo and Lee Strasberg. 1976’s Rocky nominated both Mick (Burgess Meredith) and Paulie (Burt Young) while Jason Robards won for 1977’s Julia with Maximillian Schell getting a nod.

Timothy Hutton would win for Ordinary People in 1980 with costar Judd Hirsch nominated. Jack Nicholson won for 1983’s Terms of Endearment with John Lithgow getting recognition. 1986’s Platoon was granted two nominees – Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger.

And in 1991 – Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley were nominated for Bugsy. 

That is the 16th and final time this has happened.

As mentioned, this year could potentially change that and there’s a surprising four ways for it to happen.

The least likely of the four scenarios in my opinion would be Jason Mitchell or Garrett Hedlund for Mudbound. Perhaps Mitchell could sneak in, but even that’s a long shot and the chances of both getting in seems non-existent.

The other three scenarios are all plausible. There’s Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water. We have Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg for Call Me by Your Name. It wouldn’t shock me for either to occur, but maybe the best chance is Sam Rockwell (a lock for a nod) and Woody Harrelson (less so) for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. 

It’s been a quarter century since two actors from the same film heard the names called in Supporting Actor. Will 2017 change that?

Stay tuned…


Box Office Predictions: November 24-26

It’s Thanksgiving week at the box office as Disney/Pixar’s Coco looks to reign supreme over the leftovers and Denzel Washington’s courtroom drama Roman J. Israel Esq. also expands nationwide. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them right here:



My Coco estimate is likely to put it in the #1 spot over Justice League, due to the latter’s rather disappointing debut (more on that below). The #3 position should easily go to Wonder, which opened with great results this past weekend (more on that below as well).

The Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one where holdovers experience smallish declines and I see that holding true for titles such as Thor: Ragnarok, Daddy’s Home 2, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Star. 

As for Denzel’s Roman, my $5 million prediction for it over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend puts it outside the top 7 I’m estimating today. And here they are…

1. Coco

Predicted Gross: $54.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $74.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. Justice League

Predicted Gross: $41.6 million (representing a drop of 55%)

3. Wonder

Predicted Gross: $25.4 million (representing a drop of 8%)

4. Thor: Ragnarok

Predicted Gross: $16.2 million (representing a drop of 25%)

5. Daddy’s Home 2

Predicted Gross: $11.9 million (representing a drop of 18%)

6. Murder on the Orient Express

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million (representing a drop of 22%)

7. The Star

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million (representing a drop of 12%)

Box Office Results (November 17-19)

Warner Bros. is dealing with some disappointment this weekend as Justice League suffered a lackluster opening. I had DC’s version of The Avengers nabbing the third highest premiere of 2017 with $128.4 million. However, it grossed well under forecasts with $93.8 million.

That debut is good for just the 8th largest of the year, about $10 million behind Wonder Woman, which wasn’t expected to make the bank that it did. It serves as the DC Cinematic Universe’s smallest opening thus far. That Wonder Woman sequel can’t come soon enough…

The other story of the weekend was the terrific debut of Wonder in second, which defied all expectations with $27.5 million (way above my meager $12.9 million forecast). With great word-of-mouth, expect the drama to perform well over the holiday weekend and for the next several weeks.

Thor: Ragnarok dropped to third after two weeks on top with $21.6 million (under my $25 million estimate) to bring its total to $247 million.

Daddy’s Home 2 was fourth in weekend #2 with $14.4 million (shy of my $15.9 million projection) for a $50 million overall tally.

In its sophomore weekend, Murder on the Orient Express was fifth with $13.8 million (I said $14.5 million) for $51 million total.

Debuting in sixth place was the faith-based animated pic The Star, which pretty much met expectations with $9.8 million (in line with $10.3 million prediction). It could benefit from low declines over Thanksgiving.

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

Todd’s 2017 Weekly Oscar Predictions: November 20th Edition

Greetings all as my Oscar predictions return! My Thursday predictions will now become my Monday predictions as I missed last Thursday due to vacation. The biggest development of the last 11 days was that Steven Spielberg’s The Post screened last night. While it’s under strict embargo still from reviews, word leaking out currently is pretty encouraging and it’s bolstered both the picture and Meryl Streep’s chances for Oscar recognition (and possibly its director and Tom Hanks as well). It’s enough that I’ve got it going from 1 predicted nod a couple weeks ago to 4 today. A word of caution: with the embargo in place, I would describe my current Post placements as fluid.

