Oscars 2019: The Case of Little Women

My Case of posts discussing the pros and cons of Oscar nominees in the major categories continues with Best Picture hopeful Little Women from director Greta Gerwig. If you missed my first four write-ups in the biggest race of all, you can read them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

The Case for Little Women

Based on the beloved 1868 Louisa May Alcott novel, Gerwig’s version of Little Women drew raves from the critical community. The 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating stands among the highest of the nine pictures. Previous adaptations have garnered Academy attention as well. The 1994 rendering saw Winona Ryder nominated for Actress in addition to Costume Design and Score. Back in 1949, that version took home Art Direction and got a Cinematography nod. Yet this is the first adaptation since 1933’s classic to be named in Best Picture. The box office is strong at $80 million as it looks to top the century mark before the ceremony airs.

The Case Against Little Women

It has missed numerous nominations in key precursors. The pic was ignored by SAG and didn’t get named in Picture at the Golden Globes. Gerwig didn’t make the final cut in Best Director from the Academy. As discussed before, it’s rare for the Picture recipient to win without attention there. Many prognosticators even questioned whether it would make it in this race and the same can be said for Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh in their acting categories (though they did get in). The six nominations are certainly under the total count of the heavy hitters.

The Verdict

It is a remote possibility that Gerwig could win Adapted Screenplay since she was snubbed for Director. As far as this taking Best Picture, I wouldn’t look for the fourth time to be the charm among Alcott adaptations. This appears to be heading the route of Gerwig’s previous acclaimed effort Lady Bird which had five nominations and zero victories.

Up next in my Case of posts… Marriage Story!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Joker

Part 4 of my Case of posts laying out the pros and cons for nominees to win the big Oscar races continues with Joker in Best Picture. If you missed the first three covering Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, and Jojo Rabbit, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

The Case for Joker

The grim comic book adaptation has the most nominations of any film with 11. Even heavy hitters The Irishman, 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood followed with 10. Of the nine pictures featured, it’s easily the box office king with $334 million domestically and over a billion dollars worldwide. Joaquin Phoenix appears to be the front runner in Best Actor. The film’s awards chatter exploded when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Joker is further proof that the Academy has warmed to the genre after Black Panther was the first comic book flick to get a Picture nod in 2018.

The Case Against Joker

Many of the reasons listed above can actually be used against it. The picture with the most nominations fails to win Best Picture more often than not. Same goes for the movie that made the most money. Director Todd Phillips got the Oscar nod, but missed the Directors Guild final five. Furthermore, the 69% Rotten Tomatoes is awfully low for a potential Picture recipient. While Joker certainly has its fervent defenders, it was also subject to plenty of controversy about its subject matter.

The Verdict

The thought of Joker winning Best Picture seemed unlikely a short time ago. However, its chances due to the volume of nominations has certainly increased. Ultimately its best bet is for Phoenix to make it to the podium, but this a Picture victory that can’t be totally discounted.

Up next in my Case of posts… Little Women!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Jojo Rabbit

In my blog series laying out the cases for and against the Oscar nominees in major categories, we arrive at the third picture for consideration. That would be Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. If you missed the first two posts covering Ford v Ferrari and The Irishman, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

Let’s hop on it!

The Case for Jojo Rabbit

Viewers who like Jojo REALLY like it. With confusion regarding which handful of contenders like 1917, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joker, or The Irishman might win, Jojo could nab enough first place votes to sneak in. The satire that blends wild comedy with pathos is certainly unique and it even has comedy legend Mel Brook singing its praises. Taika Waititi is one of the hottest directors of the moment as he followed up Thor: Ragnarok with this and is now attached to an Akira remake and future Star Wars projects.

The Case Against Jojo Rabbit

Despite Waititi’s popularity, he missed out on a Best Director nomination. He was nominated by the Directors Guild. It’s very rare for the Best Picture winner to not have its maker named in the directing final five. That said, it has happened twice this decade with Argo/Ben Affleck and Green Book/Peter Farrelly. There are box office heavy hitters aplenty in the final nine this year and Jojo isn’t one of them with $22 million currently stateside. The 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating is also on the low end of the scale.

The Verdict

There’s no doubt that Jojo winning would be a major upset, though I would say it’s got the best chance of the pictures where the director isn’t nominated. That still doesn’t change the fact that it would rank 6th of out 9. Still, it’s a wide open year…

Up next in my Case of posts… Joker!

The Gentlemen Box Office Prediction

Director Guy Ritchie returns to the genre that made him known in the first place with crime comedy The Gentlemen next weekend. Matthew McConaughey headlines the pic that was already released in the United Kingdom on New Year’s Day to OK results. Costars include Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 75% with most reviewers claiming it doesn’t quite match the quality of earlier titles with similar plot themes.

