Oscar Predictions: The Flash

The twelve pictures that have made up the DC Extended Universe in the past decade has resulted in a grand total of one nomination at the Oscars. That honor belongs to Suicide Squad in 2016 for Makeup and Hairstyling and it won. Other DCEU titles like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and 2021’s The Suicide Squad couldn’t manage Visual Effects or Sound or any other mentions.

Could that change with The Flash? Opening June 16th, the superhero tale finally hits screens after multiples delays and lots of unflattering news about its lead Ezra Miller. On the other hand, audiences could be stoked to see the returns of Ben Affleck and especially Michael Keaton as Batman. Sasha Calle costars as Supergirl with Michael Shannon reprising his role as General Zod from Man of Steel. Andy Muschietti, best known for helming the two It chapters, directs.

The review embargo lapsed today and the result thus far is 73%. That’s fine, but plenty of the write-ups are of the mixed variety. It’s nostalgic overtones are being praised and criticized. I could see this contending for Visual Effects and probably that race only. Yet given the DCEU track record, I wouldn’t want to double down on it making the cut. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions – Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts debuts Friday and it marks the seventh entry in the franchise that began in 2007. This has never been a series known for critical acclaim, but reviews have been on the uptick as of late.

The Rotten Tomatoes score for Beasts is 57%. That’s actually tied for second best of the bunch as the first Transformers has the same rating. #1 by far is the 91% achieved by immediate predecessor Bumblebee from 2018. The other four were at 35% or under (2017’s The Last Knight is lowest at 16%).

That said, certain technical aspects were noticed by the Academy for awhile. Part 1 was nominated for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects (note that these sound races have since been combined). 2009’s follow-up Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was up for Sound Mixing. 2011’s third adventure Transformers: Dark of the Moon landed the same three mentions as the first. There are no victories among the seven nominations.

However, the next three pics (2014’s Age of Extinction, The Last Knight, Bumblebee) were ignored by voters. And if Bumblebee couldn’t manage a Sound or VE spot, it’s tough to see Beasts rising to the challenge. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

June 9-11 Box Office Predictions

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will attempt to topple Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but that could be a tall order. Beasts is the sole wide release this weekend and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

The seventh entry in the franchise based on the Hasbro toy line will not have the lowest start of the bunch. That belongs and will continue to belong to Bumblebee which started with $21 million over the holidays in 2018. It may, however, have the second smallest if it fails to exceed the $44 million three-day premiere that Transformers: The Last Knight had in the summer of 2017. I am projecting it will fall under that mark.

That should leave Across the Spider-Verse in first position after an amazing rollout this past weekend (more on that below). While I think the sophomore frame dip will be more than 50%, I believe a high 50s gross will comfortably leave it atop the charts.

Holdovers will fill slots 3-5. The Little Mermaid, after an expectedly hefty second weekend fall, should level off and get above $20 million in weekend 3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may remain fourth since it shouldn’t see a percentage drop as large as The Boogeyman‘s in its second outing.

And with that, here’s how I envision the top five:

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Predicted Gross: $58.4 million

2. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Predicted Gross: $42.2 million

3. The Little Mermaid

Predicted Gross: $22.5 million

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Predicted Gross: $6.6 million

5. The Boogeyman

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million

Box Office Results (June 2-4)

Swinging the #2 best premiere of 2023 behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie was Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. That’s also the seventh highest animated opening ever. It built upon the goodwill from its 2018 Oscar-winning predecessor and made off with $120.6 million. That’s well beyond my projection of $96.4 million. Look for it to play well throughout the season (and it’s certainly the frontrunner to win Best Animated Feature next year).

The Little Mermaid slipped to second with $41.3 million in its sophomore frame, on track with my $40.5 million take. The ten-day gross for the live-action Disney remake is $186 million. That’s pretty decent, but its overseas earnings are underwhelming.

PG-13 horror flick The Boogeyman, based on a Stephen King short story, couldn’t pick up buzz as Spidey sucked up all the oxygen. It made $12.3 million for third, falling below my $17.7 million prediction.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was fourth with $10.6 million (I said $9.6 million) as the MCU threequel is up to $323 million after five weeks.

Fast X rounded out the top five with $9.5 million compared to my $10.1 million forecast. It’s doing better internationally, but the three-week $128 million domestic haul is unimpressive.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Best Picture 2022: The Final Five

We are caught up and have reached 2022 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut?

