Riz Ahmed has seen his profile rise in recent years with roles in Nightcrawler, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Venom. On the small screen, he is an Emmy winner for his work on HBO’s The Night Of. And now he could receive the attention of Academy voters with Darius Marder’s upcoming Sound of Metal.
The film casts Ahmed as the drummer of a band who begins to lose his hearing. Costars include Olivia Cooke and Mathieu Amalric. Metal first screened at the Toronto Film Festival over a year ago. Critics responded favorably with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score with most of the reviews heaping praise on its lead.
It was recently announced that Amazon had picked up distribution rights. After a short theatrical run in November, it will be available for streaming in early December. Translation: expect an Oscar push for Ahmed. And it could work. At the moment, Best Actor appears less crowded than Actress. Beyond Anthony Hopkins in The Father (surefire nominee) and Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods (likely nominee), the race looks wide open. Ahmed is an up and comer and with the right campaign, he could find himself in the mix. Two weeks ago, I had him listed 15th of 15 Actor hopefuls. Last week, that rose to 12th. On Thursday, I will whittle my contenders down to ten and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s listed.
Furthermore, the storyline to Metal could lend itself to a Best Sound nomination. This is the first year where Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are being combined into one race. While this category is normally reserved for big budget blockbusters and sci-fi material, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this make a legit play. Bottom line: Ahmed’s work and the sound techs have a shot here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
The buzz for Boys State began at the beginning of the year when it won the highest prize at the Sundance Film Festival for documentaries. It follows a Texas event for teenagers who build a representative form of government. The pic comes from directors Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. The former is responsible for the acclaimed 2014 doc The Overnighters, which didn’t manage to make the final cut in Documentary Feature at the Oscars.
State, streaming on Apple TV since August, has a strong shot at faring better. With a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score, its subject matter could resonate with voters in this highly charged political year. The documentary competition is just starting to formulate at the Academy level. Projects such as Netflix’s Crip Camp and Dick Johnson Is Dead (look for that Watch post shortly) and John Lewis: Good Trouble from CNN Films are already hopefuls and Boys State can include itself in the mix. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
After premiering nearly a year ago at the Hamptons International Film Festival, Tom Dolby’s The Artist’s Wife has hit streaming services over the weekend. The drama finds Lena Olin as the wife of a famed artist (Bruce Dern) who is suffering from dementia. This is a common theme in the 2020 Oscar season. Florian Zeller’s The Father is a major contender in the big races including the work of its headliners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. Earlier today, I wrote my post for Supernova which features Colin Firth traveling with his partner Stanley Tucci – who is also suffering from the disease. I was less hopeful for its Academy prospects.
The same holds true here. Reviews are mixed with a current 59% Rotten Tomatoes score. Artist’s has drawn some comparisons to 2018’s The Wife which nearly won Glenn Close her first statue before being upset by the aforementioned Colman in The Favourite. The bulk of the critical praise here has gone to Olin, a veteran actress with one nod to her credit in Supporting Actress for 1989’s Enemies, A Love Story. Dern was a Best Actor nominee seven years ago for Nebraska.
Yet Best Actress is looking crowded already with plenty of legit possibilities on deck. The Artist’s Wife, with its so-so response thus far, appears bound to get lost in the shuffle.
A pair of actors with Oscar history headline the British drama Supernova, which premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival earlier this week. Colin Firth (Best Actor winner ten years ago for The King’s Speech) and Stanley Tucci (2009 Supporting Actor nominee for The Lovely Bones) star as a couple traveling England after Tucci’s character has been diagnosed with dementia. Harry Macqueen directs.
Early reviews are mostly positive with an 83% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Unsurprisingly, the work of the leads is being praised. However, the critical reaction doesn’t appear strong enough for Supernova to be an awards contender despite Firth and Tucci’s credibility.
Another title with similar themes – Florian Zeller’s The Father – is likely to garner nods. I currently have it predicted in Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Anthony Hopkins), and Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman).
Distributor StudioCanal would need to mount an impressive campaign for Supernova to get on the radar screen and I have my doubts. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Two years ago, there was a Broadway revival of the groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. History repeats itself as the cinematic version of that revival debuts on the Netflix this weekend. That is what happened a half century ago when William Friedkin directed the adaptation of the first show (this was right before Friedkin would move on to Oscar winners and contenders like The French Connection and The Exorcist).
Joe Mantello, who helmed the 2018 stage production, reunites with executive producer Ryan Murphy and screenwriter Mart Crowley (he penned the 1968 production as well). Cast members from the play including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer reprise their roles. Ahead of its streaming start, Band has screened for critics and the result is a current 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Both the original play and movie adaptation were considered innovational at the time due to its gay characters taking center stage. Times have progressed and critics are noting this iteration works well as a period piece and current social commentary.
