The Lone Screenplay Nominee: An Oscar Prediction Analysis

We are getting the nitty gritty on nailing down Oscar predictions on this blog and it’s time to consider a prevailing trend in the 21st century when it comes to the Adapted and Original Screenplay contests. That would be The Lone Screenplay Nominee.

What’s that you ask? For the last 20 award ceremonies, at least one movie has been nominated in its screenplay race and in no other additional category. That’s a rather startling statistic, but it’s true. You have to go all the way to 2000 to find a year in which the ten nominated films in those two derbies didn’t get a nod elsewhere.

Here’s the list from 2001-2020 of pictures that got The Lone Screenplay nomination (abbreviation are AS for Adapted and OS for Original):

2001 – Ghost World (AS), The Royal Tenenbaums (OS)

2002 – About a Boy (AS), My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama Tambien (OS)

2003 – American Splendor (AS), Dirty Pretty Things (OS)

2004 – Before Sunset (AS)

2005 – Match Point, The Squid and the Whale (OS)

2006 – Borat (AS)

2007 – Lars and the Real Girl (OS)

2008 – Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges (OS)

2009 – In the Loop (AS)

2010 – Another Year (OS)

2011 – The Ides of March (AS), Margin Call (OS)

2012 – Moonrise Kingdom (OS)

2013 – Before Midnight (AS)

2014 – Nightcrawler (OS)

2015 – Straight Outta Compton (OS)

2016 – 20th Century Women, The Lobster (OS)

2017 – The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game (AS), The Big Sick (OS)

2018 – First Reformed (OS)

2019 – Knives Out (OS)

2020 – The White Tiger (AS)

Clearly the writing branch of the Academy enjoy singling out a pic or two that doesn’t get any love elsewhere. And it’s a tradition that I haven’t really factored into my predictions for 2021’s hopefuls. That changes today.

My latest round of predictions from last week were the following for Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay:

Adapted – CODA, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Original – Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

Here’s the problem – all ten of those pictures are highly likely to find nominations elsewhere.

So… what’s vulnerable and what are the movies that could fit the Lone Screenplay Nominee mold when the announcement is made on February 8?

Glad you asked. In Adapted, Dune could absolutely miss. The voters in the screenplay race could decide that it’ll get plenty of tech nods (it will) as well as Picture and Director mentions (highly probable). Its screenplay nod could  wait until its sequel.

So what are the contenders in Adapted that may not get nods elsewhere? There’s The Last Duel, which could get points for its unique script that tells its medieval tale from three differing perspectives. It appears to have little chance at Picture or even Jodie Comer’s acclaimed performance in lead actress.

There’s also Passing, but that’s assuming Ruth Negga misses out in Supporting Actress (and I’ve got her in). Other possibilities are Nightmare Alley (though it should at least be recognized for Production Design) and Tick, Tick… Boom! (which could be in line for Picture but especially for Andrew Garfield in lead actor). The Lost Daughter could be the one. However, I have a hard time seeing Olivia Colman not getting in for Best Actress.

Moving to Original Screenplay, my five current nominees all seem destined to achieve mentions elsewhere. I look at King Richard and Being the Ricardos as potentially being two that could miss the screenplay cut.

There are three pictures with original scripts that could fill the slots and be The Lone Nominee and they are:

    • C’Mon C’Mon. And there’s history here. Mike Mills was the writer/director for the aforementioned 20th Century Women from 2016. With Joaquin Phoenix as a long shot for Best Actor inclusion, this is the type of nominee that the writers might celebrate.
    • Mass. It looked like a potential BP nominee for some time but it has fallen (it’s not even in my top 15). Ann Dowd could score a Supporting Actress nomination, but I currently have her ranked 7th. It’s a pic that’s all dialogue between four actors and that could strike the voters fancies.
    • Parallel Mothers. The Pedro Almodovar pic was not Spain’s selection for International Feature Film and is therefore not eligible. Penelope Cruz is a possibility for Actress, but I have her outside the top five.

When I update my estimates for all categories this weekend, expect to see one of these titles (either in Adapted or Original or maybe both) selected. History says it’s the right call. Stay tuned!

