Oscar Predictions: EO

The nation of Poland has been well represented in the International Feature Film competition at the Oscars over the past decade. 2014’s Ida won while 2018’s Cold War and 2019’s Corpus Christi made the final quintet. The Poles have already announced their selection for 2022 is EO from 84-year-old filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski. Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo, Mateusz Kościukiewicz, and Isabelle Huppert star.

Often told from the perspective of a circus donkey (your eyes aren’t deceiving you), this garnered plenty of praise and head scratching when it played the Cannes Film Festival over the summer. It also tied for the Jury Prize in France. EO plays the Toronto Film Festival in a matter of days.

Said to be quite the surrealistic experience, the Rotten Tomatoes is at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The International branch is tough to predict. If they didn’t go for last year’s Lamb, I’m not overly confident they go for this. Based on the history of its country recently though – could it contend with the right marketing campaign? You bet your ass. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Summer 2012: The Top 10 Hits and More

My look back at the cinematic summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago culminates with 2012. A decade ago, the Marvel Cinematic Universe went from a successful franchise to the phenomenal juggernaut that it remains today. That’s due to the release of a little something called The Avengers. On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the biggest grosser 30 years ago (Batman Returns), two decades ago (Spider-Man), and in this post all share comic book roots.

Before we get to Iron Man and company, I’ll recount the other features in the top ten moneymakers before covering additional notable titles and some flops. If you missed my write-ups about the seasons of 1992 and 2002, you can find them here:

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

Summer 2002: The Top 10 Hits and More

10. Prometheus

Domestic Gross: $126 million

Some three decades after Alien terrified audiences, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise. However, this was more of a mixed bag in terms of critical and audience reaction. The production design and Michael Fassbender’s performance were praised while the script drew its share of critics. Nevertheless Scott would be back in the mix five years later with Alien: Covenant. 

9. Snow White and the Huntsman 

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Hot off the Twilight franchise and hot off playing Thor in The Avengers, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth battled Prometheus costar Charlize Theron’s evil stepmom in this fantasy adventure. Reviews were so-so but it performed well enough to warrant a less appreciated prequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War in 2016.

8. Ice Age: Continental Drift 

Domestic Gross: $161 million

The fourth entry in the animated franchise featuring the vocal stylings of Ray Romano and John Leguizamo kept the grosses hot. Sequel Collision Course would follow four years later.

7. Men in Black 3

Domestic Gross: $179 million

The third teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (with Josh Brolin playing a convincing younger version of him) earned $11 million less than 2002’s part II. That sequel made less than the 1997 original. The series was revamped in 2019 with Men in Black: International with none other than Chris Hemsworth, but audiences tuned out.

6. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Ben Stiller and Chris Rock returned for the third time voicing their respective lion and zebra. Spin-off Penguins of Madagascar came out two years later while a proper fourth entry never materialized from DreamWorks.

5. Ted

Domestic Gross: $218 million

Moving from Fox’s hugely successful animated sitcom Family Guy the big screen, Seth MacFarlane’s story of Mark Wahlberg and his crude talking bear Ted was the breakout comedy of the season. Follow-ups A Million Ways to Die in the West and the Ted sequel were not as well received.

4. Brave

Domestic Gross: $237 million

The first Pixar film led by a female hero is also the inaugural studio entry (co)directed by a woman. It would go on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

Domestic Gross: $262 million

After not moving forward with a fourth title directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, the Spidey franchise was rebooted with Marc Webb behind the camera and Andrew Garfield donning the red. The dollars followed although reviews were mixed and a 2014 sequel was widely considered a disappointment.

2. The Dark Knight Rises

Domestic Gross: $448 million

While perhaps not quite reaching the heights of 2008’s The Dark Knight, the culmination to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy sent Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader off in stirring fashion and with hugely profitable earnings.

1. The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $623 million

Setting record after record upon release, the melding of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye transfixed filmgoers. It’s been Marvel’s world and we’ve been living in it ever since.

And now for some other pics worthy of discussion:

Magic Mike

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Steven Soderbergh’s saga of male exotic dancers was based loosely on Channing Tatum’s real life experiences. It turned him into a superstar while giving Matthew McConaughey a memorable showcase. The micro budgeted pic (a reported $7 million) spawned a 2015 sequel and there’s a third scheduled to hit HBO Max next year.

The Bourne Legacy

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Audiences weren’t clamoring for Jeremy Renner to replace Matt Damon in this franchise, but the stateside and overseas grosses were still pretty acceptable. That said, Renner’s tenure lasted this pic and this pic only.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Domestic Gross: $46 million

While it performed even better overseas, this British import with Judi Dench  was a sleeper hit stateside that begat a 2015 sequel.

Moonrise Kingdom 

Domestic Gross: $45 million

Wes Anderson scored with critics and crowds with this coming-of-age dramedy that premiered at Cannes and then found an audience in the weeks that followed.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Domestic Gross: $12 million

This indie drama from Benh Zeitlin was truly a little movie that could. Shot for under $2 million, it eventually nabbed Oscar nods for Picture, Director, Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis at age 9), and Adapted Screenplay.

They’re not all winners so let’s get into some critical and/or commercial failures from the period:

Dark Shadows

Domestic Gross: $79 million

Johnny Depp’s box office happy days were beginning to fade as his 8th collaboration with Tim Burton was perhaps the least memorable. This horror comedy failed to enlighten viewers.

Battleship

Domestic Gross: $65 million

Action fans weren’t taken with this Peter Berg directed board game adaptation starring Liam Neeson and Rihanna with a bloated budget of over $200 million.

Total Recall

Domestic Gross: $58 million

And your action sci-fi fans weren’t signing up for Colin Farrell taking over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in this unneeded remake.

Rock of Ages

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Based on the Broadway musical, there was a deaf ear turned to this adaptation despite Tom Cruise getting solid notices for his performance. Lucky for him, he’d rule this current summer with Top Gun: Maverick. 

That’s My Boy

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg’s comedic partnership drew a 20% Tomatoes meter and ambivalence from usually devoted Sandler fans.

The Watch

Domestic Gross: $35 million

That wasn’t the only high-profile comedic flop as this sci-fi mashup with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill fared even worse in numbers and rotten reviews (17% RT).

And that’ll close it out, ladies and gents! It’s been a pleasure revising these cinematic seasons of days past.

Summer 2002: The Top 10 Hits and More

In the turbulent months that followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11, domestic audiences needed some escapism at the box office. In the Christmas season of 2001, they found it with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. 

By summer 2002, moviegoers turned out in record-setting droves for the first big screen treatment of an iconic superhero.

20 years later, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed as Spidey continues to dominate the charts. It all started with a memorable upside down kiss. Before we go there, there’s plenty more to discuss for the cinematic summer of two decades past.

As I do every season on the blog, I’m recounting the top 10 hits, other notable features, and flops from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my post covering 1992, it’s right here:

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

Let’s begin with that top 10!

10. Mr. Deeds

Domestic Gross: $126 million

When Adam Sandler remade Frank Capra, the result was another blockbuster for the star and a needed one after his previous pic Little Nicky was a rare commercial flop.

9. Minority Report

Domestic Gross: $132 million

The first and still only collaboration between Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg is a prescient sci-fi tale and its reputation has grown since its release. It’s my personal favorite film of 2002.

8. xXx

Domestic Gross: 142 million

Riding high off the success of the previous summer’s The Fast and the Furious, Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel reunited for this over the top action flick. A sequel would follow three years later without Diesel’s involvement (Ice Cube starred instead), but Vin would return to the role in 2017.

7. Lilo & Stitch

Domestic Gross: $145 million

This Disney animated effort performed just fine (if not in the stratosphere of some 90s gems) and spawned numerous direct-to-video follow-ups. A live-action version is being planned.

6. Scooby-Doo

Domestic Gross: $153 million

Critics might have thought it was a dog, but crowds lapped up this live-action/animated hybrid based on the very 1970s cartoon. Scoob and the gang would return two years later for part 2. Fun fact: James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame wrote the script.

5. Men in Black II

Domestic Gross: $190 million

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones teamed up again for the sci-fi comedic spectacle from Barry Sonnenfeld. This fell short of the original’s $250 million domestic haul and the reviewers weren’t impressed, but that didn’t prevent a third offering that will be discussed in my summer of 2012 post.

4. Austin Powers in Goldmember

Domestic Gross: $213 million

Mike Myers continued to flex his box office mojo alongside Beyonce, Michael Caine, and Mini-Me in this threequel that I believe surpassed the quality of predecessor The Spy Who Shagged Me. 

3. Signs

Domestic Gross: $227 million

After the more mixed reaction that Unbreakable garnered, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix was more of a return to crowd favorite status. What followed was several pics from him that drew considerably more ambivalent to negative vibes.

2. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Domestic Gross: $302 million

$302 million is just dandy for nearly any movie, but this second prequel from George Lucas fell well short of the $431 million achieved by The Phantom Menace three summers prior. Many consider this the worst of the nine officials episodes. I’m one of them.

    1. Spider-Man

Domestic Gross: $403 million

When Sam Raimi’s spin on the webslinger kicked off the summer, it did so with the largest opening weekend of all time at $114 million (breaking a record that had just been set by the first Potter). Two sequels followed for the Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst trilogy and, as we all know, the character has never left us. Spider-Man: No Way Home recently brought all 3 Spideys (Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland) into its MCU Multiverse.

Now let’s move to some other notable titles from the season:

The Bourne Identity 

Domestic Gross: $121 million

While outside the top ten, Paul Greengrass’s action thriller with Matt Damon as an amnesiac spy is more influential than the bulk of the flicks above it. Damon would return to the role three times.

The Sum of All Fears

Domestic Gross: $118 million

Right behind Damon is his buddy Ben Affleck who took over the role of Jack Ryan (previously played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford) in the Tom Clancy adapted hit.

Road to Perdition

Domestic Gross: $104 million

His follow-up to Best Picture winner American Beauty, the Depression era crime drama from Sam Mendes cast Tom Hanks against type as a hitman with Paul Newman as his underworld boss. This only nabbed a Cinematography Oscar, but reviews were mostly strong. It also provides a juicy role for pre-007 Daniel Craig.

Insomnia

Domestic Gross: $67 million

Hanks wasn’t the only legend stretching in a villainous turn. Robin Williams memorably did the same as he was pitted against Al Pacino’s detective in this chilly thriller from Christopher Nolan (three years before Batman Begins).

Unfaithful

Domestic Gross: $52 million

Adrian Lyne made a movie about another fatal attraction and Unfaithful earned Diane Lane an Oscar nomination as the cheating wife of Richard Gere.

And now for some movies that didn’t perform so well…

Reign of Fire

Domestic Gross: $43 million

This dragon centered fantasy arrived before Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale would be Oscar winners a few years later. Critics weren’t kind and the box office failed to generate much fire.

Windtalkers

Domestic Gross: $40 million

John Woo’s financial win streak blew over with this World War II action drama headlined by Nicolas Cage that only managed 32% on Rotten Tomatoes.

K-19: The Widowmaker 

Domestic Gross: $35 million

Seven years before her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1960s set submarine thriller with Harrison Ford was a pricey disappointment.

Halloween: Resurrection

Domestic Gross: $30 million

Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode are about to team up for the final (?) time in Halloween Ends in October. In 2002, this was the sequel to the successful Halloween H20 from 1998. This one was not so successful and it’s considered by many aficionados as the weakest of the whole franchise.

Bad Company

Domestic Gross: $30 million

One is a double Oscar winner and the other is one of greatest stand-ups of all time, but this cinematic pairing of Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in Joel Schumacher’s action comedy was met with a shrug.

Blood Work 

Domestic Gross: $26 million

Ten years after Unforgiven won Best Picture after its summer release, Clint Eastwood’s mystery didn’t work for critics or crowds.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Domestic Gross: $4 million

Speaking of legendary stand-ups, Eddie Murphy reached a career low point as sci-fi comedy Nash stands as one of cinema’s most notorious flops. Its budget was a reported $100 million and that’s not a misprint above… it made an embarrassing $4 million.

2012 is up next!

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

1989 was unquestionably the Summer of the Bat as Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader broke records. For 1992, it’s a bit more murky but we could call it The Summer of the Cat based on the sequel being the season’s biggest blockbuster.

As I have every season on the blog, I’m recounting the top 10 hits as well as some notable pics and failures from the summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago. For 1992, it was a time of no crying in baseball, a Best Picture winner being discovered, and audiences refusing a biopic about a discoverer of America.

We begin with the moneymakers from #10 on up before moving to additional hits, misses, and those somewhere in between.

10. Housesitter

Domestic Gross: $58 million

While not the blockbuster he’d had just six months prior with Father of the Bride, Steve Martin had a midsize performer with this rom com costarring Goldie Hawn.

9. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

Domestic Gross: $58 million

The return of Rick Moranis and plenty of special effects had shrunken grosses compared to the predecessor. The $58 million tally is less than half of what Honey, I Shrunk the Kids made. Nevertheless a direct to video sequel and TV series followed.

8. Far and Away

Domestic Gross: $58 million

Tom Cruise is ruling summer 2022 with Top Gun: Maverick. It was a different story 30 years ago with this rare misfire. Ron Howard directed the epic Western costarring Tom’s ex Nicole Kidman. The domestic take was less than the reported $60 million budget. Cruise would quickly get back in the good graces of moviegoers later in 1992 with A Few Good Men. 

7. Boomerang 

Domestic Gross: $70 million

While not approaching the earnings of his largest hits, Eddie Murphy’s first foray into romantic leading man territory did decent business. A string of flops would follow before a plus sized comeback four years later in The Nutty Professor. 

6. Patriot Games

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Harrison Ford stepped into the role of Jack Ryan after Alec Baldwin (who played the role in The Hunt for Red October) didn’t return. The result didn’t quite reach the financial or critical levels of its predecessor, but it easily made enough to warrant Clear and Present Danger two summers later.

5. Unforgiven

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Clint Eastwood’s tale of an aging cowboy out for revenge took the August box office by storm and eventually was an awards favorite – winning Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for the villainous Gene Hackman. Unforgiven is the rare BP winner to release in the summer season and kickstarted an impressive second act for the legendary filmmaker.

4. A League of Their Own

Domestic Gross: $107 million

Penny Marshall’s World War II era baseball comedy was celebrated for its interplay between players like Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell in addition to one of cinema’s longest urination sequences from Tom Hanks.

3. Sister Act

Domestic Gross: $139 million

Coming on the heels of her Ghost Oscar, Whoopi Goldberg hit the jackpot with this fish out of water pic putting the comedienne in a convent. A less regarded sequel would follow in December 1993 as well as a Broadway musical.

2. Lethal Weapon 3

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s third go-round in their buddy cop franchise didn’t generate the reviews of its two predecessors, but it had no trouble raking in the bucks. Rene Russo joined the party this time as Gibson’s love interest and fellow officer. Part 4 would come six years later and a fifth is in development right now.

1. Batman Returns

Domestic Gross: $162 million

Breathlessly anticipated and then received with mixed reaction due to its dark tone, Batman Returns is now seen by many as an improvement over the 1989 original. One thing that’s generally agreed upon is Michelle Pfeiffer nailing the role of Catwoman. This would be Burton’s last time helming the series with Joel Schumacher taking the franchise in a far more cartoonish direction for 1995’s Batman Forever.

And now for some other noteworthy selections outside of the top ten:

Unlawful Entry

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Coming on the heels of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. Riots, this thriller starring the late Ray Liotta as a dirty cop tormenting Kurt Russell felt timely.

Single White Female

Domestic Gross: $48 million

Liotta was the Cop From Hell while Jennifer Jason Leigh was the Roommate From Hell terrorizing Bridget Fonda in this memorable psychological thriller.

Encino Man

Domestic Gross: $40 million

The cinematic era of MTV personality Pauly Shore (as well as Brendan Fraser) began with this caveman comedy that grossed several times its meager $7 million budget.

Universal Soldier

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Action lunkheads Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren teamed up for this futuristic sci-fi pic that turned a nifty profit and spawned numerous sequels. Four summers later, director Roland Emmerich would dominate the season with Independence Day. 

Honeymoon in Vegas

Domestic Gross: $35 million

With a plot similar to Indecent Proposal that would follow a few months later, Honeymoon in Vegas took the more comedic route and earned decent grosses in the cast led by Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the just departed James Caan. Plus… Flying Elvis impersonators!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Domestic Gross: $16 million

It did manage to double its meager budget, but this vampire comedy likely wouldn’t be remembered had it not led to a critically acclaimed WB series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The title role in the film version belonged to Kristy Swanson with a supporting cast including Luke Perry, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman), and pre double Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

My final section of the summer 1992 recap gets to the under performers and downright flops…

Death Becomes Her

Domestic Gross: $58 million

This star studded satire from Robert Zemeckis boasted Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis above the title and some innovative special effects. While it just missed the top ten, the $58 million take barely surpassed the $55 million budget. Audiences and critics were mixed though Death has become a cult favorite in subsequent years.

Alien 3 

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Despite marking the directorial debut of David Fincher and featuring a memorably bald Sigourney Weaver, Alien 3 is considered to be a step-down from its iconic predecessors Alien and Aliens. In spite of the backlash, the franchise has continued and, of course, Fincher went onto brighter (albeit even darker) pastures.

Cool World

Domestic Gross: $14 million

Animator Ralph Bakshi is best known for his X-rated 1972 feature Fritz the Cat. After Cool World, he was still mostly known for Fritz the Cat. This hybrid of live-action and cartoon fantasy starred Kim Basinger and Brad Pitt. Yet it bombed with reviewers and crowds alike and only earned half its budget back stateside.

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

Domestic Gross: $8 million

No one had interest in discovering this critically drubbed Columbus biopic that had Marlon Brando and Tom Selleck in the cast. Later in the fall, Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise about the title character would also bomb.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Domestic Gross: $4 million

In 1990, David Lynch’s bizarre TV series was a cultural phenomenon… at least for a season. The movie version arrived after the second and final season and audiences had tuned out.

And that’s your look at the cinematic summer from 30 years ago! My recap of 2002 will be available in short order…

2021 Oscar Predictions: December 1st Edition

As December dawns, the story of my latest Oscar predictions is West Side Story. Steven Spielberg’s remake of the musical has been in my ten Best Picture nominees for some time. However, the solid buzz emanating from screenings gives it a bump from #8 to #4. Additionally, Spielberg is now in my five for Director and that takes out Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley. 

Speaking of Alley, we will have a far better idea of its viability later today when it gets its first look from critics and the social embargo is lifted. It’s fair to say that Alley is the final major contender to be unveiled and that makes an even clearer picture will be available for my next round.

In other developments:

    • While my five Best Actress picks remain the same, Rachel Zegler’s performance in West Side Story jumps from 10th to 6th.
    • The five slot in Best Actor shifts once again from Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) to Peter Dinklage in Cyrano. 
    • Rita Moreno’s work in West Side Story puts her in the five for the first time (and top ten for that matter). If my prediction comes true, she could join costar Ariana DeBose (who plays the role for which Moreno won her Oscar sixty years ago). It would also make her the oldest nominee in Academy history. Ann Dowd (Mass) falls out of the 5.
    • The wide open Supporting Actor derby sees Jamie Dornan (Belfast) in and Jason Isaacs (Mass) out.
    • King Richard returns to Original Screenplay over C’Mon C’Mon, which goes from 3 estimated nods in my previous post to zero.
    • West Side Story makes the cut for Adapted Screenplay to the detriment of The Humans.
    • Flee drops from the #1 spot in Animated Feature with Encanto in. Yet it rises to first in Documentary Feature over The Rescue.

You can read all the developments below and I’ll be back at it next week!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Licorice Pizza (PR: 3) (E)

4. West Side Story (PR: 8) (+4)

5. Dune (PR: 4) (-1)

6. King Richard (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Being the Ricardos (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 11) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

11. CODA (PR: 12) (+1)

12. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: Not Ranked)

14. The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

15. House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Spencer

Flee

Mass

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3) (E)

4. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 4) (E)

5. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 2) (E)

3. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 3) (E)

4. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 10) (+4)

7. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 9) (-1)

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: 4) (+1)

4. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

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

3. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 3) (E)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Rita Moreno, West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 8) (E)

9. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 5) (+3)

3. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 3) (E)

4. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (-3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4) (-4)

9. Jon Bernthal, King Richard (PR: 9) (E)

10. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-2)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. Being the Ricardos (PR: 3) (E)

4. Don’t Look Up (PR: 4) (E)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Mass (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 9) (+1)

9. A Hero (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Spencer

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Lost Daughter (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. West Side Story (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Dune (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA (PR: 8) (+2)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

8. The Humans (PR: 4) (-4)

9. Passing (PR: 9) (E)

10. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Encanto (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Flee (PR: 1) (-1)

3. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (PR: 3) (E)

4. Luca (PR: 4) (E)

5. Belle (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Summit of the Gods (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Raya and the Last Dragon (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Ron’s Gone Wrong (PR: 8) (E)

9. Where Is Anne Frank (PR: 9) (E)

10. Vivo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Charlotte

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. A Hero (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 2) (E)

3. Drive My Car (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Flee (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Hand of God (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Titane (PR: 6) (E)

7. I’m Your Man (PR: 7) (E)

8. Compartment No. 6 (PR: 8) (E)

9. Prayers for the Stolen (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Good Boss (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Memoria

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee (PR: 2) (+1)

2. The Rescue (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Summer of Soul (PR: 3) (E)

4. Procession (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The Lost Leonardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Attica (PR: 4) (-2)

7. The First Wave (PR: 8) (+1)

8. President (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Ascension (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Becoming Cousteau (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Ailey

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (+1)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. West Side Story (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Spencer (PR: 10) (+3)

8. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (E)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 9) (E)

10. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

C’Mon C’Mon

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cruella (PR: 1) (E)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Spencer (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. West Side Story (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Cyrano (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Licorice Pizza (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye 

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. West Side Story (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Power of the Dog (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Nightmare Alley (PR: 8) (+1)

8. King Richard (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10) (+1)

10. House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Being the Ricardos

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (PR: 1) (E)

2. Dune (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Spencer (PR: 4) (+1)

5. Cruella (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (E)

7. West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Suicide Squad (PR: 8) (E)

9. Being the Ricardos (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Licorice Pizza (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

The Green Knight

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Spencer (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 5) (-2)

8. King Richard (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Cyrano (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10) (E)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Be Alive” from King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Down to Joy” from Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. “Every Letter” from Cyrano (PR: 7) (+3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto (PR: 4) (-2)

7. “So May We Start” from Annette (PR: 6) (-1)

8. “Here I Am” from Respect (PR: 8) (E)

9. “Believe” from The Rescue (PR: 9) (E)

10. “The Anonymous Ones” from Dear Evan Hansen (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Guns Go Bang” from The Harder They Fall

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. West Side Story (PR: 3) (E)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Cyrano (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Spencer (PR: 6) (-2)

9. The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (E)

10. House of Gucci (PR: 10) (E)

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. Belfast (PR: 3) (E)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. No Time to Die (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6) (-1)

8. The Last Duel (PR: Not Ranked)

9. A Quiet Place Part II (PR: 9) (E)

10. King Richard (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Tick Tick… Boom!

The Matrix Resurrections 

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 2) (E)

3. Eternals (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Godzilla vs. Kong (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (PR: 6) (E)

7. Spider-Man: No Way Home (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Free Guy (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Nightmare Alley (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Finch (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

The Suicide Squad

And that equates to these pictures generating these numbers of nominations:

11 Nominations

Dune

10 Nominations

Belfast

9 Nominations

West Side Story

8 Nominations

The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

Nightmare Alley, The Tragedy of Macbeth

5 Nominations

Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

4 Nominations

Spencer

3 Nominations

Being the Ricardos, Flee

2 Nominations

Cruella, Cyrano, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, House of Gucci, The Lost Daughter

1 Nomination

Belle, Drive My Car, Encanto, Eternals, The French Dispatch, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, A Hero, The Humans, The Lost Leonardo, Luca, The Matrix Resurrections, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Procession, The Rescue, Respect, Summer of Soul, Tick Tick… Boom!, The Worst Person in the World

Oscar Watch: Benedetta

From Robocop to Total Recall to Basic Instinct to Showgirls to Starship Troopers, director Paul Verhoeven isn’t known for subtlety when it comes to showing sex and violence onscreen. And at the Cannes Film Festival, his latest French feature is said to feature plenty of both and in a 17th century Italian convent to boot! Welcome to the polarized reaction that is sure to greet Benedetta. 

Based on a true story and adapted from a 1986 novel titled Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, Verhoeven’s pic has tongues wagging in the Riviera. Could its buzz translate to Oscar attention?

Five years ago, the filmmaker premiered his thriller Elle at Cannes and it garnered some of the strongest reviews of his career. With a 91% Rotten Tomatoes rating, Elle won the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film. However, it did not score a nomination with the Academy. The acclaim for its star Isabelle Huppert was more widespread with nods at the Oscars, Globes, and Critics Choice Awards (though not SAG).

This brings us back to Benedetta. It remains to be seen whether France will pick this as its hopeful in the International Feature Film competition. If so, I do question whether it’s too controversial for inclusion. Its Tomatoes meter is currently at 67%. Yet critics have been quick to focus on the performance of Virginie Efria as the title character. The Belgian actress, I suspect, will be talked about as a contender in the coming months. Competition could complicate her inclusion in the final five, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Friends Zone: A Movie History

Friends: The Reunion premieres today on HBO Max and millions of the show’s fans can rejoice in seeing the six main characters from the NBC sitcom together on the couch once again. Running from 1994 to 2004, the show was an instant smash that continues to gain new followers through streaming services.

I was a viewer going back to the mid 90s. Due to Friends becoming so gigantic at the outset, Hollywood studios quickly tried make the main cast immediate movie stars. This resulted in varying degrees of success.

So in honor of the reunion, let’s take a look back in movie history at this iconic sextet and I’ll rank each actor from 1-6 on their cinematic output!

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 1

Before her casting as Rachel, Aniston’s only significant big screen credit was as a lead in the cult slasher Leprechaun. Yet her filmography during and after Friends easily puts her atop these rankings. She garnered critical raves in the indie dramas The Good Girl and Cake, was the love interest in the now beloved Office Space, and has plenty of comedic hits like Bruce Almighty, Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers, and Murder Mystery. 

Courteney Cox (Monica Geller)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 3

Cox is really the only Friendster with notable movie appearances before the show. Just a few months before the Friends premiere, she starred alongside Jim Carrey in the surprise hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Years before that, she acted alongside He-Man and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe. During Friends, she appeared in the horror blockbuster Scream and she’s about to turn up early next year in its fourth sequel. The rest of her filmography is pretty scant, but she’s the only one with a well established franchise.

Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 2

Many might call 1997’s cult favorite Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion her finest contribution to the silver screen. Kudrow has also appeared in several supporting roles over the years from The Opposite of Sex to Analyze This and its sequel to Easy A to Booksmart. There’s certainly been some clunkers (Hanging Up and Lucky Numbers), but the voluminous output is enough to rank Kudrow in second.

 

Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 6

He found further TV success post Friends (though it took some time after the ill-fated spin-off Joey). LeBlanc’s big screen career never really launched. The 1996 starring vehicle Ed paired him with a primate and was a critical and commercial disaster. To put it another way, the monkey business with Marcel on the TV show was far more profitable. Two years later, his participation in the Lost in Space pic was met with shrugs.

Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 4

Perry ranks first among the boys as he had solid performers alongside Bruce Willis in The Whole Nine Yards and Zac Efron in 17 Again. There were, on the other hand, some duds like his pairing with Chris Farley in Almost Heroes and in the Yards sequel. He’s about to appear in his most high profile entry in years with Don’t Look Up from Adam McKay which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence.

David Schwimmer (Ross Geller)

The Friends Zone Cinematic Ranking: 5

The Pallbearer found Schwimmer in a rom com with Gwyneth Paltrow in 1996. It wasn’t quite the loud flop that Ed was, but it certainly came and went with little fanfare. His filmography is rather low-key with supporting appearances in Six Days, Seven Nights and Apt Pupil. His greatest successes can be found in voiceover work as Melman in the Madagascar franchise and on the small screen in the heralded limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson.

And there’s your trip down Friends memory lane, folks! For the real thing, watch the team reunion on HBO Max.

May 7-9 Box Office Predictions

The first full weekend of May at the box office brings us the Guy Ritchie directed action thriller Wrath of Man starring Jason Statham and Billy Crystal’s comedy Here Today with Tiffany Haddish. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/28/wrath-of-man-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/29/here-today-box-office-prediction/

Considering the precipitous drops that Demon Slayer and Mortal Kombat experienced in their sophomore frames (more on that below), Statham’s latest should have no trouble topping the charts in the $8-9 million range. The 1000 theater count for Here Today should limit its potential, but I do have it managing to round out the top five.

Slayer and Kombat are unlikely to see the 70+ percentage falls in their third weekends and place 2-3 with Godzilla vs. Kong at fourth. And with that – here’s how I see the top 5 playing out:

1. Wrath of Man

Predicted Gross: $8.3 million

2. Demon Slayer

Predicted Gross: $2.9 million

3. Mortal Kombat

Predicted Gross: $2.7 million

4. Godzilla vs. Kong

Predicted Gross: $2 million

5. Here Today

Predicted Gross: $1.5 million

Box Office Results (April 30-May 2)

As mentioned, both Mortal Kombat and Demon Slayer fell hard after their $20 million plus premieres the previous weekend. Demon Slayer vaulted to first with $6.4 million compared to my $6.2 million estimate for a $34 million ten day total.

Kombat dipped to 2nd with $6.2 million (well under my $9.1 million projection) and it also stands at $34 million.

Godzilla vs. Kong was third at $2.8 million (I said $2.9 million) for a five-week tally of $90 million. It could still manage to hit the century club and it would become the first COVID release to do so.

The critically drubbed horror pic Separation opened in fourth with $1.8 million, a bit below my $2.3 million take.

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon was fifth with $1.3 million (I went with $1.6 million). Total is $41 million.

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

Connery. Sean Connery.

It is, quite simply, the greatest screen introduction of all time. Nearly 60 years ago, the suave tuxedoed super agent lighting his cigarette in the posh casino and uttering three words that changed cinematic history.

“Bond. James Bond.”

They were, of course, spoken by Sean Connery. And that line of dialogue, flawlessly delivered, kicked off the franchise of all franchises. The role of 007 was followed by George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Yet to most lovers of the art form – Connery is Bond. He perfected Ian Fleming’s British hero from the start in Dr. No and continued to do so in the seminole pictures from the series including From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. 

When a performer passes on, as Connery has at age 90, it’s easy to delve into hyperbole. That doesn’t apply here. The man truly was and is an icon. Just being the best and original Bond would be enough to cement that legacy.

However, there’s plenty more. His Oscar winning turn as the tough and gruff Malone in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. His role as the father to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade. Being Alfred Hitchcock’s leading man in Marnie. His Soviet captain in The Hunt for Red October. The escape artist opposite Nicolas Cage in The Rock. His shining star among other legends in Murder on the Orient Express.

The man who will always be Bond and much more may be gone, but that famous introduction and hours of additional first rate entertainment will be there for us to appreciate. And nobody looked cooler providing it to us.

Sean Connery. Icon. August 25, 1930-October 31, 2020.

No Time to Dune

If you felt obligated to write out a 2020 movie release schedule in pencil lately, it would be decimated with cross outs and erasure marks. Quite frankly, it’s tough to keep up with for movie lovers. In the past few days, it’s become even more pronounced and it’s more evidence that theaters simply aren’t ready for tentpole releases.

This was evident in July when Christopher Nolan’s Tenet wildly underperformed stateside. It served as a signal to studios that it’s better to wait and most of the delays have moved into 2021. Dune, the eagerly awaited latest effort from Denis Villeneuve, is the latest push. Originally scheduled for November and then delayed to December, Warner Bros. (who put out Tenet) has now slated it for October 2021.

The Dune activity occurs just after the new 007 pic No Time to Die announced a new Easter 2021 date. It was originally meant to hit theaters in February of this year. This follows Black Widow moving to May 2021 (original date was May 2020) and that meant the MCU’s Eternals traveled from February 2021 to November 2021. And that was around the time Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story received a year long delay to Christmastime ’21.

Still following? Yeah, I know. So what’s left for 2020? In short, nothing soon except for cinematic table scraps like The War with Grandpa with Robert De Niro (this Friday) and Honest Thief with Liam Neeson (next Friday).

Pixar is scheduled to unveil Soul in November. We shall see if they decide not to go the Disney+ route like they did with Mulan and other titles. The Croods: A New Age is supposed to come out over the Thanksgiving holiday. And December still has heavy hitters like Wonder Woman 1984, Death on the Nile, Free Guy, and Coming 2 America. 

The bottom line – who knows? Everything is tentative in these uncertain days. Streaming options will continue to increase. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tenet is available for a high price on such services in short order. For 007 fans and those awaiting Dune, there’s more time to anticipate.