As April closes out, I’m giving you my initial ranked projections for the Best Picture race at the 96th Academy Awards. Over the past few days, I’ve done the same for Director and the four acting derbies. If you missed them, they are linked at the bottom of the post.
I will note that I made my first rankings for the 95th Oscars around the same time last year. Of those 10 movies predicted, it yielded three eventual nominees: Everything Everywhere All at Once (which won), The Fabelmans, and Women Talking. Four additional contenders were mentioned in Other Possibilities: Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, and Tár.
Three films in my top 25 from 2022 can be found here since they were delayed: Killers of the Flower Moon, Poor Things, and Rustin. Let’s dispense with the caveats you’re used to seeing if you read my other write-ups. Some titles here are bound to be pushed back. Some will simply not match pre-release hype and fall by the wayside. Surprises will emerge throughout the season and at upcoming festivals.
Here’s the premiere outlook on BP’ 23!
TODD’S BEST PICTURE PREDICTIONS
1. Killers of the Flower Moon
2. Past Lives
3. The Color Purple
4. Dune: Part Two
6. Poor Things
10. May December
12. The Holdovers
15. Bob Marley: One Love
17. The Book of Clarence
19. Flint Strong
21. The Killer
22. Asteroid City
24. The Nickel Boys
25. The Bikeriders
And now you can expect updates to these rankings every couple of weeks (they’ll soon become weekly). Keep an eye on the blog and on my podcast (search Movies at the Speed of Speculation) for all of it!
Oscar predictions encompassing my first ranked selections for the 96th Academy Awards turns to Best Director. If you didn’t catch my posts on the acting contenders, you can find them at the bottom.
My initial projections for the previous ceremony at the same juncture in 2022 correctly identified Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans) in the top five and had eventual winners the Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once) in sixth. I also had Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon) and Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things) listed. Their pictures got pushed back and you’ll find them here yet again.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 touches down in multiplexes on May 5th to kick off the summer season. The 32nd feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrives six years after the second Guardians. James Gunn is back in the director’s seat for the third time with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper among those reprising their roles in real and voiceover form.
This franchise in the MCU has caught the attention of awards voters. 2014’s original nabbed two nominations in Makeup and Hairstyling and Visual Effects. It lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel and Interstellar, respectively. 2017’s sequel made it in for Visual Effects and came up short to Blade Runner 2049.
Reviews for the third go-round are mostly positive (though several critics say it tries to pack in too much). The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 80%. That’s behind the 92% achieved by part 1 and 85% of its follow-up. That said, Vol. 3 could certainly (and probably will) be the 3rd Guardians pic and 14th overall MCU title to get make the VE five. Makeup and Hairstyling is definitely on the table. If so and it would be the third MCU pic to contend there after the first Guardians and last year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Anything beyond inclusion in those two races would be a surprise. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Sony Pictures is hoping Love Again will capture the hearts of rom com fans and go on to solid earnings when it debuts May 5th. A remake of the 2016 German feature SMS für Dich, James C. Strouse directs the dramedy starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Russell Tovey, and Celine Dion (who plays a version of herself helping the two leads connect).
At one point titled It’s All Coming Back to Me (after one of Celine’s notable power ballads), Love may find challenges getting audiences coming in. A best case scenario is finding a decent female audience to serve as counter programming to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. That glass half full outlook could get it in high single digits or even $10 million. I’ll say it’ll be lucky to make half of that.
Love Again opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million
For my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 prediction, click here:
Best Actress is up next in my first ranked projections for the 96th Academy Awards. If you missed my posts on the other three acting derbies, they are linked at the bottom.
Per usual, let’s dispense with the usual caveats. Some of these actresses might end up being supporting players (category placement is a mystery for some pictures this early in the calendar). Some of these movies could get pushed to 2024. Both Emma Stone (Poor Things) and Regina King (Shirley) were initially supposed to contend in 2022.
And, of course, some of these performances will fall by the wayside due to poor reaction while surprises will inevitably pop up. When I made my inaugural rankings for the previous ceremony, I had eventual winner Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) listed in third position with Cate Blanchett (Tár) in Other Possibilities.
Nearly three months after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania couldn’t quite match expectations at the box office, another MCU threequel hopes to exceed them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives six years after the second volume with James Gunn returning to direct (he has since moved to the DCEU as their head creative honcho). Back in physical and voiceover form are Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debcki, and Sylvester Stallone. Will Poulter, Chukwudi Iwuji, and Maria Bakalova are newbies to the franchise. This is the second entry in Marvel’s Phase Five and 32nd feature overall.
2014’s Guardians was a critical and commercial smash that made $94 million for its start with a $333 million eventual domestic take. The goodwill was evident when Vol. 2 kicked off summer 2017 with a $146 million premiere and $389 million overall.
Early buzz is that tracking for the third adventure has been underwhelming. It should certainly surpass the $106 million that Quantumania opened at. Matching the second Guardian‘s haul (or the $144 million that Thor: Love and Thunder made last July) might be more challenging.
If this fails to match what its predecessor accomplished, that would be considered a letdown. I am projecting it will by around $20 million and therefore continue the MCU’s shaky 2023.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opening weekend prediction: $125.3 million
My first ranked predictions for the 96th Academy Awards in the four acting derbies with Director and Picture brings us to Best Actor. If you missed the posts covering the supporting races, you can access them here:
Some caveats… especially for this early in the calendar…
Don’t be surprised if a performer or two listed here end up being supporting players. There’s also people slotted in Supporting Actor (Ryan Gosling in Barbie for example) that could move to lead.
