Oscar Watch: The Beguiled

Sofia Coppola burst onto the film scene with two highly regarded directorial efforts – 1999’s The Virgin Suicides and 2003’s Lost in Translation. The latter scored multiple Oscar nods, including Picture. Since then, Coppola has been off the awards radar screen for the most part (2006’s Marie Antoinette did win Best Costume Design).

Yet Coppola’s name came up over the weekend as her latest, The Beguiled, won her the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The period piece drama/thriller is actually based on a novel that served as source material for a 1971 Clint Eastwood flick. Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning headline.

The Beguiled hits stateside screens on June 23rd and reaction from the French fest was positive. It stands at a decent 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. If it manages to over perform at the box office, perhaps there could some chatter for Coppola getting Academy attention, though it’s doubtful. One wild card could perhaps be Kidman, who seems to garnering some raves for her performance. And who knows? Perhaps a Costume Desjgn nod.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan has been quite the hot screenwriter as of late with 2015’s Sicario and last year’s Hell or High Water, for which he received an Oscar nomination in Original Screenplay. His latest is Wind River, a thriller involving a murder case at an Indian reservation. It also marks his directorial debut and its buzz from both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals could receive awards attention.

Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jon Bernthal headline River, which rolls in stateside in August. Reviews have been solid thus far and it stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. I would say it stands a fair, but not overwhelming shot at being this year’s Hell or High Water – which scored four Academy nods including Best Picture.

Wind River very likely won’t reach that number, but the possibility exists for a second straight Original Screenplay recognition for Mr. Sheridan.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Box Office Predictions: June 2-4

After a rather disappointing Memorial Day weekend at the box office (more on that below), June rolls in with two major releases: Wonder Woman, the latest in the DC Cinematic Universe and Dreamworks animated feature Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:



There’s little question that Wonder Woman will open at #1, but there’s wide variations on how much it will gross out of the gate. The pic has been garnering glowing reviews and that should help (its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 96%). I currently have it in the low to mid 90s with the thought that the number could be trending up.

A potential battle may emerge for the runner-up position between Underpants and the second weekend of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. However, my estimate puts the non-Sparrow Captain just ahead at #2, as I believe Pirates will suffer a hefty decline.

Holdovers Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Baywatch (which should tumble pretty far after a bad debut) should round out the top five. And with that, my top 5 estimates for the weekend:

1. Wonder Woman

Predicted Gross: $98.3 million

2. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Predicted Gross: $27.4 million

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Predicted Gross: $21.6 million (representing a drop of 61%)

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Predicted Gross: $10 million (representing a drop of 50%)

5. Baywatch

Predicted Gross: $7.5 million (representing a drop of 59%)

Box Office Results (May 26-29)

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales easily topped the four-day holiday weekend. However, it did so with the lowest debut of any of the five films since the original in 2003. The Johnny Depp pic grossed $78.4 million over the long frame, right in line with my $78.6M estimate. It is highly likely this will turn out to be the lowest domestic grosser of the franchise thus far.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was second with $27.1 million (I was a touch lower at $25.3M) to bring its total to $340M.

Baywatch, with wretched reviews and so-so word of mouth, performed a box office belly flop with $27.7 million from its Thursday to Monday roll out, under my projection of $39.4M. That put in in third for Friday to Monday portion of the weekend.

News was bad for Alien: Covenant as well. In its sophomore frame, it tumbled to $13.3 million for fourth (well under my $19.9M forecast).

Everything, Everything rounded out the top five with $7.6 million (I said $6.8M) for a two week tally of $23M.

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

Oscar Watch: You Were Never Really Here

As the Cannes Film Festival culminated today with its awards ceremony, we may have a legitimate Best Actor contender and then some with You Were Never Really Here. The film, written and directed by Lynne Ramsey (in her first work since 2011’s acclaimed We Need to Talk About Kevin , casts Joaquin Phoenix as a war vet trying to save a girl from a sex trafficking ring. Early reviews indicate it’s tough stuff, but well worth it and it sits at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Mr. Phoenix won the Actor prize for his work and it immediately vaults him into contention for his fourth acting nomination. The same could end up holding true for Ramsey, both for her direction and adapted screenplay from the Jonathan Ames novel it’s based upon. Best Picture is also not out of the question.

It remains to be seen whether Amazon Studios can garner the attention for this in the way it managed to for last year’s Manchester by the Sea, but they’ll surely try.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Good Time

The Cannes Film Festival showcased a rather unexpected potential player in the awards derby with the crime drama Good Time, which debuts stateside in August. The film comes from indie directors Ben and Josh Safdie and finds Twilight star Robert Pattinson as a bank robber trying to break his brother out of jail. Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh are among the supporting cast.

Early word of mouth for the A24 offering has been quite positive. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and it was reportedly greeted with a six minute standing ovation in Cannes. Much of the praise has been awarded to Mr. Pattinson. If the pic is able to break out in any substantial way in the U.S., he could emerge as a dark horse candidate for Best Actor and the Original Screenplay could get some buzz as well.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Box Office Prediction

Dreamworks is the first studio with an animated feature for the summer season as Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie hits screens next weekend. Based on a series of well-known childrens books by Dav Pilkey, the film features the voices of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, and Thomas Middleditch. The screenplay comes from Nicholas Stoller, who made last year’s under performing Storks. 

