Creed III Review

Michael B. Jordan and screenwriters Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin are tasked with mounting a Rocky without Rocky in Creed III. We could feel a slight tectonic shift in the franchise when Donnie (Jordan) had more story on his plate than Sylvester Stallone in part II. This completes the movement and it’s a mostly competent entry that tops its predecessor while certainly not matching the 2015 original. It also proves Jordan, directing for the first time, is capable of admirable stylistic flourishes.

There’s some symmetry in how Creed III starts compared to Rocky III forty years before it. Adonis, like his former trainer, is living large and content. Unlike Mr. Balboa in his third go-round, Creed is retired and a happy hubby to music producer wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and girl dad to Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). We’re left to assume Rocky is also good to go and reunited with his son in Canada.

A prologue from 2002 informs us of Donnie’s childhood friend Damian Anderson. A Golden Gloves phenom with a bright ring future, the ropes close after a run-in the law. 20 years later, he’s out of prison with Jonathan Majors as the grown-up “Diamond Dame”. Reconnecting with Donnie, the true history of their friendship and fallout is shared slowly. We know it will culminate in a squared circle face-off.

Where Creed III shines is the casting of Majors and the continued potent work from Jordan. If Creed II‘s foe (Ivan Drago’s son from Rocky IV) felt gimmicky (and it basically did), the screenplay assists Dame’s character in having more dimension. It’s the intense performance from Majors that sells it. As an aside, Florian Munteanu pops up rather unnecessarily as Viktor Drago once again.

Some of the family drama involving Phylicia Rashad as Donnie’s beloved adoptive mom and her healthy problems and Bianca’s melodic issues are filler. The pace is a little off as it takes about 40 minutes to get warmed up and then feels rushed when we hit the third act.

In that last act, thankfully, Jordan’s skills behind the camera come into focus. The final bout looks and sounds different than what we’ve paid for in the eight previous pics when Rocky, Creed, and his dad (and Uncle Paulie and that robot) were sparring. The hype for Donnie and Dame pays off and that’s where the admission feels earned. So while this eighth round isn’t always smooth, it’s less rocky than some others in the series.

*** (out of four)

2023 Oscar Predictions: March 2023 Edition (Best Picture)

For the past week, I’ve given you my impossibly premature projections for the 96th Academy Awards. After all, most of these predicted features have yet to hold a screening.

Yet it’s worth pointing out that my initial forecast for the previous BP nominees in April of 2022 yielded seven of the ten eventual nominees. Three were included in my top 10: the winner Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, and Women Talking. Four were placed in Other Possibilities – Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, and Tár.

Let’s see how this ratio for 2023 works out a few months down the road, shall we? If you missed my look at Director and the four acting competitions, they can accessed at the end of this post.

Here we go!




The Color Purple

Dune: Part Two

Killers of the Flower Moon


May December


Past Lives

Poor Things

Other Possibilities:

Asteroid City


The Bikeriders


The Book of Clarence


Flint Strong


The Holdvoers

The Killer


Next Goal Wins



Untitled Bob Marley Movie

2023 Oscar Predictions: March Edition (Best Director)

This blogger’s first take on the 96th Academy Awards arrives at Best Director. If you didn’t catch my early glimpses for the acting races, you can find them linked at the bottom.

When I made my initial projections for the recently aired 95th Oscars back in April 2022, it correctly identified one of the eventual nominees: Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans. The eventual winners – the Daniels for Everything Everywhere All at Once – were mentioned in Other Possibilities.

I’ll have Best Picture up later this evening!


Blitz Bazawule, The Color Purple

Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon

Celine Song, Past Lives

Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part Two

Other Possibilities:

Ben Affleck, Air

Wes Anderson, Asteroid City

Bradley Cooper, Maestro

Emerald Fennell, Saltburn

Greta Gerwig, Barbie

Luca Guadagnino, Challengers

Todd Haynes, May December

Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things

Steve McQueen, Blitz

Jeymes Samuel, The Book of Clarence

2023 Oscar Predictions: March Edition (Best Actress)

My initial projections for the 96th Academy Awards arrives at Best Actress. If you missed my takes on the other three acting derbies, they can be accessed at the bottom of the post.

As I’ve mentioned in the other write-ups, this is simply a super early snapshot of the possibilities. A year ago in my first forecast for the 95th Oscars, none of the five actresses I had pegged in this race ended up being nominated. However, the pictures for two of them (Emma Stone for Poor Things and Regina King in Shirley) were pushed back to this year and you can find their names below yet again. Three of the eventual nominees for 2022 were listed in Other Possibilities: eventual winner Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Cate Blanchett (Tár), and Ana de Armas (Blonde).

I’ll have Director and the big prize Picture posted tomorrow!


Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple

Greta Lee, Past Lives

Natalie Portman, May December

Margot Robbie, Barbie

Emma Stone, Poor Things

Other Possibilities:

Marisa Abela, Back to Black

Amy Adams, Nightbitch

Annette Bening, Nyad

Regina King, Shirley

Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Carey Mulligan, Maestro

Saoirse Ronan, Blitz

Cailee Spaeny, Priscilla

Kate Winslet, Lee

Zendaya, Challengers

Air Box Office Prediction

Amazon Studios hope adults are going for a night on the town when Air debuts on Wednesday, April 5th. The fifth directorial feature from Ben Affleck recounts the risky decision by Nike to develop a shoe based around an NBA rookie named Michael Jordan. SPOILER: It turned out well. Ben’s Good Will Hunting cowriter Matt Damon, as salesman Sonny Vaccaro, joins his pal Affleck (who plays company cofounder Phil Knight). The ensemble cast includes Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Matthew Maher, and real life married couple Viola Davis and Julius Tennon as MJ’s parents.

Solid buzz greeted the project when it debuted at South by Southwest. Air sports a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score and it could even be an awards player several months down the road. Adult dramas have faced a tough road recently though A Man Called Otto was a 2023 bright spot in the genre.

The connection to MJ and the star power could give this a lift over the five-day Easter frame. Amazon chose to go full theatrical and not simultaneously release on their streaming service. That is a vote of confidence and TV ads have played frequently during March Madness (in addition to a Super Bowl slot).

Some parents with 80s nostalgia might be distracted taking their kiddos to The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Yet I’ll say this manages to top $10 million over the traditional three-day with mid to high teens for the extended holiday.

Air opening weekend prediction: $12.7 million (Friday to Sunday); $18.9 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Super Mario Bros. Movie prediction, click here:

2023 Oscar Predictions: March Edition (Best Actor)

My wildly early first look at the major categories for next year’s Oscars continues with Best Actor! If you missed my posts covering the supporting derbies, they are linked at the bottom.

Quite honestly, I had a hard time shrinking this list down to 15. Leaving out possible contenders such as Benedict Cumberbatch (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar), Adam Driver (Ferrari), or Michael Fassbender (The Killer or Next Goal Wins) felt odd. Even Matt Damon for Air (out next weekend) is a legit hopeful. There’s plenty of others I could name.

It is worth pointing out that my inaugural projections for 2022 correctly placed eventual winner Brendan Fraser (The Whale) in the top five while Austin Butler (Elvis) and Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) were both mentioned in Other Possibilities.

A final note (and there’s no great to broach this) is that I likely would’ve had Jonathan Majors (Magazine Dreams) in my quintet instead of in Other Possibilities a week ago. However, his weekend arrest obviously complicates the matter and throws any potential campaign into disarray.

Here’s the premiere forecast for ’23 and Best Actress is up next.


Kingsley Ben-Adir, Untitled Bob Marley Movie

Bradley Cooper, Maestro

Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon

Mike Faist, Challengers

Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

Other Possibilities:

Colman Domingo, Rustin

Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Ryan Gosling, Barbie

Andre Holland, The Actor

Anthony Hopkins, Freud’s Last Session

Barry Keoghan, Saltburn

Jonathan Majors, Magazine Dreams

Charles Melton, May December

Joaquin Phoenix, Napoleon

Lakeith Stanfield, The Book of Clarence

The Super Mario Bros. Movie Box Office Prediction

Universal and Illumination hopes The Super Mario Bros. Movie earns a lot of coinage when it debuts Wednesday, April 5th. The animated adaptation of the wildly influential and popular Nintendo game (and numerous spin-offs) comes from the Teen Titans! Go team of Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. Chris Pratt and Charlie Day voice the iconic Mario and Luigi with Anya Taylor-Joy as the Princess. Other performers behind the mic include Jack Black, Keegan Michael-Key, Seth Rogen, Fred Armisen, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Charles Martinet (who voiced the plumbers in the original 80s game).

Given how huge this property has been for decades, the lack of cinematic treatments is a little surprising. Nintendo, however, is leery of licensing for adaptations. That might have something to do with 1993’s Super Mario Bros,, the live-action version with Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper that critics scorched. It bombed upon arrival that summer when the Jurassic dinosaurs ruled the season.

It’s probably a safe assumption that Illumination won’t drop the ball with the moneymaking potential of this franchise. They’ve repeatedly proven their moneymaking abilities with the Despicable Me and Sing series and more.

Arriving over the five-day Easter holiday, Mario should capitalize on youngsters being out of school and the adults who owned the various iterations of the game attending. This is one “kid’s pic” where many of the parents will be cool with tagging along.

Over the Wednesday to Sunday frame, I believe $100 million plus could be in the pipeline. It might even get to nine digits over the traditional weekend.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie opening weekend prediction: $92.6 million (Friday to Sunday); $128.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Air prediction, click here:

March 31-April 2 Box Office Predictions

Blogger’s Update (03/29): I am significantly revising my His Only Son estimate from $6.1M to $3.9M. That puts it in sixth instead of third.

