Todd’s FINAL 2014 Oscar Winner Predictions

Here they are! My FINAL predictions in all categories (minus the short film races) for this year’s Academy Awards. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written individual posts predicting the six major categories. At the time, I said that those could change by final prediction time. None of them have.

However, the Best Picture race in particular has changed a bit in my mind. I believe the chances of Gravity emerging as the winner over 12 Years a Slave is greater than even a couple of days ago. As mentioned before, I see only those two pics and American Hustle as legit contenders for the award. My percentage chances have evolved though: I’d put 12 Years at 60%, Gravity at 25%, and Hustle at 15%.

These final predictions will reflect my pick for winner as well as my runner-up prediction in case I’m wrong. Let’s get right to it:


Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Runner-Up: Gravity


Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Runner-Up: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave


Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Runner-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street


Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Runner-Up: Amy Adams, American Hustle


Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Runner-Up: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave


Predicted Winner: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Runner-Up: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle


Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Runner-Up: The Wolf of Wall Street


Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Runner-Up: Her


Predicted Winner: The Great Beauty

Runner-Up: The Broken Circle Breakdown


Predicted Winner: The Act of Killing

Runner-Up: 20 Feet from Stardom


Predicted Winner: Frozen

Runner-Up: The Wind Rises


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: Nebraska


Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Runner-Up: The Great Gatsby


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: Captain Phillips


Predicted Winner: Dallas Buyers Club

Runner-Up: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: Her


Predicted Winner: “Let It Go” from Frozen

Runner-Up: “No Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Predicted Winner: The Great Gatsby

Runner-Up: Gravity


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: Captain Phillips


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: Captain Phillips


Predicted Winner: Gravity

Runner-Up: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

And there’s my final predictions for Sunday night, folks! I’ll have an update following the show outlining how I did.

The Not So Arnold Classics

For anyone living in the metropolitan area of Columbus as I do – you know that this weekend means a massive event called The Arnold Classic. It is a time when the smell of sweat and performing enhancing drugs fills the air. In reality, it’s a major convention that brings hordes of people from around the world and bundles of money to the city’s economy. And it’s the brainchild of Mr. Schwarzenegger – who still appears every year along with other celebs. In honor of the Classic last year, I penned a post celebrating the star’s greatest films and you can read it here:

This year brings us to the flipside of that coin – “The Not So Arnold Classics”. These are five films that didn’t go so well for the Governator. The Terminator series, Predator, and Total Recall will forever be an integral part of his filmography. These won’t.

Batman and Robin (1997)

Generally and deservedly considered one of the worst blockbusters of all time, Batman and Robin represented a near death blow to the Caped Crusader franchise until Chris Nolan resurrected it years later. And Schwarzenegger’s main villain Mr. Freeze was a low point in which the actor spouted more awful puns than you could shake a popsicle at.

Conan the Destroyer (1984)

One of the actor’s first major roles was the well-received Conan the Barbarian in 1982. Two years later, this sequel did OK box office business but received damaging reviews. It’s generally considered a far inferior product than its predecessor – though it does costar Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain!

Junior (1994)

Schwarzenegger broke into comedy in a big way with director Ivan Reitman with megahits Twins and Kindergarten Cop. His third go-round with Reitman was a flop – Junior – in which he played the world’s first pregnant man. Costarring Twins partner Danny DeVito, it turned out audiences found the idea of the muscle bound Austrian with child rather unappealing. This has the distinction of being the worst story involving Arnold and a pregnancy that doesn’t involve his own nanny.

Last Action Hero (1993)

Coming fresh off the heels of his biggest hit, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, many expected Last Action Hero to be one of the largest blockbusters of 1993. However, bad word of mouth doomed the production to a meager $50 million take domestically. The action comedy isn’t as bad as its reputation, but it isn’t anything special either.

The Last Stand (2013)

After becoming Governor of California and taking an acting break, The Last Stand represented what was intended to be a comeback vehicle. It had been 10 years since Arnold had headlined any picture, but this flick costarring Johnny Knoxville went nowhere with audiences or critics. The $12 million domestic gross of Stand represents his lowest grossing movie (adjusted for inflation) ever.

And that’s the Not So Arnold Classics! For those in the Columbus area – enjoy the Classic. I’ll be where I usually am during a high-profile fitness competition… somewhere else.