You can peruse all the activity below and I’ll be back next Monday with fresh predictions!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

3. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 4)

5. Mudbound (PR: 6)

6. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

7. Lady Bird (PR: 7)

8. The Post (PR: 9)

9. The Florida Project (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Get Out (PR: 11)

11. I, Tonya (PR: 10)

12. Phantom Thread (PR: 13)

13. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 12)

14. Detroit (PR: 14)

15. Battle of the Sexes (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Last Flag Flying

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

3. Joe Wright, Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

4. Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 4)

5. Dee Rees, Mudbound (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird (PR: 7)

7. Steven Spielberg, The Post (PR: 9)

8. Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

9. Sean Baker, The Florida Project (PR: 8)

10. Jordan Peele, Get Out (Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread (PR: 2)

3. Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger (PR: 4)

4. Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 3)

5. Andrew Garfield, Breathe (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, The Post (PR: 9)

7. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. (PR: 7)

8. James Franco, The Disaster Artist (PR: 8)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman (PR: 6)

10. Jeremy Renner, Wind River (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Steve Carell, Last Flag Flying

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 1)

2. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (PR: 4)

4. Meryl Streep, The Post (PR: 6)

5. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 5)

7. Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game (PR: 7)

8. Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel (PR: 8)

9. Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul (PR: 9)

10. Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (PR: 1)

2. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 2)

3. Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 3)

4. Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

5. Mark Rylance, Dunkirk (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

7. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 8)

8. Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Jason Mitchell, Mudbound (PR: 7)

10. Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour

Will Poulter, Detroit

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Allison Janney, I, Tonya (PR: 1)

2. Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (PR: 2)

3. Melissa Leo, Novitiate (PR: 3)

4. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound (PR: 4)

5. Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, Downsizing (PR: 5)

7. Holly Hunter, The Big Sick (PR: 7)

8. Julianne Moore, Wonderstruck (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Claire Foy, Breathe (PR: 8)

10. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Bria Vinaite, The Florida Project

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 1)

2. Mudbound (PR: 2)

3. Molly’s Game (PR: 3)

4. The Disaster Artist (PR: 6)

5. Wonderstruck (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Last Flag Flying (PR: 5)

7. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 7)

8. The Beguiled (PR: 8)

9. Stronger (PR: 9)

10. Wonder (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

3. Lady Bird (PR: 3)

4. Get Out (PR: 5)

5. Darkest Hour (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Florida Project (PR: 4)

7. The Big Sick (PR: 7)

8. The Post (PR: 9)

9. I, Tonya (PR: 8)

10. Phantom Thread (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Coco (PR: 1)

2. The Breadwinner (PR: 2)

3. Loving Vincent (PR: 3)

4. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (PR: 4)

5. Cars 3 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The LEGO Batman Movie (PR: 7)

7. Ferdinand (PR: 5)

8. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (PR: 9)

9. The Girl Without Hands (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Despicable Me 3 (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. BPM (Beats Per Minute) (PR: 1)

2. In the Fade (PR: 2)

3. First, They Killed My Father (PR: 4)

4. The Square (PR: 5)

5. Foxtrot (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Fantastic Woman (PR: 8)

7. Loveless (PR: 3)

8. Happy End (PR: 7)

9. The Divine Order (PR: 10)

10. Tom of Finland (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cries from Syria (PR: 1)

2. Jane (PR: 2)

3. Icarus (PR: 4)

4. City of Ghosts (PR: 3)

5. Strong Island (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kedi (PR: 8)

7. Risk (PR: 5)

8. Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Long Strange Trip (PR: 9)

10. Faces Places (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Human Flow


One of Us

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

3. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 4)

5. The Post (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lady Bird (PR: Not Ranked)

7. I, Tonya (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 5)

9. Detroit (PR: 10)

10. Get Out (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:


Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Call Me by Your Name

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 2)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 1)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. Darkest Hour (PR: 4)