January 21-23 Box Office Predictions

The trio of S sequels – Scream, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sing 2 – should continue to dominate the box office charts despite the arrival of two newcomers this weekend. We have the historical romance Redeeming Love and long in the can fantasy adventure The King’s Daughter debuting. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Redeeming Love Box Office Prediction

The King’s Daughter Box Office Prediction

The real drama could be for the #1 spot and that depends on how far Scream drops in its sophomore weekend and how well Spidey holds in its sixth. For some context, Scream 3 back in 2000 fell 53% in its second frame while 2011’s Scream 4 dip was steeper at 62%. With little competition, the fifth installment could see a drop more in part 3’s range, but it could also come close to 60%. No Way Home, if it descends in the mid 30s range, might give it a run for its money at the top. In fact, I’m giving the web slinger an ever so slight edge.

My projection of $2.4 million for Redeeming Love should mean a fourth place showing behind the fifth weekend for Sing 2. The five spot could go to The King’s Man, not the The King’s Daughter.

As mentioned, The King’s Daughter has been collecting dust on the shelf since the fifth year of the Obama administration (read my full post for all the details). I’m forecasting a measly $1 million and that should keep it outside the high five.

Here’s how I’m seeing the top five breaking down:

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $13 million

2. Scream

Predicted Gross: $12.7 million

3. Sing 2

Predicted Gross: $5.3 million

4. Redeeming Love

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

5. The King’s Man

Predicted Gross: $1.6 million

Box Office Results (January 14-17)

The four-day MLK weekend knocked Spider-Man off his perch at #1 and delivered pleasing results for Scream. The well-reviewed fifth entry in the quarter century old series took in $33.8 million over the long frame, coming in a bit under my $36.4 million prediction. That’s good for the third best 3-day traditional start in the franchise after Scream 3 ($34 million) and Scream 2 ($32 million) as it made $30 million from Friday to Sunday.

After four weeks at #1, Spider-Man: No Way Home was second with $24.6 million, slightly ahead of my $22.7 million projection. The MCU juggernaut stands at $702 million and passed Black Panther to become the 4th highest domestic earner in history.

Sing 2 was third with $10.3 million (in range with my $9.4 million take) for $121 million overall.

The 355 was fourth in its sophomore outing with $2.7 million (I went with $3.1 million) for $8 million total.

The five spot belonged to The King’s Man at $2.6 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five. It’s made $29 million.

That’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

The King’s Daughter Box Office Prediction

Over the past two years, we’ve become accustomed to movies experiencing significant delays. The King’s Daughter takes the crown. Not to be confused with the recently out The King’s Man, this was actually filmed before the first Kingsman was released. The principal photography was done during the early part of the fifth year of the Obama administration.

You didn’t read that incorrectly. The adventure fantasy from director Sean McNamara was completed in the spring of 2014 and has set on the shelf since. Pierce Brosnan plays King Louis XIV and the plot involves him stealing a mermaid’s life force to become immortal (you did read that correctly). Costars include Kara Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, William Hurt, Rachel Griffiths, Fan Bingbing, and Julie Andrews (who narrates).

The fact that Gravitas Ventures is even putting this out theatrically is surprising as the distributor usually goes the PVOD route. It’s reportedly not much of a release with an output of around 1000 screens. I certainly wouldn’t anticipate this making a splash. I’ll say it gets to a million bucks and that might be generous.

The King’s Daughter opening weekend prediction: $1 million

For my Redeeming Love prediction, click here:

Redeeming Love Box Office Prediction

Redeeming Love Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Update (01/18): Already souring on this and revising estimate from $3.2 million to $2.4 million

A historical romance set during the California gold rush, Redeeming Love will attempt to cash in with a female crowd on January 21st. It’s directed by D.J. Caruso, trying on a different genre after helming thrillers and action fare such as Disturbia and xXx: Return of Xander Cage. The cast is headlined by Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis with a supporting cast including Logan Marshall-Green, Famke Janssen, Nina Dobrev, and Eric Dane.

Love is based on a 1991 novel by Francine Rivers (her and the director share screenplay credit). Pinnacle Peak Pictures is the distributor, known for their faith-based efforts like God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe? The production team is responsible for the sleeper hit I Can Only Imagine. 

Slated to premiere on around 1800 screens, the combo of appeal to women and the possibility of Christian audiences turning out could cause this to over perform. We’ve seen it before (Pinnacle’s Unplanned from 2019 made over $6 million in its first weekend). I do question how widely this has been promoted and the relatively small screen count could be a hindrance. Redeeming might manage a gross of over $5 million, but I’ll say $3-4 million is more likely.

