Oscar Watch: The Greatest Showman

20th Century Fox waited until the last minute to lift their review embargo off The Greatest Showman, which is out in theaters today. That’s usually not a great sign and that’s been mostly proven. The musical drama featuring Hugh Jackman as circus leader P.T. Barnum is garnering mixed notices and it stands at only 43% on Rotten Tomatoes.

For the last several months, Showman hasn’t been considered much of a factor in the Oscar mix. The reaction out this morning solidifies that notion. Even though it was nominated for Golden Globes in Best Musical/Comedy and Actor for Jackman, I expect neither to be possible when it comes to the Academy. The same, by the way, can be said for Jackman’s more acclaimed work in Logan. 

Reviews have noted that Showman is more successful as an exercise in style than substance. For that, it could factor into some technical categories. Costume Design, Production Design, and Sound Mixing are all feasible nominations, but there’s a good chance that never materializes with any of them. The Globes did nominate “This is Me” for Song and Oscar could follow suit there.

Bottom line: The Greatest Showman will not play in the major categories, but down the line technical recognition is still on the table.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Shape of Water Movie Review

The Shape of Water is a Cold War era tale of strange love filled with director Guillermo del Toro’s boundless enthusiasm. It’s an R rated fairy tale mixing romance, horror, sci fi, comedy, and even musicals. Beyond its exploration of these genres, there are timeless and timely themes of loneliness, racism, classism, and Russian interference. For those familiar with del Toro’s previous efforts, we continue to witness his obsession with movie monsters and creature effects. It’s quite something to behold.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) lives a quiet existence, literally and figuratively. She’s been a mute since infancy and her daily routine is both humorously and sadly shown. By day, she’s hanging out with her starving artist neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), watching musicals and listening to his troubles. By night, she’s a custodian at a secretive government Baltimore facility alongside the chatty Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who regales Elisa with her troubles as well.

These routines are disrupted when a new asset is brought into her workplace. It’s an amphibian like creature from South America (brought to life by Doug Jones) that the U.S. government has obtained. His caretaker and torturer is Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon), who treats anyone that doesn’t look like him badly. A totally foreign creature from another world gets the brunt of it, but so do his wife and any underlings. Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) is the scientist tasked with studying Amphibian Man, but he’s got different motivations going related to the Soviets desiring this particular asset.

Elisa’s reaction to the new guest is different than anyone else’s. She takes sympathy on him – feeding the creature and playing him music. It’s a true attraction as she feels he’s the only one who communicates with her in a meaningful way. The romance that blossoms is one the audience must choose to go with. Truth be told, it’s not much different than the Beauty and the Beast angle if you really think about it.

The Shape of Water is a technical triumph of considerable proportions. The loving detail paid to the production design, costumes, special effects, and camerawork make this a visual treat. From that aspect alone, Water is a must-see.

The performance of Hawkins is a master class of expression with one’s eyes and movements. The picture wouldn’t work unless she nailed her part and she does. A particular scene where she reveals her true feelings about Amphibian Man to Giles is a high note. Speaking of Giles, Jenkins provides terrific support as the sympathetic friend also looking for love. Spencer shines as Zelda, who often serves as the audience’s mouth piece for the wild happenings going on. And Shannon creates a deliciously menacing villain to root against. He’s consumed with just “doing a good job” without thinking of the sickening acts he’s performing.

Like Tarantino or Spielberg at their best, del Toro is a filmmaker who clearly loves his job and adores the history of movies. The Shape of Water gives him a chance to dabble in multiple genres and put his own unique spin on them. His passion is infectious.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: All the Money in the World

When the Golden Globe nominations were announced early last week, there were three rather significant surprises. All the Money in the World, which is out Christmas Day, garnered a trio of nominations that no one really saw coming: Ridley Scott for his direction (even though the film itself failed to get a Picture nod), Michelle Williams for Actress, and Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor.

This begged the question: could the Globes love translate to Oscar affection? The true-life kidnapping thriller had its review embargo lifted today and answers have become (somewhat) more clear. Early critical reaction is positive and it stands at 89% at the moment on Rotten Tomatoes.

Much of the praise is indeed focused on the direction and the two performers listed above (Mark Wahlberg will not factor into Best Actor). Yet we all know the picture has generated unexpected publicity in the last few weeks. Mr. Plummer took over the role of J. Paul Getty when Kevin Spacey became embroiled in scandal. The latter had already shot his entire supporting part and even a trailer was released with Spacey prominently featured.

