Oscar Predictions: Knock at the Cabin

Nearly a quarter century ago, M. Night Shyamalan’s phenom The Sixth Sense scared up six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director. It didn’t win any, but it established the filmmaker as a force at the box office. His fortunes have certainly ebbed and flowed in the 21st century with financial hits and misses. As far as awards attention, only 2004’s The Village achieved another Academy nod for its score.

Shyamalan’s latest is the apocalyptic thriller Knock at the Cabin with Dave Bautista headlining the cast. Based on Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel, Knock‘s embargo is up today ahead of its Friday release. The results are pretty encouraging with a 71% Rotten Tomatoes score. At the low point in his filmography, he had a string of flops and critical bombs (Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth) that racked up plenty of Golden Raspberry mentions.

Cabin is ahead of Shyamalan’s two predecessors Glass and Old as far as the RT meter. It isn’t as high (77%) as comeback vehicle Split from 2017. While Bautista is being complimented for his performance, I don’t see this being welcomed in any of the Academy races a year from now. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: 80 for Brady

The four leads in 80 for Brady – Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field – can tout a combined 12 Oscar nods for their performances and five victories. That hardware rivals the seven Super Bowls won by Tom Brady (who is also in the sports farce opening Friday).

That said – can an early February comedy contend for awards attention? The 63% Rotten Tomatoes score, while not bad, doesn’t inspire confidence. Perhaps if the main actress category in Musical or Comedy is weak at the Golden Globes, Tomlin could sneak in (she’s being singled out by some as best of the quartet). Even that is unlikely.

Yet there is one race where 80 for Brady could play and that’s Original Song. Diane Warren is the writer of “Gonna Be You” which is sung by the quintet of Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, and Debbie Harry. Between those five crooners, that’s over 80 Grammy nominations. Then there’s Diane Warren. She rather famously has received 13 Academy mentions without a trip to the stage. This includes ballads such as “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close & Personal and “How Do I Live” from Con Air. She received her 14th nod last week for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman where it’s doubtful the 14th time will be the charm. Warren is receiving a lifetime achievement prize so she will be an Oscar winner. With the star power involved in the “Gonna Be You”, the chances of 80 for Brady being a nominee are actually solid. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Eternal Memory

Two years ago, documentarian Maite Alberdi saw her nursing home expose The Mole Agent nominated for Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Agent was originally unveiled at Sundance and her latest project The Eternal Memory has followed suit. It too deals with aging issues as it’s centered on a Chilean couple and a husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

MTV’s documentary film branch quickly snatched up the distribution rights. Based on early reviews, it stands at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are hailing it as a powerful experience. At the last Academy Awards, MTV received their first nod in the competition with Ascension. With a boisterous campaign (which is to be expected), Memory could be a player. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Theater Camp

Sundance premiered Theater Camp, the feature-length version of a 2020 short film of the same name. The comedy comes from directors Molly Gordon (who can be seen as Jonah Hill’s sibling in this weekend’s You People on Netflix) and Nick Lieberman. They cowrote the screenplay with Ben Platt (originator of the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway) and Noah Galvin (who would later play Hansen onstage). Gordon, Platt, and Galvin are included in the cast along with Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, and Alan Kim.

Set at an upstate New York camp for aspiring musically inclined stage stars, critics are mostly saying Theater has limited but charming appeal. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a decent 80%. Searchlight believes the breakout potential is enough that they bought it for $8 million and plan a theatrical distribution later this year.

Perhaps some Academy voters went to the kind of camp that’s both celebrated and lampooned here. I don’t believe the reviews are there for it to make any sort of Oscar push. Perhaps the Golden Globes will take a gander for Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, but even that could be a reach. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars – The Case of Avatar: The Way of Water

My Case Of posts where I serve as the defense for and prosecution against the Best Picture, Director, and four acting competition hopefuls arrives at our second contender in the biggest race of all. That’s Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s long-in-development sequel to 2009’s 3D game changer.

The Case for Avatar: The Way of Water:

If the Academy wants to honor the highest grossing worldwide pic of the bunch, this is your movie. Cameron’s follow-up just surpassed $2 billion at the global box office and has ruled the domestic box office for seven weeks running.

The Case Against Avatar: The Way of Water:

If the Academy wants to honor the highest grossing domestic pic of the bunch, Top Gun: Maverick is their movie. It’s the sequel that had the best nominations haul on Oscar noms morning. Water‘s four overall mentions are less than half of the nine achieved by the original 13 years ago. It won three – Art Direction (now Production Design), Cinematography, and Visual Effects. This one seems destined for a sole victory. Cameron couldn’t make the final five for his direction (he did get a Globes nod) and editing is another significant omission.

Other Nominations:

Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects

The Verdict:

That likely win is in Visual Effects. With the aforementioned whiffs in direction and editing and the less than impressive haul (compared to part 1), Water was pretty fortunate to make the cut at all.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Banshees of Inisherin!

If you missed my posts covering the other BP contenders, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Flora and Son

John Carney is known for his features blending music, drama, and comedy. The latest is Flora and Son. It was unveiled at Sundance. Apple TV quickly snatched up distribution rights for a reported $20 million. Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Sophie Vavasseur, and Jack Reynor lead the cast.

Reviews are calling it another charmer from the Once maker. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 93%. An Apple campaign may center on its melodic themes. Carney and Gary Clark are responsible for original songs and the streamer is likely to choose one as their awards pick. The filmmaker is no stranger to Oscar and Globes attention.

“Falling Slowly” from 2007’s Once won the Academy Award for Best Song. “Lost Stars” from Begin Again (2013) was a nominee in the same category. 2016’s Sing Street was up for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. Those races at both ceremonies are in the mix with Flora.

Hewson is receiving praise for her performance in the title role. The Academy five could be a reach. I wouldn’t count her out as a possibility for a Golden Globe nod in the Musical or Comedy Actress competition. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Fairyland

CODA lead Emilia Jones has had a busy Sundance 2023 with Cat Person and Fairyland. The latter finds her being raised by her gay father (Scoot McNairy) in 1980s San Francisco. Costars include Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, and Maria Bakalova (2020 Supporting Actress contender for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm). It marks the directorial debut of Andrew Durham.

The consistent theme from the fest’s reviews are that it’s good, but not great (it does sit at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). McNairy, a character actor who’s popped up in everything from Killing Them Softly to 12 Years a Slave and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is getting plenty of praise.

I’m not confident the notices are strong enough to warrant an awards campaign, but a savvy distributor could manage to get this into the conversation. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Infinity Pool

Brandon Cronenberg has clearly inherited his dad David’s penchant for bizarro blends of sci-fi and horror (see Antiviral and Possessor). His latest is Infinity Pool, which debuts this weekend after a start at Sundance. It’s drawing reviews on the fresh side (87% on Rotten Tomatoes) even though many critics admit audiences may not want to wade into its NC-17 violence. Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth (fresh off X and Pearl), and Cleopatra Coleman star.

Papa Cronenberg’s latest Crimes of the Future made it to the Makeup and Hairstyling shortlist but didn’t end up making the top 5 this week. I don’t really see anywhere where Pool would make waves with awards voters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Past Lives

Past Lives is the debut feature film from Celine Song and it premiered at Sundance over the weekend to a rapturous reception. The romantic drama stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo with critics praising their work in the A24 effort.

Some reviews are already claiming it will end up as one of 2023’s finest and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%. Its studio may choose to kick off a Minari or Everything Everywhere All at Once style campaign (both were and/or are nominated for Best Picture).

Sundance brought to light the possibility of Past Lives being a legit awards player even this early in the process. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Judy Blume Forever

Judy Blume’s influential and controversial novel Forever… from 1975 was actually made into a TV movie with Stephanie Zimbalist back in 1978. Now one of her best known works, some 45 years later after the cinematic adaptation, serves as part of the title to a documentary about the author that screened at Sundance.

Judy Blume Forever from fimmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok (with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard as producers) chronicles the author and her dealings with fame and censorship. Early reviews out of Utah give it an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating. While overall positive, a quick glance at the critical reaction leads me to question whether it generates awards chatter. As has been mentioned previously, celeb focused docs (there’s always a bunch of them) need to really stand out for the Academy’s doc branch to take notice. That could be a challenge with Forever. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…