5. Wonderstruck (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Post (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Phantom Thread (PR: 6)

8. Mudbound (PR: 9)

9. Detroit (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Wonder Wheel


Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Shape of Water (PR: 1)

2. Dunkirk (PR: 5)

3. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 3)

4. Phantom Thread (PR: 4)

5. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Darkest Hour (PR: 2)

7. Wonderstruck (PR: 8)

8. The Post (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Greatest Showman (PR: 9)

10. Wonder Wheel (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Phantom Thread (PR: 1)

2. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 2)

3. The Beguiled (PR: 5)

4. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

5. The Greatest Showman (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Shape of Water (PR: Not Ranked)

7. The Post (PR: 9)

8. Wonder Wheel (PR: 6)

9. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 7)

10. Murder on the Orient Express (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Blade Runner 2049

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

3. Phantom Thread (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

4. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 3)

5. The Greatest Showman (PR: 4)

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PR: 7)

7. I, Tonya (PR: 8)

8. It (PR: 9)

9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 6)

10. Thor: Ragnarok (PR: 10)

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 4)

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 3)

4. War for the Planet of the Apes (PR: 2)

5. Dunkirk (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spider-Man: Homecoming (PR: 7)

7. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 9)

8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PR: 6)

9. Wonder Woman (PR: 8)

10. Thor: Ragnarok (PR: 10)

Best Sound Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 2)

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 3)

4. The Shape of Water (PR: 4)

5. Transformers: The Last Knight (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Baby Driver (PR: 6)

7. War for the Planet of the Apes (PR: 9)

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (PR: 10)

9. Coco (PR: 7)

10. Wonder Woman (PR: 8)

Best Sound Mixing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 2)

3. Baby Driver (PR: 4)

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 3)

5. The Greatest Showman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

7. Detroit (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Transformers: The Last Knight (PR: 8)

9. War for the Planet of the Apes (PR: 10)

10. Darkest Hour (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Shape of Water (PR: 1)

2. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

3. Dunkirk (PR: 2)

4. Wonderstruck (PR: 4)

5. The Post (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 5)

7. Phantom Thread (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 6)

9. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 7)

10. Detroit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall (PR: 1)

2. “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast (PR: 4)

3. “It Ain’t Fair” from Detroit (PR: 7)

4. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” from Fifty Shades Darker (PR: 3)

5. “Prayers for this World” from Cries from Syria (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Remember Me” from Coco (PR: 2)

7. “Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman (PR: 6)

8. “Truth to Power” from An Inconvenient Sequel (PR: Not Ranked)

9. “The Promise” from The Promise (PR: 8)

10. “Jump” from Step (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“If I Dare” from Battle of the Sexes

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

And that leaves us with the following breakdown of nominations:

12 Nominations

The Shape of Water

10 Nominations

Dunkirk, Darkest Hour

6 Nominations

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

5 Nominations

Blade Runner 2049

4 Nominations

Call Me by Your Name, Mudbound, Lady Bird, The Post, Phantom Thread

3 Nominations

Wonderstruck, Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

2 Nominations

The Florida Project, I, Tonya, Cries from Syria, The Greatest Showman, 

1 Nomination

Stronger, Breathe, Novitiate, Molly’s Game, The Disaster Artist, Get Out, Coco, The Breadwinner, Loving Vincent, Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, Cars 3, BPM (Beats Per Minute), In the Fade, First, They Killed My Father, The Square, Foxtrot, Jane, Icarus, Strong Island, The Beguiled, War for the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: The Last Knight, Baby Driver, Marshall, Detroit, Fifty Shades Darker. 

We’ll see you next Monday with updated projections!

Roman J. Israel, Esq. Box Office Prediction

Denzel Washington headlines Roman J. Israel, Esq., which expands nationwide over the Thanksgiving weekend. From Nightcrawler director Tony Gilroy, the legal drama hopes to appeal to the star’s fans and adult moviegoers looking for alternatives over the Turkey Day frame. Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo costar.

