Oscar Watch: The White Tiger

In the 2020 Oscar season that is spilling over to January and February of 2021, Netflix has an abundance of serious contenders in the major races. That includes everything from The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to Da 5 Bloods to Mank to name just four. On January 22nd, Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger debuts on the streaming service. Will it be added to the lengthy list of contenders?

I have doubts with the exception of one category. Based on the 2008 novel by Aravind Adiga, the rags to riches drama set in India stars Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jones, and Rajkummar Rao. Reviews are stellar and it currently sports an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Netflix would need to mount a major push for Picture, Directing, or any acting slots and their attention may simply be elsewhere with entities that could potentially win.

The possible exception is Adapted Screenplay. The conventional wisdom is that four slots are filled with Nomadland, One Night in Miami, The Father, and Ma Rainey. For the last couple of weeks, I have put First Cow (which is doing well on the critics awards circuit) in spot #5. Netflix’s own I’m Thinking of Ending Things has a shot as does News of the World. Yet it’s not unrealistic that The White Tiger could sneak in as a surprise pick to round out the competition.

Bottom line: it’s more feasible that Tiger comes up empty-handed on nominations morning, but it could achieve one mention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: January 14th Edition

For the past several years, the magic number has traditionally been nine when it comes to Best Picture nominees. It can fluctuate anywhere between 5 and 10 according to the rules, unlike every other category. This changes to a finite 10 starting in 2022. And since August when I began these (mostly) weekly estimates, I’ve kept it at 9.

However, I am expanding it to ten this week as I believe Judas and the Black Messiah could easily make the cut and I just couldn’t take any of the other nine films out. Obviously this may change as we move closer to nomination morning, but that’s where I stand today.

In the major categories, other changes are Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) entering the Best Director mix for the first time and that takes out George C. Wolfe for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In Supporting Actor, I have yet again switched the 5 spot with Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) in and Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7) out.

Zendaya’s work in Malcolm & Marie goes from unranked status all the way to #5 and this displaces Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday. 

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

7. Minari (PR: 5)

8. The Father (PR: 7)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 12)

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. News of the World (PR: 11)

12. Soul (PR: 13)

13. Sound of Metal (PR: 12)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

7. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 6)

8. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

9. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Darius Marder, Sound of Metal

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

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

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

9. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 8)

10. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Robin Wright, Land

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 8)

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

9. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 9)

10. John David Washington, Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tom Hanks, News of the World

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 5)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 8)

8. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

9. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 6)

10. Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 8)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

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

Dropped Out:

Stanley Tucci, Supernova

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

3. Minari (PR: 4)

4. Mank (PR: 2)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 6)

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

8. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

4. The Father (PR: 2)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. News of the World (PR: 7)

8. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Emma

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 7)

8. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (PR: 8)

9. Connected (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Bombay Rose

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Time (PR: 2)

2. The Dissident (PR: 4)

3. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

4. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Boys State (PR: 5)

7. Collective (PR: 9)

8. Crip Camp (PR: 7)

9. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 8)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

4. Collective (PR: 7)

5. Dear Comrades! (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Sun (PR: 5)

7. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 4)

8. My Little Sister (PR: 6)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 9)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees

1. Nomadland (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. Minari (PR: 7)

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

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Mulan (PR: 5)

4. Emma (PR: 3)

5. News of the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 6)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

8. Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. The Glorias (PR: 9)

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

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: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

7. News of the World (PR: 5)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

9. Tenet (PR: 10)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 6)

4. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

5. Pinocchio (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

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

8. Mulan (PR: 8)

9. Emma (PR: 10)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Minari (PR: 4)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

8. Tenet (PR: 6)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 7)

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

9. “The Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 10)

10. “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 7)

5. Emma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 4)

9. Tenet (PR: 8)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. Soul (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 7)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

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

10. Greyhound (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 4)

4. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

5. Greyhound (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

8. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

10. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Dolittle

And that equates to the following pictures garnering these numbers in terms of nominations:

12 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

4 Nominations

Minari, News of the World, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Judas and the Black Messiah, Mulan, Promising Young Woman, Soul, Sound of Metal

2 Nominations

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, The Midnight Sky, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Tenet

1 Nomination

Another Round, Birds of Prey, Collective, Dear Comrades!, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, First Cow, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, The Life Ahead, Malcolm & Marie, Night of the Kings, Onward, Pinocchio, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: The Mauritanian

Political legal drama The Mauritanian, which tells of the true life trial of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, hits theaters on February 19th and its embargo lifted this week. Kevin Macdonald, who directed Forest Whitaker to a Best Actor Oscar in The Last King of Scotland, is behind the camera with a cast headlined by Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Zachary Levi.

