Baz Luhrmann’s flashy musical biopic Elvis is the fourth Case Of post for the ten Best Picture nominees at the 95th Academy Awards. Will it shake up the race with a victory? I present the pros and cons.
The Case for Elvis:
Over the summer, Elvis captured the attention of moviegoers to the tune of $151 million domestically. That makes it the highest grosser of the contenders that’s not a gigantic sequel (Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick). It performed well at precursors including 9 BAFTA nods, 7 Critics Choice nods (winning Hair and Makeup), and 3 Golden Globe mentions with Austin Butler taking Actor in a Drama. The 8 nominations are right where this was expected to be.
The Case Against Elvis:
Best Picture victories among precursors and critics groups are nowhere to be found. The 77% Rotten Tomatoes meter is one of 3 hopefuls below the 80% mark. Omissions in the directing and screenplay races are significant misses.
Actor (Austin Butler), Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound
Elvis could leave the building on Oscar night with Butler holding gold and various tech wins. It won’t leave as the Best Picture winner.
My Case Of posts will continue with Everything Everywhere All at Once!
If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:
The four leads in 80 for Brady – Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field – can tout a combined 12 Oscar nods for their performances and five victories. That hardware rivals the seven Super Bowls won by Tom Brady (who is also in the sports farce opening Friday).
That said – can an early February comedy contend for awards attention? The 63% Rotten Tomatoes score, while not bad, doesn’t inspire confidence. Perhaps if the main actress category in Musical or Comedy is weak at the Golden Globes, Tomlin could sneak in (she’s being singled out by some as best of the quartet). Even that is unlikely.
Yet there is one race where 80 for Brady could play and that’s Original Song. Diane Warren is the writer of “Gonna Be You” which is sung by the quintet of Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, and Debbie Harry. Between those five crooners, that’s over 80 Grammy nominations. Then there’s Diane Warren. She rather famously has received 13 Academy mentions without a trip to the stage. This includes ballads such as “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close & Personal and “How Do I Live” from Con Air. She received her 14th nod last week for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman where it’s doubtful the 14th time will be the charm. Warren is receiving a lifetime achievement prize so she will be an Oscar winner. With the star power involved in the “Gonna Be You”, the chances of 80 for Brady being a nominee are actually solid. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
My Case Of posts explaining the merits and demerits for the ten Best Picture nominees arrives at our third contender and that’s The Banshees of Inisherin from Martin McDonagh. Let’s get right into it!
The Case for The Banshees of Inisherin:
On nominations morning, the nine nominations were at or even slightly above expectations. Banshees is tied with All Quiet on the Western Front for the second most nods after the 11 received by Everything Everywhere All at Once. Its quartet of main performers (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, Kerry Condon) are all up. That matches the four acting mentions garnered by, yep, Everything Everywhere. At the Golden Globes, Banshees was a big winner in three contests: Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Farrell), and Screenplay. The precursor run, beyond the Globes, has been impressive. There’s a case to be made that it could win around half of its noms, including Picture, Actor, and Original Screenplay.
The Case Against The Banshees of Inisherin:
There’s also a case to be made that it could go 0 for 9. Despite the Globes love, it was Everything Everywhere that dominated the Critics Choice Awards. At that ceremony, this did go for 0 for 9. In the history of Critics Choice, which began in 1995, exactly zero films that won none of their awards ended up winning Best Picture at the Oscars.
Director (Martin McDonagh), Actor (Colin Farrell), Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson), Supporting Actor (Barry Keoghan), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score
If the Academy isn’t all in on Everything Everywhere, it could be a very good evening for Banshees. If they are, it could go home empty-handed. This logic certainly applies to the Best Picture race.
My Case Of posts will continue with Elvis!
If you missed posts covering the other BP hopefuls, you can peruse them here:
**Blogger’s Update (02/01): I am adding a title to the top 5 that I previously didn’t have on Monday when I did my initial projections. The Chosen: Season 3 Finale is playing on over 2000 screens. As you may recall, the season premiere grossed nearly $9 million in December out of the gate. I’ll say the finale generates a little more than that and could challenge Avatar for the 3 spot. Changes are reflected below.