Israel has some issues that could block it from achieving solid grosses. While Washington can be a draw, this isn’t an action pic which are often his highest earners. Additionally, there is little awards buzz and reviews have been mixed (it sits at 55% currently on Rotten Tomatoes).

I’ll estimate that this won’t even reach double digits over the full five-day holiday weekend.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. opening weekend prediction: $5 million (Friday to Sunday), $6.9 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Coco prediction, click here:


Coco Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (11/21): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my estimate up a bit from $50.5 million in the three-day to $54.1 million and $74.6 million for the five-day.

Disney/Pixar looks to brings hordes of family audiences in over the Thanksgiving holiday once again when Coco debuts next Wednesday. The musical fantasy centers around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead and features the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Edward James Olmos. It’s directed by Lee Unkrich, who last made Toy Story 3 for the studio.

The animated flick is already setting box office records in Mexico, which should be no major surprise given its setting. Reviews (as they typically are for Pixar) are solid with a current 96% Rotten Tomatoes score.

So how well will Coco perform stateside? Looking over the history of Disney’s Thanksgiving releases, there are several models to choose from. On the high-end, 2013’s Frozen took in $67.3 million for the three-day traditional Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and $93.9 million for the five-day Wednesday to Sunday gross. On the low-end, 2015’s The Good Dinosaur only managed $39.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $55.4 million for the five-day. I don’t believe Coco will achieve the Frozen peak or the Dinosaur low.

Going back to just last year, Moana earned $56.6 million for the three-day and $82 million from Wednesday-Sunday. That would be on the higher end of expectations here, but it’s certainly feasible. Like Moana, our 2017 Disney offering has good buzz and looks to be the front-runner for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

Yet I believe it may fall a bit below that and the best model I see goes back seven years to Tangled, which took in $48.7 million for the three-day and $68.7 million for the five-day. I’ll estimate Coco gets just above that.

Coco opening weekend prediction: $54.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $74.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Roman J. Israel, Esq. prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: November 17-19

Superheroes will rule the box office this weekend as DC’s Justice League looks to dominate the competition with Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok sliding to second in its third frame. We also have the debuts of Wonder with Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay and the animated The Star. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:




My Justice League estimate gives it the third highest opening of 2017 behind Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – and about $6 million above what Thor achieved just two weeks ago. Figuring in the Ragnarok gross this weekend, the DC/Marvel Cinematic Universes should account for about $150-$160 million of this pre-Thanksgiving weekend.

The 3-6 slots could get interesting. Daddy’s Home 2 rose above expectations, as did Murder on the Orient Express. I’m projecting that their sophomore frames should find them in third and fourth with Wonder rounding out the top 5 and The Star in sixth. Yet it could be close and that could change if either of the newcomers surpass expectations. Both of them stand decent shots at over performing.

And with that, my top 6 predictions for the weekend:

1. Justice League

Predicted Gross: $128.4 million

2. Thor: Ragnarok

Predicted Gross: $25 million (representing a drop of 56%)

3. Daddy’s Home 2

Predicted Gross: $15.9 million (representing a drop of 46%)

4. Murder on the Orient Express

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million (representing a drop of 49%)

5. Wonder

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million

6. The Star

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

Box Office Results (November 10-12)

Thor: Ragnarok hammered all competition and set some franchise records as well. The threequel earned $57 million in weekend #2 (above my $53.8 million take) to brings its total to $212 million. In ten days, it’s already outdone both of its predecessors.

Just as the original did in December 2015, Daddy’s Home 2 surpassed forecasts. While it didn’t open with the $38 million achieved by the first Daddy’s, the sequel took in a pleasing $29.6 million. That’s well ahead of my $21.8 million prediction and on the highest end of expectations. The Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg follow-up hopes to continue its nice run over the next few weeks.

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express also came in high with $28.6 million compared to my $24.6 million estimate. The murder mystery remake did receive a middling B Cinemascore average, but it could still play well with an adult audience for the remainder of November.

After a so-so opening that couldn’t match its predecessor from summer 2016, the second weekend of A Bad Moms Christmas delivered good news for the comedy sequel. It dropped just 32% to earn $11.4 million (topping my $8.6M estimate) to bring its two-week total to $39 million. If it continues to play well through the holidays, it may not be a disappointment after all.