Redeeming Love opening weekend prediction: $2.4 million

For my The King’s Daughter prediction, click here:

The King’s Daughter Box Office Prediction

2021 Oscar Predictions: January 14th Edition

My first Oscar predictions following the Golden Globes bestowing their winners and the SAG Award nods comes with not a whole lot of changes in who and what I’m actually predicting in the major categories.

However, there is a significant alteration in placement for Best Actress as Kristen Stewart’s shocking omission in Spencer from the SAG five drops her from 1st (where she’s been perched for months) to 4th. Rising to #1 is Globes victor Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos. This competition is beginning to resemble the unpredictable Actress lineup from 2020 and it should be fun to witness.

In Best Picture, I’m (perhaps stubbornly) sticking to the same ten. Yet there’s no doubt that Ricardos and House of Gucci could be on the rise and either or both could crack the lineup soon.

The only significant change is in Supporting Actor where I’m finally putting Jared Leto for Gucci in the mix. He’s in over Jamie Dornan (Belfast).

I’m also adding a new feature which shows how many eventual nominees from 2020 were correctly picked at this same juncture. I’ll keep that up until I make my final picks shortly before the February 8th announcement. This will be listed as 2020 Count. 

You can read all the movement below.

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. West Side Story (PR: 3) (E)

4. Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

6. King Richard (PR: 6) (E)

7. CODA (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. Being the Ricardos (PR: 14) (+3)

12. House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Drive My Car (PR: 11) (-2)

14. The Lost Daughter (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Nightmare Alley (PR: 13) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Spider-Man: No Way Home

2020 Count: 7 of 8 eventual nominees

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car (PR: 6) (E)

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (E)

8. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (E)

9. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (-1)

2020 Count: 2 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 3) (+2)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2) (E)

3. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (-3)

5. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 7) (E)

8. Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 3) (E)

4. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4) (E)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 1) (E)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Rita Moreno, West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Judi Dench, Belfast

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 2) (E)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar (PR: 10) (+4)

7. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (-2)

9. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 9) (E)

10. Mike Faist, West Side Story (PR: 8) (-2)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. King Richard (PR: 4) (E)

5. Being the Ricardos (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Parallel Mothers (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Mass (PR: 6) (-2)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 10) (+1)

10. A Hero (PR: 9) (-1)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. CODA (PR: 3) (E)

4. Dune (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Drive My Car (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 7) (E)

8. Passing (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Last Duel (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Encanto (PR: 1) (E)

2. Flee (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Luca (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Raya and the Last Dragon (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Belle (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Summit of the Gods (PR: 7) (E)

8. My Sunny Maad (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Vivo (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Ron’s Gone Wrong (PR: 9) (-1)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Drive My Car (PR: 1) (E)

2. A Hero (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 3) (E)

4. Flee (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Hand of God (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Compartment No. 6 (PR: 7) (+1)

7. I’m Your Man (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Prayers for the Stolen (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Great Freedom (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Good Boss (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Rescue (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Procession (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Summer of Soul (PR: 2) (-2)

5. Ascension (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Attica (PR: 6) (E)

7. The First Wave (PR: 7) (E)

8. President (PR: 8) (E)

9. Faya Dayi (PR: 9) (E)

10. Julia (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

In the Same Breath

2020 Count: 1 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. West Side Story (PR: 3) (E)

4. Belfast (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (E)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (-2)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

No Time to Die

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cruella (PR: 1) (E)

2. Dune (PR: 2) (E)

3. West Side Story (PR: 4) (+1)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Spencer (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Cyrano (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 9) (E)

10. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Power of the Dog (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6) (E)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (-2)

8. King Richard (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The French Dispatch (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

Nightmare Alley

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (E)

4. Coming 2 America (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Cruella (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Suicide Squad (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-2)

8. West Side Story (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Cyrano (PR: 8) (-1)

10. No Time to Die (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Spencer (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (E)

8. King Richard (PR: 8) (E)

9. Encanto (PR: 9) (E)

10. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 4 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (PR: 1) (E)

2. “Be Alive” from King Richard (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto (PR: 3) (E)

4. “Down to Joy” from Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. “Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Here I Am” from Respect (PR: 8) (+2)