Amazingly, it was a month and half ago that Plummer was brought in to replace him and director Scott has delivered the finished product in time for release. This unprecedented move has certainly brought Money a lot of attention. It’s certainly possible that the Hollywood Foreign Press (who bestows Globe nominations) were rewarding Scott for his quick turnaround and Plummer for his rapid filming of the role.

Will Oscar follow? Probably not. Many of the overall positive reviews have quibbled with script aspects and delivery. I do not see a Best Picture nomination as likely and that should put Scott out of the running. However, if Money somehow manages to be nominated in the biggest category, Scott would probably follow suit. I would not bet on it (even though many thought Scott was snubbed two years ago for The Martian).

As for the two actors nominated for Globes, Best Actress is incredibly crowded in 2017. It’s hard to dispute Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) as the five front-runners for the five spots with performers like Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) and Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul) waiting in the wings. I simply don’t see room for Williams at this point.

Plummer could be a different story. Supporting Actor is fairly busy, but I see only Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project) and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) as absolute sure things for nominations. My weekly Monday predictions will still probably leave Plummer on the outside looking in, but he’s definitely got a chance.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…


Oscar Watch: Darkest Falls

On November 2nd of this year when I made my initial round of Oscar predictions, Darkest Hour was flying high. I had Joe Wright’s biopic of Winston Churchill starring Gary Oldman tabbed for 11 nominations, behind only Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water (which still appears likely to garner the most nods).

Yet in the last few weeks as my weekly predictions have continued, Darkest has fallen more than any other legit awards contender. Those 11 predicted nominations have now become just 3 as of my estimates yesterday.

In early November, I predicted Hour would clock the following nominations:

Best Picture (where it had it ranked #3)

Best Director (3rd)

Best Actor, Oldman (1st)

Best Supporting Actress, Kristin Scott Thomas (4th)

Best Original Screenplay (3rd)

Best Film Editing (3rd)

Best Cinematography (4th)

Best Production Design (3rd)

Best Costume Design (3rd)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling (1st)

Best Score (1st)

Flash forward to today and Darkest Hour has dropped from my projected Picture nominees. While it stood at 3rd just a few weeks ago, I have it now on the outside looking in at #11. That bottom rung of possibility for Picture puts in a dogfight with films such as The Florida Project, Mudbound, and Phantom Thread for recognition.

Furthermore, in the Director, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay categories – I no longer have them listed in my top 10 possibilities. As for most of the other technical categories like Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, and Score, I have it ranked somewhere between 7-9 on the chances scale.

The news isn’t all bad. Mr. Oldman has consistently ranked #1 in Actor. Barring an upset from Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, odds are that he will pick up his first gold statue for his work as the British Prime Minister. That love could easily transform to the makeup work done on the character, where I have Hour listed as first. And I still have it getting in for Cinematography.

All in all, the best case scenario in my view would be about 8 nominations. However, my latest estimates don’t have it coming close to that. While other contender’s stocks have risen in the last couple of months, Darkest has gone the opposite way.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Box Office Predictions: December 22-25

Well, it’s Christmas week at the box office and that creates one busy time with FIVE new pictures debuting either Wednesday or Friday. They are: fantasy action reboot/sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, musical comedy sequel Pitch Perfect 3, Hugh Jackman’s musically inclined The Greatest Showman, Matt Damon’s sci-fi dramedy Downsizing, and Owen Wilson/Ed Helms comedy Father Figures. You can read my detailed prediction posts on them all here:






It doesn’t end there. Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, the well-publicized crime drama due to its recasting of Kevin Spacey debuts on Christmas Day (Monday). Its grosses will only factor in for its one day earnings this weekend. I’ll predict $3.2 million, which should put it outside the top 10.

And there are awards hopefuls expanding their theater counts. Both The Shape of Water and Darkest Hour are expected to do so. Either of them (especially Water) could factor into the top 10 based on the number of screens. However, I’m not including either (yet) without theater counts. I’ll revise my top 10 if they creep in.

As I see it, Jumanji is riding a wave of good buzz and decent reviews and I have it placing second. Pitch Perfect 3 is its most serious competitor and part 2 did totally unexpected numbers a couple of years back. I still have it third.

The rest of the top five could be filled with other newbies The Greatest Showman and Downsizing. The Christmas weekend often sees meager drops for holdovers, especially for family fare. That could benefit both Ferdinand and Coco. The former could stay in the top 5 depending on how Downsizing performs.