For the ceremony that occurred less than three months ago, we know Everything Everywhere All at Once would land a spot. To say it was the big winner on Oscar night is an understatement. The multi-genre hit made off with 7 trophies – Picture, Director (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Original Screenplay (also the Daniels), and Film Editing. It was nominated for four more – Supporting Actress (Stephanie Hsu), Costume Design, Original Score, and Original Song.

Picking the other 4 of 9 for the final five was no easy feat, but here’s my best speculation!

Well… almost. Before we get to that, this particular series will now become a yearly occurrence where I give you my final five in the coming years. However, stay tuned for the reverse of these write-ups. Starting soon and beginning with 2008 (the last year there were five nominees), I’ll give you speculation on which pictures I believe would be nominated if there were ten contending films.

Back to the Oscars that just happened…

All Quiet on the Western Front

Edward Berger’s World War I epic was one of the easiest picks on Oscar night to win the International Feature Film trophy. It also took home Cinematography, Original Score, and Production Design and received noms for Adapted Screenplay, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, and Visual Effects. The quartet of victories was second best to Everything.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, despite surprising misses for its Director and in Film Editing. I still think the 9 nine total nods (also second best to Everything) puts it in the quintet.

Avatar: The Way of Water

As anticipated, James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to the 2009 box office behemoth was a victor in Visual Effects. It also got nods in Production Design and Sound.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Water logged less than half of its predecessor’s nine mentions and Cameron himself didn’t make the directorial derby.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh’s black comedy clocked nine nominations with the others being for the director and screenwriter (both McDonagh), Actor (Colin Farrell), two Supporting Actor bids (Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan), Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Film Editing, and Original Score. It ended up going 0 for 8.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The winning percentage of zero was due to the Everything love, but it still would’ve found a slot among the five.


Baz Luhrmann’s lavish musical biopic of The King shimmied to 8 nods including Actor (Austin Butler), Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Sound. Like Banshees, it left the building with no statues.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Had Elvis garnered wins in some of the below-the-line races (which it was expected to) or for Butler, I may have a different answer in this case. Yet it wasn’t to be.

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg’s most personal work to date saw 7 nominations for the director and screenwriter (both Spielberg with Tony Kushner co-scribing), Actress (Michelle Williams), Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Original Score, and Production Design. In what’s starting to sound like a broken record, it failed to capitalize on any of its nominations.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I struggled with this one. Missing editing (a good harbinger of a BP nod) was a surprise and same goes for the cinematography. Ultimately the power of Spielberg might’ve reserved this for the fourth or fifth spot.


Todd Field’s profile of a complicated EGOT winner generated six mentions for its director and screenwriter (both Field), Actress (Cate Blanchett), Cinematography, and Film Editing. Once again – any potential victory was thwarted by Everything as it went 0/6.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I must say that I really went back and forth on this (more so than with The Fabelmans). Yet it managed to score inclusions in the precursors that matter most and it gets the edge for it.

Top Gun: Maverick

The moneymaking monolith of 2022 had a total of six nominations with Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Song, Sound, and Visual Effects on the menu. It emerged victorious in Sound (Everything and Western Front didn’t take them all).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. I went back and forth between this and Tár for #5. The latter got in where it matters. Maverick, despite being the people’s champ, missed key races like Director (Joseph Kosinski), Actor (Tom Cruise), and Cinematography.

Triangle of Sadness

The Palme d’or recipient at Cannes was awarded an unexpected directing nod for Ruben Östlund and an expected screenwriting mention for him. The count for was 0 for 3.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Östlund’s surprise nomination for his behind the camera was a pleasant surprise, but a final five slot would be an even bigger shocker.

Women Talking

Director Sarah Polley won for her Adapted Screenplay and that marks Women‘s only other nom. That means the sprawling cast that included Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and Jessie Buckley were all left out.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Despite the screenplay award, the aforementioned facts make this the easiest of the bunch to leave out (especially considering its two nods were the smallest of the group).

And that means my 2022 final five is:

All Quiet on the Western Front

The Banshees of Inisherin

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans


Stay tuned for the inverse of these posts beginning with 2008!

If you missed my write-ups in the series covering 2009-21, you can access them right here:

Champions Review

In Bobby Farrelly’s Champions, we see glimpses of the gross-out humor that made the director and his brother Peter hugely successful filmmaker in the 90s. The co-maker of Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary throws up puke, flatulence, and sex jokes, but it takes up limited screen time. This high concept dramedy is more centered on the heart than a fart (forgive me) and some of it scores. This also occasionally feels so desperate for our affection that you feel obliged to pet it, rub its belly, and tell it what a good movie it is.

