Wonder Woman 1984 Review

I wish Wonder Woman 1984 wasn’t the disjointed viewing experience that it mostly is. I wish it had the humor that landed in the 2017 pic and the sweet love story between its heroine and her man that was well-developed. Here the humor seems forced as does the interplay between Gal Gadot’s title character and WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). This is a sequel that feels like busywork and it’s devoid of, yes, some of the wonder that made the original a bright spot in the DC Extended Universe.

1984 means leg warmers and action sequences set in shopping malls. It also means part 2 picks up nearly seven decades later. Gadot’s Diana fills her days as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian and her nights pining for the long departed Steve. Of course, she also does some Wonder Woman stuff in between. When she thwarts a jewel heist in one of those sprawling shopping structures, it turns out the thieves were really after some black market artifacts that weren’t on display. That includes an ancient “Dreamstone” of Latin origin that grants wishes no matter how dangerous they might be. For Diana, it means bringing her lost love back. This is handled by Pine returning in the form of some random DC dude. While Pine’s courtship with Diana was a high point the first time around, the actor is now relegated to gawking in wide eyed disbelief at rocket ships and escalators. His participation here never smacks of anything more than plot device mechanics and that’s a letdown. He does get a reverse Pretty Woman style sequence in which he tries on pirate looking shirts and fanny packs in front of his nonplussed girlfriend. So there’s that.

Of course, this “Dreamstone” leads to nefarious actions from others. Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) is a failed businessman who’s known for cheesy infomercials. His acquiring of the artifact allows him to amass significant power and oil. He also has a young son that he’s desperately trying to impress and that results in some mawkish moments. And there’s Kristin Wiig as Barbara. She’s Diana’s supremely unconfident geologist coworker. Barbara feels invisible until her interaction with the Stone makes her as tough and beautiful as her fellow employee. Unfortunately her power trip partners her with the megalomaniac Max and his misguided plans. For Wiig, Barbara is one of those characters who immediately becomes attractive once her big glasses and frumpy dress go by the wayside. She’s simply not a memorable villainess. There are shades of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman from Batman Returns, but she’s not written nearly as potently.

Pascal’s Max is another story. I can’t say he’s not memorable because the performer portraying him goes way over the top in doing so. I think Pascal knows how much he’s hamming it up and his go for broke attitude does provide a bit of fun. That’s welcome because it’s in short supply. I might volley back and forth on whether he’s actually great or kinda terrible here, but it’s a performance worth mentioning. That’s more than I can say for everyone else.

For two and a half hours, 1984 often forgets to bring the joy. There’s a make it up as we go along vibe that wasn’t as noticeable when Patty Jenkins helmed the first (she returns here and is one of three cowriters).

Wonder Woman 1984 is all about how you can’t get ahead by cheating and lying (a prologue featuring some familiar faces from part 1 makes that message clear). The following 150 minutes hammers it home with convenient and haphazard storylines that, ironically, sometime feel like cheats. I wish this came close to the quality of Gadot’s first stand-alone venture, but we are left waiting and wanting in 1984. 

** (out of four)

2020 Oscar Predictions: December 28th Edition

My final Oscars forecast for 2020 sees no changes in my nine Best Picture nominees (which has remained consistent for weeks), but some movement in other key races.

In Best Director, I have had David Fincher (Mank) listed at #1 for months, but that switches today as he falls to second with Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) taking the top spot. If she manages to take gold in April, Zhao would be just the second female to win the award behind Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009. Additionally, Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) is in my final five for the first time, replacing Regina King for One Night in Miami.

While there are no changes in the lead acting competitions, the supporting players are a different story. Youn Yuh-jung in Minari sees her first appearance in my five Supporting Actress hopefuls and that takes out Helena Zengel in News of the World. Same goes for Paul Raci in Supporting Actor for Sound of Metal and that’s to the detriment of Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

You can peruse all the rest of the activity below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 7)

6. The Father (PR: 5)

7. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

9. News of the World (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 12)

11. Promising Young Woman (PR: 13)

12. Sound of Metal (PR: 10)

13. Soul (PR: 11)

14. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 14)

15. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Mauritanian

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 7)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Darius Marder, Sound of Metal