And then we get to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which just had the 2nd highest domestic opening of all time (more on that below). Over the last two Christmas weekends, we’ve seen both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story enter their sophomore weekends and experience drops in the high 30s. It’s worth noting that the Awakens dip was over a three-day weekend and not 2017’s four-day frame. I still foresee Jedi dwindling about 39% for what should easily be a return weekend atop the charts.

Whew. OK… and with that, my top 10 predictions for the four-day holiday frame:

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Predicted Gross: $129 million (representing a drop of 41%)

2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Predicted Gross: $40.5 million (Friday to Monday), $55.1 million (Wednesday to Monday)

3. Pitch Perfect 3

Predicted Gross: $33.6 million

4. The Greatest Showman

Predicted Gross: $16.1 million (Friday to Monday), $22.4 million (Wednesday to Monday)

5. Downsizing

Predicted Gross: $11.7 million

6. Ferdinand

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million (representing a drop of 16%)

7. Coco 

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million (representing a drop of 12%)

8. Father Figures

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

9. Wonder

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million (representing a drop of 14%)

10. Daddy’s Home 2

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million (representing a drop of 11%)

**The Shape of Water and Darkest Hour screen counts could alter top ten on Thursday (12/21)

Box Office Results (December 15-17)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi had no trouble landing the second biggest opening ever behind its predecessor The Force Awakens. The eighth episode in the vaunted franchise took in $220 million, right on target with $219.7 million prediction. Disney should be ecstatic with this result. Jedi should easily top the box office for the foreseeable future.

The Jedi effect caused some newcomers and holdovers to fall below my estimates. Animated Ferdinand debuted in second with $13.4 million, under my $18.6 million projection. The good news? As seen above, it should experience a nice hold entering this weekend.

Coco was third with $9.9 million (I was a bit higher at $11.2 million) for $150 million total.

Wonder was in the four spot with $5.2 million (I said $4.9 million) to bring its earnings to $109 million.

Justice League rounded out the top 5 with $4.3 million (I said $4.2 million) for $219 million overall.

Daddy’s Home 2 was sixth with $3.8 million. I incorrectly held it outside the top 6. The Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg sequel has made $96 million and should easily cross the century mark this weekend.

Finally, I incorrectly had The Disaster Artist in my top 6, but it suffered a hefty decline and placed 8th with $2.7 million compared to my more generous $4.3 million. The James Franco pic stands at $13 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time… and Merry Christmas from your trusty blogger!


Todd’s 2017 Weekly Oscar Predictions: December 18th Edition

Greetings everyone! It’s Monday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are back. In the past week, we’ve seen SAG nominations (often a better indicator than the Globes when it comes to precursors) released. This week, we’re going to see review embargoes lifted for All the Money in the World (tomorrow) and The Greatest Showman (Wednesday). These are really the final two pieces of the awards puzzle.

Here are the significant developments and changes in my rankings from the last 7 days:

  • Best Picture remains the same nine nominees, but Phantom Thread is, well, hanging by one with Mudbound, Darkest Hour, I, Tonya, and (maybe) All the Money in the World close behind.
  • Daniel Kaluuya moves up to #6 in Best Actor possibilities. I’m not ready to put him in, but he’s making Franco and Hanks look a bit vulnerable.
  • In Supporting Actor, I’ve replaced Michael Stuhlbarg with Woody Harrelson.
  • In Supporting Actress, I’ve replaced Melissa Leo with Octavia Spencer. I nearly went with Holly Hunter for the 5 spot.
  • In Adapted Screenplay where the fifth slot looks up for grabs, I’ve put in All the Money in the World in for now (replacing Wonder).
  • The Foreign Language film race released its nine possible contenders. Surprisingly, BPM (Beats Per Minute) and Angelina Jolie’s First, They Killed My Father were left out.
  • The Visual Effects category named their ten possible films. Left off were Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Beauty and the Beast. I had all four in my top ten possibles, but not in my predicted five.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Lady Bird (PR: 2)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 5)

5. The Post (PR: 4)

6. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

7. Get Out (PR: 7)

8. The Florida Project (PR: 8)

9. Phantom Thread (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Mudbound (PR: 11)

11. Darkest Hour (PR: 10)

12. I, Tonya (PR: 12)

13. All the Money in the World (PR: 14)

14. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 15)

15. The Big Sick (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk (PR: 1)

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

3. Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird (PR: 3)