Jigsaw rounded out the top five with $3.4 million (I said $2.9 million) to brings it tally to $34 million.

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


Oscar Watch: Wonder

Stephen Chbsoky’s Wonder opens on Friday and reviews out today reveal that it could be more than the umpteenth film to feature the word “wonder” in the title. Seriously, there’s been five.

The pic is adapted from a R.J. Palacio novel and casts Jacob Tremblay as a young boy with a facial deformity in public school. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play his parents. Truth be told, I kind of assumed Wonder wasn’t much of a candidate for positive reviews. Yet it’s getting them. Variety went as far to say it deserved to be in the same company as 1980’s The Elephant Man and 1985’s Mask, which both had similar themes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering Chbsoky’s previous directorial effort, 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, received critical praise.

How will this translate to Oscar attention? It most likely won’t, but its chances look better today than yesterday at least. That said, a Best Picture nod is unlikely. Lionsgate could push Tremblay in Supporting Actor and there’s plenty who feel the youngster should have been nominated for 2015’s Room, in which his costar Brie Larson won Actress.

That’s probably a long shot, too. The best hope for Wonder is that its solid reviews thus far will translate to a nice box office showing. And just maybe it could factor into Adapted Screenplay, which is looking less crowded than Original Screenplay right now.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…


Ingrid Goes West Movie Review

“Where’s my phone?”

Those three words, in today’s age, are enough to send collective shivers down most of our spines. They’re our lifeline to everything and everyone. In Matt Spicer’s darkly funny Ingrid Goes West, those words have a considerably more sinister meaning when uttered by its central character Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza). We may feel useless without our devices. Yet it provides her with her only feeling of usefulness and takes that in uncomfortable directions.

Ingrid is a lonely and mentally disturbed figure who finds solace through Instagram scrolling and fixating on certain profiles. We first find her ❤️ing the endless wedding posts of someone we assume is her friend. When she crashes said wedding (these things happen in real-time nowadays) and frighteningly confronts her for not being invited, it turns out they’re not really connected at all.

The second part of the title comes into play when Ingrid’s next fixation is Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), a Venice Beach native who’s essentially a professional Instagram poster. Ingrid uses her inheritance from her mom’s death to move across the country with the idea of making her acquaintance. It works and it takes a dognapping  to do it. She actually does befriend Taylor and her starving artist hubby (Wyatt Russell).

There’s not an action taken here by Ingrid that isn’t directly a result of her considerably loneliness and need for friendship, no matter how fake or manufactured it is. Her Batman obsessed landlord (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) becomes a love interest, but only for Ingrid’s self-serving purposes. The character of Taylor’s brother (Billy Magnussen, memorable here) is a sleazy loose cannon, but he’s the only one that manages to see Ingrid for who she is.

Spicer and his co-writer David Branson Smith have certainly concocted a screenplay for its time. While there are laughs present, Ingrid goes into Single White Female territory (that quarter century old pic is name checked).

Plaza is a gifted performer who seems to be in a constant state of ambivalence in many of her roles. Ingrid gives her an opportunity to show a more varied range of emotions. She creates a character that is sympathetic to a point, but she also serves as good reminder to not talk to strangers. Even on Instagram.

The film also cleverly shows what we all kind of already know. These social media platforms are a way to create yourself in many instances and not be yourself. In the conclusion of Ingrid Goes West, our title character has a rare moment to be herself. That might be a moment of triumph in many pictures. In this jet black comedy, we’re left uncertain just how well or badly that could go.

*** (out of four)

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

In his version of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh allows himself a part as big as his glorious mustache. The supporting players are often relegated to bits as small as the crumbs that might fall out of said mustache if his character didn’t maintain it so fastidiously.

That character is famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Don’t pronounce it Hercules or he will correct you in the exacting fashion he orders his eggs. That precision extends to his career. There’s right and wrong and nothing in between. Poirot’s worldview is challenged when he boards the Orient Express circa 1934, which happens to be the year Agatha Christie’s source material was penned.

Booking passage from stunning Istanbul to Paris, Poirot looks forward to a break from his work, but his powers of detection are utilized when a murder occurs. Nefarious character Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is stabbed multiple times during the night. Everyone onboard is a suspect and there’s about a dozen of them that Poirot must consider.

A lot of familiar faces are among the possibilities. There’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s flirty and dramatic Caroline. Daisy Ridley’s mysterious Mary and her connection with Leslie Odom Jr.’s Dr. Arbuthnot. Judi Dench’s domineering Princess Dragomiroff and her quiet assistant (Olivia Colman). Josh Gad is the victim’s right-hand man and Willem Dafoe is German professor Gerhard. Penelope Cruz is there as the faithful Pilar who hints at a more sinful past. And there’s more.

Yet even though Branagh has assembled a fine troupe of actors, this is the Poirot show. He dominates the running time with his outsized personality and facial hair. The character is introduced as a bit of a caricature but he becomes more sympathetic as the details of the murder and those who may have committed it are slowly revealed.

For those who’ve never read the book or seen any of the other filmed versions (the most notable being Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation with Albert Finney as Poirot in a considerably smaller ‘stache), Murder might keep you guessing. A lot of other audience members, I suspect, already know the outcome.

Branagh brings a visual style here that is grand and sweeping. There’s some complicated and impressive tracking and overhead shots to behold. We also have the train careening through the wilderness and into tunnels that often look a bit too digitized for my taste.

Truth be told, this Murder doesn’t add much fresh to Christie’s story. Viewers who are fans of the 1974 pic might deem this unnecessary. It’s still an often fascinating whodunnit with a talented director, albeit one who hogs the spotlight a bit. Poirot may eventually change his views by the closing credits and it mirrors my reaction. It doesn’t get it totally right or totally wrong. There’s an in between.

**1/2 (out of four)

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor’s just wanna have fun sometimes and it’s a feeling that runs through a solid portion of the third film in the franchise’s running time. Ragnarok, more than most Marvel Cinematic Universe entries these days, feels less like it’s building toward next summer’s Avengers free for all where all their characters will join forces. Instead it feels more like director Taika Waititi got a chance to bring an often weird, humorous and  outright loopy vibe to the proceedings. And there’s a lot to dig about it when it’s working on those terms especially.

The subtitle here refers to the destruction of Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) beloved planet of Asgard. That possibility is raised with the return of a previously unknown sister to Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) named Hela (Cate Blanchett), aka the Goddess of Death. She’s got a gnarly headdress and daddy issues like her siblings had. Of course, daddy is Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the king of Asgard who behaved like Hannibal Lecter when he raised Hela but now is basically a vegan in comparison. His daughter preferred the former.

All this business could be described as the main plot line in Ragnarok. And it’s all perfectly acceptable and visually impressive stuff that we’ve seen before. That said, Blanchett is a notch above most MCU villains because… well, Cate Blanchett is just a fantastic actress.

Yet the picture also spends lots of time on the planet Sakaar. It’s a land ruled by the flamboyant Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), whose idea of entertainment is creating Gladiator like battles for his prized possession. Turns out that possession is none other than the Incredible Hulk himself! He’s stuck in his perpetually giant green angry self for a while and not in the Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) scientist mode. It’s also where Thor meets Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a bounty hunter who happens to hail from Asgard.

Sakaar is where the best moments happen in Ragnarok and the bulk of them contain a lot of comedy that lands. Goldblum is simply a joy to watch. We have a ball watching the Hulk trapped in these surroundings. And Loki (forever the best MCU bad guy/sometimes sort of good guy) gets to display his charm coupled with Hiddleston’s always delicious work as the character.

When the first Thor premiered in 2011, I considered it a mixed bag. The Avengers and proper sequel The Dark World did more to hammer home Hemsworth’s effectiveness in the part. On a side note, the absence of girlfriend Natalie Portman is briefly addressed and all it did was remind me that her character even existed in the first place. Director Waititi imbues Ragnarok with a winky face emotion that is most entertaining when it’s away from Asgard and the familiar familial dynamics. In its own strange way, it’s the most pure fun Thor feature of the bunch.

*** (out of four)