Oscar Watch: Good Time

The Cannes Film Festival showcased a rather unexpected potential player in the awards derby with the crime drama Good Time, which debuts stateside in August. The film comes from indie directors Ben and Josh Safdie and finds Twilight star Robert Pattinson as a bank robber trying to break his brother out of jail. Barkhad Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh are among the supporting cast.

Early word of mouth for the A24 offering has been quite positive. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and it was reportedly greeted with a six minute standing ovation in Cannes. Much of the praise has been awarded to Mr. Pattinson. If the pic is able to break out in any substantial way in the U.S., he could emerge as a dark horse candidate for Best Actor and the Original Screenplay could get some buzz as well.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Oscar Watch: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Another Cannes Film Festival screening has put two items in the same sentence that don’t really belong together: Oscar buzz and Adam Sandler. Yes, it’s true. When we think of Sandler pics premiering on Netflix over the last couple of years, quality doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

However, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) isn’t your typical Sandler fare. The comedic drama (or dramatic comedy if you will) is from acclaimed indie director Noah Baumbach, maker of The Squid and the Whale and Frances Ha. Instead of David Spade and Rob Schneider, the costars here include Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Emma Thompson.

Early reviews from France suggest this is Mr. Sandler’ finest performance since at least PunchDrunk Love 15 years ago. And that has some folks whispering Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, even with strong notices and a current 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the star of Meyerowitz is probably a bit of a long shot. Yet a weak Best Actor race could change that dynamic come autumn.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Wonderstruck

The Cannes Film Festival started this week across the pond in France and that means some likely Oscar hopefuls are receiving their first screenings. One such picture is Wonderstruck, the latest from director Todd Haynes. It’s based on a 2011 novel by Brian Selznick, the same author who wrote the Hugo series in which Martin Scorsese’s 2011 Best Picture nominee is based upon.

Wonderstruck features Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams in supporting roles and child actors Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds in lead parts. Reaction from the Cannes screening has been mostly positive and it currently stands at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Haynes’ three previous efforts have all garnered Oscar nods – 2002’s Far from Heaven, 2007’s I’m Not There, and 2015’s Carol. However, none of them got Best Picture nominations. Instead, the focus was on acting. That will likely apply here with some potential for attention on down ballot categories.

Based on early buzz, I’d keep an eye out for Simmonds, the teenage deaf actress said to be a standout. Wonderstruck could also make a play for Adapted Screenplay as well as Costume Design and Original Score. The film hits theaters stateside in October.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The summer movie season has officially kicked off today with the release of Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The sequel to the 2014 blockbuster is expected to rake in tons of dough and reviews has mostly been solid (its Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 82%).

No superhero tale has managed a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. The Dark Knight and Deadpool may have come close, but didn’t make the final cut. That certainly will not change here, but Vol. 2 could be a factor in some down the line races.

The first Guardians nabbed two nods three years ago – for Best Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling. It would stand to reason that this follow-up could score nominations in both of those races once again and possibly one or two of the Sound categories. It probably won’t win any gold statues, but it could add to the variety of technical categories that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has amassed in the last few years.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Personal Shopper

The French psychologist thriller Personal Shopper from director Olivier Assayas has hit domestic theaters in limited release this weekend. It was nearly a year ago that eyeballs first saw it at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Assayas was honored with the Best Director Award, which he shared with another filmmaker.

Now that stateside audiences are getting a look at it, the buzz for its star Kristen Stewart is increasing. Many critics are calling it her finest work. She plays the title character – an American working for a celebrity in Paris in this pic said to have supernatural overtones. Shopper stands at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Stewart has worked with Assayas before in Clouds of Sils Maria, which also whipped up some chatter for an Academy nod for the actress. It didn’t pan out then and may not here, but look for her name to be in the mix as the months roll along.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s live-action version of their acclaimed 1991 animated tale (as old as time) Beauty and the Beast is out next weekend. It’s a safe bet that it makes a killing at the box office. It could approach the $364 million territory that The Jungle Book achieved last year and will almost certainly post 2017’s biggest opening thus far, overtaking Logan.

Let’s not forget: the quarter century plus version of Belle and her Beastly beau was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. Any chance that this rendering of the classic story could follow suit?

Short answer: no. Beast currently sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a decent score but way under the 95% reached by Jungle and that couldn’t get a Picture nod. That said, Beauty could be a factor in some down the line categories. Production Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup and Hairstyling are all possibilities. Where it’s most likely to show up is in Costume Design, where the studio’s recent remakes of Cinderella and Maleficent both scored nominations.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Oscar Watch: Logan

This evening, the third stand-alone Wolverine picture opens when Logan debuts. It’s reportedly Hugh Jackman’s final turn as the beloved and clawed X-Men and the film is receiving some of the greatest reviews a comic book flick has ever received.

Logan currently sits at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and looks poised for stellar box office earnings. So now let’s turn to the crazy question. Could it end up on Oscar’s radar? Some notes of caution. No comic book adaptation has been honored with a Best Picture nod. That includes The Dark Knight and last year’s Deadpool. That said, the latter started garnering significant buzz for a nomination in recent months, but ultimately to no avail.

Even with its terrific critical notices, Logan is certainly a long shot to recognized for the big prize. Academy voters have simply shown an unwillingness to honor this genre in any meaningful way. On the other hand, perhaps Jackman could sneak into Best Actor if that race isn’t packed. That remains to be seen. He would also likely face competition from himself when he stars as P.T. Barnum in this fall’s musical The Greatest Showman.