There could be a photo finish at this weekend’s box office between the premiere of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and second frame of John Wick: Chapter 4 after it managed a franchise best premiere. Other than Thieves, the faith-based drama His Only Son also rises in multiplexes. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both newbies here:

While Dungeons certainly has a rabid fanbase and reviews are quite strong, I do wonder how limited its potential is with non-fans who may have zero interest. If this hit $40 million, I wouldn’t be surprised. Same goes for $25 million. That puts me in the middle.

Wick delivered the aforementioned series peak for Keanu and company (more on that below). If the sophomore frame dip is similar to predecessor John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, it might find itself just behind Dungeons in second. I’m expecting a close battle.

His Only Son, like other titles in its genre, could outdo expectations just as Jesus Revolution did a few weeks ago. My mid single digits projections put it in third with sequels Creed III, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and Scream VI all in close proximity in the 4-6 slots.

Here’s how I envision it:

1. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Predicted Gross: $32.7 million

2. John Wick: Chapter 4

Predicted Gross: $31.5 million

3. Creed III

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

4. Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

5. Scream VI

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

6. His Only Son

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

Box Office Results (March 24-26)

There was little doubt that John Wick: Chapter 4 would continue each entry improving upon the opening of the other. The question was by how much. With the best reviews of the quartet, 4 got off to a $73.8 million start. That’s well beyond the $56 million achieved by the third chapter. I went on the highest end of anticipated ranges with $85.5 million. It didn’t get there, but this is a terrific result.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods plummeted 69% in weekend #2 with $9.7 million. I was more generous at $12.9 million. The DCEU sequel (with $45 million) has made less in 10 days than its 2019 predecessor made in its first three. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. This is a bomb that may struggle to make $75 million domestically.

Creed III was third with $8.3 million, in line with $8.8 million take for $140 million after four weeks.

Scream VI was fourth and also did $8.3 million (I predicted a little more at $9.4 million). The horror sequel is at $89 million as it slashes to $100 million plus.

Finally, 65 rounded out the top five with $3.2 million (I said $3 million) for a weak $27 million after three weeks.

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

BUT in the meantime – check out my podcast on your favorite place to get podcasts. Simply search for Movies at the Speed of Speculation for your listening pleasure!

2023 Oscar Predictions: March Edition (Best Supporting Actress)

My impossibly early and speculative first Oscar predictions for the 96th Academy Awards arrives at Best Supporting Actress! If you missed my post regarding the Supporting Actor hopefuls, you can find it here:

Before you know it, I’ll moving to my weekly (or every two weeks) forecasts for the main races. When I did these inaugural picks in this category last year, it correctly identified one eventual nominee (Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans) that made the quintet. However, she did so in lead Actress. Another (Hong Chau for The Whale) was listed in Other Possibilities.

Let’s get to it and Best Actor is up tomorrow!


Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple

Viola Davis, Air

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Taraji P. Henson, The Color Purple

Julianne Moore, May December

Other Possibilities:

Jodie Foster, Nyad

Claire Foy, Strangers

Vanessa Kirby, Napoleon

Lashana Lynch, Untitled Bob Marley Movie

Audra McDonald, Rustin

Carey Mulligan, Saltburn

Margaret Qualley, Poor Things

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Amy Ryan, Beau is Afraid

Moon Seung-ah, Past Lives

2023 Oscar Predictions: March Edition (Best Supporting Actor)

Just as I did last year, I waited an entire two weeks from the previous ceremony before pontificating on the next Oscars. There is my impossibly early look at the six major categories for the 96th Academy Awards and it begins with Supporting Actor.

Let’s be clear that many of the 15 names I mention today will probably not be on the radar screen a little less than a year from now. Release dates will get pushed back and make some hopefuls ineligible. Some pictures will simply fizzle out. Roles will be smaller than anticipated or even bigger and perhaps contend in the lead derby.

With the four acting races and director, I’ll give you my five current picks with ten other possibilities. When it gets to Picture later this week, I’ll project my ten and list fifteen others.

In 2022, when I made my super duper early picks in Supporting Actor, it yielded none of the eventual contenders. Like I said… it’s early. Some of the names I said last time around were Mark Ruffalo for Poor Things, Glynn Turman in Rustin, and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon. All three of those movies were pushed to 2023 and that’s why they materialize again.

Best Supporting Actress will be posted tomorrow. This is my snapshot of Supporting Actor.


Corey Hawkins, The Color Purple

Samuel L. Jackson, The Piano Lesson

Josh O’Connor, Challengers

Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon

Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things

Other Possibilities:

Ben Affleck, Air

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Book of Clarence

Willem Dafoe, Poor Things

Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon

Robert Downey, Jr., Oppenheimer

Matthew Goode, Freud’s Last Stand

Stephen Graham, Blitz

Richard E. Grant, Saltburn

Tahar Rahim, Napoleon

Glynn Turman, Rustin