Underpants is certainly more of a question mark than some of the other animated tales this season – namely Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both of which arrive in June. That said, Dreamworks has a mostly solid history of producing hits. 2014’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman debuted to $32 million, 2015’s Home exceeded expectations with $52 million, Trolls made $46 million last fall, and The Boss Baby opened to $50 million in March, outpacing its projections.

While I don’t see this effort getting past $40 million (though it could happen), I believe a high 20s to maybe low 30s debut is in the cards as the studio likely hopes for a sequel (based on the title).

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie opening weekend prediction: $27.4 million

For my Wonder Woman prediction, click here:


Wonder Woman Box Office Prediction

The DC Cinematic Universe continues next weekend with the release of Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. spin-off of Gal Gadot’s version of the iconic character that first appeared in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Patty Jenkins, who hasn’t made a feature since directing Charlize Theron to an Oscar in 2003’s Monster, is the first female director to helm a big-budget comic book adaptation. It’s also the first of its genre to focus on a female protagonist.

In addition to Gadot’s Amazon princess, Chris Pine costars along with Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, and Danny Huston. DC is looking to replicate the smashing success that Marvel and Disney have accomplished in their series of Avengers flicks and spin-offs. The aforementioned Batman v Superman debuted in March 2016 to $166 million, which accounted for over half of its eventual $330M domestic haul. While that’s certainly a very solid gross, many critics and moviegoers weren’t blown away by what they saw. That said, Gadot’s Wonder Woman was considered to be a highlight among many.

The pic is not expected to approach BvS territory. Early estimates have been all over the map as to how it will open (anywhere from $65 to $115 million). A bright spot: word-of-mouth has been encouraging and reviews have been very strong.

I believe Wonder Woman will make over half of what the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel achieved for its start over a year ago and approach $100 million. Hopefully, fans will like what they see as they’ll only have to wait five and a half months to see the title character again in Justice League. 

Wonder Woman opening weekend prediction: $98.3 million

For my Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: May 26-29

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and there’s two potential heavy hitters making their way to the multiplex: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth entry in the Disney franchise and Baywatch, the action comedy reboot of the 90s syndicated TV show. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:



Pirates should easily place first, though my prediction puts it under the debuts of the three previous series entries. Baywatch should place second barring a majorly disappointing opening.

I’m estimating that current #1 Alien: Covenant will slip to fourth with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 displaying a better hold in third. YA romance Everything, Everything should round out the top five.

And with that, here’s my holiday weekend Friday to Monday projections!

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Predicted Gross: $78.6 million

2. Baywatch

Predicted Gross: $32.8 million ($39.4 million projected Thursday to Monday debut)

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Predicted Gross: $25.3 million (representing a drop of 24%)

4. Alien: Covenant

Predicted Gross: $19.9 million (representing a drop of 45%)

5. Everything, Everything

Predicted Gross: $6.8 million (representing a drop of 42%)

Box Office Results (May 19-21) 

In a tight battle for #1, Alien: Covenant just managed to eek out a victory with $36.1 million. Despite mostly solid reviews, the sixth feature in the nearly 40 year-old franchise came in a bit on the lower end of expectations and under my $44.6M prediction.

Following close behind was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in its third frame. The Marvel hit dropped to second with $34.6 million (a tad above my $32.2M projection) for a grand total of $301 million.

Everything, Everything posted a decent third place showing with $11.7 million, right in line with my $12.3M estimate.

Snatched was fourth in its ho-hum run with $7.8 million (I said $9M) for a tally of just $33 million.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is still a bomb, but it was in the top 5 in its sophomore weekend and I didn’t predict it would be there. It grossed $7.1 million to bring its meager gross to $27 million.

I had Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul debuting in the five spot, but it was sixth with $7.1 million (just below my $8.1M estimate). This is a franchise worst debut for the series.

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

Oscar Watch: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Another Cannes Film Festival screening has put two items in the same sentence that don’t really belong together: Oscar buzz and Adam Sandler. Yes, it’s true. When we think of Sandler pics premiering on Netflix over the last couple of years, quality doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

However, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) isn’t your typical Sandler fare. The comedic drama (or dramatic comedy if you will) is from acclaimed indie director Noah Baumbach, maker of The Squid and the Whale and Frances Ha. Instead of David Spade and Rob Schneider, the costars here include Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Emma Thompson.

Early reviews from France suggest this is Mr. Sandler’ finest performance since at least PunchDrunk Love 15 years ago. And that has some folks whispering Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, even with strong notices and a current 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the star of Meyerowitz is probably a bit of a long shot. Yet a weak Best Actor race could change that dynamic come autumn.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Wonderstruck

The Cannes Film Festival started this week across the pond in France and that means some likely Oscar hopefuls are receiving their first screenings. One such picture is Wonderstruck, the latest from director Todd Haynes. It’s based on a 2011 novel by Brian Selznick, the same author who wrote the Hugo series in which Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Best Picture nominee is based upon.

Wonderstruck features Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in supporting roles and child actors Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds in lead parts. Reaction from the Cannes screening has been mostly positive and it currently stands at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Haynes’ three previous efforts have all garnered Oscar nods – 2002’s Far from Heaven, 2007’s I’m Not There, and 2015’s Carol. However, none of them got Best Picture nominations. Instead, the focus was on acting. That will likely apply here with some potential for attention on down ballot categories.

Based on early buzz, I’d keep an eye out for Simmonds, the teenage deaf actress said to be a standout. Wonderstruck could also make a play for Adapted Screenplay as well as Costume Design and Original Score. The film hits theaters stateside in October.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…