7. “Beyond the Shore” from CODA (PR: 6) (-1)

8. “So May We Start” from Annette (PR: 9) (+1)

9. “Guns Go Bang” from The Harder They Fall (PR: 7) (-2)

10. “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Right Where I Belong” from Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast (PR: 6) (E)

7. Spencer (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Cyrano (PR: 7) (-1)

9. The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (E)

10. Cruella (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. No Time to Die (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Power of the Dog (PR: 8) (+2)

7. A Quiet Place Part II (PR: 7) (E)

8. Spider-Man: No Way Home (PR: 6) (-2)

9. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 9) (E)

10. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Spider-Man: No Way Home (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Godzilla vs. Kong (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. No Time to Die (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Free Guy (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Eternals (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Black Widow (PR: 10) (E)

2020 Count: 3 of 5 eventual nominees

And that equates to these movies hitting these numbers for their nominations:

11 Nominations

Dune

9 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

5 Nominations

Don’t Look Up, King Richard

4 Nominations

House of Gucci, Licorice Pizza, Tick, Tick… Boom!, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3 Nominations

CODA, Flee, Spencer

2 Nominations

Being the Ricardos, Cruella, Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The French Dispatch, The Lost Daughter, No Time to Die

1 Nomination

Ascension, Coming 2 America, Drive My Car, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, A Hero, Luca, The Matrix Resurrections, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Passing, Procession, Raya and the Last Dragon, The Rescue, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Worst Person in the World

Eternals Review

When the core group of Avengers assembled in their climactic battle for that classic shot from the 2012 film, it held power because we’d come to know them in previous MCU entries. By the time we got to 2019 as seemingly half of Hollywood was ready to take on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, the same emotions were present. The mere fact that we were witnessing many members of Marvel’s extensive roster ready for action via high quality predecessors was impressive.

That’s a testament to what Kevin Feige and team had pulled off. For all the nitpicking about the franchise, it’s easy to forget the monumental achievement in bringing these heroes to life in 20 plus pictures and getting us back to care about them. That’s not an easy assignment and they pulled it off.

This brings us to Eternals, the 26th entry in the series. And it often feels like we are meant to feel the same sentiments that I’ve described above. There’s a problem with that. Chloe Zhao’s immersion into the MCU is tasked with introducing us to a brand new team of heroes in its 156 minutes. Most of them, quite frankly, aren’t very compelling. Comic book lovers may be familiar, but the masses aren’t. When Iron Man got the gang together nearly a decade ago, we knew the gang. Eternals, which loves it landscapes and sunsets silhouetting its protagonists, strains to properly introduce them. For a movie that feels long, it’s still short on character development and getting us to care about this team in ways we previously did. I admired plenty about this latest adventure, but it still stands as one of the MCU’s overall weakest experiences.

A prologue set in 5000 B.C. establishes the players. The Eternals are a group of immortals tasked with saving planets from Deviants, a lot of monstrous CGI creations. Their leader is Ajak (Salma Hayek), who takes her orders from the almighty Arishem. Each Eternal has their own set of powers. Sersi (Gemma Chan) can transform matter. Her love interest Ikaris (Richard Madden) can shoot freakin lasers from his eyeballs (think Cyclops). Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is the science nerd capable of advancing technology centuries ahead of time. And… we’re gonna be here all day if I keep this up, but a couple more. Sprite (Lia McHugh) can create illusions, but can’t hide the fact that she’ll look like a 12-year-old girl for eternity. Thena (Angelina Jolie) is capable of creating weapons from thin air. Yet she’s a weapon herself because she has a condition that causes her to turn against her counterparts and try to kill them.

The Eternals spend centuries on Earth taking on the Deviants and appear to achieve their mission in 1521. The band breaks up and they’re free to roam free on our Earthly soil, which Nomadland director Zhao frames in loving travelogue mode. Importantly, Ajak orders them not to interfere with the many conflicts that will transpire over the coming centuries. That means the Eternals are not involved when Thanos wipes out half the population in Avengers: Infinity War. They’re not showing up for house calls with Doctor Strange or assisting Hulk smash anything.