Over 20 years ago, Ritchie burst onto the indie scene with his humorous gangster tale Long, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and followed it up with the successful Snatch. Later efforts in the genre like Revolver and RocknRolla failed to make a stateside impact. Over the past decade, the auteur has veered into blockbuster territory with the Sherlock Holmes franchise and last year’s massive hit Aladdin. 

As for its lead, McConaughey is badly in need of a solid performer. His filmography over the past few years has been littered with bombs (Gold, The Dark Tower, White Boy Rick, Serenity, The Beach Bum).

I suspect that The Gentlemen won’t be it. That said, it should certainly make more than Revolver (which didn’t get a stateside wide release) or RocknRolla (which topped out at $5 million). My forecast has McConaughey and company just below or just topping double digits for its start. I’ll go with the former.

The Gentlemen opening weekend prediction: $9.6 million

For my The Turning prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/16/the-turning-box-office-prediction/

The Turning Box Office Prediction

Universal Pictures is hoping horror fans turn out next weekend for The Turning. The supernatural tale is based on the late 19th century Henry James novel The Turn of the Shrew. Floria Sigismondi, best known for her music video and TV work, directs. Mackenzie Davis and Joely Richardson star along with Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things and It fame) and Brooklyn Prince (from The Florida Project) as orphans with some dark secrets.

The project was originally set to film back in 2016 before production was halted and its original director and writer were fired. Over one year later, it was back on track with a new team. Will the troubled development mean troubling box office returns? My feeling is yes.

Low double digits to low teens appears most probable. It’s always worth noting that horror can over perform, but I’m not seeing it here.

The Turning opening weekend prediction: $12.2 million

For my The Gentlemen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/16/the-gentlemen-box-office-prediction/

Oscars 2019: The Case of The Irishman

Continuing with my Oscar series outlining the cases for and against nominees in the top six categories, we arrive at Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. This is my second of (gulp) 34 posts for films and individuals picked in the Picture, Director, and the acting races. If you missed yesterday’s writeup about Ford v Ferrari, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

Let’s get to it!

The Case for The Irishman

Scorsese’s latest is an epic unification of screen legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in the genre they’re known best for… the gangster tale. The three and a half hour opus certainly has awards gravitas. It was pegged as a likely nominee from the moment it was announced. Both Pacino and Pesci were named in Supporting Actor and the pic sports 10 nominations, which is tied for second along with 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Scorsese is obviously a legendary figure and this is his ninth effort to get a Picture nod (the only winner being 2006’s The Departed).

The critics have been on its side and it has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. Several critics group named it as the year’s best.

The Case Against The Irishman

That attention has not translated to the big awards shows yet. The Golden Globes surprised most when they picked 1917 over this in Best Drama. The Critics Choice Awards chose Hollywood. Some have griped about its length. De Niro, unlike Pacino and Pesci, couldn’t manage a nod with the Globes, SAG, or the Academy. And then there’s the still unsettled notion that the Academy could have a Netflix problem, despite the streamer leading this year’s studios in total number of nominations. In 2018, Roma appeared to be the front runner until that Netflix property lost to Green Book. 

The Verdict

There was little doubt that The Irishman would garner plenty of attention in various categories, including here. Yet viability as a winner is much in question. Scorsese’s latest could still take the top prize, but it appears to be a bit of a long shot at the moment.

Up next in my Case of posts… Jojo Rabbit!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Ford v Ferrari

After months and months of Oscar prognosticating, the nominations came out Monday. So what’s a movie blogger like me to do? Come up with a new feature on the blog!

We are going to call this “The Case of” and up until February 9th (airdate of the ceremony), I will present the case for and against wins for all nine Best Picture nominees and the five individuals in Best Director and all four acting races. Each post will conclude with a verdict on its viability for victory.

Yep, that’s 34 posts in the next few days. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, but we start with the Picture nominees and Ford v Ferrari.

The Case for Ford v Ferrari

It’s a hit! Standing at $111 million currently at the domestic box office, the drama about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race boasts a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score. Featuring the well regarded duo of Matt Damon and Christian Bale, it’s the rare adult skewing pic that’s hit the century mark. Director James Mangold has experience on Oscar night. He directed Angelina Jolie to a Supporting Actress win in 1999’s Girl, Interrupted and Reese Witherspoon to a lead Actress trophy for 2005’s Walk the Line. In 2017, his Logan got an Adapted Screenplay nod.

The Case Against Ford v Ferrari

It’s significant! Of the nine Pictures up, Ford has the least amount of total nominations (4). The other eight have six mentions and up. Ford‘s three other nods are all in tech categories (Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing). No acting, directing, or writing recognition is not a positive sign your movie is going to win Best Picture. In fact, it’s unprecedented.

The Verdict

Of the nine films contending, I would rank Ford v Ferrari in ninth position to win. Many predictors didn’t even have it getting in. Bright side: it does stand legit shots in the three other races where it’s named. So it’s in the mix for technical kudos, but certainly not in the big race.

Up next in my Case of posts… The Irishman!