Voyagers Box Office Prediction

Opening next weekend in the shadow of the gargantuan debut of Godzilla vs. Kong is the outer space adventure Voyagers. It comes from Divergent director Neil Burger with a cast featuring Ready Player One‘s Tye Sheridan, Lily Rose-Depp, Fionn Whitehad, and Colin Farrell.

The Lionsgate release, as we’ve become accustomed to, was originally slated to premiere last November before its COVID-19 related delay. While the iconic monsters listed above have certainly proven that moviegoers are ready to return to multiplexes, this voyage seems to be falling way under the radar.

This pic could show whether or not audiences will pretty much go see anything available at their local theater, but I’m forecasting this is a mission that few will take.

Voyagers opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million

Oscars 2020: The Case of Chadwick Boseman

My Case Of posts have reached the second performer for Best Actor at the Oscars and that’s the late Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If you missed my first post focused on Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Riz Ahmed

The Case for Chadwick Boseman

Despite acclaimed work in 42, Get On Up, Marshall, and Black Panther, his role as Levee Green in the Netflix drama marks Boseman’s first Academy nod. Premiering three months after his passing, critics hailed this as a career best performance. Boseman has swept the key precursors thus far such as the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. If he wins the SAG Award this evening, that’s a clean sweep. One could even argue that his omission in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods is a sign that voters will honor him here.

The Cast Against Chadwick Boseman

You have to go back 11 years since a Best Actor winner’s movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture (Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart). All four of his fellow nominees are appearing in BP contenders. Of those four, Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) have their ardent supporters.

The Verdict

Best Actor is not a race in which upsets often happen. Anyone other than Boseman taking the gold would constitute one. He is likely to become the first posthumous winner in this category since Peter Finch in Network.

My Case Of posts will continue with Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Andra Day

My Case Of posts for Best Actress reaches its second nominee with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. If you missed my first entry on Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

The Case for Andra Day

Awards prognosticators (including this guy) were stunned when Day beat out favorites Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) at the Golden Globes in the drama category. This upset immediately vaulted Day from will she be nominated? to can she win? While the film has garnered mixed reviews, critics have consistently praised Day’s work as the troubled singer. Just last year the Academy honored another performer (Renee Zellweger) in this race playing a legendary songstress in Judy.

The Case Against Andra Day

As mentioned, the picture itself only managed 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet the biggest case against lies with Day not receiving a SAG nod. Of the previous 26 winners there, not one winning actress missed SAG recognition. Despite the shocking Globes trophy, Mulligan and McDormand remain the frontrunners. Furthermore, Holiday‘s sole nomination came here as it missed other possibilities like Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Original Song.

The Verdict

History is not on Day’s side and she ranks third (at best) in this competition.

My Case Of posts will continue with Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) is the second filmmaker up in my Case Of posts for Best Director at the Oscars. If you missed my first writeup for Lee Isaac Chung work in Minari, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

The Case for Emerald Fennell

The actress turned multi-hyphenate (who served as a show runner for the acclaimed Killing Eve) drew widespread acclaim for her debut feature. She’s the first female Brit to garner a direction nod. Promising Young Woman is looked at as a potential spoiler to front-running Nomadland in Best Picture. The film could also emerge victorious in Actress (Carey Mulligan) and for Fennell herself in Original Screenplay.

The Case Against Emerald Fennell

Fennell’s inclusion here marks the first time in Academy history that two women are up in the category. Unfortunately for her, the other one is Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and she’s considered the strong favorite to take this award.

The Verdict

Fennell has a terrific opportunity to win an Oscar on April 25th, but it’s for her screenplay and not likely here.

My Case Of posts will continue with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen’s work as antiwar activist Abbie Hoffman in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 is my first Case Of post for the five contenders in Best Supporting Actor:

The Case for Sacha Baron Cohen:

The comedic performer had a high profile and acclaimed 2020. In addition to his dramatic role here, Cohen received many accolades for his buzzy sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Sorkin’s Netflix pic showcased his chops outside of what he’s best known for and Academy voters could take notice.

The Case Against Sacha Baron Cohen:

Trial‘s chances at winning in the major categories has waned in recent months. In this particular race, Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in Judas and the Black Messiah has swept the significant precursors and he’s become a strong frontrunner for the Oscar.

The Verdict

Cohen’s Borat costar Maria Bakalova stands a much better chance at taking Supporting Actress. He had a great year, but it’s unlikely to culminate with a trip to the Oscar stage.

My Case Of posts will continue with Emerald Fennell’s direction for Promising Young Woman

2020 SAG Awards Winner Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards airs this Easter Sunday evening in an abridged hour long ceremony and, as usual, it could carry significant Oscar implications as to who the frontrunners truly are. That means it’s time for me to put my forecasting hat on and give it my best shot with predictions.

Let’s break it down category by category, shall we? I’ll provide my runner-up selection as well.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Minari, One Night in Miami, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Interestingly, the last two films in the big race (Black Panther, Parasite) won without a single nomination in the individual acting races. That had only happened two times previously between 1995-2017 with 1997’s The Full Monty and 2003’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That will not happen for 2020’s selections as all five have at least one performer contending in a separate category.

However, in a rare occurrence, only two of the five ensembles here landed a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Those are Minari and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Only once in SAG’s history has a movie emerged victorious here without a BP Oscar nod (1996’s The Birdcage). This serves as my annual reminder that SAG picks the best cast and not the best movie.

Truth be told, Da 5 Bloods is the only pic that I believe has little chance at winning here. Yet Ma Rainey and Miami are likely at a disadvantage due to precedent. That leaves us with Minari and Trial. The latter has seen its Oscar momentum stalled in recent weeks, but its sprawling cast could finally get the major precursor victory that it’s been missing. I’m tempted to pick it and it might be the safe choice.

Minari, on the other hand, has gained steamed recently and emerged as a potential upset winner at the Oscars against Nomadland (as has Promising Young Woman, which missed here). I’m choosing to go with the picture with the hotter hand.

Predicted Winner: Minari

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Analysis: The Golden Globe winner in this category (Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday) isn’t featured here. Therefore we can take a precursor sweep off the table for Best Actress. Adams is the sole nominee without an Oscar nomination so she’s out of contention. Mulligan has the Critics Choice Award and is looked at as the prohibitive favorite from the Academy. She’s the most likely SAG winner. Davis and McDormand could upset, but I’m relatively confident with this pick.

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Analysis: There’s a five for five match here with the Academy, but I find this SAG lineup to be a bit more complicated due to other factors. While Boseman has taken the Globes and Critics Choice, his nod in Supporting Actor with the actors guild for Da 5 Bloods (if he wins there) opens the door for either Ahmed or Hopkins. That wouldn’t totally shock me, but it’s hard to predict against Boseman and I won’t.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari), Helena Zengel (News of the World)

Analysis: Now this is a tough one. The Supporting Actress derby in the precursors has been a true head scratcher. Like in Best Actress, Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) is nowhere to be found (she missed at the Oscars too). Colman and Zengel are the two performers who are highly unlikely to take the prize. This is a genuine three person race between Bakalova, Close, and Youn. Bakalova seems to have momentum with a recent Critics Choice victory. SAG could certainly opt for Close’s baity role (the fact that they nominated her costar Amy Adams lends credence to that). Youn is without a major precursor, but Minari‘s upswing could sweep her in.