Paul Greengrass, News of the World 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 3)

3. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 2)

5. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 6)

7. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

8. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 9)

10. Robin Wright, Land (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Prom

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 6)

8. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 8)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

10. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 5)

7. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

8. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: 9)

9. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 9)

10. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

7. Sound of Metal (PR: 7)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

On the Rocks

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 3)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Predicted Nominees:

6. News of the World (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. The Mauritanian (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 7)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 6)

8. Connected (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Trolls World Tour

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Time (PR: 2)

3. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

4. The Dissident (PR: 4)

5. Boys State (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 8)

7. Crip Camp (PR: 6)

8. Collective (PR: 7)

9. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 10)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 3)

4. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

5. Collective (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Night of the Kings (PR: 5)

7. Dear Comrades! (PR: 7)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 6)

9. A Sun (PR: 8)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Tenet (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Minari (PR: 5)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

5. Mulan (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 6)

7. The Prom (PR: 7)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

9. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 8)

10. Ammonite (PR: 9)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Nomadland (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. News of the World (PR: 6)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Tenet (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Promising Young Woman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 5)

5. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: 4)

7. Mulan (PR: 7)

8. Pinocchio (PR: 8)

9. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Prom (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 3)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

8. Tenet (PR: 7)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

3. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 8)

8. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 9)

9. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: Not Ranked)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

“(If Only You Could) Save Me” from Mank

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Mulan (PR: 2)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emma (PR: 10)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

9. News of the World (PR: 6)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 3)

3. Tenet (PR: 2)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

7. Soul (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 10)

9. The Prom (PR: 9)

10. Mulan (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. The Invisible Man (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 6)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 5)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

8. Mank (PR: 7)

9. Greyhound (PR: 9)

10. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

And that equates to these pictures nabbing the following numbers in terms of nominations:

11 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, Minari

4 Nominations

News of the World, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Sound of Metal, Mulan, Soul, Tenet, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Promising Young Woman

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Collective, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, Emma, First Cow, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky, My Little Sister, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

See y’all in 2021!

2020: The Year of Chadwick Boseman

Prior to 2018, Chadwick Boseman was known primarily for his acclaimed turns as real life historical figures like Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. It was the title role as Black Panther in the MCU juggernaut where he created his own history in the only superhero flick to nab a Best Picture nomination.

2020 is shaping up to be the year where awards voters recognize Mr. Boseman. It is, of course, also the year in which the world mourned his passing on August 28 after a previously undisclosed battle with colon cancer at age 43. His turns in two Netflix pictures – Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – have him in the running for Oscar nods and he could very conceivably get two. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named him Best Actor for Rainey and the Academy may well follow suit. The New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their Supporting Actor prize for his work in Bloods and he could make his way to that Oscar shortlist.

In a year where the world of cinema lost legends such as Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Ennio Morricone, and Max Von Sydow, Boseman’s came as the most unexpected with an outpouring of grief and appreciation. His final year onscreen appears destined to come with the Academy’s recognition of the man who embodied real life heroes and created his own iconic one.

 

2020 Oscar Predictions: December 20th Edition

The pre Christmas Oscar estimates are in! While my nine predicted Best Picture nominees remains the same (as they have for weeks), pay attention to Sound of Metal rising as it now ranks 10th and just on the outside looking in. Additionally, supporting players Paul Raci and Olivia Cooke are also looking like serious possibilities in those categories even if they’re not (yet) in the final five.

In Supporting Actor, Chadwick Boseman is back in (over Bill Murray in On the Rocks) as I’m feeling more confident of a double nomination for the late performer.

The fifth spot in Best Actress continues to fluctuate and this week we have Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) in that position over Michelle Pfeiffer’s work in French Exit.

Best Actor brings the first mention of Mads Mikkelsen’s role in Another Round at slot #8 with Ben Affleck (The Way Back) out of the top 10.

Adapted Screenplay sees its first look at First Cow in the projected cut and that takes out News of the World. 

You can read all the activity below and I’ll have my final predictions for the calendar year up next weekend!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. The Father (PR: 7)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

7. Minari (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Sound of Metal (PR: 14)

11. Soul (PR: 11)

12. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

13. Promising Young Woman (PR: 13)

14. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

15. The Mauritanian (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 6)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Darius Marder, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 2)

3. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

5. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 6)

7. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 8)

8. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 7)

9. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 10)

10. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 9)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 6)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

8. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 8)

10. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Ben Affleck, The Way Back

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 6)

7. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 10)

8. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

9. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: 9)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 7)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

5. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

8. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 6)

9. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 10)

10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

7. Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: Not Ranked)

10. On the Rocks (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. First Cow (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

7. News of the World (PR: 5)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. The Mauritanian (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

7. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

8. Trolls World Tour (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Demonslayer (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Connected

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Time (PR: 3)

3. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 4)

4. The Dissident (PR: 2)

5. Boys State (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Crip Camp (PR: 6)

7. Collective (PR: 8)

8. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 7)

9. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

10. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

76 Days

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 5)

4. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

5. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 6)

7. Dear Comrades! (PR: 8)

8. A Sun (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Collective (PR: 7)

10. Notturno (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Charlatan

Atlantis

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

5. Minari (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 5)

5. The United vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 7)

7. The Prom (PR: 8)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 6)

9. Ammonite (PR: 9)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Wonder Woman 1984

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Nomadland (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 5)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

9. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tenet

Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

4. Mank (PR: 6)

5. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

7. Mulan (PR: 7)

8. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Pinocchio (PR: 8)

10. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Emma

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

3. Soul (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Minari (PR: 8)

7. Tenet (PR: 7)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “(If Only You Could) Save Me” from Mank (PR: 8)

8. “Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: Not Ranked)

9. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Dropped Out:

“Free” from The One and Only Ivan

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Mulan (PR: 3)

3. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 4)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 8)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

9. The Prom (PR: 10)

10. Emma (PR: 6)

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 2)

2. Tenet (PR: 3)

3. Mank (PR: 1)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. Soul (PR: 5)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Wonder Woman 1984

Greyhound

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

4. Birds of Prey (PR: 4)

5. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan (PR: 6)

7. Mank (PR: 7)

8. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

9. Greyhound (PR: 9)

10. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

And that equates to the following numbers in nominations for these pictures:

12 Nominations

Mank

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland, One Night in Miami

5 Nominations

News of the World

4 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Midnight Sky

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, Soul

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Mulan, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, Emma, First Cow, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Life Ahead, My Little Sister, Night of the Kings, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers, Wonder Woman 1984 

Tenet Review

What time is it?

It’s an often asked question that usually elicits a clear and simple answer. Not in Christopher Nolan’s movies. The answers in his movies are complicated, often maddening, and frequently grandly entertaining. We’ve seen it in Memento, Inception, and Interstellar with the latter being a mixed bag and the first two being pretty great. His latest is Tenet and it definitely falls more into the maddening territory with big and loud moments of thrills. You may wish you had a physics degree during it, but this is mostly an excuse for Nolan to play in the super spy genre with a bunch of quantum related gobbledygook thrown in. The director’s most ardent admirers may study it endlessly for Easter eggs and clues as to its true meaning. Upon first watch, I’m not so sure Tenet is worth the scrutiny. Yet there’s some car chases and battle scenes played to Nigel Tufnel levels of volume that land pleasingly on screens big and small. Weird science and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of action set pieces… this is Nolan’s rap and he frequently goes to eleven in this one.

John David Washington is (rather annoyingly) known only as The Protagonist. Let’s call him “Pro” for the duration of this review. A government agent who proves his bonafides to his superiors, he’s allowed into a secret organization known as the picture’s title. Pro’s new assignment tasks him with preventing something “worse” than nuclear holocaust in one example of some clunky dialogue. This is where the physics lessons are useful. You see, Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) is hellbent on destroying the past and future through the concept of “inversion”. Essentially this means playing with time travel concepts that can wipe out what occurred before or after. I’m not sure Doc Brown could properly provide sufficient exposition without multiple viewings and neither can Pro or his partner Neil (Robert Pattinson). You may want to look up “temporal pincer movements” before you watch.

In addition to Pro’s teaming with Neil, his mission to stop Sator also involves the villain’s estranged wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki). She’s quite good here and she’s really the only heroic figure that’s written with any layers. Washington and Pattinson are just fine, though their characters are quite dull on the page and screen. For Branagh, this is his chance to ham it up in true Bond baddie style and he relishes it. We have also get a bit of Michael Caine (common for a Nolan experience) and internationally known Hindi actress Dimple Kapadia as an arms trafficker.

Tenet does feature the aforementioned action set pieces that are impressive in scope and tech wizardry. The director doesn’t handle these sequences with half measures. If the scene calls for a 747 to be demolished, you best believe that plane was actually destroyed. The inversion concept lends to eye candy moments with backwards cars screeching on the highway and seagulls (!) even flying in reverse.

Very early on, a scientist is explaining the science behind Tenet to Pro with the following dialogue: “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” I wrote that piece of advice down immediately. I had a notion these words might aptly describe the next two hours plus. And they do. I certainly felt the decibel levels of Nolan and his crew choreographing expensive battles. They take place all over the globe in Norway, Italy, and Siberia. I did not, on the other hand, feel too invested in the complicated narrative mechanics that cause them. In fact, I wrote down something else I didn’t expect to while watching – “Austin Powers”. In that super spy’s second outing, The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin attempts to understand the highly confusing time travel plot in a conversation with his colleague Basil. After twisting his brain into a knot discussing it, Basil smartly replies “I suggest you don’t worry about those things and just enjoy yourself.” He then turns to the camera and says to us – “That goes for all of you, too.” It’s a funnier way of asking us to feel it whether we understand it or not. That request succeeds only intermittently with Tenet.

**1/2 (out of four)

The Big Apple Has A Cow

The New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their best of 2020 honors today and the group provided a significant boost to Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. The 19th century set drama took Best Film. Cow‘s chances at Oscar attention has seemed iffy so far this year. In fact, I have yet to have it listed in my predicted nominees for the Academy’s highest prize.

That might not change, but it does have recent history on its side. Only one of the Best Film honorees from the previous decade (2015’s Carol) failed to nab a Picture nod at the Oscars. On the other hand, only one of the New York Circle winners from the past ten years went on to win (2011’s The Artist).

It was also a good day for Never Rarely Sometimes Always as Eliza Hittman’s feature won Best Screenplay and Sidney Flanagan took Best Actress. Flanagan’s inclusion in Best Actress with the Academy looks questionable in that crowded field, but this first critics win certainly gives her exposure.

Best Director went to Chloe Zhao for Nomadland. She seems to be a shoo-in at the Oscars and will likely compete for the victory with David Fincher (Mank).

In other acting derbies, it was Delroy Lindo taking Best Actor for Da 5 Bloods and Chadwick Boseman in Supporting Actor for his role in Spike Lee’s picture. As for the what the Academy will do, it’s more feasible that Boseman could win against Lindo for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

Supporting Actress went the funny route with Maria Bakalova’s breakout role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The NYFCC has shown a willingness to honor comedic performers in this race as recent as three years ago with Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip. It’s worthy of mention that Haddish did not end up on Oscar’s radar and Bakalova’s inclusion is up in the air as well.

The group’s Documentary award went to Time (a strong contender for the Academy) while Brazil’s Bacarau took the Foreign Language Prize. The latter is not its country’s submitted movie for Oscar consideration.

Bottom line: it’s a good day for First Cow, though it remains to be seen whether it can milk its buzz through nomination morning next year.

Oscar Watch: Wonder Woman 1984

After experiencing COVID-19 related delays, Warner Bros. is finally unveiling their superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas in theaters and HBO Max. Needless to say, this is certainly one of the most anticipated 2020 releases as the 2017 predecessor was a critical hit and massive blockbuster (making over $800 million worldwide). Patty Jenkins returns as director with Gal Gadot back in the title role and Chris Pine reprising his role. Costars include Kristin Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, and Connie Nielsen.

Two and a half weeks ahead of its unveiling, the review embargo has lifted and signs are encouraging. The current Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at an impressive 89% (just slightly lower than the 93% achieved by part 1). There are some gripes about over length, but reviewers are mostly calling it a nostalgic blast. Could the second coming from the warrior goddess also known as Diana garner any awards attention?

It is worth noting that Wonder Woman 2017 received no Oscar nominations. That said, the amount of eye-popping blockbusters in 2020 is smaller than any other year in recent memory. This could mean that 1984 could pop up in technical races including Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound, and Visual Effects. The first two categories could be a bit more doubtful while Sound and Visual Effects seem like solid possibilities. Gadot’s hero will compete with another Warner Bros. superhero property in those races with Birds of Prey (released just before the pandemic outbreak).

I do not expect that this will play in the big awards derbies. There was some chatter three years ago that part 1 could get a Best Picture nod, but it never materialized. Black Panther still stands as the only superhero property to play in that race and Wonder Woman 1984 is highly unlikely to be the second. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

2020 Oscar Predictions: December 12th Edition

The picture became a bit clearer in my view this week as The Midnight Sky and News of the World both had their review embargoes lifted. As I see it, News solidified itself as a player in multiple categories including Best Picture. Sky, on the other hand, will likely only contend for some technical races due to its mixed reaction.

My nine estimated BP nominees has stayed remarkably consistent over the past several weeks. We shall see how unscreened late comers such as The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Judas and the Black Messiah, and The Mauritanian factor in once eyes are on them.

There’s only two significant changes in the main races as I’ve put Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) back in the Actress fold, replacing Meryl Streep in The Prom. We will see if this holds as I always feel a bit skittish about taking Meryl out. In Adapted Screenplay, News of the World returns to the five and that displaces I’m Thinking of Ending Things. 

And while I’m not projecting that Sound of Metal will get more than I said last week (Best Actor and Sound nods), it does seem to be a picture on the rise.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 3)

3. Mank (PR: 2)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

6. Minari (PR: 7)

7. The Father (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

11. Soul (PR: 11)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

13. Promising Young Woman (PR: 14)

14. Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Prom (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 6)

7. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

9. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 8)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 2)

3. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

7. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 5)

8. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 9)

10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 8)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

4. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

5. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 8)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Tom Holland, Cherry

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 6)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 7)

8. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

9. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 2)

4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 7)

7. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

9. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

10. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 4)

5. Promising Young Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

8. Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

9. On the Rocks (PR: 9)

10. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Supernova

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 5)

8. First Cow (PR: 8)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Mauritanian (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. Connected (PR: 8)

8. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 7)

9. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Lupin III: The First

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. The Dissident (PR: 5)

3. Time (PR: 2)

4. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

5. Boys State (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Crip Camp (PR: 4)

7. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 7)

8. Collective (PR: 8)

9. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

10. 76 Days (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

4. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

5. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 6)

7. Collective (PR: 8)

8. Dear Comrades! (PR: 7)

9. Charlatan (PR: 9)

10. Atlantis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Notturno

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

10. Minari (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 4)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

5. Mulan (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 8)

8. The Prom (PR: 7)

9. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 4)

4. Nomadland (PR: 3)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. Tenet (PR: 9)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 6)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

5. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: 3)

7. Mulan (PR: 8)

8. Pinocchio (PR: 7)

9. Emma (PR: 9)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Wonder Woman 1984

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

5. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

7. Tenet (PR: 8)

8. Minari (PR: 10)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

5. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 8)

7. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 10)

8. “(If Only You Could) See Me” from Mank (PR: 7)

9. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 6)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Love Myself” from The High Note

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 4)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: Not Ranked)

5. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emma (PR: 5)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 3)

8. News of the World (PR: 7)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

10. The Prom (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Wonder Woman 1984

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Sound of Metal (PR: 2)

3. Tenet (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 8)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 5)

9. Greyhound (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Da 5 Bloods (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Prom

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 2)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 1)

3. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 3)

4. Birds of Prey (PR: 6)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan (PR: 5)

7. Mank (PR: 9)

8. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

9. Greyhound (PR: 7)

10. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

And my latest estimates have these movies garnering the following numbers for nominations:

11 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, News of the World, Nomadland

5 Nominations

One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

Soul

3 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, Hillbilly Elegy, The Midnight Sky, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Minari, Mulan, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Life Ahead, My Little Sister, Night of the Kings, On the Rocks, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers, Wonder Woman 1984

 

Oscar Watch: News of the World

When Paul Greengrass directed Tom Hanks seven years ago in Captain Phillips, the result was six Oscar nominations that included Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and a supporting nod for newcomer Barkhad Abdi. It was not nominated for Director or Hanks in Best Actor (something I still vehemently disagree with). With the release of their second collaboration on Christmas, the western drama News of the World, history could absolutely repeat itself.

The review embargo is up today and News is currently breaking at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. While that’s a great rating, much of the critical reaction is not of the rave variety. However, this looks to be a feature that should appeal to older members of the Academy and that very well could be enough to nab it a Best Picture nomination. I suspect that when I update my Oscar predictions tomorrow on the blog, I will still have it listed in my estimated nine.

It’s been 20 years since the beloved Hanks scored his last Best Actor nod for Cast Away, though he was featured in last year’s Supporting Actor derby for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Like in 2013 when he was snubbed for Phillips, this year’s contest is likely too crowded for him to be included. Like with Abdi, on the other hand, there is a newcomer here that could garner attention. 12-year-old Helena Zengel is his costar and the fifth slot in Supporting Actress seems to be open. This is assuming that Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman) make the cut and I currently am. Zengel, who critics are certainly praising, is a strong hopeful for #5.

Greengrass may struggle to make it in for his direction just as he did with Phillips. Adapted Screenplay (by the director and Luke Davies) seems more of a possibility. There’s also tech races where it stands a solid chance and this includes Original Score, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, and Sound. My feeling is that it will show up in most or all. In fact, I’ll go out on an early limb and say that News of the World will get the most 2020 Oscar nominations without winning any. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Black Bear Review

I’m not entirely sure I’d call Lawrence Michael Levine’s Black Bear a totally satisfying experience, but it features a heckuva lead performance and I’m still trying to figure out of its puzzle of a plot. This is an arthouse movie about characters involved in arthouse filmmaking. They’re self-indulgent, needy, usually drunk or stoned, and they often have fascinating conversations and arguments with each other. There is also the distinct possibility that none of what we’re witnessing is actually happening. I’m not sure. And I think that’s the way Levine intended it.

Aubrey Plaza is Allison, a former indie actress turned director. She’s got writer’s block and retreats to a secluded lake house in the Adirondacks to refuel. Or maybe not. Solitude is not her primary goal as the property is inhabited by struggling musician Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and his pregnant wife Blair (Sarah Gadon). They’re far from a perfect couple as they constantly bicker about big subjects like gender roles and whether Gabe is still actually in the music business (she’s not sure 53 cent royalties qualify). During their boozy evening together and with even the expectant Blair imbibing, Allison reveals some details about her life. Or maybe not as we begin to suspect this could all be her way of dismantling an already disgruntled couple’s marriage. A more conventional movie would have this build into a thriller about a romantic triangle.

That is certainly not the direction Black Bear follows. Without divulging too much, the picture is divided in half. The second portion involves the making of a movie where roles from the previous hour are reversed. When we are in the first part, Plaza is basically playing a variation of other roles we’ve seen her in. She’s deadpan, dry, and mostly unbothered by her strange surroundings. It particularly bothers Blair that she can never tell when Allison is being serious or funny. When the switch flips midway through, we see a damaged and emotional wreck slugging and swigging her way toward a hoped for artistic breakthrough. Her performance is remarkable to behold.

Black Bear is often pitch black in its comedy. Abbott’s Gabe goes from hapless hubby to over-the-top auteur over the course of the proceedings. The screenplay’s treatment of him as director is pretty brutal with his self seriousness and crew members around him that are forced to take him seriously. His dichotomous part is challenging as well and he pulls it off.

There’s a moment early on when Allison tries to explain her process for writing and coming up with ideas. In short, she can’t. She mumbles about finding something meaningful to happen. In the second part of this experience, we see the lengths of artists trying to achieve something meaningful. They might be misguided in their methods, but I think Levine is both satirizing and celebrating how anything gets made or written at all. Or maybe not. Maybe there’s just a half formed idea that keeps getting interrupted by a furry animal that comes out of nowhere and you have to start all over again.

*** (out of four)