Critical reaction thus far is quite mixed with a 55% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Distributor STX Entertainment has already announced the category placements of Rahim for lead actor and two-time winner Foster for Supporting Actress. They are the two performers getting the most praise for their work.

However, the subject matter and the so-so feedback will present a challenge for The Mauritanian to reach audiences and awards voters. Two years ago, the similarly themed The Report had a much better Tomatoes rating (82%) and a thought that Annette Bening could contend in Supporting Actress. That never materialized and I’d be surprised if this ends up being a player in a couple of months. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Judas and the Black Messiah

I continue with my Oscar Watch posts for pictures sending screeners late in the season and we arrive at one with real potential – Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah. The Warner Bros production hits theaters and HBO Max simultaneously on February 12. It stars Lakeith Stanfield as an undercover FBI informant tasked to take down Black Panther head Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).

While the review embargo is still intact, social media reactions are available today. They point to a feeling many had when the first trailer debuted months ago in that Judas could nab several nominations come Oscar morning. In particular, Kaluuya’s performance (being campaigned for in Supporting Actor) is being highly praised. This would be his second nomination behind his lead work in 2017’s Get Out. His inclusion in the supporting field appears not only likely, but he could win. I could foresee a narrative in which Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Kaluuya vie for the prize and this storyline could play out until April.

Stanfield is in the Best Actor mix, but his final five status is much more questionable. Like Best Actress in 2020, lead actor may already have four performances that are “in”. That would be Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), and Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods). The fifth slot could be a toss-up between several performers including Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Steven Yeun (Minari). Today’s buzz suggests adding Stanfield to that list is warranted.

Same goes for Supporting Actress with Dominique Fishback as several posts are highlighting her work. This year’s lineup appears in flux and there’s room for last minute surprises in that particular field. She will be one to keep an eye on.

As for Best Picture, Judas has been kept out of my predicted nine until word of mouth was available. When my estimates are updated on Thursday, it could well make its initial appearance. King’s direction is also on the table for final five status. Several down the line races are possible including Cinematography (also being mentioned a lot), Editing, Production Design, and Original Song (with a composition by H.E.R.). Warner Bros seems to know it has a real hopeful on its hands as this has been added to the Sundance schedule later this month.

Bottom line: the social media reaction indicates critics aren’t betrayed by Judas and it has officially announced its way into Academy consideration. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The United States vs. Billie Holiday

As the latecomers for awards consideration are getting their industry screenings, the Oscar picture is becoming a bit more clear for several contenders. In the case of The United States vs. Billie Holiday (hitting Hulu on February 26), the verdict is not encouraging. The biopic of singer Billie Holiday has yet to have its official review embargo lifted, but word of mouth indicates many think this is a misfire.

The pic comes from director Lee Daniels, whose 2009 effort Precious picked up six Academy nominations and victories in Supporting Actress for Mo’Nique and its Adapted Screenplay. Based on early buzz, the only performer with any shot of recognition is Andra Day in the title role for Best Actress. The supporting cast that includes Natasha Lyonne, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph appear to be non-factors.

As I have discussed on the blog previously, Best Actress is a crowded field with four likely slots filled: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman). The fifth spot does appear up for grabs and some pundits have lauded Day’s work as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing experience. However, I find it more plausible that the Academy could go for anyone from Zendaya (Malcolm & Marie) to Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) to Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), to name just three. Last week, I had Day in the mix at #5. Expect her to drop when I release my new estimates this Thursday.

Down the line races such as Production and Costume Design (and perhaps Makeup and Hairstyling) could be possibilities here, but I have a hunch Holiday could also be blanked come nomination morning. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Marksman Box Office Prediction

Liam Neeson headlines the first new wide release of 2021 with The Marksman next weekend. The action pic casts Neeson as a former Marine (with a particular set of skills I assume) protecting a young boy from harm by a Mexican cartel. Robert Lorenz, a frequent collaborator of Clint Eastwood, directs. Costars include Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, and Teresa Ruiz.

It goes without saying, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing many theater closures and limited audiences for fresh product. This looks to continue into the foreseeable future. That has made the forecasting of pictures quite a dubious proposition and I took a break for the last couple of months.

I shall try again. This is not Neeson’s first foray into available multiplexes during COVID. In October, Honest Thief debuted to $3.6 million stateside. Considering the circumstances, that was pretty decent. I suspect The Marksman won’t quite hit that target, but it should come pretty darn close.