The seven-week reign of Avatar: The Way of Water at #1 should end in its 8th outing as February dawns at the box office. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller Knock at the Cabin and the octogenarian comedy 80 for Brady debut and look to place 1-2. My detailed prediction posts on them can be found here:
Beginning with 2017’s Split, Shyamalan experienced a career resurgence that could carry Cabin (generating solid word-of-mouth) to a low to mid 20s start. Getting close to $30 million is not out of the question. That number should be enough to top the charts.
80 for Brady looks to appeal to a female audience and older viewers. A Man Called Otto recently showed the demographic is ready for a return at multiplexes. With a robust marketing campaign and the involvement of Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno, I could absolutely see it over performing. My current mid teens forecast is worth keeping an eye on before Thursday (meaning it could rise).
As mentioned, Avatar: The Way of Water (while remaining above $10M) should finally relinquish its stranglehold in first.Fellow holdovers Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and A Man Called Otto should round out the top five and here’s how I see it looking:
1. Knock at the Cabin
Predicted Gross: $23.6 million
2. 80 for Brady
Predicted Gross: $15.5 million
3. Avatar: The Way of Water
Predicted Gross: $11.8 million
4. The Chosen: Season 3 Finale
Predicted Gross: $11 million
5. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Predicted Gross: $8.9 million
6. A Man Called Otto
Predicted Gross: $4.8 million
Box Office Results(January 27-29)
Avatar: The Way of Water cruised to a seventh frame atop the charts with $15.9 million (ahead of my $14.3 million take). The domestic haul is $620 million, but the story of the weekend is that it surpassed Star Wars: The Force Awakens to become the fourth largest worldwide grosser in history. That means James Cameron now has three of the top four (with Avatar and Titanic also in the mix).
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was runner-up with $10.4 million, surpassing my $9.2 million prediction. In six weeks, the animated sequel has amassed $140 million.
The surprise of the weekend was Pathaan, a Hindu language action spectacle that I incorrectly had outside the top five. It was third with $6.8 million and $9.4 million since its Wednesday bow. The PTA of nearly $10k was easily the highest on the charts.
A Man Called Otto was fourth with $6.6 million (in line with my $6 million projection) for $45 million overall.
M3GAN rounded out the top five with $6.2 million (I said $5.8 million) as the campy horror tale is approaching nine figures at $82 million.
Finally, Missing was sixth in its sophomore weekend with $5.6 million, a tad above my $5.1 million call. The ten-day total is $17 million (doubling its reported $7 million budget).
Two years ago, documentarian Maite Alberdi saw her nursing home expose The Mole Agent nominated for Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Agent was originally unveiled at Sundance and her latest project The Eternal Memory has followed suit. It too deals with aging issues as it’s centered on a Chilean couple and a husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
MTV’s documentary film branch quickly snatched up the distribution rights. Based on early reviews, it stands at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are hailing it as a powerful experience. At the last Academy Awards, MTV received their first nod in the competition with Ascension. With a boisterous campaign (which is to be expected), Memory could be a player. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Sundance premiered Theater Camp, the feature-length version of a 2020 short film of the same name. The comedy comes from directors Molly Gordon (who can be seen as Jonah Hill’s sibling in this weekend’s You People on Netflix) and Nick Lieberman. They cowrote the screenplay with Ben Platt (originator of the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway) and Noah Galvin (who would later play Hansen onstage). Gordon, Platt, and Galvin are included in the cast along with Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, and Alan Kim.
Set at an upstate New York camp for aspiring musically inclined stage stars, critics are mostly saying Theater has limited but charming appeal. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a decent 80%. Searchlight believes the breakout potential is enough that they bought it for $8 million and plan a theatrical distribution later this year.
Perhaps some Academy voters went to the kind of camp that’s both celebrated and lampooned here. I don’t believe the reviews are there for it to make any sort of Oscar push. Perhaps the Golden Globes will take a gander for Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, but even that could be a reach. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
My Case Of posts where I serve as the defense for and prosecution against the Best Picture, Director, and four acting competition hopefuls arrives at our second contender in the biggest race of all. That’s Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s long-in-development sequel to 2009’s 3D game changer.
The Case for Avatar: The Way of Water:
If the Academy wants to honor the highest grossing worldwide pic of the bunch, this is your movie. Cameron’s follow-up just surpassed $2 billion at the global box office and has ruled the domestic box office for seven weeks running.