4. Steven Spielberg, The Post (PR: 4)

5. Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Jordan Peele, Get Out (PR: 7)

8. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread (PR: 8)

9. Sean Baker, The Florida Project (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Dee Rees, Mudbound (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

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

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

4. James Franco, The Disaster Artist (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, The Post (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out (PR: 7)

7. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. (PR: 9)

8. Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger (PR: 8)

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

10. Robert Pattinson, Good Time (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Andrew Garfield, Breathe

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 3)

3. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya (PR: 4)

4. Meryl Streep, The Post (PR: 2)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game (PR: 6)

7. Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul (PR: 8)

8. Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 7)

9. Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel (PR: 9)

10. Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World (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. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 5)

5. Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 4)

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

8. Mark Rylance, Dunkirk (PR: 6)

9. Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World (PR: 9)

10. Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Jason Mitchell, Mudbound

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (PR: 1)

2. Allison Janney, I, Tonya (PR: 2)

3. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound (PR: 3)

4. Hong Chau, Downsizing (PR: 5)

5. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Holly Hunter, The Big Sick (PR: 8)

7. Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread (PR: 7)

8. Melissa Leo, Novitiate (PR: 4)

9. Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip (PR: 9)

10. Lois Smith, Marjorie Prime (PR: 10)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 1)

2. Molly’s Game (PR: 4)

3. Mudbound (PR: 3)

4. The Disaster Artist (PR: 4)

5. All the Money in the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder (PR: 5)

7. Wonderstruck (PR: 6)

8. Victoria and Abdul (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Beguiled (PR: 9)

10. Last Flag Flying (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Blade Runner 2049

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Bird (PR: 1)

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

3. Get Out (PR: 3)

4. The Post (PR: 4)

5. The Shape of Water (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Phantom Thread (PR: 6)

7. The Big Sick (PR: 9)

8. The Florida Project (PR: 7)

9. I, Tonya (PR: 8)

10. Dunkirk (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Coco (PR: 1)

2. The Breadwinner (PR: 2)

3. Loving Vincent (PR: 3)

4. The Girl Without Hands (PR: 5)

5. Cars 3 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The LEGO Batman Movie (PR: 6)

7. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (PR: 7)

8. The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (PR: 10)

9. Ferdinand (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Despicable Me 3 (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

The Boss Baby

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Foxtrot (PR: 1)

2. The Square (PR: 3)

3. Loveless (PR: 5)

4. A Fantastic Woman (PR: 6)

5. In the Fade (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Insult (PR: 8)

7. The Wound (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Felicite (PR: Not Ranked)

9. On Body and Soul (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

First, They Killed My Father


The Divine Order

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane (PR: 1)

2. Faces Places (PR: 2)

3. Icarus (PR: Not Ranked)

4. City of Ghosts (PR: 3)

5. Long Strange Trip (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Strong Island (PR: 5)

7. One of Us (PR: 7)

8. LA 92 (PR: Not Ranked)

9. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PR: 6)

10. Chasing Coral (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

3. The Post (PR: 2)

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 5)

5. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. I, Tonya (PR: 6)

7. Lady Bird (PR: 4)

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Darkest Hour (PR: 8)

10. Get Out (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Call Me by Your Name


Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 2)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. The Post (PR: 4)

5. Darkest Hour (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonderstruck (PR: 5)

7. Mudbound (PR: 7)

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

9. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 10)

10. Lady Bird (PR: 9)

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 3)

3. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

4. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 4)

5. The Post (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonderstruck (PR: 8)

7. Phantom Thread (PR: 5)

8. Darkest Hour (PR: 9)

9. The Greatest Showman (PR: 7)

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

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Phantom Thread (PR: 1)

2. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 2)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. The Post (PR: 4)

5. The Greatest Showman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Beguiled (PR: 7)

7. Darkest Hour (PR: 6)

8. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 8)

9. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: Not Ranked)

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

Dropped Out:


Best Makeup and Hairstyling

**Blogger’s Note (12/19/17): A days after my initial estimates, the Academy has announced the seven films that will compete in the category. My updated predictions are reflected here:

Predicted Nominees:

1. Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. I, Tonya (PR: 5)

3. Wonder (PR: 4)


Other Possibilities:

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

5. Bright (PR: Not Ranked)

6. Ghost in the Shell (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Victoria and Abdul (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Beauty and the Beast

Phantom Thread 


The Shape of Water

The Greatest Showman

Blade Runner 2049

Star Wars: The Last Jedi



Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

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

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 3)