Bottom line: previous acclaim for this genre hasn’t meant much to Oscar. Perhaps Logan could change that, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

2016 Oscars Reaction

Well… then! Who expected that ending at the Oscars?? One that involved Bonnie and Clyde, Leonardo DiCaprio, wrong envelopes, and a mild Best Picture upset! Yes, the jokes about that already infamous finale to the 89th Annual Academy Awards deserves the endless tweets about M. Night Shyamalan coming up with it and Steve Harvey being off the hook for his Miss Universe gaffe.

All in all, it was a fairly unpredictable night even up until that wild conclusion. My predictions went 14 for 21. Expect for Picture, I did get all the high-profiles race right: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) for Director, Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) for Actor, Emma Stone (La La) for Actress, Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) for Supporting Actor, Viola Davis (Fences) for Supporting Actress, Moonlight for Adapted Screenplay, and Manchester for Original Screenplay. Animated Feature Zootopia and Foreign Language Film The Salesman were also rightly called. Down the line categories that I got right: Original Score and Song (La La and “City of Stars” from that film), Production Design and Cinematography (La La), and Visual Effects (The Jungle Book).

I whiffed on Documentary – O.J.: Made in America was the front runner and won over my upset pick I Am Not Your Negro. Others: Sound Editing (Arrival instead of Hacksaw Ridge), Sound Mixing (Hacksaw instead of La La), Makeup and Hairstyling (Suicide Squad over Star Trek Beyond), Costume Design (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them over Jackie), and Editing (Hacksaw over La La).

And, of course, Best Picture, where La La Land won for about two minutes before the Academy’s producers pointed out a mistake and that Moonlight actually won.

The evening started on a happy note with Justin Timberlake dancing his way into the auditorium to his hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls. Jimmy Kimmel did a decent job hosting for the most part. Some bits worked better than others. I enjoyed the group of tourists unknowingly being brought to the theater and his endless ribbing of Matt Damon. The candy and cookies falling down to the audience felt a little old hat. The In Memorium package was a little tough with the legends lost this year and props to Jennifer Aniston for mentioning the passing of Bill Paxton as news had just broke that morning.

Did the show feel long? Of course. It always does, but for those that stuck around… yowza! That was an Oscar ending that will not soon be forgotten.

Todd’s 2016 Final Oscar Winner Predictions

OK folks, this is it! For months, I have been pontificating on who and what will be nominated at the 89th Annual Academy Awards that air this Sunday evening. It’s time for the final predictions on the winners.

As readers of the blog know, there’s been plenty of analysis and we’re going to keep it simple for this final predictions post. Here’s my winners in all the feature film categories. I’ll have a post up Sunday night with my thoughts on how I did and the show itself…

Best Picture: 

La La Land

Best Director:

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress

Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Best Adapted Screenplay

Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay

Manchester by the Sea

Best Animated Feature

Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film

The Salesman

Best Documentary Feature

I Am Not Your Negro

Best Cinematography

La La Land

Best Costume Design

Jackie

Best Film Editing

La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Star Trek Beyond

Best Original Score

La La Land

Best Original Song

“City of Stars” from La La Land

Best Production Design

La La Land

Best Sound Editing

Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing

La La Land

Best Visual Effects

The Jungle Book

Todd’s Updated 2016 Oscar Winner Predictions

Good Sunday all! 15 days from today, the Oscars will air and for the next three Sundays, I’ll be giving you my take on where I see each category standing. This means my winner prediction and each nominee listed in order of likelihood to take their prize.

My final predictions will post on Sunday, February 26 prior to the broadcast the next day. Let’s get to it, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Manchester by the Sea

4) Hidden Figures

5) Lion

6) Arrival

7) Hacksaw Ridge

8) Hell or High Water

9) Fences

BEST DIRECTOR

1) Damien Chazelle, La La Land

2) Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

3) Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

4) Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

5) Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTOR

1) Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2) Denzel Washington, Fences

3) Ryan Gosling, La La Land

4) Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

5) Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTRESS

1) Emma Stone, La La Land

2) Natalie Portman, Jackie

3) Isabelle Huppert, Elle

4) Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1) Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2) Dev Patel, Lion

3) Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

4) Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

5) Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1) Viola Davis, Fences

2) Naomie Harris, Moonlight

3) Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

4) Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

5) Nicole Kidman, Lion

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1) Moonlight

2) Lion

3) Hidden Figures

4) Fences

5) Arrival

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1) Manchester by the Sea

2) La La Land

3) Hell or High Water

4) The Lobster

5) 20th Century Women

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1) Zootopia

2) Kubo and the Two Strings

3) Moana

4) My Life as a Zucchini

5) The Red Turtle

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

1) The Salesman

2) Toni Erdmann

3) Land of Mine

4) A Man Called Ove

5) Tanna

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1) I Am Not Your Negro

2) O.J.: Made in America

3) 13th

4) Fire at Sea

5) Life, Animated

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Lion

5) Silence

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1) Jackie

2) La La Land

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Allied

BEST EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Hacksaw Ridge

5) Hell or High Water

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1) Star Trek Beyond

2) Suicide Squad

3) A Man Called Ove

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1) La La Land

2) Arrival

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Hail, Caesar!

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1) La La Land

2) Lion

3) Moonlight

4) Jackie

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1) “City of Stars” from La La Land

2) “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

3) “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” from Trolls

4) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

5) “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

BEST SOUND EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Deepwater Horizon

5) Sully

BEST SOUND MIXING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

5) 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1) The Jungle Book

2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3) Doctor Strange

4) Kubo and the Two Strings

5) Deepwater Horizon

Next Update will be Be Sunday!