Simply put, I’ve very torn here. With Close, the Academy’s narrative for a win is that she’s without an Oscar and is looked at as overdue. SAG, on the other hand, has bestowed trophies for her twice including just two years ago for The Wife. Bakalova has the disadvantage of being in a comedy, but that hindrance may not matter much in this wide open field. I’m left with buying the Minari momentum for Youn. However, I can’t stress enough how feasible a win is for all three actresses.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Jared Leto (The Little Things), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)

Analysis: This one is far simpler than Supporting Actress as Kaluuya has racked up the Globe and Critics Choice and is the heavy favorite. The only wrinkle, as mentioned above, is if SAG voters decide to honor Boseman here instead of in Best Actor. It probably won’t happen, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

And there you have it! I’ll have reaction up on Sunday evening. Until then…

 

Oscars 2020: The Case of Maria Bakalova

Maria Bakalova’s breakthrough film debut in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm is my first Case Of post in the seemingly wide open Supporting Actress race at the Oscars:

The Case for Maria Bakalova

The Bulgarian actress became a sensation in 2020 with her hilarious turn as Borat’s daughter in the highly publicized sequel. Her road to the Oscar nomination has been stacked with numerous regional critics prizes as well as the Critics Choice Award. It’s worth noting that the latter award has matched Oscar for the past 11 years. The Academy is known for rarely bestowing their gold on comedic performances, but it’s happened more in this race than others. Examples include Maria Tomei (My Cousin Vinny), Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway), and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite).

The Case Against Maria Bakalova

Her studio decided to campaign for Bakalova in Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) at the Golden Globes and she was widely assumed to be the winner. She lost in an upset to Rosamund Pike for I Care a Lot. While I gave some examples of Supporting Actress winners on the funny side, we are talking a quarter century ago.

The Verdict

It cannot be overstated how unpredictable this year’s Supporting Actress competition is. The fact that Bakalova made the cut absolutely means she could be the victor. If the SAG Awards honors her this weekend, look for her to achieve frontrunner status. At the moment, that’s a big if…

My Case Of posts will continue with Bakalova’s movie dad Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7…

Oscar Watch: Godzilla vs. Kong

While domestic audiences (via the theater or HBO Max) are about to find out who wins the epic showdown titled Godzilla vs. Kong, there is no doubt which creature holds the advantage with Oscar voters. It opens Wednesday and the review embargo is up as of today. The Adam Wingard directed monster mash currently holds an 81% Rotten Tomatoes rating. That’s currently above the three other titles in the MonsterVerse franchise: 2014’s Godzilla (76%), 2017’s Kong: Skull Island (75%), and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (42%).

Now you may be thinking that no movie with Godzilla or Kong in the title has been nominated for Best Picture and it won’t start now. You would be 100% correct. The real question is whether this shows up in the 2021 derby for Best Visual Effects. In that space, our massive gorilla holds a distinct advantage. The 1976 remake of King Kong won a special Academy Award for its visuals and the 2005 remake won Visual Effects outright when it became its own category. In the current MonsterVerse, Kong: Skull Island landed a nomination in the race (losing to Blade Runner 2049). As for Godzilla, the last three American produced iterations (1998 and 2014’s Godzilla and its 2019 sequel) garnered a grand total of zero nods for its effects.

There are likely to be a number of spectacles this year that could contend in VE (several of them pushed back from 2020) so competition will be fierce. Yet Kong has shown his prowess in getting Academy members to notice him and perhaps he can bring his nemesis along for the ride. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Review

Looking back on my Godzilla review from 2014, I spoke of how it felt like a party where the main character (that would be the fire breathing title one) wasn’t invited until halfway through. You expected Godzilla to be there the whole time. That left a level of disappointment, but the Gareth Edwards reboot of the franchise was worth the wait in the end. The sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters RSVP’s the main attraction early on and he brings some familiar friends to the shindig. That doesn’t make the party better.

Michael Dougherty takes over directorial duties in a follow-up that feels bigger with its sprawling cast and action sequences. It also feels more cluttered and more like a prelude to what’s coming next in the MonsterVerse (Godzilla vs. Kong). That’s not an issue shared by 2014’s predecessor. Monsters picks up five years after the events of Godzilla when the creature managed to save the world and leave some collateral damage. That includes the young son of biologist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and animal behavioralist Mark (Kyle Chandler). The parents have reacted differently and separately from the tragedy. Dr. Emma still believes in Godzilla’s global saving abilities, but in a dangerous way that teams her with an ecoterrorist (Charles Dance). Mark’s grief is directed toward Godzilla. Daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) is caught in the middle.

The family drama pits the estranged couple on opposites ends of the battle. More monsters are awoken from their slumber in various Monarch stations to wreak havoc. It results in the destruction of monuments in quite familiar Independence Day/Transformers style fashion. Toho stalwarts Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah are the aforementioned party dwellers joining the fray. The big fights are shot in destinations where the forecast is either a downpour or so dark that it’s often frustratingly hard to tell what is happening.

In addition to the Russell family, lots of recognizable actors are left to mostly stand and gawk at the monstrous activity. The film does have the distinction of adding another performer to the trifecta of prominent N.W.A. members (speaking of monster verses!) from Straight Outta Compton. In Kong: Skull Island, we had Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins). Now we have O’Shea Jackson Jr. (who played his dad Ice Cube in Compton) as a soldier. David Strathairn, Sally Hawkins, and Ken Watanabe reprise their 2014 roles while Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch, and Zhang Ziyi are fresh gawkers. There’s not really a human performance to highlight. Just as Bryan Cranston earned some rightful criticism for his wild overacting in Godzilla, here we have Kyle Chandler often speaking in an intense and earnest hoarse whisper that is perhaps more annoying.

There’s a brief middle section where Godzilla is given a unique wakeup call. It transpires underwater where we discover the iconic radioactive creature’s original habitat. I found this to be the most well-constructed and engaging sequence. It hints at ancient stories that would probably be cool to explore. This doesn’t last long and before we know it, we are back to the dimly lit and rain soaked above ground CG brawls. They’re occasionally fun, but they will fall straight outta mind in short order. Maybe King Kong getting in on this will brighten things up.

** (out of four)

For my Godzilla (2014) review, click here:

Godzilla (2014) Movie Review

For my Kong: Skull Island review, click here:

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

The Father Review

Florian Zeller’s The Father takes us devastatingly into the mind of a man who’s losing his own to dementia. Based on the director’s 2012 play Le Pere, the film is not an easy watch due to both its emotional themes and often confusing storyline. However, the latter is on purpose as The Father is frequently told from the viewpoint of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) as he has lost his grip on time, place, and reality.

Primarily taking place in a London flat, Anthony is being cared for by his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) as the picture opens. It doesn’t take long to realize he suffers lapses in cognition. Anne tells her father that she will soon move to Paris because she’s fallen in love. Shortly thereafter we see Anne in the form of another woman (Olivia Williams) and she’s married to Paul (Mark Gatiss), which puts Anne’s recent tale of French relocation into question. Paul is later seen in the form of another being (Rufus Sewell) with Colman’s iteration of Anne back in the mix.

This is the puzzle piece in which we, the audience, are constantly piecing together. It’s soon apparent that we are subject to Anthony’s failing perspective. The Father covers the familiar issues involved with dementia in often unfamiliar ways: elder abuse, the exhaustive toll on family members, the brief moments of clarity that justify soldiering on.

There’s also the issue of another daughter who Anthony holds in high regard, but has seemingly disappeared from the scene. We see glimpses of Anthony’s gregarious personality when he lays on the charm for a prospective new caretaker (Imogen Poots). It coincides with his sometimes dismissive treatment of Anne.

All of this is held together by a masterful performance from Hopkins. Despite his movie star persona, it takes virtually no time in its 97 minutes for the Oscar winner to disappear into the role. The supporting cast is all first-rate, but our emotions rise and fall with Anthony’s own. For those with first-hand experience with this awful illness, The Father is a challenge to witness. For any moviegoer, it’s also an example of a unique take on the subject with a brilliant performance in the center of the tragic confusion.

***1/2 (out of four)