5. Dunkirk (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PR: 9)

7. Kong: Skull Island (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Okja (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Alien: Covenant (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Beauty and the Beast

Wonder Woman

Thor: Ragnarok 

Best Sound Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 2)

3. War for the Planet of the Apes (PR: 5)

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 4)

5. Wonder Woman (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Baby Driver (PR: 6)

7. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

8. The Post (PR: 9)

9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Darkest Hour (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


The Greatest Showman 

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: 6)

5. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Beauty and the Beast (PR: 8)

8. The Greatest Showman (PR: 5)

9. Wonder Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Transformers: The Last Knight (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Shape of Water (PR: 2)

2. Dunkirk (PR: 3)

3. Phantom Thread (PR: 1)

4. The Post (PR: 4)

5. Wonderstruck (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (PR: 8)

7. Darkest Hour (PR: 5)

8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 6)

9. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 9)

10. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 10)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Remember Me” from Coco (PR: 1)

2. “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall (PR: 2)

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

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

5. “Mighty River” from Mudbound (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman (PR: 9)

7. “The Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

8. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” from Fifty Shades Darker (PR: 8)

9. “Prayers for this World” from Cries from Syria (PR: 6)

10. “Truth to Power” from An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PR: 10)

That gives us the following nomination breakdowns:

13 Nominations

The Shape of Water

10 Nominations

The Post

9 Nominations


7 Nominations

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

6 Nominations

Blade Runner 2049

5 Nominations

Lady Bird

4 Nominations

Call Me by Your Name, Phantom Thread, Beauty and the Beast

3 Nominations

Darkest Hour, I, Tonya, Mudbound, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

2 Nominations

Get Out, The Florida Project, The Disaster Artist, Coco, War for the Planet of the Apes

1 Nomination

Downsizing, Molly’s Game, All the Money in the World, The Greatest Showman, Wonder Woman, Wonder, Baby Driver, Wonderstruck, Marshall, Detroit, The Breadwinner, Loving Vincent, The Girl Without Hands, Cars 3, Foxtrot, The Square, Loveless, A Fantastic Woman, In the Fade, Jane, Faces Places, Icarus, City of Ghosts, Long Strange Trip

My Oscar picks will be updated next on Christmas Day!


Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an experience of seemingly big moments in the most famous and loved franchise in history. There are instances of enormous satisfaction here and smaller developments and touches that work.

Jedi is also a little deceiving. When the credits rolled, I slowly began to realize the seismic occurrences witnessed weren’t necessarily all that. There are major developments with some historic characters, but there’s also examples of stagnation with some principals and truly furthering the action along. There is no other series of pictures where the positive aspects are magnified to legendary status and the flaws are portrayed as crimes against humanity. If Jar Jar Binks were to be tried in a court of fanatics, his demise would come slowly and with pain.

In the cycle of endless chatter that accompanies each episode, the 8th appears primed to garner both emotions. To this writer, some of its shortcomings were more obvious than what we saw in episode VII, The Force Awakens.

The knock on Awakens was simple and I believe mostly misguided. When J.J. Abrams and Disney took over the reigns from George Lucas, complaints were registered that it was essentially a remake of the 1977 original. This is a fair point to a small degree but I walked away from Awakens highly energized and quite pleased with the new crop of characters mixed with the ones we’ve grown up with. I didn’t feel it was just an effective ripening of our collective member berries. It stood on its own.

When we last left our heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley), she was standing on a lush mountain top seeking the help of one Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). An Awakens surprise was that Luke loomed in the story, but didn’t say a word and didn’t appear until the final frames. He’s present here and he’s plenty conflicted about whether he wants to help his Force bearing wannabe apprentice. While Daisy and Luke work all that out, Chewbacca gets to hang out with seriously adorable creatures called Porgs. They’ll make great Christmas toys.

Meanwhile, Finn (John Boyega) awakens from his slumber caused in the previous installment to befriend Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a maintenance worker who becomes his right-hand girl. Poe (Oscar Isaac) is still the cocky fighter pilot who drives his superiors crazy. They include Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and another high ranking official played by Laura Dern.

Of course, there’s also the First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who made his mom a widow, is back. He’s still experiencing family conflict drama that would probably keep his ship’s psychiatrist busy if there was one. Kylo is still under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and he’s developed a telepathic type communication with Ren. It’s their dynamic that gives Jedi some of its most significant and powerful moments. Much credit is due to the superb work of Ridley and Driver, which was the case the first time around.