That said, I’m doubtful that awards voters will take notice. As has been mentioned before in my Oscar Watch posts, Netflix has a very full slate of contenders for 2020 and they will need to be choosy about their campaigns. The 1970 pic didn’t receive any nominations. Despite generally positive reviews, the same will probably hold true again. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
It’s a new week for Oscar predicting and there’s been some significant developments over the past seven days!
Of particular note is the news that Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has been pushed back to December 2021. You will see it drop off all the categories where I had it as a possibility and that includes Picture (where I had it the final 9), Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.
I am also jumping off the Dune train for now. Part of this is uncertainty as to whether it will be released by the February deadline. The other part is general uncertainty if it’s Oscar material. Hopefully we will find out sooner than later. I still have it listed as a possibility in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I’m holding judgment on having it make the final cut.
Now to the pictures that look like they will be released and we begin with The Trial of the Chicago 7. The Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama held industry screenings this week and the verdict is quite positive. It appears to be a shoo-in for a Picture nomination. I’m still listing it at #3 behind the unscreened Mank and Nomadland, but Trial is a threat to win the whole thing as I see it. Sorkin moves into the top five in directing. He replaces Dune maker Denis Villeneuve.
As for the actors in Trial, early reaction appears focused on four of them in the sprawling cast: Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, and Mark Rylance. I’m currently assuming everyone will be campaigned for in Supporting Actor, but that could always change. For the moment, I have Cohen and Rylance getting in (I struggled with this). In my Oscar Watch post, I even mentioned that three actors could make it. If that were to occur, we would see the first Supporting Actor competition with three performers from the same feature since The Godfather Part II in 1974. My shift to thinking it’s all a supporting play by Netflix takes Eddie Redmayne out of contention in the lead derby.
My Dune drop and the West Side delay means there are two new pics in my estimated nine Best Picture nominees. The risers are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pixar’s Soul.
In other developments:
Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, which reunites the director with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray, opened the New York Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive. If Supporting Actor weren’t so potentially crowded, I may have put Murray in my five (he sits in 8th). He could get in, but I also posited the theory that Apple TV might be wise to compete for him in lead actor because the Golden Globes would likely take notice in their Musical/Comedy race.
I wrote an Oscar Watch post for the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, which could absolutely be a factor in Documentary Feature. You can find my Watch write-ups for Trial, Rocks, and Trouble all linked below.
My Best Actress and Actor five remain the same from last week. Same with Supporting Actress.
In Supporting Actor, the aforementioned Rylance rises and that takes out his costar Mateen II for Trial.
In Original Screenplay, it’s Minari in and Judas and the Black Messiah out. The Adapted Screenplay five stays intact.
Finally, you will see big changes next Thursday with my predictions! First off – all categories covering feature films will be added from Animated Feature to Documentary Feature and International Feature to the tech races.
There will also be a dwindling of the numbers. My 25 Picture estimates will drop to 15 with all other races shrinking to ten predictions. It’s gettin’ serious, folks!
Here are the links to this week’s individualized Oscar Watch posts:
Give me a follow on Twitter @tthizz as I’m posting Oscar related polls. For example, 90% of respondents agree with me that Trial will nab a Best Picture nod. 59% believe Bill Murray will not be nominated for Supporting Actor.
And here we go with this Thursday’s estimates!
1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Nomadland (PR: 2)
3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)
4. News of the World (PR: 4)
5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)
6. The Father (PR: 9)
7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)
8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)
9. Soul (PR: 12)
10. Dune (PR: 4)
11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)
12. Minari (PR: 16)
13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)
14. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)
15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)
16. Ammonite (PR: 13)
17. Stillwater (PR: 17)
18. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)
19. Respect (PR: 20)
20. The Midnight Sky (PR: 23)
21. Annette (PR: 18)
22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 21)
23. Red, White and Water (PR: 22)
24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)
25. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)
West Side Story
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)
2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)
3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)
4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)
5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)
6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 7)
7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)
8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)
9. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)
10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)
11. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)
12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)
13. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)
14. Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)
15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
Francis Lee, Ammonite
1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)
2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)
3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)
4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)
5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)
6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)
7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)
8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)
9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 11)
10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)
11. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)
12. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 13)
13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)
14. Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman (PR: Not Ranked)
15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 15)
Rachel Zeller, West Side Story
1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)
2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)
3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)
4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)
5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)
6. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)
7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)
8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)
9. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: 12)
10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)
11. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)
12. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 15)
13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)
14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)
15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: Not Ranked)
Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Best Supporting Actress
1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)
2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)
3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)
4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)
5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)
6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)
7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)
8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 10)
9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)
10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 11)
11. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)
12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 12)
13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 13)
14. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)
15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)
Ariana Debose, West Side Story
Best Supporting Actor
1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)
2. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)
3. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)
4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 14)
5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)
6. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)
7. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 6)
8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 13)
9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)
10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)
One of 2020’s most talked about Oscar contenders has screened this evening ahead of its October Netflix debut. The results are encouraging when it comes to Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and it retains its status a major player throughout awards season.
The true life legal drama marks the second directorial effort of Sorkin, known most for his screenwriting work on the big and small screen. He’s thrice nominated for his words with The Social Network (where he won), Moneyball, and Molly’s Game (his debut behind the camera). Buzz indicates he’ll be nominated again for Original Screenplay. A Best Picture nomination seems likely. I’m not 100% sold he makes the director cut yet, but time will tell.
Here’s where it gets tricky: Trial has a sprawling cast of acclaimed actors that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, and Jeremy Strong. To say that Netflix will need to be strategic in their Supporting Actor campaign is an understatement. This is the same issue faced with other hopefuls like Mank and One Night in Miami.
Early word of mouth could match my initial projections before this screened as Cohen and Mateen II are garnering attention. Yet the same can be said for Rylance (Supporting Actor winner for 2015’s Bridge of Spies) and Langella. I doubt it will happen, but the door is at least open for Trial to get 3 Supporting Actor nods. The combination? TBD. If that occurs, it would be the first pic to accomplish that feat since 1974’s The Godfather Part II.
Also noteworthy is an Original Song submission titled “Hear My Voice” from Celeste that could make the final five. The verdict so far is that Trial is a probable contender in Picture and Director and Screenplay (that one basically assured) with several actors in the mix. It also appears a given that this gets Best Ensemble attention at the SAG Awards. Like Nomadland and One Night in Miami, I suspect this (which has been in my Best Picture predictions from the get go) won’t be leaving. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks has premiered at the New York Film Festival and it marks a reunion with Oscar history in tow. The comedy reunites the filmmaker with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray. That 2003 pic earned 4 Oscar nods including Picture, Director, and the sole acting nomination for the iconic Murray. In fact, Murray may well have come in second in lead Actor to Sean Penn in Mystic River. It won Best Original Screenplay.
Ahead of its October Apple TV streaming premiere, it’s natural that Rocks would be looked at as a potential contender. While early buzz is mostly solid (82% on Rotten Tomatoes), I don’t think the reviews are strong enough that this will make any play for Picture, Director, or Screenplay.
This leaves the legendary comic performer as I don’t see costars Rashida Jones or Marlon Wayans garnering any attention. Supporting Actor has been seen as the likely placement and that race is already looking super crowded (you’ll hear about a number of contenders from The Trial of the Chicago 7 shortly on this blog). Murray appears iffy to make the cut and I have the same feeling for Best Actor if Apple goes that route with their campaign. However – they might be smart to do the latter as the Golden Globes could certainly nominate him for lead in the Musical/Comedy category.
Bottom line: don’t look for this to be an Academy player save for possibly Murray. The Globes could be another story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
CNN Films broke into the Oscar mix two years ago with two documentaries nominated – Three Identical Strangers and RBG, focused on the life and career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That feature has obviously played over the weekend in the wake of her death.
Their film division should have another possibiity in 2020 with John Lewis: Good Trouble. Chronicling the Civil Rights leader and Congressman’s experiences in his decades of service, Trouble premiered just two weeks before his passing in July.
Reviews were solid and respectful with some critics saying it fell a bit short of expectations. Nevertheless the Rotten Tomatoes rating is 96% and it’s easy to imagine that awards voters will wish to include this in the Documentary Feature race. I am doubtful at this point that it wins. The Netflix doc Crip Camp, which comes from Higher Ground Productions formed by Barack and Michelle Obama, is an already released strong contender. Plus we still have plenty of time for other hopefuls to emerge. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
While it was a slimmed down version of it, The Toronto Film Festival just concluded their proceedings. A similar storyline from up north follows activity from the Venice Film Festival as the People Choice’s Award has been bestowed to Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland. This follows the Frances McDormand vehicle taking the Golden Lion in Italy.
There is a long history of People’s Choice recipients getting Oscar attention, especially in recent years. 11 of the past 12 winners went onto nab a Best Picture nomination. Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, and Green Book ended up as the victors.
The runner-up for the award is Regina King’s One Night in Miami. There’s also many examples of second or third place pictures becoming Academy players. Recently, that includes last year’s winner Parasite as well as Argo and Spotlight. Third place finisher, the Canadian drama Beans, is not anticipated to be an Oscar contender.
Back to Nomadland. This is the first movie to ever take the Golden Lion and People’s Choice Award. It solidifies an already strong hopeful for the big prize next April. Obviously, there’s much to be seen like David Fincher’s Mank and Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 to name just two. Yet there’s no question that Nomadland is already in the upper echelon of contenders. Additionally, Miami continued to prove that it could be among the Picture nominees.