Hell Fest Box Office Prediction

Set in a Halloween theme park, the horror flick Hell Fest will attempt to bring in genre fans next weekend. It’s directed by Gregory Plotkin, who’s known more for his work as an editor (Get Out, Happy Death Day). He did make Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. The cast includes Amy Forsyth, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, and Tony Todd (otherwise known as Candyman from that franchise).

Hell Fest debuts in the middle of considerably more high-profile fright fests The Nun and Halloween. Opening on approximately 2200 screens, awareness seems rather low. That said, horror fans can sometimes cause larger than expected grosses.

I’m not seeing it here. I’ll project a mid to maybe high single digits premiere.

Hell Fest opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my Night School prediction, click here:


For my Smallfoot prediction, click here:



Oscar History: 2012

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an Oscar History post (about two and a half years) and I’m at 2012. It was a year in which Seth MacFarlane hosted the show – fresh off his comedy smash Ted. Here’s what transpired in the major categories with some other pictures and performers I might have considered:

The year saw nine nominees for Best Picture in which Ben Affleck’s Argo took the top prize. Other nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (my personal favorite of the year), and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Many Wes Anderson fans would contend that Moonrise Kingdom should have made the cut. And I could certainly argue that The Avengers (perhaps the greatest comic book flick and the year’s biggest grosser) was worth a nod.

The nominations in Best Director were a huge surprise at the time. While Argo won the top prize of all, Affleck was not nominated for his behind the camera efforts. It was the first time since Driving Miss Daisy‘s Bruce Beresford where an Oscar-winning Picture didn’t see its filmmaker nominated.

Instead it was Ang Lee who was victorious for Life of Pi over Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

In addition to Affleck, it was surprising that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) was not included. And I certainly would have put in Tarantino for Django.

The race for Best Actor seemed over when the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln was announced. And that’s exactly how it played out as he won his third Oscar over a strong slate of Bradley Cooper (Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

The exclusion of John Hawkes in The Sessions could have been welcomed, but I’ll admit that’s a solid group.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings over Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Again, no major qualms here. I did enjoy the work of Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (for which she did get a Golden Globe nod).

Supporting Actor was competitive as Christoph Waltz won his second statue for Django (three years after Inglourious Basterds). He was a bit of a surprise winner over Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Other nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Playbook), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Here’s a year where there’s a lot of others I thought of. Waltz won, but I think the work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django was equally impressive. There’s Javier Bardem as one of the greatest Bond villains ever in Skyfall. Or John Goodman’s showy role in Flight. As for some other blockbusters that year, how about Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers or Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike? And my favorite comedic scene of that year was due to Giovanni Ribisi in Ted…

In Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway was a front-runner for Les Miserables and there was no upset. Other nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Jacki Weaver (Playbook).

Judi Dench had more heft to her part as M in Skyfall that year and I’ll also give a shout-out to Salma Hayek’s performance in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

And there’s your Oscar history for 2012! I’ll have 2013 up… hopefully in less than two and a half years!

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 20th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions are below for your perusal! The whirlwind festival season of Venice/Telluride/Toronto has come to an end and there’s precious few Academy contenders left to screen as the races come into more focus.

Here are some significant developments over the week:

  • The rise of Green Book after it won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. The Peter Farrelly directed race relations drama has vaulted into the Best Picture contest as it rises from #10 on last week’s list to #5. It replaces Boy Erased in my listing of the nine predicted Picture nominees. We are not entirely sure yet that it’s Viggo Mortensen for lead Actor and Mahershala Ali for Supporting Actor, though that appears to be the case. Mortensen is now a predicted nominee (going from #8 to #4) and that means I took Robert Redford’s performance in The Old Man & The Gun out. Ali rises from #5 to #2 in Supporting Actor.
  • In Best Director, I’ve gone back to Spike Lee being nominated for BlacKkKlansman over Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk.
  • The Best Actress five remains the same, but I’ll note that Yalitza Aparicio’s work in Roma is sneaking up there as far a predicted nominee.
  • Word is out that Natalie Portman in Vox Lux will be campaigned for in Supporting Actress and not lead. My rankings reflect that change.
  • Speaking of Supporting Actress, I now have both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in for The Favourite. Weisz replaces Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased (that film has taken a big hit as of late in my rankings and we’ll see if it recovers).
  • Stan and Ollie released its first trailer and while I don’t have it predicted for actual nominations, the film makes its first appearance as far as possible nods in Picture, Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly), and Original Screenplay.
  • The critically acclaimed Leave No Trace from earlier this year makes its inaugural showing for possible nominations in Picture, Actor (Ben Foster), Supporting Actress (Thomasin McKenzie), and Adapted Screenplay.

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 3)

4. The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Green Book (PR: 10)

6. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Black Panther (PR: 9)

9. Vice (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

11. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

12. Widows (PR: 12)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 14)

14. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 16)

15. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

16. The Front Runner (PR: 13)

17. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 23)

18. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 19)

19. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 17)

20. Beautiful Boy (PR: 21)

21. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 18)

22. Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

23. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

24. Eighth Grade (PR: Not Ranked)

25. Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ben Is  Back

Cold War


Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 3)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 5)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

7. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 12)

8. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 10)

9. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 7)

10. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 9)

11. Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 13)

12. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 11)

13. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 14)

14. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

15. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jason Reitman, The Front Runner

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 3)

3. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 2)

4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 8)

5. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 5)

7. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

8. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

10. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 6)

11. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 13)

12. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 11)

13. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 10)

14. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk 

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 6)

7. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 9)

8. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

9. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 10)

10. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 12)

12. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 11)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 14)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 15)

15. Keira Knightley, Colette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 5)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

4. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 3)

5. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

8. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 6)

9. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 9)

10. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

11. John C. Reilly, Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

13. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: 12)

14. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 14)

15. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 1)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 7)

5. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

7. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

8. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Lead Actress)

9. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 6)

10. Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (PR: 8)

11. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: 11)

12. Linda Cardellini, Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Widows (PR: 7)

7. Boy Erased (PR: 6)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

9. Black Panther (PR: 8)

10. The Front Runner (PR: 9)

11. Beautiful Boy (PR: 12)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR 11)

13. Disobedience (PR: 14)

14. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

15. Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 4)

4. Vice (PR: 3)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Reformed (PR: 11)

7. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 8)

9. Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

10. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 9)

11. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ben Is Back (PR: 7)

13. Hereditary (PR: 14)

14. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 12)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Vox Lux


Throwback Review: Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Shadow of the Vampire is high concept cinema in bizarre fashion. It’s not wholly successful in its execution as it struggles to fill the running time of the silent era features it clearly adores. The gimmick is clever on paper and effective occasionally on-screen… what if your lead vampire in your movie was an actual one?

In Steven Katz’s script, the picture happens to be the 1922 German classic Nosferatu. The people portrayed here are real. What happens with them is not. John Malkovich is director F.W. Murnau. He can’t get the rights to Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel so he simply changes the names and keeps the plot (that part is true and resulted in legal proceedings). His casting of Dracu…, or Nosferatu, is said to be unknown theater actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe). It’s explained that he’s severely Method in his approach. The cast and crew, which includes Eddie Izzard in the Jonathan Harker part and Catherine McCormack as Mina, just go with it. That is until disappearances and strange illnesses begin to occur. Murnau knows the real secret. Max isn’t acting at all and he’s made a grand and deadly bargain to nab his lead. In lots of movies about making movies, the studio brass or producers are the bloodsuckers. Not here.

The project is centered on just how far a filmmaker will go to make a masterpiece. And Murnau’s heart of darkness takes him down some pitch black roads (in real life he was said to be a swell guy). Portraying pomposity and madness is right up Malkovich’s sleeve and he did it far more memorably in Being John Malkovich.

Vampire belongs to Dafoe, unrecognizable except for those bulging eyes. Under his makeup, the actor is a joy to watch and is basically the reason this is worthwhile. E. Elias Merhige serves behind the camera here. He does excel at capturing the look of the pre talkies. Yet I never escaped a feeling that the idea behind all this seemed smarter in conception than realization.

Oscar Watch: Love, Gilda

In a year filled with documentaries focused on legendary figures, Friday sees the limited release of Love, Gilda. The pic recounts the life of original SNL cast member Gilda Radner, including her time on that landmark show, her marriage to Gene Wilder, and her battle with cancer. It features interviews with her contemporaries and admirers including Chevy Chase, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader.

Gilda first screened last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival to positive, if not overly praising reviews. It sits at 83% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. As mentioned, from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to Quincy to RBG to Jane Fonda in Five Acts to McQueen, 2018 has been loaded with high-profile docs.

Bottom line: while Gilda may well please her many fans, I don’t see this making the cut in this year’s loaded race.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Smallfoot Box Office Prediction

The Warner Animation Group sets the Legos aside momentarily when Smallfoot debuts next weekend. The 3D computer animated comedic musical (a twist on the Bigfoot story) comes from director Karey Kirkpatrick. He made the well-received Over the Hedge over a decade ago and the not so well-received live-action Eddie Murphy pic Imagine That in 2009. Channing Tatum, James Corden, LeBron James, Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez are among the voices heard here.

As mentioned, the current animation department at Warner Bros has mostly been giving us Lego titles as of late. One exception was 2016’s Storks. It also opened in September and made $21.3 million for its start. That is likely a far better comparison that anything involving those famous blocks.

A low 20s gross should put this in second place next weekend behind the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School. 

Smallfoot opening weekend prediction: $22.1 million

For my Night School prediction, click here:


For my Hell Fest prediction, click here:


Night School Box Office Prediction

One of the most dependable comedic actors at the box office teams with one of the hottest newer names when Night School opens next weekend. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish headline the pic about a group trying to pass their GED exam. Malcolm D. Lee (who just directed Haddish in her breakout Girls Trip) is behind the camera. The supporting cast includes Rob Riggle, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, and Keith David.

Hart has been a model of consistency in recent years when it comes to high earners. In addition to just coming off the massive blockbuster Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, he’s had a handful of $30 million plus openers including Think Like a Man, both Ride Along features, Get Hard, and Central Intelligence. The Think Like a Man sequel almost reached $30 million while About Last Night made $25.6 million for its start. The low-end of the spectrum is The Wedding Ringer with $20.6 million. As for Lee and Haddish’s Trip, it took in $31.2 million.

The collaboration of these talents should yield pleasing results and the likely #1 spot over its made competitor – the animated Smallfoot. I’m a little skeptical this reaches $30 million, though it certainly could. A gross in the mid to high 20s seems more probable.

Night School opening weekend prediction: $27.6 million

For my Smallfoot prediction, click here:


For my Hell Fest prediction, click here: