On the Rocks Movie Review

In Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, Laura (Rashida Jones) spends a lot of unanticipated time with her wealthy and impulsive playboy dad Felix (Bill Murray). They share a mission to find out whether her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) is cheating and that’s a subject Felix considers himself an expert in. As they push forward in screwball comic fashion to get answers, Laura has some fun while recognizing the flaws of her paternal copilot. And that kind of describes the picture itself. It’s often fun because Bill Murray is by her side. The flaws are also on display. This is often a meandering and predictable journey with only occasionally insightful dialogue about marriage and father/daughter relationships.

Laura is a writer in New York City and Dean is constantly traveling as his business is beginning to flourish. We get a quick glimpse of their romantic wedding night before flashing forward to their domesticated existence with two young girls. She may be suffering writer’s block, but her imagination takes hold with possible hints of her partner’s infidelity. Felix is more than ready to help her get to the bottom of it all and is in fact the driving force to do so.

Those who follow Murray (and why wouldn’t you) should know the folklore of Bill Murray Stories. The legendary actor is known to be unpredictable by showing up unannounced at random parties and having odd and sometimes hilarious interactions with fans. Coppola, who directed him in the far superior Lost in Translation, cheekily plays with that persona here. When he’s speeding through NYC with daughter in tow in a red convertible and devouring caviar, I couldn’t help but think that might be something the actor might do. When they’re pulled over and he charms his way out of a ticket, the same rule applies.

In that sequence, watching Bill Murray in said convertible with said caviar and using his iconic charms to keep on speeding is pleasing enough. The same could be said for a scene where he regales a group of strangers who are now his friends with his energetic singing. It feels as if an outtake might have been committed to film. His chemistry with Jones is just fine, though I wouldn’t think too much about how fantastic his interactions with Scarlett Johansson were in Translation. Maybe that’s not fair as Rocks doesn’t aim near as high as that previous collaboration.

Towards the conclusion, Coppola squeezes in some decent material about how Felix has shaped Laura’s views on men. It helps explain the increasingly ridiculous amateur detective shenanigans they find themselves in. On the Rocks is certainly watchable and entertaining enough and it’s primarily due to the guy in the convertible. I just wish a better story drove the action.

*** (out of four)

2020 Oscar Predictions: October 22nd Edition

The big news of the week when it comes to Oscar forecasting unquestionably involves Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the forthcoming Netflix feature starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. The studio has confirmed that the late Mr. Boseman will contend in the lead actor race and that upends my predictions in both that category and Supporting Actor. For weeks, I have had Boseman listed in 1st position in the latter. He now moves to #2 in lead behind Anthony Hopkins in The Father. 

This significant move shifts my thinking when it comes to other performers. Most notably, I am now guesstimating that Warner Bros. will campaign for Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas and the Black Messiah in the supporting field. To be clear, this is not confirmed and is simply speculation. However, that alteration means Kaluuya is now listed in first for Supporting Actor. This activity also means Boseman could potentially be a double nominee as Netflix is likely to mount a campaign for him with Da 5 Bloods in supporting. I have not listed him in the top ten, but it could certainly happen. The same dynamic applies to Glynn Turman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In the coming weeks, we will see if Boseman and Turman materialize in the top ten Supporting Actor players.

While the Actor derbies see those changes (which include Bill Murray now making the cut in Supporting Actor for On the Rocks, out tomorrow on Apple TV), Picture, Director, Actress, and Supporting Actress have remained the same.

And with that, let’s see how I have each contest shaping up!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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: 7)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

11. Soul (PR: 11)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

14. Respect (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ammonite

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

9. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 9)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

5. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 7)

7. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 6)

10. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Prom

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Supporting)

3. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

4. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

5. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Tom Holland, Cherry (PR: 8)

9. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 9)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

George Clooney, The Midnight Sky

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 6)

7. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)

9. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Swankie, Nomadland (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Best Actor)

2. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

7. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: 10)

8. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

10. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – moved to Best Actor

Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 10)

10. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Respect

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

8. First Cow (PR: 9)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Connected (PR: 6)

7. The Willoughbys (PR: 7)

8. Earwig and the Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Lupin III: The First (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Trolls World Tour

Bombay Rose

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 2)

2. Totally Under Control (PR: 3)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 1)

4. Boys State (PR: 5)

5. The Dissident (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 7)

8. 76 Days (PR: 8)

9. I Am Greta (PR: Not Ranked)

10. MLK/FBI (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Welcome to Chechnya

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. Another Round (PR: 2)

3. New Order (PR: 3)

4. My Little Sister (PR: 9)

5. Night of the Kings (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Disciple (PR: 5)

7. The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 10)

9. A Sun (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Wife of a Spy (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Atlantis

Ema 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 8)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

10. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

5. Mulan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: 6)

7. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 9)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Ammonite

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 5)

4. Nomadland (PR: 3)

5. The Father (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

9. Tenet (PR: 10)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

2. Birds of Prey (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 8)

4. Mank (PR: 2)

5. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

7. Mulan (PR: 6)

8. Respect (PR: 7)

9. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

4. Mank (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Over the Moon (PR: 10)

7. Ammonite (PR: 5)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tenet

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 2)

3. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

4. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 3)

5. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 4)

8. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 9)

10. “Carry Me with You” from Onward (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

“Love Myself” from The High Note

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Rebecca (PR: 5)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ammonite

Hillbilly Elegy

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

4. Mank (PR: 7)

5. Soul (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Greyhound (PR: 4)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. Respect (PR: 9)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 6)

7. The Call of the Wild (PR: 8)

8. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

9. Dolittle (PR: 9)

10. The Old Guard (PR: 10)

And that equates to these pictures getting the following number of nominations:

12 Nominations

Mank

9 Nominations

News of the World

8 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

6 Nominations

Nomadland

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father, One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

Soul

3 Nominations

Mulan

2 Nominations

Coming 2 America, Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, Over the Moon, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Ammonite, Another Round, Birds of Prey, Boys State, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky, My Little Sister, New Order, Night of the Kings, The One and Only Ivan, On the Rocks, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Pieces of a Woman, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Respect, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen’s most famous and profitable alter ego returns this Friday via Amazon Prime with the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Or more specifically… Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (you can see why I abbreviated). The sequel to the surprise 2006 blockbuster was a surprise in itself as it was shot secretly this year.

If you’re asking whether the pic warrants an Oscar Watch post, I’ll remind you what happened 14 years ago. The original Borat scored a nod at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay (losing to The Departed). At the Golden Globes, the film itself made final cut in Best Musical/Comedy (losing to Dreamgirls) and Baron Cohen was victorious in Best Actor in that Musical/Comedy race.

The review embargo ended today and the results are mostly, well, very nice. With a current ranking of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, the general consensus is that it doesn’t quite the match the original but that it’s quite funny and often shocking and unexpectedly sweet. The latter description probably won’t be shared by Rudy Giuliani as headlines are suggesting he won’t like what ends up onscreen.

So could the sequel generate awards buzz? I have a hard time seeing part 2 contending in Adapted Screenplay. Yet the Globes could be a different story. Depending on how competitive the Musical/Comedy field is for Actor, Baron Cohen could find himself among the possibilities. It’s also worth mentioning that his costar Maria Bakalova (as the title character’s daughter) is getting some raves. Unfortunately for her, the Globes do not separate Drama and Musical/Comedy in the supporting races.

While the second Borat pic… or movie… or Moviefilm… may not garner Oscar love, its star still could. He is expected to be in the mix for Supporting Actor in The Trial of the Chicago 7 alongside his costars Mark Rylance and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (how many get in remains to be seen). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Empty Man Box Office Prediction

It’s usually not a confident signal when the distributor releases a trailer for a film one week before its release. Yet that is the case with 20th Century Studios and The Empty Man, a horror pic out this Friday. Based on a 2014 graphic novel, David Prior directs with a cast including James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Stephen Root, Ron Canada, and Joel Courtney.

Originally slated for August before its COVID related delay, there was even some jesting whether this feature actually existed before real footage emerged a couple of days back. Whether audiences know of its existence is a good question. As new titles have trickled out in October, we’ve seen The War with Grandpa and Honest Thief start off in the $3-4 million range.

Empty could benefit from the lack of product out there, especially in its genre. However, the low key approach in its marketing (to be kind) makes me think it won’t hit those marks.

The Empty Man opening weekend prediction: $2.1 million

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Movie Review

A common (and sometimes warranted) complaint about Aaron Sorkin is that he needs a good editor for his dialogue. He absolutely has one in the presence of Alan Baumgarten in The Trial of the Chicago 7, his true life based drama that recounts a riveting and devastatingly unfair courtroom proceeding. With its sprawling ensemble cast, we see sequences from scene one where the principals are finishing each other’s sentences. Most of the players are on the same page in theory as they seek to disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention while the Vietnam War roils on. How they achieve their point is where they diverge and Sorkin’s screenplay expertly shows that not all forms of protest seek to follow the same playbook. They may be using similar words, but their calls to action are often with different actions in mind.

Months after the convention, the newly sworn in Nixon administration wants to establish a law and order attitude that its leader was elected on in those turbulent times. The new Attorney General charges his prosecutors (led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Richard Schultz) to try a group of defendants who led unconnected factions in the summer of ’68. Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) are the Yippies with their colorful outfits and outright disregard for authority. Eddie Redmayne’s Tom Hayden heads up a more organized antiwar effort that looks to change politics via the ballot box. David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) is a pacifist whose non-aggression stances included even World War II. And somehow Black Panther leader Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is among the arrested group even though he was in Chicago briefly and has never met the other men.

The trial is presided by Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), whose scorn for the accused is laid bare in his comments and rulings. There is a sequence, taken from history, where Seale is literally bound and gagged before the jurors and the American public. That was a shock to the collective system a half century ago and it plays that way today onscreen. His silencing is due to his lawyer not being present as he tries to represent himself. The rest of the group is defended by William Kunstler (Mark Rylance), a true believer in the cause who must navigate his way through his clients personalities and the judge who truly believes the opposite of his views.

For a director and writer who pens long passages of dialogue, Sorkin’s Trial is engrossing as we realize what’s not allowed to be said during it. Langella sinks his teeth into the part and you may find yourself verbally objecting to him. The cast’s standouts are the beleaguered Rylance and Baron Cohen. The latter is an inspired choice as he’s the most edgy actor of the bunch portraying the edgiest defendant in the mix (and perhaps the wisest overall). An interplay between his Hoffman and Hayden about the future of liberalism and how to make significant change could be an argument had in 2020. The real star of this movie might be the aforementioned Baumgarten, who cuts the flashbacks to what’s being talked about in court with engrossing efficiency.

There’s a lot of history (some of it altered for dramatic effect) to be unpacked in the 130 minute runtime. This is weighty enough subject matter that Sorkin’s patented righteous indignation doesn’t feel forced. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is right in his wheelhouse and my verdict is that it’s well worth experiencing this fascinating chapter.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Nine Days

Nine Days premiered nine months ago at the Sundance Film Festival. It will be available for all viewers this January after Sony Pictures Classics snatched up the rights. The science fiction drama marks the directorial debut of Edson Oda with a cast featuring Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, and Bill Skarsgard. Executive produced by Spike Jonze, the pic has been praised by critics for its originality, the lead performance from Duke, and its screenplay which was penned by the director. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 86% currently.

Sony Pictures will need to a mount a major campaign in order for this to gain any traction with awards voters. I’m skeptical for now, but it’s not impossible that Original Screenplay could be in play if Sony plays their cards right. Bottom line: Nine Days could easily be ignored in the Oscar conversation, but it’s at least worth keeping an eye on. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Oscar Watch: I’m Your Woman

Rachel Brosnahan has collected an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her small screen work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Julia Hart’s 1970s set crime drama I’m Your Woman marks her first starring role in a feature. Prior to its December streaming release from Amazon Studios, the pic screened yesterday at the AFI Fest.

Reviews thus far are of a mixed nature. Some critics are comparing it to the work of John Cassavates while others aren’t near as kind. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 60%. As has been discussed before on the blog, Best Actress appears to be a crowded field in 2020. While I imagine Amazon will push Brosnahan for attention, I have yet to list her in the top ten possibilities for the race. Based on the varied reaction, I don’t expect that to change and I especially don’t envision a scenario where she approaches the final five. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Rebecca

Remaking Hitchcock is always a tricky proposition, but Ben Wheatley is venturing into that territory with the October 21st Netflix release of Rebecca. The 1940 version from the Master of Suspense is the only film in the legend’s filmography to win Best Picture at the Oscars (though it did not land Hitchcock a directing victory). Armie Hammer, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, and Ann Dowd headline this iteration.

The original source material is actually the 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel and some reviews are saying this 2020 take is actually more faithful than Hitch’s adaptation. Yet it’s getting nowhere close to the raves of what preceded it 80 years ago. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a mixed 54%.

In 1940, the trio of Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, and Judith Anderson were all nominated by the Academy. These would be the roles played now by Hammer, James, and Scott Thomas. While some critics have focused on the work of the latter, I find it doubtful that Scott Thomas could nab her second nomination (her first was 1996’s The English Patient).

Even with the so-so reviews, Rebecca could still get some nods. The Production Design and Costume Design have both been singled out. In my weekly Oscar prediction updates, I had this just on the outside looking in at 6th in the costuming race and I have this making the cut in fifth in Production Design. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: October 15th Edition

The weekly Oscar predictions keep coming as developments from the past 7 days have altered a couple of key races. Most prominent is Best Actress, a potentially crowded field that saw the debut of French Exit with Michelle Pfeiffer. The pic debuted to mixed reviews though critics did praise her work. That said, she moves out of the top 5 and so does Kate Winslet in Ammonite. The two new performers joining the final five: Amy Adams in Hillbilly Elegy and Jennifer Hudson in Respect. 

Speaking of Elegy, the Netflix drama debuted its first trailer this week. Reaction was mixed, but it looks to me that Glenn Close especially solidified her status as a front runner in Supporting Actress.

In Best Actor, there’s movement as well since Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal seems to be gaining steam. He moves into the top five with Tom Hanks in News of the World dropping out. And there’s changes in Supporting Actor where we’re still waiting for category placement to be determined. I moved Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami) back to Supporting and he knocks out Yahya Abdul-Mateen II from The Trial of the Chicago 7. 

Lastly, Pixar’s Soul had its review embargo lifted prior to its Christmas streaming release. Feedback is very solid with some critics proclaiming it’s in the upper echelon on the studio’s work. It could become the fourth animated feature to get a Best Picture nod. For now, I’m saying it’s definitely the heavy favorite to win Animated Feature but it could miss the cut in the biggest race of all.

And with that, the updates are below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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: 6)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

7. The Father (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Soul (PR: 10)

12. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Respect (PR: 14)

15. Ammonite (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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: 4)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

9. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 9)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

5. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 4)

7. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 10)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 9)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Tom Holland, Cherry (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: Not Ranked)

10. George Clooney, The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (moved to Supporting Actor)

Matt Damon, Stillwater

Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 5)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 6)

7. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 10)

8. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 7)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Swankie, Nomadland (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lily Collins, Mank

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 6)

8. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Tom Pelphrey, Mank

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Respect (PR: 9)

9. Promising Young Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Stillwater

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 9)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

9. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

French Exit

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Connected (PR: 7)

7. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

8. Trolls World Tour (PR: 9)

9. Bombay Rose (PR: 8)

10. Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Earwig and the Witch

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Crip Camp (PR: 1)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 2)

3. Totally Under Control (PR: 7)

4. The Dissident (PR: 5)

5. Boys State (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 4)

7. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 6)

8. 76 Days (PR: 8)

9. MLK/FBI (PR: 9)

10. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Notturno 

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. Another Round (PR: 2)

3. New Order (PR: 3)

4. Night of the Kings (PR: 4)

5. The Disciple (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wife of a Spy (PR: 7)

7. Atlantis (PR: 9)

8. Ema (PR: Not Ranked)

9. My Little Sister (PR: 6)

10. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

A Sun

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 8)

8. Tenet (PR: 6)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Coming 2 America (PR: 8)

5. Mulan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: Not Ranked)

7. News of the World (PR: 4)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

9. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 7)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Death on the Nile

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 7)

5. News of the World (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

10. Tenet (PR: 10)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Birds of Prey (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 3)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

4. Coming 2 America (PR: 5)

5. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan (PR: 4)

7. Respect (PR: 6)

8. Emma (PR: 9)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 2)

2. News of the World (PR: 3)

3. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

4. Mank (PR: 1)

5. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 8)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

9. Tenet (PR: 9)

10. Over the Moon (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 2)

3. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 3)

4. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 4)

5. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Love Myself” from The High Note (PR: Not Ranked)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 8)

10. “Carried Me with You” from Onward (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

“Seen” from The Life Ahead

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. Rebecca (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

7. Ammonite (PR: 8)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Judas and and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

10. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Death on the Nile

The Midnight Sky

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 3)

3. Soul (PR: 2)

4. Greyhound (PR: 6)

5. Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

7. Mank (PR: 4)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

9. Respect (PR: 9)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 6)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 8)

8. The Call of the Wild (PR: 7)

9. Dolittle (PR: 10)

10. The Old Guard (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Free Guy 

And that means I am estimating the following movies end up with these numbers:

11 Nominations

Mank

9 Nominations

News of the World

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

Nomadland, One Night in Miami

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father

4 Nominations

Soul

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Mulan

2 Nominations

Ammonite, Coming 2 America, Greyhound, Minari, Over the Moon, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Birds of Prey, Boys State, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, Emma, Giving Voice, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Midnight Sky, New Order, Night of the Kings, The One and Only Ivan, Onward, Pieces of a Woman, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Rebecca, Respect, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch – All In: The Fight for Democracy

Streaming on Amazon Prime since September, the political doc All In: The Fight for Democracy is establishing itself as a real contender in awards season. Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes, the pic focuses on voter suppression and features Georgia’s recent gubernatorial race with Stacey Abrams (who shares a producer credit).

Democracy has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and co-director Garbus is no stranger to Academy attention. She’s been nominated twice for 1998’s The Farm: Angola, USA and 2015’s What Happened, Miss Simone? In this heightened electoral climate, this could easily make the final cut in the Documentary Feature race and I currently have it listed in fourth for possibilities. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…