Not all character arcs work as well. It mostly does with Luke and Jedi features Hamill’s most convincing work as Luke. Isaac’s Poe is still a bit of a one trick pony, but the talented actor is granted more screen time to shine. Boyega’s Finn is sidelined with subpar subplots. He’s also saddled by teaming up with a thief played by Benicio del Toro. The Oscar winning actor plays his role so over the top that it’s a tad distracting. I’d say the same for Domhnall Gleeson as First Order General Hux. Finn and company have a whole segment on a new planet filled with degenerates and a lush casino. A triumph of production design, yes, but it also felt like filler.

The Last Jedi has a lot of humor in it, more so that I expected from its new director Rian Johnson. The reliance of it may disappoint some die hards, but I found most of it welcome. By its nature, some of the most dramatic moments succeed just because they’re present. Luke walking into the Falcon? Check. Luke and Leia reuniting after years apart? Check. So for those who complained about episode VII’s nostalgia peddling, it’s a bit unavoidable I say.

Bottom line: my Last Jedi reaction was a little more mixed than when I saw Awakens. It’s easily better than anything Lucas gave us in episodes I-III. For those hoping this would be the Empire of the new trilogy, you can transfer that hope to IX.

*** (out of four)

Father Figures Box Office Prediction

Looking to tickle the funny bones of audiences over the long holiday weekend, Father Figures debuts next Friday. The pic casts Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as brothers searching for their biological pops after mom Glenn Close informs them it could be several men. J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames, and Terry Bradshaw (playing himself) are among them. Katt Williams, June Squibb, and Harry Shearer are included in the supporting cast with Lawrence Sher directing.

Originally titled Bastards, the comedy was originally slated by Warner Bros. for a November 2016 opening before a delay until January 2017 and finally this Christmastime release. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with the multiple push backs.

Figures has plenty of competition and of the five wide releases premiering over the weekend, it will likely place fifth among them. Its best hope would be to replicate what Why Him? (last year’s Christmas entry in the genre) did with $15.5 million over the four-day frame.

That could be wishful thinking. I’ll predict this only reaches high single digits to low double digits for its roll out.

Father Figures opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:


For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:


For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:


For my Downsizing prediction, click here:


Downsizing Box Office Prediction

Director Alexander Payne’s latest Downsizing hits screens next Friday for a holiday release. The science fiction dramedy features Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Christoph Waltz, and Hong Chau.

Payne has seen his last three films – Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska – all nab Best Picture nominations. Downsizing was once seen as an Oscar contender until it premiered at the Venice Film Festival months ago to mixed reviews (it stands at a muted 64% on Rotten Tomatoes). In fact, its only Academy chatter is focused on costar Chau, who could manage a Supporting Actress nod.

The near complete lack of awards chatter has muted the buzz for this project. The pic also has plenty of competition for its intended adult audience, including The Greatest Showman and various other genuine Oscar hopefuls.

Add that up and I feel Downsizing will experience a debut in the low double digits or teens. That would a bit under another Damon flick from an acclaimed director released over Christmas from six years ago, Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo. 

Downsizing opening weekend prediction: $11.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:


For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:


For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:


For my Father Figures prediction, click here:


Pitch Perfect 3 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/20/17): I am revising my PP3 estimate from $40.6 million for the four-day to $33.6 million.

The Bellas are back for the holidays as Pitch Perfect 3 hits theaters next Friday. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, and Hana Mae Lee are among returnees alongside Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins. Newcomers to the series include Ruby Rose and John Lithgow. Trish Sie directs.

The 2012 original was a sleeper hit which grossed $65 million and then became more of a sensation once it became available for home viewing. The summer 2015 sequel shocked all prognosticators with a $69 million opening weekend (topping its predecessor’s entire domestic run) and $184 million overall.

It’s no surprise therefore that Universal Pictures wanted a third helping of accapella comedy. Two and a half years later, Pitch 3 faces competition even in its own musical genre with Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman debuting two days prior. That said, the Bellas appear to have a built-in audience and it could be dangerous to underestimate them.

I still believe Pitch 2 could turn out to be the high water mark in the franchise. A debut in the low to mid 40s would probably put part 3 in the #3 spot behind the second weekend of Star Wars and the first for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Yet with its reported smallish budget of $45 million, that should still be music to the studio’s ears.

Pitch Perfect 3 opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:


For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:


For my Downsizing prediction, click here:


For my Father Figures prediction, click here: