Oscar Watch: Come Sunday

Joshua Marston’s Come Sunday premiered on Netflix over the weekend after first being screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The pic casts Chiwetel Ejiofor as real life bishop Carlton Pearson, who was deemed a heretic for his beliefs. Costars include Danny Glover, Martin Sheen, Jason Segel, Lakeith Stanfield, and Condola Rashad. Director Marston is most known for his acclaimed 2004 feature Maria Full of Grace.

Critical reaction for Sunday has been mixed and it currently stands at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. Considering the Academy’s curiosity on how to even handle Netflix premieres, this was at best a long shot for recognition for Picture. The rather lukewarm reviews only solidify that.

That said, most critics have raved about Ejiofor, who would be going for his second nod following 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Some notices have gone as far to say it’s his finest performance. Yet the likelihood is that come nomination time, any buzz will have waned for Ejiofor and he won’t be attending the Oscars for his work here on that particular Sunday.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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Oscar Watch: Hereditary

Two months ago, the supernatural horror flick Hereditary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and it made quite an impression. Reaction from Utah (where this was also shot) has indicated it’s a genre exercise that truly is a frightening experience and it sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes currently. The film marks the directorial debut of Ari Asher with a cast led by Toni Collette and costarring Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd.

As we know, horror pics face an uphill battle for any Academy recognition and that could certainly be the case here. That said, the buzz for this is getting louder as it debuts stateside on June 8. Critics have particularly taken notice of Collette, saying her performance is masterful. If she manages a nomination for Actress, it would be her second Oscar nod. She was recognized nearly 20 years ago in Supporting Actress for another genre piece, The Sixth Sense. Collette is not the only actress generating some buzz in this category as Emily Blunt could garner attention for this April’s A Quiet Place.

Bottom line: even with its sterling critical reaction, Hereditary could be a long shot for attention. Collette, on the other hand, could be worth keeping an eye on.

 

Oscar Watch: Final Portrait

Premiering across the pond at the Berlin Film Festival in February and debuting stateside at the South by Southwest shindig days ago, Stanley Tucci’s fifth directorial effort Final Portrait comes out in limited release this Friday. The film centers on the relationship of famed Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) and American writer James Lord (Armie Hammer).

It’s been a decade since actor Tucci has been behind the camera. His debut effort Big Night from 1996 was his biggest critical and commercial success. Portrait has been met with solid reviews and it currently holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That said, any potential Oscar attention would likely focus on its performers. Rush had a big 1996 as well, winning Best Actor for Shine. He’s been nominated three times since. This is said to be one of his most impressive performances in recent years. Hammer probably just missed out on a nod for last year’s Call Me by Your Name and would be vying for his first recognition.

My take right now is that Portrait could be forgotten come nomination time. The early date and good but now fawning critical reaction could serve as roadblocks for Rush’s fifth go round and Hammer’s first.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Ready Player One

Perhaps the most high-profile title to screen at the South by Southwest Film Festival over the weekend was Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. The sci-fi action spectacle is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 bestseller that’s chock full of pop culture references. In the lead up to its stateside release on March 29, advance word of mouth has been mixed. However, the screening yesterday may have changed those perceptions. Early reviews are calling this Spielberg’s biggest crowd pleaser in quite some time. The festival only gives us a small sampling of critical reaction, but it is certainly encouraging.

Even if the pic turns out to be a box office success, that doesn’t necessarily translate to any awards love (especially considering the genre). I don’t see this as a factor in the big races like Picture or Director. That said, Ready appears primed to be a player in one particular category and that’s Visual Effects. It’s said to be a feast for the eyes and though competition could be fierce, a nomination in that race seems quite feasible. Other tech categories such as Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Production Design could also be on table.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Oscar Watch: A Quiet Place

Premiering this weekend at the South by Southwest Film Festival, John Krasinski’s horror pic A Quiet Place is making a considerable amount of noise. Described as a near silent genre exercise in which monsters attack you if you make a sound, Place is impressing fest goers and critics alike. The pic sits at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The director stars alongside his real life wife Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds playing their children.

Slated to open stateside on April 6, early reviews suggest Place could be a monster hit at the box office. By the way, 2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for Blunt with this and Mary Poppins Returns debuting on Christmas.

Horror movies generally don’t make their way to consideration for Oscar voters, but Get Out proved an exception in 2017. Could A Quiet Place follow suit? Even with the strong critical notices, it’s doubtful. Blunt is getting raves for her work here, but I suspect she may receive even more attention for Poppins. Two races where Quiet could factor in? The Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories. Even though the picture is said to be set at library tone decibels, its intermittent use of sound might impress voters in those technical categories.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Shape of Oscar 2017

Well, the 90th Annual Academy Awards have come and – after 220 minutes of ceremony – gone. This is my annual wrap up of the show and (of course most importantly) how I did with my predictions!

In short, not too shabby…

I went 19/21 on my predictions – missing out on just Best Original Song (“Remember Me” from Coco won over my upset pick “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall and A Fantastic Woman took Foreign Film over The Insult). Neither were a surprise.

In fact, the night was rather predictable as far as winners. The Shape of Water was the big victor, taking Picture, Director (Guillermo del Toro), Production Design, and Original Score. The acting winners (Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Allison Janney in I, Tonya) were the wise ones to have in the pool. Get Out got its recognition via Jordan Peele’s Original Screenplay. Legends like James Ivory (for his Call Me by Your Name Adapted Screenplay) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (for his Blade Runner 2049 work) finally won gold statues.