Marcus Marakovich (Woody Harrelson) is a basketball coach whose skills aren’t being put to their best use. He’s an Iowa based assistant in the minors after squandering larger opportunities due to his hair-trigger temper. When his big mouth gets him canned yet again, he drinks his sorrows away and ends up with a DUI offense. The judge, in lieu of a lengthy jail sentence, assigns him to instruct a team with intellectual disabilities for 90 days.

The sports cliches follow as the hard-hearted Marcus’s outlook on life eventually is softened by his players who call themselves The Friends. One of the players is Johnny (Kevin Iannucci), the brother of his coach’s one-night stand turned potential love interest Alex (Kaitlin Olson). His primary character trait in the beginning is that he refuses to shower. The screenplay (co-scribed by Farrelly) doesn’t spend much time exploring the lives of these teammates. That might have been a worthwhile approach. For example, more airtime for Madison Tevlin’s forthright and self-confident Cosentino might have benefitted the picture. Same goes for Joshua Felder’s Darius, who’s the strongest player yet refuses to suit up for his legally bound coach (his reasons make good sense once revealed). Their performances make the absolute most of what they’re given. Unfortunately that’s limited.

Those character’s subplots could have turned into rewarding larger ones. We’ll never know. Champions is more focused on Marcus. He pines for NBA exposure instead of riding the pine in menial tutorial positions. Ironically the feel-good story of the Friends gets him closer to his goal as ESPN takes notice of his legally decreed assignment. Harrelson is no JV performer and he brings his A game to a script that never fully coalesces. He has a winning chemistry with Olson and their romantic interplay is a frequent plus.

A remake of a 2018 Spanish title, Champions isn’t offensive unless you count a short shot of projectile vomiting (there’s nothing approaching what we saw in the aforementioned Farrelly tales). I didn’t really find its treatment of the Friends objectionable either and that’s refreshing considering the filmmakers have a fine line to walk. On the other hand, there’s a fair share of mediocrity to deal with. For all the moments where the formula works, there’s a nagging feeling that this could end in the cast doing a dance routine to something like “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba. Ahem, spoiler alert…

**1/2 (out of four)

John Wick: Chapter 4 Review

No franchise has seen more actors submit headshots to get their heads shot than this one. Nearly a decade has passed since the puppy of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was offed by Russian mobsters in the 2014 original. Much less time has expired onscreen as we arrive at Chapter 4. In the features that have followed, the world building continues to grow as the squib games ramp up.

As a quick reminder, Wick was a legendary hitman mourning his wife’s death from natural causes in 2014. When the condemned criminals caused the demise of his very good boy, it triggered a thirst for revenge still not quenched. The storyline also veered into unexpected and violently enjoyable directions. This includes The Continental, stylish hotels across the globe that cater to nefarious types. The Wick world also established its own set of rules for how these characters behave. It’s all set in a cinematic universe where law enforcement is on permanent break and an all-powerful syndicate The High Table calls the shots.

Ultimately it’s an excuse for long take battles where Keanu and his friends and enemies (and in some cases frenemies) find fresh ways to shoot indistinguishable baddies in the head. This can be monotonous but director Chad Stahelski and his team of technicians and stunt persons more often impress with their inventive set-ups.

In 2019’s Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Wick was left for dead by the High Table and rescued by underground crime lord the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne, still having a ball). Our title character is in heavy revenge mode as the travelogue takes him to Morocco on horseback and then New York City, Japan, and Berlin. His back is always against the wall as the reward for his killing is $20 million and increasing.

The main player tasked with extinguishing Wick is Caine (Donnie Yen), a blind former Table assassin reluctantly returning to employment. His lack of sight causes creative ways for him to accomplish goals. Every time a bell rings around him, a henchman gets his wings (you’ll see). His hirer is the arrogant and ruthless Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), making for a delightfully smarmy addition. Skarsgård nailed the role of Pennywise with his demented sideways glances in the It double feature. Now he has another memorable villainous turn. Ian McShane’s Continental manager Winston (last seen putting a bullet into Wick) is more supportive this time. Shamier Anderson turns up as a skilled bounty hunter waiting for the price to be right before taking Wick out. In keeping with the franchise’s canine connection, he has a dedicated pooch who enacts cruelty to would-be tormentors. The dog’s presence also humorously reveals that even hotels for the underworld must adopt a policy for emotional support animals.