The Marksman opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

Nomadland Scores with the National Critics

Momentum continued today for Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland to be a major Oscar player with the announcement of the National Society of Film Critics awards. It took 4 categories today – Best Picture, Director, Actress (Frances McDormand) and Cinematography.

The conventional wisdom right now is that if the Academy goes with the critics darling, Nomadland could be on its way to a Best Picture victory in April. Of course, they don’t always do that. They did last year with Parasite. They didn’t the year before with Roma. 

The Society actually names their first and second runners-up in the races and it was First Cow and Never Rarely Sometimes Always taking those spots. Both certainly have chances for Academy attention in the big competition, but I’ve yet to put either in my picks. Cow‘s maker Kelly Reichardt was second runner-up for her direction while Steve McQueen was first runner-up for Small Axe (which is not eligible for Oscar consideration since it’s a TV project).

McDormand is almost sure to get one of the five actress slots at the Oscars, though a win is much more questionable in a crowded field. Runners-up from the critics were Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Sidney Flanagan for Never Rarely.

In Best Actor, Delroy Lindo picked up another prize for Da 5 Bloods with Chadwick Boseman in Rainey and Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal following. All three appear likely to make the final cut at the Oscars. Boseman was second runner-up in Supporting Actor for Bloods behind Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). For Raci and Turman, they need as much critical love as possible to contend for Oscar.

Maria Bakalova picked up yet another reviewers award for her breakout role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. I still question whether the Academy follows suit as comedic performers always have a tough time making the cut. Yet she’s certainly making her case. Runners-up were Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and Youn Yuh-jung (Minari).

The screenplay award went to Never Rarely Sometimes Always with First Cow and I’m Thinking of Ending Things in 2nd and 3rd. Best Foreign Language Film went to Romania’s Collective. 

Bottom line: Nomadland is having a fine run through the critics honors as it treks toward Oscar recognition.

Oscar Watch: Malcolm & Marie

As if Netflix doesn’t have enough competitors this Oscar season, a new one comes into the fold in the form of Malcolm & Marie. The drama comes from director Sam Levinson, who’s best known for creating the acclaimed HBO series Euphoria. Shot this year in COVID-19 times and hitting Netflix on February 5, the title characters are played by John David Washington and Euphoria star Zendaya (who earned a surprise Emmy last year for the series).

While the official review embargo is not up, social media reactions are out and they’re encouraging. Most of all, the buzz suggests a first Oscar nod could be coming for Zendaya. The general feeling (and one I concur with at press time) is that four slots could be filled already: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman). We now have another strong contender in the mix. I had yet to list her even in my top ten thus far and that will certainly change when my new estimates hit on Monday.

As for Washington, I’m far less certain. It all depends on just how hard Academy voters fall for the picture as a whole. If they do, Picture, Director, and especially Original Screenplay could be possibilities. If they don’t, the attention could focus solely on Zendaya. And there’s time for the chatter to increase with the extra two months before nominations are revealed.

Bottom line: Malcolm & Marie has immediately established itself as a player in Best Actress and maybe more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: January 4th Edition

My initial 2021 Oscar predictions for the films released in 2020 (and January and February of this year) have arrived! And the new year’s estimates brings the first change in my nine Best Picture nominees in many weeks. Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman now joins the group and that leaves out News of the World.

In Best Director, I have George C. Wolfe now in for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and that drops Lee Isaac Chung for Minari. Another change is in Supporting Actor with Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7) back in the final five over Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci. In Original Screenplay, Da 5 Bloods makes it back ahead of Soul. 

You can read all the movement below! Happy New Year and I’ll be back at it next week…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 5)

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. The Father (PR: 6)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

9. Promising Young Woman (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Sound of Metal (PR: 12)

11. News of the World (PR: 9)

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

13. Soul (PR: 13)

14. First Cow (PR: 15)

15. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 14)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 4)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

9. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

10. Darius Marder, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

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. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

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

8. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 9)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

10. Robin Wright, Land (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

4. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

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

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

9. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 8)

10. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

8. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 9)

9. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 10)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

4. Minari (PR: 3)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 5)

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

8. Sound of Metal (PR: 7)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 10)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 2)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. News of the World (PR: 6)

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

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Mauritanian 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 7)

8. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Connected

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Time (PR: 2)

3. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

4. The Dissident (PR: 4)

5. Boys State (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Crip Camp (PR: 7)

8. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 9)