Box Office Predictions: February 28-March 2

This final weekend of February/first weekend of March could provide a real showdown at the box office between Liam Neeson’s action pic Non-Stop and the Biblical pic Son of God. Both could be poised for healthy debut weekends and you can find my detailed predictions posts on each here:

While my estimates put the newbies at spots 1 and 2 – if both underwhelm, it could open the door for a fourth week at the top spot for The Lego Movie. The rest of the top five is likely to be filled with holdover action flicks suffering pretty large drops.

And with that, my predictions for this weekend’s top five:

1. Non-Stop

Predicted Gross: $28.2 million

2. Son of God

Predicted Gross: $26.7 milion

3. The LEGO Movie

Predicted Gross: $20.5 million (representing a drop of 34%)

4. 3 Days to Kill

Predicted Gross: $5.1 million (representing a drop of 58%)

5. Robocop

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million (representing a drop of 53%)

Box Office Results (February 21-23)

As for how I did this past weekend, The LEGO Movie did hold #1 for a third frame with $31.3 million, just below my $33.7M estimate. I vastly overestimated how well the rom com About Last Night would hold up in weekend #2. The Kevin Hart flick dropped a steep 70% to $7.5 million, well below my $13.6M prediction. Furthermore, I didn’t give enough credit to Kevin Costner’s 3 Days to Kill. It debuted at second with an OK $12.2 million – well above my modest $7.7M projection. Newcomer Pompeii fared badly with a third place debut at only $10.3 million, below my $13.3M projection. In fourth was Robocop with $9.8 million, in line with $10.4M projection and rounding out the top five was The Monuments Men with $7.9M, under my $10.3M estimate.

As always, I’ll have updates on the blog’s Facebook page this weekend with final results Monday!

Son of God Box Office Prediction

Of the many dozens of box office predictions that I’ve made since I began this blog, I must admit that estimating a number for this Friday’s Son of God is among the most challenging.

Why? Well there’s several factors in play. There are already stories circulating that churches are buying mass quantities of tickets for their congregations. This would lead one to believe that its debut could be quite impressive. Any movie focusing on Jesus Christ and the Christian faith is destined to play well in the heartland but perhaps not as much on the coasts. The all-time top February opener was ten years ago with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which earned $83 million in its first weekend.

Son of God shouldn’t come anywhere near that territory and this brings us to another factor in play. The movie itself is basically a cobbling together of scenes focusing on Jesus from last year’s History Channel miniseries “The Bible”. In other words, the vast majority of Son of God‘s material has already aired on a highly rated TV program. This fact begs the question: how much of the picture’s target audience are aware of this fact and will it lead to them perhaps skipping this?

Add it all up and this project from mega TV producer Mark Burnett and his actress wife Roma Downey has a very wide range of potential debuts. On the low end, we could see mid teens. On the high end… well who knows? This is precisely the type of project that could hugely exceed expectations and make something like $40 million out of the gate.

I will predict an opening in the mid to high 20s is most probable and it could certainly challenge both Non-Stop or The Lego Movie for box office dominance.

Son of God opening weekend prediction: $26.7 million

For my Non-Stop prediction, click here:

Non-Stop Box Office Prediction

It was just over five years ago that Taken became a massive and unexpected hit and turned veteran actor Liam Neeson into a major action star. On Friday, we’ll see if his box office luck continues with Non-Stop. Neeson plays a federal air marshal dealing with a big ol’ crisis aboard an international flight. Julianne Moore and Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o costar.

Non-Stop has a rather modest $50 million budget that it should have no problem earning back and then some. Trailers for it have been pretty effective and the late February release date is good timing for action audiences hungry for something new.

Post Taken, Neeson’s star power has generated high teens to low twenties openings for Unknown and The Grey. I have an inkling that Non-Stop could go higher than that. By doing so, it should end the three week reign of The Lego Movie at #1. That’s if Son of God (the other newbie Friday) doesn’t open bigger and I’ll get to that one later today.

I don’t see Non-Stop debuting below $20 million and it wouldn’t shock me if it reached just above $30 million – but high 20s seems to be the most probable scenario.

Non-Stop opening weekend prediction: $28.2 million

For my Son of God prediction, click here:

The Rise of Jimmy Fallon

If you’ve followed my blog regularly over the last near year and a half, you may have noticed that I’ve got quite a keen interest in the “late night wars”. Recently, I wrote a post speculating about who may be in line to replace David Letterman on CBS when the day comes. You can read that here:

In the past week, Jimmy Fallon has taken over “The Tonight Show” following Jay Leno’s second retirement from the program. Fallon has moved into the role without the controversy that involved Conan O’Brien’s brief ascension to hosting duties a few years back. Of course, it was the Conan fiasco that allowed Jimmy to take over “Late Night” five years ago.

Truth be told, when Fallon was announced as host of that program – my reaction wasn’t all that positive. While I admired a good deal of his work on “SNL”, I didn’t consider myself a big fan of his. I had my serious doubts as to whether he’d be a decent fit for the late night talk show format.

Well, folks, I was wrong. Very wrong. As evidenced by his tenure on “Late Night” and his first week hosting “Tonight” – Fallon has mastered the art form. What’s even more astonishing is he’s done it in a way that seems to appeal to the widest audience possible. He has started out of the gate at #1 beating Letterman and Kimmel and I’ll predict that crown will not be relinquished.

Why is Fallon so good? There are several reasons, as I see it. He’s a master impressionist and his sketches playing musical artists are genius… Google Fallon-Jim Morrison-Reading Rainbow if you don’t believe me (or watch it in the link I provided below).

He has an easy rapport with his guests. Leno came off (to me) as robotic during celebrity interviews. Letterman is much better, but sometimes he appears disinterested when the new starlet is plugging her latest mediocre project. Frankly, Dave probably is disinterested. Jimmy succeeds at actually seeming genuinely interested with his guests.

Fallon’s skits (whether musical or playing around with Justin Timberlake, his best guest) have become the stuff of YouTube legend. More than anyone, he has honed the art of web based comedy gold that is watched and re-watched over and over.

Most of all, it’s Fallon’s enthusiasm that shines through. This is kind of harder to explain. Every time I watch him, I come away with the notion that Jimmy is extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities given to him. He seems to love hosting the show. While Dave Letterman has earned his reputation as a somewhat grumpy curmudgeon – Jimmy Fallon is almost always positive.

Don’t get me wrong – I firmly believe Letterman is a genius. And his 30 years of work has influenced comedy more than anyone else – from Stewart to Conan to Colbert to Kimmel and so on. While Dave’s show can still be great – I must admit that there’s a feeling of autopilot from time to time.

Over on ABC, Jimmy Kimmel has carved a nice niche for himself. His show has the loosest feel of them all, he’s a solid interviewer, and many of the comedy pieces score.

Nowadays, though, Fallon’s getting it done the best. And I never would have expected that. I fall into the category of thought that Leno more or less botched his tenure as host of “Tonight”. Jay seemed to try way too hard to appeal to the widest audience possible and what we were left with was a show that usually felt empty and bland and too middle of the road. And I must admit that the whole “Nice Guy Jay” routine felt forced to me, especially when knowing this is the same man who hid in a closet at NBC to spy on his bosses discussions on him and Letterman.

Ironically, Jimmy is in the similar position as most accessible to viewers compared to his rivals. With Jimmy – it doesn’t feel forced. It feels natural. That’s because Fallon is a natural. And for the first time in 22 years, I’m left with the feeling that someone is hosting “The Tonight Show” who is truly an heir to the throne that Johnny perfected.

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

After five posts predicting the other major categories for this year’s Academy Awards, we’ve arrived at the biggest race of all: Best Picture. Here are the nine nominees:

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club





12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

As I see it, there are three films that stand a realistic chance at taking home the gold. Those three do not include Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, or The Wolf of Wall Street.

That leaves us with American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave.

While I have predicted that Alfonso Cuaron will win Best Director for Gravity (a pick I’m highly confident in), the chances of his picture winning are much more slim. While it was a hit with audiences and critics – the sci-fi epic has won no major precursors to speak of. Its recognition should come to Cuaron and in various technical categories.

American Hustle certainly has plenty of fans and director David O. Russell has been on a heckuva hot streak. The pic stands the second best chance of being the victor.

However, the fact is that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is undeniably the frontrunner and it has been for awhile. Slave has won a slew of precursors, including the Golden Globe for Best Drama. From an odds perspective, I’d put it this way:

12 Years a Slave: 75% chance of winning

American Hustle: 20% chance of winning

Gravity: 5% chance of winning

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

For a full breakdown of my picks, here ya go:

Picture – 12 Years a Slave

Director – Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Actor – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Next weekend – I’ll have my final predictions in all categories before the big show. If any of the six major ones change in the next week (unlikely), I’ll act accordingly. Until then!

2014 Oscars: Best Director Prediction

We’re just over a week away from the Oscars and over the last few days, I’ve been posting my predictions for winners in the six major races. So far the acting categories are covered with the following picks:

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

This brings us to Best Director. Let’s recap the nominees:

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

We begin with getting Payne and Scorsese out of the way. They’re highly unlikely to be the victors. That leaves us with Cuaron, McQueen, and Russell.

We’ll get to my Best Picture prediction soon enough on the blog, but many see 12 Years a Slave as the frontrunner for the race. That would mean McQueen wins, right? Not necessarily.

David O. Russell has truly been on a roll lately with The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and now American Hustle. Academy voters may want to reward his incredible hot streak – especially if Hustle performs well in other categories and has a better than expected evening.

Having said that, the momentum is undeniably with Cuaron. While Gravity may not win the biggest prize, critics and audiences marveled at the director’s technical achievements here. This could be somewhat of a repeat of 2012 when Argo won Picture, but Director went to Ang Lee for his amazing job with Life of Pi.

Cuaron has won basically all the precursors and this seems like a perfect spot for Gravity to win a high-profile category.

Best Director Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Best Picture is up next and it’ll be up this weekend. I’ll have my final predictions in all categories a couple of days before the show. Stay tuned!


This Day in Movie History: February 18

20 years ago Today in Movie History – February 18 – Ben Stiller made his directorial debut with the now Gen X classic Reality Bites. The romantic comedy/drama starring Winona Ryder helped establish not only Stiller, but also Ethan Hawke and Janeane Garafalo as rising stars. Its soundtrack was also a hit and include the single “Stay” by Lisa Loeb. Stiller could onto direct The Cable Guy, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

As for birthdays – John Travolta is 60 today. After becoming known to TV viewers from “Welcome Back, Kotter”, he very successfully transitioned into film with late 70s megahits Saturday Night Fever and Grease and Urban Cowboy in 1980. After some lean years in which only his Look Who’s Talking flicks did well, he had one of the most notable comebacks in film history with 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Since then he’s starred in numerous commercial and critical hits including Get Shorty, Broken Arrow, Phenomenon, Michael, Face/Off, Primary Colors, and Swordfish. He’s had some flops too – particularly the disastrous Battlefield Earth.

Matt Dillon is 50 today. He broke out in the early 80s in such pictures as My Bodyguard, Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, and The Flamingo Kid. He had a major critical hit in Gus Van Sant’s 1989 indie pic Drugstore Cowboy and a big comedic breakout in the smash There’s Something About Mary. Other notable movies include Singles, To Die For, Beautiful Girls, Wild Things, and Crash.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:

John Travolta was in Get Shorty with Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman was in Target with Matt Dillon

And that’s today – February 18 – in Movie History!

Box Office Predictions: February 21-23

The gladiator action pic Pompeii and Kevin Costner thriller 3 Days to Kill both make their debuts on Friday. Neither is likely to come close to challenging a third weekend for the The LEGO Movie at the top spot. You can find my individual prediction posts on the newbies here:

As mentioned, the animated smash hit Lego Movie should easily coast to weekend #3 at the top of the charts. President’s Day weekend leftovers About Last Night and Robocop should both lose around half their audience while Monuments Men could stay in the top five with a fall in its third weekend that is less than that of its competitors. With my prediction of 3 Days to Kill outside the top five, I’ll project 1-6 this week:

1. The LEGO Movie

Predicted Gross: $33.7 million (representing a drop of 32%)

2. About Last Night

Predicted Gross: $13.6 million (representing a drop of 47%)

3. Pompeii

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

4. Robocop

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million (representing a drop of 52%)

5. The Monuments Men

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million (representing a drop of 34%)

6. 3 Days to Kill

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

Box Office Results (February 14-17)

The LEGO Movie held up fantastically in its sophomore frame over the holiday weekend with $62.4 million, besting my estimate of $54.2M. I correctly called the Kevin Hart rom com About Last Night to debut second, but its $27.8 million opening fell below my generous $36.8M prediction. Still, it continues an impressive run of box office dominance in 2014 by Mr. Hart. Robocop had a so-so debut at third. Its $25 million Friday-to-Monday take was right on par with my $24.9M estimate, but its $30 million six-day haul (it opened Wednesday) fell below my projection of $36.8M. The Monuments Men was fourth with $17.9 million – holding up better than my $15.1M projection. Newcomer Endless Love was in the five spot with $14.4 million, a bit below my $16.1M estimate. Finally, Winter’s Tale with Colin Farrell was the big loser of the weekend – opening in 8th place with a weak $8 million, far below my $18.4M prediction.

That’s all for now, folks! I’ll have updates posted on the blog’s Facebook page this weekend with final results Monday.