In present day, the Deviants resurface and they must assemble (!) again. Some have taken on unexpected careers. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Bollywood leading man with a trusty assistant (Harish Patel). He’s been a superstar for decades with the public believing his dad, granddad, and so on were different people. The real function for Nanjiani is to provide some comic relief in a story that needs it.. The actor and the superb Patel are up to the assignment. They might be the two characters I’d be excited to see return in future MCU tales.

On the flip side, the failed romance between Sersi and Ikaris is a yawner. And familiar faces like Hayek and Jolie aren’t given enough screen time to register. Barry Keoghan, always a compelling actor to watch, is Druig. He can manipulate minds and his superpower runs counter to his orders. Druig has the potential for a fascinating character arc yet, once again, the packed nature of the screenplay prevents it.

The look of Eternals is undoubtedly different than the MCU sheen we’re accustomed to. It has more of a real location feel as opposed to video game extravaganza. Some of the action sequences are well constructed. Others fall into the confused CGI jumble that’s hampered even some of the finest franchise flicks.

Here’s the bottom line – Eternals is by no means bad (even the middling stories in this series are quite watchable). It feels unnecessary because it never fully succeeds at making us understand why we need to be invested. Ajak’s hideaway in the present day is in South Dakota. Nothing that happens here made me think any Eternal will be carved into the Mt. Rushmore of Marvel’s cinematic universe.

**1/2 (out of four)

2021 SAG Awards Nominations Reaction

Hand it to the SAG Awards voting branch for providing more surprises than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did with the Golden Globes! For their ceremony airing in February, nominations were announced this morning and there were shocking omissions and unexpected inclusions. I went 20 for 30 overall with my picks.

This is not the headline I was expecting to write, but I’d say House of Gucci was the big winner of the day. It showed up in every feasible category where it could while other heavyweight pics (Belfast, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story) saw snubs.

Let’s break it down race by race with how I did and what it means for the Oscar landscape (and there are implications, folks).

A * indicates that I correctly forecasted the nominee.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Belfast *

CODA *

Don’t Look Up *

House of Gucci

King Richard

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary – Of the three films most likely to take Best Picture from the Academy, only Belfast showed up here. That means my predictions of The Power of the Dog and West Side Story didn’t make the cut. My second alternate pick King Richard is not unexpected, but SAG clearly has a thing for Gucci and that proved itself today. There was some chatter that West Side sending out late screeners for voters could be a hindrance and its sole nod this morning could lend some credence to that. As for Power, that’s more of a head scratcher as it landed three individual acting mentions (I don’t think this hurts its BP chances at Oscar). I’m nowhere near finalizing winner forecasts, but you’d have to think Belfast is a possibility (though its omissions which I’ll discuss in a minute make me question that)…

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye *

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter *

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci *

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos *

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary – OK 4 for 5 is fine and all, but there is a major surprise with this lineup and that’s Kristen Stewart not making the list for Spencer. No one saw this coming. I’ve had Stewart listed in my #1 slot at the Oscars for months. So how many times has the Academy victor for lead actress not been nominated for SAG in the 27 years of its existence? Once and that’s with a huge caveat. In 2008, Kate Winslet took Oscar gold for The Reader. That year, SAG mentioned her for Revolutionary Road instead and the studio for The Reader submitted her in supporting at SAG.

Obviously this calls into question whether Stewart has any chance now of winning the Academy Award and it’s a safe bet that she’ll drop from her #1 perch in my rankings when I update them tomorrow. Hudson’s inclusion here is a little surprising, but this is more about who didn’t make it. Kidman took the Golden Globe. If she takes SAG, look out.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog *

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! *

Will Smith, King Richard *

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth *

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary – Being the Ricardos got its two leads in (though not Ensemble or Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons). That’s my miss in this derby as I had Peter Dinklage (Cyrano) in. As far as Oscar is concerned – Cumberbatch, Garfield, Smith, and Washington are looking safe (with Smith as the frontrunner). The fifth slot is up for grabs.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast *

Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story *

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog *

Ruth Negga, Passing

How I Did: 3/5

Commentary – Negga factoring in ups her Oscar viability (she got a Globes nod too). Blanchett is a surprise. I had Rita Moreno (West Side Story) in, but her omission is not unexpected. She hasn’t managed a Globe or SAG and I’d say her Academy chances are fading fast. Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) missing here is pretty significant. DeBose probably stands the best chance, but the fact that this is the only nod for West Side makes me believe an upset is totally possible.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Troy Kotsur, CODA *

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog *

How I Did: 2/5

Commentary – The Supporting Actor race has been unpredictable and did that ever show this morning! Yep, I went 2 for 5. Neither Belfast hopeful (Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds) factored in nor did Mike Faist for West Side Story. I’ll note that Affleck, Kotsur, and Smit-McPhee are the three that managed Globe and SAG attention. While I didn’t have Cooper for SAG, his inclusion here makes me more confident picking him for an Oscar nod (where I’ve had him for weeks). Leto’s chances get a boost after missing the Globes. And at the end of the day – Smit-McPhee could be headed towards a sweep after taking the Globe.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble

Nominees:

Black Widow *

Dune *

The Matrix Resurrections

No Time to Die *

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings *

How I Did: 4/5

Commentary – Pretty simple as Matrix gets in over Spider-Man: No Way Home. This is likely a Dune win or maybe No Time to Die.

And there you have it! I won’t spend too much time expressing my amazement over the Stewart snub (I’m sure you’ll find plenty of that on Twitter). I’ll have my winner picks up on the blog shortly before the SAG Awards air on February 27th and I’ll have updated Oscar estimates up tomorrow!

January 14-17 Box Office Predictions

**Blogger’s Note (01/13): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping the 4-day tally for Scream from $29.4 million to $36.4M

**Blogger’s Update (01/11) – GKIDS has announced that Belle will open Friday on approximately 1300 screens. I believe that’s enough that it could post a $3-4 million showing and place fourth. Update is reflected below.

Familiar faces from the quarter century old Scream team are back with some fresh ones as Scream, the fourth sequel to the 1996 original hits multiplexes over the long MLK weekend. The scare fest follow-up looks to dethrone Spider-Man from his four week reign atop the charts. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Scream Box Office Prediction

My high 20s estimate for Scream should get it to #1. While Omicron concerns could hinder it, Spidey has certainly proved that familiar products can thrive. Horror pics have also proven to be sturdy at the box office in recent times. If anything, I could envision Scream managing to top $30 million but I’ll hedge a bit.

The four-day weekend could mean smallish dips for holdovers as Spider-Man should place second in the low to possibly 20s with Sing 2, The 355, and The King’s Man filling out the high five.

Keep in mind that these projections are for Friday-Monday and this is how I see it:

1. Scream

Predicted Gross: $36.4 million

2. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $22.7 million

3. Sing 2

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

4. Belle

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

5. The 355

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

Box Office Results (January 7-9)

The web slinger had no trouble staying in first as Spider-Man: No Way Home added $32.6 million to its coffers, a bit ahead of my $29.5 million prediction. The MCU phenomenon is up to $668 million and that places it 6th on the all-time domestic chart.

Sing 2 was once again the runner-up with $11.5 million, in line with my take of $11.9 million. The animated sequel crossed the century mark and stands at $108 million.

Spy thriller The 355 was 2022’s first wide release and, as expected, opened in third with $4.6 million. While nothing to brag about, it debuted in line with expectations and a smidge more than my $3.8 million forecast.

The King’s Man was fourth with $3.2 million compared to my $2.6 million projection. Total is $25 million.

American Underdog rounded out the top five with $2.3 million (I said $2.1 million) for $18 million overall.

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

 

2021 Golden Globes Reaction

This evening’s Golden Globes ceremony was certainly like no other in recent history. Due to controversies that have fallen upon the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in the past couple of years, the show was not broadcast, not streaming, and no celebrities attended. Reveals of the winners were available via Twitter.

The Globes could still provide a window for what might occur when Oscar nods are out next month. If so, there could be good things coming to the big winners of the evening – West Side Story and The Power of the Dog. They are likely the two that stand the greatest chance to take Best Picture (along with Belfast) and each had key wins tonight. And while Belfast only landed one victory, it was a rather key one.

So how’d I do with my predictions? 9 for 14. That’s about how I thought I’d perform to be honest as the HFPA is a little unpredictable.

Let’s start with what I got right:

West Side Story won Best Musical/Comedy and Ariana DeBose took Supporting Actress.

Kodi-Smit McPhee is Best Supporting Actor for The Power of the Dog. For DeBose and McPhee, it could be the start of healthy runs throughout the season.