9. Collective (PR: 8)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 6)

4. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 3)

5. A Sun (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

7. Collective (PR: 5)

8. Dear Comrades! (PR: 7)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 8)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 5)

7. Minari (PR: 6)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

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

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

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

5. Mulan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. News of the World (PR: 6)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. The Glorias (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 4)

4. The Father (PR: 3)

5. News of the World (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

10. Tenet (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

5. Pinocchio (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: 6)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

8. Mulan (PR: 7)

9. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Emma (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 4)

4. Minari (PR: 5)

5. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 8)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

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

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 3)

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

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 8)

8. “Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 7)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

10. “The Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Free” from The One and Only Ivan

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

3. Mulan (PR: 2)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 4)

5. Emma (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

7. News of the World (PR: 9)

8. Tenet (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

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

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 3)

3. Mank (PR: 2)

4. Soul (PR: 7)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 5)

8. Greyhound (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Prom (PR: 9)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Da 5 Bloods

Mulan

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 5)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 6)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

8. Greyhound (PR: 9)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

10. Dolittle (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Mank

And that equates to the following numbers in nominations for films:

11 Nominations

Mank

9 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods

4 Nominations

Minari, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Mulan, News of the World, Promising Young Woman, Soul

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Emma, Judas and the Black Messiah, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, First Cow, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky, Night of the Kings, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Pinocchio, Quo Vadis, Aida?, A Sun, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Wonder Woman 1984 Review

I wish Wonder Woman 1984 wasn’t the disjointed viewing experience that it mostly is. I wish it had the humor that landed in the 2017 pic and the sweet love story between its heroine and her man that was well-developed. Here the humor seems forced as does the interplay between Gal Gadot’s title character and WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). This is a sequel that feels like busywork and it’s devoid of, yes, some of the wonder that made the original a bright spot in the DC Extended Universe.

1984 means leg warmers and action sequences set in shopping malls. It also means part 2 picks up nearly seven decades later. Gadot’s Diana fills her days as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian and her nights pining for the long departed Steve. Of course, she also does some Wonder Woman stuff in between. When she thwarts a jewel heist in one of those sprawling shopping structures, it turns out the thieves were really after some black market artifacts that weren’t on display. That includes an ancient “Dreamstone” of Latin origin that grants wishes no matter how dangerous they might be. For Diana, it means bringing her lost love back. This is handled by Pine returning in the form of some random DC dude. While Pine’s courtship with Diana was a high point the first time around, the actor is now relegated to gawking in wide eyed disbelief at rocket ships and escalators. His participation here never smacks of anything more than plot device mechanics and that’s a letdown. He does get a reverse Pretty Woman style sequence in which he tries on pirate looking shirts and fanny packs in front of his nonplussed girlfriend. So there’s that.

Of course, this “Dreamstone” leads to nefarious actions from others. Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) is a failed businessman who’s known for cheesy infomercials. His acquiring of the artifact allows him to amass significant power and oil. He also has a young son that he’s desperately trying to impress and that results in some mawkish moments. And there’s Kristin Wiig as Barbara. She’s Diana’s supremely unconfident geologist coworker. Barbara feels invisible until her interaction with the Stone makes her as tough and beautiful as her fellow employee. Unfortunately her power trip partners her with the megalomaniac Max and his misguided plans. For Wiig, Barbara is one of those characters who immediately becomes attractive once her big glasses and frumpy dress go by the wayside. She’s simply not a memorable villainess. There are shades of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman from Batman Returns, but she’s not written nearly as potently.

Pascal’s Max is another story. I can’t say he’s not memorable because the performer portraying him goes way over the top in doing so. I think Pascal knows how much he’s hamming it up and his go for broke attitude does provide a bit of fun. That’s welcome because it’s in short supply. I might volley back and forth on whether he’s actually great or kinda terrible here, but it’s a performance worth mentioning. That’s more than I can say for everyone else.

For two and a half hours, 1984 often forgets to bring the joy. There’s a make it up as we go along vibe that wasn’t as noticeable when Patty Jenkins helmed the first (she returns here and is one of three cowriters).

Wonder Woman 1984 is all about how you can’t get ahead by cheating and lying (a prologue featuring some familiar faces from part 1 makes that message clear). The following 150 minutes hammers it home with convenient and haphazard storylines that, ironically, sometime feel like cheats. I wish this came close to the quality of Gadot’s first stand-alone venture, but we are left waiting and wanting in 1984. 

** (out of four)