I have a tough time ranking these movies over the others. It sort of feels like one long movie. This one feels a bit longer because it is. Chapter 4 probably doesn’t need to clock in at three hours, but the action sequences continue to wow and this edition has the best adversary. As long as they continue to stay this solid and stylish, my policy will be to support them.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Four Daughters

Filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania is no stranger to awards attention. In 2020, her Tunisian feature The Man Who Sold His Skin was a surprise nominee for International Feature Film (ultimately losing to Another Round).

Her next round for Oscar chatter lies with Four Daughters. The Arabic-language documentary (known as Les Filles d’Olfa at its French debut) premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It centers on a Tunisian mother and the disappearance of her two eldest daughters. In this mix of real life and fiction, the director hires professional actresses to portray the missing women.

Early reviews are predominantly fresh with 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the write-ups, however, indicate it doesn’t fully deliver on the unique premise. Ben Hania scored a surprise nod three years back and perhaps this could accomplish the same in Documentary Feature. It remains somewhat of a long shot currently. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Box Office Prediction

Representing the longest drought between entries, it’s been nearly four and a half years without Optimus onscreen. Paramount is hoping audiences will be primed for the franchise’s return as Transformers: Rise of the Beasts debuts on June 9th. This is the seventh installment of the series that started in 2007 with Michael Bay helming the first five. He produces while Steven Caple Jr. (best known for Creed II) directs. The non-voiceover cast includes Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Vélez, Tobe Ngigwe, and Michael Kelly. Those voices behind the various title bots include Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Lisa Koshy, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Colman Domingo, John DiMaggio, and David Sobolov.

Beasts serves as a direct follow-up to 2018’s Bumblebee and a prequel to editions I-V. The Transformers pics have certainly seen their fortunes fade in recent years. Domestically the peak was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which earned $402 million overall stateside. The first three titles all grossed north of $300 million. By 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight managed $130 million. Bumblebee was a smidge under at $127 million.

To be fair, expectations for Bumblebee weren’t nearly as high and it rode decent reviews and solid buzz to a commendable leg out over the holidays. The lengthy break may not help Beasts and there’s no returning human stars from previous adventures.

This only needs to top $21 million to avoid a franchise low three-day beginning. It should have no trouble there. The better comp is probably The Last Knight which premiered with $44 million for its Friday to Sunday take (though it made $68 million when you count its Wednesday start). I’ll say Beasts falls a bit shy of that.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opening weekend prediction: $42.2 million

Oscar Predictions: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Get those pens (not pencils) ready for one nominee in the Animated Feature race at the 96th Academy Awards. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is out this weekend. The sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is drawing similar reactions to its predecessor. That means some serious raves as it currently stands at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (on par with the 97% for part 1).

In December 2018, Into upended the animated category. Any hope that Incredibles 2 or Isle of Dogs held for taking the prize fell by the wayside upon its release. That happened late in the calendar for the first Spidey. We are not even at the midpoint of 2023 and Across has established itself as the strong frontrunner. Pixar’s Elemental, which drew so-so chatter from Cannes, may even struggle to make the final cut of five nominees.

Across is guaranteed a slot and is a huge threat to win no matter what follows in the next few months. It is only the first half of two sequels as Beyond the Spider-Verse follows in March of next year. You can safely assume it might be a hopeful for the 97th Academy Awards.

As for other competitions, I suppose Adapted Screenplay is feasible if Sony were to make a dedicated push. Critics are also pointing out the visual effects. Yet animated titles struggle to get noticed in that particular derby. It’s more likely this will stick to Animated Feature and it could very well stick the landing. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Pot-au-Feu

30 years after his debut The Scent of Green Papaya was nominated in the international picture race at the Oscars, Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung could see his latest The Pot-au-Feu achieve the same.

Set in the late 19th century, the French romance centered around the culinary arts features Juliette Binoche (Supporting Actress winner for 1996’s The English Patient) and Benoît Magimel. The Rotten Tomatoes reaction is strong with a 100% current rating.

In 1993, Papaya won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and nabbed a final five spot in Best Foreign Language Film (now International Feature Film). At this year’s ceremony in the south of France, Hung was honored with the Best Director statue.

If France makes this their selection for IFF at the 96th Academy Awards, look for this to potentially be on the menu. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…