Encanto is Best Animated Feature and Drive My Car took Foreign Film. I have both in my #1 positions for the Oscars.

Dune received Best Score and “No Time to Die” won Original Song. At the Academy Awards, I expect Billie vs. Beyonce (for “Be Alive” from King Richard). In round 1, Billie is victorious.

Will Smith’s turn as King Richard is your Best Actor (Drama) while Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick… Boom! is Best Actor (Musical/Comedy). Both were widely expected and the two are anticipated to easily make the cut at the Oscars.

Where I went wrong:

My one true upset pick was Emma Stone in Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) for Cruella. I went with the upset because I couldn’t choose between Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) or Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza). Zegler took the prize.

I did have Pizza being delivered a Screenplay win, but that went to Belfast. I thought that early award might forecast its win for Best Drama (I picked it) but…

The Power of the Dog won and that’s a pretty significant boost for its Oscar chances. Its maker Jane Campion also was named Best Director and I went with Steven Spielberg for West Side Story. 

And perhaps the only true surprise of the evening was Best Actress (Drama) though I did make a point to say that any could win. I predicted Kristen Stewart in Spencer, but Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos was awarded. This points to a real competition at the other shows to come.

Quick take – Dog and Story had solid nights. Smith, DeBose, and Smit-McPhee may have solidified their frontrunner statuses. And Best Actress might be wide open.

2021 SAG Awards Nominee Predictions

The 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards airs February 27th and the nominations will be unveiled this Wednesday (01/12). It’s often a more reliable precursor to the acting nominations for the Oscars. Therefore it’s time to make my picks on who and what will grab the nods later this week.

As a reminder, the big prize here is Best Ensemble and not Best Picture. That often favors films with a larger cast though a potent mix with four or more actors can make the cut. Similar to Golden Globe estimates and my forthcoming final Oscar picks, I’ll give you my five contenders along with a runner-up and second alternate with a bit of commentary.

Here we go!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Runner-Up: Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: King Richard

Commentary – The three Best Picture frontrunners for the Academy (Belfast, Power, West Side) all seem like pretty safe bets here. If anything is vulnerable, it might be the quartet from Power considering it has a smaller troupe of performers. There’s also some chatter that West Side could be vulnerable because it sent out late screeners for voters, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. For the other two spots, I’m favoring Don’t Look Up‘s large and sprawling cast should make it in. I’ll go with the CODA clan as well though I could easily see Licorice Pizza, King Richard or The Harder They Fall making the cut.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Predicted Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Second Alternate: Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Commentary – The last four years has seen a 4/5 match with SAG and Oscar when it comes to leading ladies. My current Academy lineup is the same as here (though that’s certainly subject to change). Quite honestly, I tried to make room for Cruz but couldn’t land on who to take out. The most vulnerable could be Chastain, Gaga, or Kidman. I also wouldn’t completely discount Jennifer Hudson for Respect and would have her ranked above Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) for SAG.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in Leading Role

Predicted Nominees:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Second Alternate: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Commentary – Just as I am with the Oscars – feeling confident about Cumberbatch, Garfield, Smith, and Washington. It’s that fifth slot that’s tricky. I’ll give Dinklage the ever so slight nod over Leo (who’s currently my fifth with the Academy). I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Cage sneak in.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Predicted Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Marlee Matlin, CODA

Second Alternate: Ann Dowd, Mass

Commentary – I’m banking on the Guild not passing up a chance to put the legendary Moreno in with her costar DeBose. Speaking of Passing, you’ll notice Ruth Negga (my fifth Oscar player at the moment) isn’t here but she could certainly surface.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Predicted Nominees:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Mike Faist, West Side Story

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Second Alternate: Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Commentary – Bit of a guessing game as Supporting Actor is a head scratcher for 2021 pics. Going with both Belfast boys and the love continuing for West Side Story with Faist. As for the winner, that could be between Kotsur and Smit-McPhee (I also wouldn’t discount his costar Jesse Plemons getting in). If Leto misses here (and with the Globes omission), his Oscar chances probably disappear.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble

Predicted Nominees:

Black Widow

Dune

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Runner-Up: The Matrix Resurrections

Second Alternate: The Harder They Fall

This means I’m projecting 4 nominations apiece for Belfast, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. I’ll have a recap up Wednesday with my reaction and how well (or not) I did!

P.S. – Golden Globe reactions coming up this evening…