Some other quick observations:

  • Jimmy Kimmel, as he was last year, is a solid host for the show. I would have no problem with him essentially being the new Billy Crystal and hosting every year or every other year. That said, it sure would be interesting to see what a Tiffany Haddish or Dave Chappelle could do with it.
  • That 90 years in movies Oscar montage could have gone on another half hour and I would have been fine with it.
  • I hope the Phantom Thread costume designer is enjoying his jet ski today.
  • And, of course, no Best Picture screw up! Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway can relax today.

And there you have it, folks! That’s my shape of Oscar 2017.

 

Oscar Watch: Mary Magdalene

In 2016, the directorial debut of Garth Davis was Lion and it earned an impressive six Oscar nominations. His follow-up is an ambitious one – Biblical drama Mary Magdalene. The film casts previous nominees Rooney Mara in the title role with Joaquin Phoenix portraying Jesus.

Anything featuring this director, the subject matter, and the leads is bound to lead to Oscar curiosity. Yet buzz out today strongly suggests otherwise. Reviews have been rather weak with one major trade publication deeming it a sophomore slump.

While Phoenix has been singled out for his performance, he is far more likely to garner a nod for other pictures he’s got in the 2018 hopper. They are Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot and You Were Never Really Here and they’ve already been covered on the blog.

Besides the unimpressed critical reaction, there are other issues. While Magdalene is scheduled to roll out internationally in various countries in the coming days and weeks, it’s U.S. distribution is uncertain. The pic was originally scheduled for release from the beleaguered Weinstein Company and is currently without a release date.

There is one possible exception to its Academy chances. The film is composed by Johann Johannson, a previous nominee for The Theory of Everything and Sicario. Mr. Johannson died unexpectedly on February 9 and there could perhaps be a push to honor him posthumously.

Bottom line: don’t look for Mary Magdalene to have any real impact come Oscar time next year.

Todd’s FINAL 2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

Well… here we are. After months of prognosticating and speculating, the 90th Annual Academy Awards is upon us this Sunday. This post serves as my final predictions for what and who will emerge victorious in five days.

I am listing my predicted winner as well as my runner-up in case I’m not perfect… and I certainly won’t be. I’ll have reaction up Sunday night as to how I did and my general thoughts on the ceremony.

Until then – these are my FINAL Oscar Winner predictions:

Best Picture

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

PREDICTED WINNER: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Best Actor

Nominees:

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

PREDICTED WINNER: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Best Actress

Nominees:

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

PREDICTED WINNER: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

RUNNER-UP: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

PREDICTED WINTER: Call Me by Your Name

RUNNER-UP: Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Get Out

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

PREDICTED WINNER: Coco

RUNNER-UP: Loving Vincent

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

A Fantastic Woman

The Insult

Loveless

On Body and Soul

The Square

PREDICTED WINNER: The Insult

RUNNER-UP: A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

PREDICTED WINNER: Icarus

RUNNER-UP: Last Men in Aleppo

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria and Abdul

PREDICTED WINNER: Phantom Thread

RUNNER-UP: The Shape of Water

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Darkest Hour

Victoria and Abdul

Wonder

PREDICTED WINNER: Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Wonder

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Blade Runner 2049

Best Sound Mixing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Mighty River” from Mudbound

“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name

“Remember Me” from Coco

“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

PREDICTED WINNER: “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

RUNNER-UP: “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman 

And that leaves the following breakdown of number of wins for each picture:

4 Wins

The Shape of Water

3 Wins

Dunkirk

2 Wins

Darkest Hour, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Blade Runner 2049

1 Win

I, Tonya, Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, Coco, The Insult, Icarus, Phantom Thread, Marshall

 

Oscar Watch: Annihilation

Alex Garland’s Annihilation hits theaters tomorrow and the science fiction thriller has been subject to some glowing reviews. It stands at 88% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is the follow-up to director Garland’s 2015 debut Ex Machina, which nabbed two Oscar nominations. Machina won for Visual Effects (which was a bit of a surprise) and got a nod for Original Screenplay.

Annihilation is based on a novel and would compete in Adapted Screenplay. It’s unlikely this would compete for the big prizes like Picture, Director, or any of the acting races. Visual Effects could be a different story as critics have taken notice of that aspect of its production. Like Machina, it could find itself a contender in that category.

That said, distributor Paramount doesn’t seem very confident with Annihilation. That’s despite the positive critical reaction. The picture appears unlikely to make much noise at the box office and one wonders if the studio will push it for awards consideration at all. With the February release date, it’s possible Oscar voters will have simply forgotten Garland’s sophomore effort come voting time. Time will tell.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Oscar Watch: Isle of Dogs

It’s been four years since Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel garnered a host of Oscar nominations. His follow-up is the stop-motion animated comedic adventure Isle of Dogs, which hits theaters stateside in March and has made its debut at the Berlin Film Festival. The pic (say its name out loud and pick up on its apparent affection for canines) features a whole bunch of familiar faces providing voice work including Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Ken Watanabe, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Courtney B. Vance, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schrieber, and F. Murray Abraham.

Reaction overseas to Anderson’s latest is that he’s delivered another winner. That likely means Dogs will follow in the steps of the director’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature by the Academy. It ultimately lost to Pixar’s Up and that powerhouse studio has The Incredibles 2 on deck this year. Additionally, it could be a factor for Mr. Anderson in Original Screenplay.

Yes, it’s early but it could already be a safe assumption that the Dogs will be on display come nomination time next year.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…