If 2022 is a guide, movies currently scheduled for ’23 could move to ’24. The top two actors below? Their pics were originally supposed to arrive last year. And, of course, some contenders simply won’t pan out while surprises will emerge as the year rolls along.
When I did my initial ranked projections for last year’s ceremony, I had Brendan Fraser (The Whale) listed in first place. Of course, he ended up nabbing the statue. Austin Butler (Elvis) and Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) were mentioned in Other Possibilities.
Blogger’s Update (04/26): I am revising my Big George Foreman estimate down from $8.5M to $5.7M
The Super Mario Bros. Movie should have a fourth and final weekend atop the charts before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 kicks off May and the summer cinematic season. Coming-of-age dramedy Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and boxing biopic Big George Foreman also the newbies entering the ring. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:
The revolving door at #2 should belong to Margaret, based on the 1970 Judy Blume bestseller. While a gross approaching $20 million is feasible, I’ll say mid teens is where it lands. It will bank on strong holds in its subsequent frames.
As for Big George Foreman, it might find itself in a close race with the second weekend of Evil Dead Rise for third position. I have Rise falling in the low to mid 60s (similar to the 2013 predecessor Evil Dead). If that occurs, it might win a close decision vs. Foreman.
Mario should have no trouble dominating once again and a mid 30s dip would give it just under $40 million in that fourth outing.
Finally, I have holdover John Wick: Chapter 4 in fifth. That slot could go to Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant or Air, though I have Keanu and company experiencing the smallest decline.
Here’s how I envision the top 5 shaking out:
1. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Predicted Gross: $39.4 million
2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Predicted Gross: $15.3 million
3. Evil Dead Rise
Predicted Gross: $8.8 million
4. Big George Foreman
Predicted Gross: $5.7 million
5. John Wick: Chapter 4
Predicted Gross: $4.1 million
Box Office Results (April 21-23)
As anticipated, it was a three-peat for The Super Mario Bros. Movie as it collected another $59.9 million in coinage. Blasting beyond my $54.8 million prediction, Illumination’s animated juggernaut has amassed $436 million domestically.
Evil Dead Rise proved there’s no horror fatigue for audiences following recent efforts Scream VI, The Pope’s Exorcist, and Renfield. The fifth pic in the franchise opened with an impressive $24.5 million, elevating past my $16.7 million take. That’s just a shade behind what 2013’s Dead ($25.7 million) kicked off with.
Afghanistan War drama Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant with Jake Gyllenhaal couldn’t fill its theaters with a middling $6.3 million. It did premiere a tad ahead of my $5.6 million forecast, but that’s still an unimpressive result.
John Wick: Chapter 4 was fourth with $5.8 million compared to my $4.7 million projection with $168 million in the coffers.
Fifth place belonged to Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves with $5.5 million (I said $4.3 million) as the franchise hopeful is straining to reach nine digits at $82 million.
Air was sixth with $5.4 million in the third weekend – in line with my $4.6 million guesstimate. Total is $41 million.
Plummeting from 2nd to 7th is The Pope’s Exorcist, falling victim to the power of Evil Dead . Down 62% in its sophomore frame with $3.4 million, I was more generous at $4.6 million. The ten-day tally is $15 million.
The story is similar for Renfield, down 59% in weekend #2 with $3.2 million (I went with $3.9 million). The tepid two-week total is $13 million.
Finally, Beau Is Afraid with Joaquin Phoenix (generating wildly divergent reactions) played well in very limited NY/LA showings last weekend. Yet it stumbled in wider release. The multi-genre odyssey made $2.7 million on just under 1000 screens. I was higher at $4.4 million.
And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…
And in the meantime, listen to my box office thoughts on your favorite podcast platform by searching Movies at the Speed of Speculation!
My initial ranked predictions covering the four acting races as well as director and picture for the 96th Academy Awards arrives at Best Supporting Actress! If you missed the post for Supporting Actor, you can find it linked here:
As I did in that write-up, here are some fair warnings. Some of these performances may end up being considered lead. For example, Rosamund Pike in Saltburn is a question mark as far as category placement.
You might see some of these pictures pushed back to 2024. When I did my initial ranked projections around this time last year, I had Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon) listed in 1st place. As you’ll see, since the movie got delayed to 2023, history repeats itself.
And some of these entries simply won’t become awards contenders while others will pop up that aren’t mentioned. In fact, only one of the Supporting Actresses (Hong Chau in The Whale) of the 15 that I listed the first time around for 2022 ended up being nominated.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret arrives in theaters on April 28th over 50 years after the novel by Judy Blume inspired generations of readers. Judging from the reviews, it sounds like it’s worth the wait (and Blume herself has heaped praise on it). The coming-of-age dramedy is directed and adapted by Kelly Fremon Craig, whose 2016 The Edge of Seventeen (something that was certainly inspired by Margaret) was a critical darling. Abby Ryder Fortson is in the title role with Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie as her parents and Kathy Bates as Grandma.
The Rotten Tomatoes score is a sterling 95%. Some of the strongest ink is going to McAdams. With an aggressive campaign, perhaps Lionsgate could put her on the radar for her second Supporting Actress nomination after 2015’s Spotlight. Or the spotlight could fall to Margaret herself. I doubt if the Academy will bite, but Golden Globe voters nominated Hailee Steinfeld in Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy for Seventeen. I could see that happening with Fortson. A best case scenario would be attention for Adapted Screenplay, but let’s see how competitive that race becomes. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…