The Case Against Avatar: The Way of Water:
If the Academy wants to honor the highest grossing domestic pic of the bunch, Top Gun: Maverick is their movie. It’s the sequel that had the best nominations haul on Oscar noms morning. Water‘s four overall mentions are less than half of the nine achieved by the original 13 years ago. It won three – Art Direction (now Production Design), Cinematography, and Visual Effects. This one seems destined for a sole victory. Cameron couldn’t make the final five for his direction (he did get a Globes nod) and editing is another significant omission.
Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects
That likely win is in Visual Effects. With the aforementioned whiffs in direction and editing and the less than impressive haul (compared to part 1), Water was pretty fortunate to make the cut at all.
My Case Of posts will continue with The Banshees of Inisherin!
If you missed my posts covering the other BP contenders, click here:
John Carney is known for his features blending music, drama, and comedy. The latest is Flora and Son. It was unveiled at Sundance. Apple TV quickly snatched up distribution rights for a reported $20 million. Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Sophie Vavasseur, and Jack Reynor lead the cast.
Reviews are calling it another charmer from the Once maker. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 93%. An Apple campaign may center on its melodic themes. Carney and Gary Clark are responsible for original songs and the streamer is likely to choose one as their awards pick. The filmmaker is no stranger to Oscar and Globes attention.
“Falling Slowly” from 2007’s Once won the Academy Award for Best Song. “Lost Stars” from Begin Again (2013) was a nominee in the same category. 2016’s Sing Street was up for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. Those races at both ceremonies are in the mix with Flora.
Hewson is receiving praise for her performance in the title role. The Academy five could be a reach. I wouldn’t count her out as a possibility for a Golden Globe nod in the Musical or Comedy Actress competition. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
CODA lead Emilia Jones has had a busy Sundance 2023 with Cat Person and Fairyland. The latter finds her being raised by her gay father (Scoot McNairy) in 1980s San Francisco. Costars include Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, and Maria Bakalova (2020 Supporting Actress contender for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm). It marks the directorial debut of Andrew Durham.
The consistent theme from the fest’s reviews are that it’s good, but not great (it does sit at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). McNairy, a character actor who’s popped up in everything from Killing Them Softly to 12 Years a Slave and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is getting plenty of praise.
I’m not confident the notices are strong enough to warrant an awards campaign, but a savvy distributor could manage to get this into the conversation. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
As is tradition every Oscar season on the blog, it’s time to dig a bit deeper into the nominees for Best Picture, Director, and the four acting derbies. These are my Case Of posts where I lay out the merits for and against the 35 contenders in the aforementioned competitions. Yes, that’s 35 individual posts and we start with the 10 hopefuls in BP.
This will occur alphabetically so All Quiet on the Western Front is on deck!
The Case for All Quiet on the Western Front:
Edward Berger’s antiwar epic is the only title that’s won Best Picture before. The 1929-30 ceremony (the 3rd ever Oscars) bestowed best in show to the 1930 version of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel. If we believe BAFTA is a reliable precursor to Academy glory, Front is loaded with a leading 14 nominations. Tied with The Banshees of Inisherin with 9 nods, the pair is second only to Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s 11. This is Netflix’s one and only contender so the streamer has and will be campaigning hard.
The Case Against All Quiet on the Western Front:
The nine mentions are impressive and more than anticipated. However, a couple of misses are key. Not many films end up winning BP that are omitted in Editing and that applies here. Most importantly, Berger did not make the quintet in Director. While there have been recent examples of the directors of BP recipients not making that cut (Ben Affleck for Argo, Peter Farrelly for Green Book, Sian Heder last year with CODA), this seems like the type of project where the filmmaker needed in to have much hope of taking the biggest prize. That’s not the only chink in the armor. Quiet was widely expected to take the Golden Globe statue for foreign feature and lost in an upset to Argentina, 1985. Netflix hasn’t won a BP yet.
Adapted Screenplay, International Feature Film, Cinematography, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects
Quiet appears close to a lock to make noise in International Feature Film (I wouldn’t bet on an Argentina upset on Oscar night). While its haul of nine is laudable, its chances in BP are low-key.
My Case Of posts will continue with Avatar: The Way of Water!
For the other BP Case Of posts, you can find them here: