2021 Golden Globe Winner Predictions

I’m used to saying the Golden Globes will air Sunday evening, but that’s not the case in 2022. The ceremony honoring the best of 2021 will come to us in an as yet undetermined format. This is due to various controversies brought to light recently about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC’s decision not to broadcast the show.

However, the show will go on (possibly streaming on your computer) and the Globes still serve as a barometer for what Oscar voters could be thinking in coming weeks. That said, the HFPA is certainly capable of providing surprises. Just last year, Andra Day’s victory in Best Actress (Drama) for The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Jodie Foster as Supporting Actress for The Mauritanian were legitimate upsets.

As a reminder, the Globes split their picture and lead acting races into Drama and Musical/Comedy though not with the supporting derbies or screenplay. I will be making my picks along with runner-up selections while also providing numbers showing the correlation of Globe winners to Oscar recipients in each respective category for the last ten years.

Let’s get to it!

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Dune

King Richard

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: The Power of the Dog

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 4 out of last 10 years

Commentary: The HFPA competition for the drama prize is the first major showdown between Oscar frontrunners Belfast and The Power of the Dog. With the international flavor and feel good vibes of the former, I’m picking Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age drama to come out ahead. If there’s a shocker in store, it could be CODA (which seems to picking up more steam on a weekly basis).

I will admit that picking Belfast to win Drama and take no other awards (as you’ll see below) feels strange. There is recent precedent, however, with 2016’s Moonlight. 

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees:

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

Tick, Tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: West Side Story

Runner-Up: Licorice Pizza

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner ratio: 2 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: I wouldn’t count out Licorice Pizza but its miss in Best Director could be telling. West Side Story should be right up HFPA’s alley and its the only feature where its maker made the director cut.

Best Director

Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Predicted Winner: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 6 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: This is a tough one. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nod for The Lost Daughter was unexpected and she’s the only contender that I feel stands no chance of winning. Branagh could certainly ride a wave of Belfast love. Villeneuve could be honored for the technical mastery of Dune. And Campion is the hopeful picking up the bulk of critics prizes. Yet I’ll go with the HFPA honoring the legendary Spielberg.

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actress)

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Predicted Winner: Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 6 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: This is the first test to see whether Stewart really is the frontrunner that could sweep through the season. I’m skeptical and I honestly believe any of the performers could take this (I struggled to pick the runner-up as it could be any of them). I wouldn’t put money on it, but I’ll say Stewart manages to nab the crown.

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actor)

Nominees:

Mahershala Ali, Swan Song

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Predicted Winner: Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 8 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: As you can see, this is a rather reliable predictor of where the Academy could go. For 2021’s features, the ceremonies should boil down to Smith v. Cumberbatch. I don’t think HFPA will pass up a chance to honor one of cinema’s most durable draws for the last 25 years in one of his most acclaimed performances.

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actress)

Nominees:

Marion Cotillard, Annette

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emma Stone, Cruella

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Predicted Winner: Emma Stone, Cruella

Runner-Up: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 3 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: There was an upset last year when Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) emerged over the favored Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The West Side love extending to Zegler is probably the smartest pick to make. Alana Haim’s work in Pizza could deliver her a victory and she probably should be listed as the runner-up. Yet if there’s any upset, I could see Stone surprising and there’s almost always one during the Globes. Perhaps against my better judgment, I’m going with it.

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actor)

Nominees:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Anthony Ramos, In the Heights

Predicted Winner: Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Runner-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 1 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: Dinklage is a threat though I’ll go with DiCaprio as the runner-up since he’s arguably the biggest star in Hollywood. That said, Garfield (he’s likely #3 in the Oscar contest at the moment) is the most likely winner.

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Actress)

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Ruth Negga, Passing

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 7 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: Jodie Foster’s win for 2020 came out of nowhere so who really knows? I’ll go with a West Side pick and DeBose. Other than Negga, I could foresee any of these candidates making (theoretical) podium trips.

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Actor)

Nominees:

Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 8 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: Another tricky one in a race where the Globes and Academy typically match. Assuming the Belfast boys split and Affleck isn’t a factor, this comes down to Smit-McPhee vs. Kotsur. A win for either could propel them to a glorious season ahead. I’m really tempted to go with Kotsur, but I’ll say this marks the best opportunity for HFPA to bestow an honor for Dog. This is a coin flip.

Best Screenplay

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Licorice Pizza

Runner-Up: Belfast

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 5 out of the last 10 years (counting both Original and Adapted Screenplays at the Oscars)

Commentary: Your guess is as good as mine here. I’m going with a bit of an upset with Pizza, but the smart money is probably on Belfast or Dog. I also wouldn’t count out Aaron Sorkin for Ricardos (he took this category last year for The Trial of the Chicago 7). And Adam McKay could be called up for Don’t Look Up which (despite its mixed reviews) is drawing plenty of ink.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

My Sunny Maad

Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Winner: Encanto

Runner-Up: Flee

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 7 out of the last years

Commentary: The Globes are capable of unexpected picks here (2019’s Missing Link for example). Don’t be surprised if Flee from Iran gets this, but I’ll go with Disney’s likeliest hopeful of its trio of nominees and that’s Encanto.

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

Compartment No. 6

Drive My Car

The Hand of God

A Hero

Parallel Mothers

Predicted Winner: Drive My Car

Runner-Up: Parallel Mothers

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 6 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: Watch out for Mothers to pull off an upset, but this is Drive My Car‘s race to lose. The Japanese drama has established itself as the frontrunner in international competitions at all ceremonies.

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Dune

Encanto

The French Dispatch

Parallel Mothers

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: Parallel Mothers

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 7 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: Another race that Mothers could unexpectedly take, I also wouldn’t discount Dispatch or Dog. This should be Dune‘s best opportunity to take a prize though.

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“Here I Am” from Respect

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Predicted Winner: “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Runner-Up: “Be Alive” from King Richard

Globe Winner to Oscar Winner Ratio: 6 out of the last 10 years

Commentary: This should be the battle of Billie (Eilish) for “Die” vs. Beyonce (it’s just Beyonce) for “Alive” and that should be the dynamic for the Oscars. The HFPA has honored the last two Bond themes for Skyfall and Spectre. I’ll give it a very slight edge.

And there you have it! The Golden Globes will air, err happen, Sunday. I’ll have reaction up on the blog shortly thereafter.

Scream Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (01/13): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping the 4-day tally for Scream from $29.4 million to $36.4M

The fifth installment of the Scream franchise slashes its way into theaters on January 14th, hoping to bring in a sizable horror fan base. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, makers of V/H/S and Ready or Not, direct as they take reigns of the series from scare master Wes Craven (who helmed the first four and passed away in 2015). Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, and Roger L. Jackson (as the iconic voice of Ghostface) reprise roles from previous entries. Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the low-budget original became a cultural phenomenon and revitalized the genre. Two sequels followed in quick succession in 1997 and 2000 while part 4 hit in 2011. It was a commercial disappointment – taking in only $38 million at the domestic box office (with a $19 million start).

Paramount and Dimension Films are hoping that nostalgia will bring audiences back to the fold. Fright fests, more than any other type of pic in 2021, proved immune to challenges faced in the COVID era in terms of solid openings. The third Conjuring and Candyman each premiered in the low to mid 20s range. Scream will have an extra day of earnings when factoring in the long MLK frame.

January is very desolate in terms of high profile debuts and Scream is by far the biggest one. It marks a major test for theaters as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country. If this fails to perform, don’t be surprised to see delays for upcoming releases. Even with that potential barrier and the underperformance of its predecessor, I envision this managing a mid to possibly late 20s haul when including Monday.

Scream opening weekend prediction: $36.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Review

The original Ghostbusters, lest we forget, was filled with ribald humor coming from SNL vets that were in the prime of their careers. Overloading the reboot/sequel Afterlife with gooey family drama feels, in many ways, as misplaced as the missteps that 2016’s version took or that 1989’s traditional follow-up was a fairly weak retread of the first. This franchise hasn’t succeeded in their attempts to capitalize on what made 1984’s pic special and that extends to this.

It’s not for a lack of trying as the 2021 iteration goes to extreme lengths to get our nostalgia radars working into overdrive. Jason Reitman takes over directorial duties from his father Ivan, who made the 80s blockbusters. There’s not a piece of attire or Twinkie or demonic marshmallow from 1984 that isn’t placed with the clear purpose of inspiring wild cheers. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows the name of every nearly four decade old artifact, vehicle or gadget. In this Afterlife, it more often feels forced than welcome.

We shift from the Big Apple to the sleepy town of Summerville, Oklahoma. Egon Spangler, Harold Ramis’s nerdy scientist from the OG ‘Busters, has relocated to a dilapidated farmhouse and cut off contact with his family and former colleagues. His demise in the prologue causes his heirs to inhabit the dusty domicile. This includes down on her luck daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids. Since I think it’s now contactually necessary for Stranger Things players to participate in these reboots, Finn Wolfhard is her teenage son Trevor. Mckenna Grace is the real lead as 12-year-old daughter Phoebe, who resembles her granddad in looks and interests. An outcast at school, she bonds with fellow geek Podcast (Logan Kim) and her summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd).

Trevor and Phoebe are completely unaware that Egon was a Ghostbuster (we’ll just go with that I suppose). Paranormal activities start revealing his life’s work including Phoebe’s ongoing chess game with an unseen spirit. The iconic car (yay!) is stored on the property. Of course, the late Egon was in Summerville for a reason and it has to do with familiar haunters from ’84 and preventing them from returning.

This all leads to familiar heroic faces eventually turning up (though not with significant screen time). With their limited participation, the question is whether the new and much younger generation of spirit crushers is compelling enough to warrant a feature. I didn’t think so, but there are some positives. Grace’s performance is terrific (while Wolfhard and his budding romance with his bellhop coworker Celeste O’Connor adds little). Rudd’s considerable talents (he takes a liking to Callie) add a bit of fun. The sight of Bill Murray randomly turning up anywhere is good for a smile (though not much more here than reading about how he does so in real life).

However, the tone in general struck me as off. It’s hard not to be touched by its tribute to the late Harold Ramis (a man responsible for so many laughs in landmark comedies of the past). I felt the sentiment because of that and not the absence of Egon. Afterlife seems trapped in the notion that our emotional connections to these characters run deeper than they do. Like many reboots nowadays, the mere presence of something old is meant to provide the requisite entertainment value. It made me feel mostly dispirited.

** (out of four)

Antlers Review

As long as you feed The Beast and give it enough of what it wants, that might prevent it from harming others. That’s the prevailing message of Scott Cooper’s Antlers and it’s not a particularly fresh one as the foul stenches and stretches of the storyline play out. It attempts to balance body horror and creature feature elements with an abuse allegory and a tale of moral and environmental decay. With an assist from Guillermo del Toro on the production side, the pic ultimately bites off more than it can chew. This is also an issue for the title character terrorizer who leaves half devoured carcasses lying around.

The setting is the desolate Oregon town of Cispus Falls where lines for store front recovery centers appear to outnumber any other facade. In the opening, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) has taken his youngest son Aiden (Sawyer Jones) his workplace of an abandoned mine shaft turned meth lab. Frank and his buddy leave the youngster waiting in the truck while they break up their bad deeds below. An attack by an unseen animal force begins the carnage that leaves longstanding marks on the Weaver family.

Flash forwarding above ground and weeks later, Aiden’s older brother Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas) is an outcast who rushes to collect roadkill as his after school activity. Bringing the critters home with him, what lies behind a locked door shows the current condition of dad and Aiden. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who just feasted.

Lucas’s behavior catches the attention of his teacher Julia (Keri Russell). She’s recently moved back from California after two decades and in with her brother Paul (Jesse Plemons), who’s the Sheriff around these parts. The two share a caring but sometimes strained bond in their family home. Their mother passed long ago and their father more recently. Brief flashbacks and more expository dialogue reveal an abusive past. Julia recognizes signs of mistreatment in her pupil while not imagining the extent of it.

I did appreciate much about the atmospheric touches and gorgeous cinematography in Antlers – even if it’s focused on some grisly occurrences. The Weavers fall prey to an ancient Native American evil spirit known as a Wendigo which causes the cursed subjects to become cannibalistic and ravenous. This is mostly explained by the town’s ex-sheriff played by Graham Greene and it’s not a tale that the picture seems preoccupied in mining for material. There is a tone of seriousness that prevents this from ever becoming campy. Perhaps a little of that could have helped.

There’s no faulting the performances as Russell and Plemons commit and Thomas is believable as the malnourished child who must become an adult before he should. The problem lies with committing to too many ideas and giving the short shrift to all of them. There are worse flaws to be had and Antlers never feels like a regurgitation of previous works (though its themes are familiar). Devotees of highbrow horror might be satiated, but I found myself hungering for Cooper, del Toro, and company to pick a plot line and explore it a little more.

**1/2 (out of four)

January 7-9 Box Office Predictions

2022 should look a lot like the final two weekends of 2021 at the box office with Spider-Man: No Way Home and Sing 2 easily in the top two positions.

There is only one newbie entering the marketplace – the female led spy thriller The 355 with Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Penelope Cruz. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

The 355 Box Office Prediction

My $3.8 million estimate doesn’t inspire much confidence in its potency and I’ve got it pegged for a third place showing.

Holdovers Spidey and Sing 2 should maintain their chart rankings with the former in mid 20s to possibly $30 million and the latter still above double digits and perhaps reaching low teens. The King’s Man and American Underdog, meanwhile, should round out the top five with both in the $2-3 million range.

Overall it’s a rather quiet frame as we await Scream hitting next weekend and this is how I see it:

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $29.5 million

2. Sing 2

Predicted Gross: $11.9 million

3. The 355

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

4. The King’s Man

Predicted Gross: $2.6 million

5. American Underdog

Predicted Gross: $2.1 million

Box Office Results (December 31-January 2)

Spider-Man: No Way Home easily closed out 2021 and began 2022 in first place with $56 million, a bit ahead of my $52.5 million forecast. In three weeks, the MCU mega blockbuster is up to $613 million and that’s already good for 10th domestically all-time.

Sing 2 held the runner-up spot again with $20.1 million – in range with my $19.6 million estimate. The animated sequel has taken in $90 million during its two weeks and should join the century club in short order.

The King’s Man jumped from #4 to #3 with $4.5 million (an estimate since 20th Century Studios hasn’t released a final gross). I said $4.5 million (!) and it’s made $19 million in two weeks of action.

Fourth place belonged to American Underdog in its sophomore outing with $3.9 million, not matching my take of $5.7 million. Total is $14 million.

Finally, The Matrix Resurrections plunged a steep 64% in its second weekend with $3.8 million compared to my $4.8 million projection. The fourth entry in the sci-fi saga has downloaded a weak $30 million thus far.

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

The Matrix Resurrections Review

When the director seems to have ambivalent (at best) feelings about returning to their franchise, that emotion might rub off on the audience a bit. And so it is with The Matrix Resurrections, arriving 18 years after parts II and III with Lana Wachowski back (though not with her sister Lilly who co-directed previous installments). An overriding theme is that Wachowski is making part IV because the studio was going to do it regardless. Apparently she’d rather not leave it in the hands of others. The more things change, the more they stay the same in one respect. Our fourth trip into this world, like the second and third, can’t come close to matching the heights of the 1999 original (no matter how many throwback clips we see from it).

A glaring flaw is Resurrections mirrors that of the first sequels. So much after part one about The One centered its drama on Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) powerful connection with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). For the most part, we were told as opposed to shown that development. The 2021 model is dependent on our wistful nostalgic pining of their romance. It’s one that I and I suspect many others just don’t possess.

In The Matrix, we were introduced to a fresh and exciting cinematic universe at the perfect time. As the 20th century drew to a close, questions abounded about machines and technology and their potential to overpower humans and their free will. It was potent in its message back then and (of course) the action was mind blowing and influenced many a 21st century spectacle.

2003’s follow-up The Matrix Reloaded was in many respects a mess, but an often highly entertaining one. Its freeway shootout was a marvel that holds up gloriously today. The first act set in a sweat drenched orgiastic Zion… not so much. The Matrix Revolutions arrived six months after Reloaded and despite some nifty moments, it was a serious letdown critically and financially.

Yet franchises never die in Hollywood so Wachowski seems to be battling her own free will and giving us her next iteration. For those who may have forgot (and it’s easy to forget Revolutions), Neo and Trinity both lost their lives while saving what was left of the human race from machine domination. In Resurrections, Neo’s real life persona Thomas Anderson is indeed alive and living 60 years in the future as a video game programmer. His lauded creation is essentially what we saw in the previous trilogy. His therapy sessions with Neil Patrick Harris’s analyst hints of his recollections and, for that, he’s prescribed blue pills. When Anderson is confronted with his past, it comes from a younger Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and a new team of rebels led by a white rabbit tattooed Bugs (Jessica Henwick).

It also turns out Trinity is around in the form of Tiffany, now married with kids and without knowledge of her gravity defiant history. The deal cut by the lovebirds in Revolutions still stands albeit on shaky ground. Humans and machines have found a way to coexist but others want war times to resume. The plot, however, really isn’t focused on extinction. Tiffany is the McGuffin – and the drama centers on her chosen pill intake. It seems a tad low-pressure for a series typically concentrated on civilization’s existence.

In addition to a more youthful Morpheus, we also have Jonathan Groff as a boyish Agent Smith. Neither of their characterizations match those of Laurence Fishburne or Hugo Weaving, respectively. The screenplay, in particular, does a disservice to Mateen (a fine actor) and the treatment of Morpheus. So crucial in the trilogy, he’s relegated to an insignificant status in this one. On the flip side, Jada Pinkett Smith returns as General Niobe and she’s aged six decades. The makeup is decent. Her decision making hasn’t improved much when it comes to advising our protagonists.

Wachowski’s self-referential treatment of the material starts off fairly funny and the first hour has its charms. When a holdover from Reloaded and Revolutions appears to spew English and French rantings about our text obsessed and social media culture, it’s moved to eye rolling emoji territory. In Reloaded, that mid-picture car flipping street extravaganza alone arguably made the first sequel worth the price of admission. There’s no such centerpiece in Resurrections that approaches it. Instead we get a follow-up where the filmmaker is struggling to justify its existence and even pontificating through her subjects that it’s not warranted. Maybe she should have left this revolution for someone else to start.

** (out of four)

Movie Perfection: Did Ya Smile?!?!?

Gene Hackman can be very funny onscreen (rewatch The Birdcage or The Royal Tenenbaums or his sole scene in Young Frankenstein for a reminder). Yet if there’s a trait that I most frequently attribute to the two-time Oscar winner, it’s intensity. Few actors display it in the way that Hackman does. We can see it in The French Connection or Crimson Tide and Unforgiven. 

Nowhere is that hair raising intensity more potent than in a barbershop sequence in 1988’s Mississippi Burning. A historical drama based on real events, the pic recounts the investigation into the murders of three activists in 1964. It casts Hackman as an FBI agent who cut his teeth as a sheriff in the title state. He’s paired with a younger agent (Willem Dafoe) and the two don’t exactly see eye to eye when it comes to interrogation tactics.

This is most evident during the aggressive questioning of Brad Dourif’s small town deputy. Hackman’s Agent Anderson does so with by employing close shave methods and I’m confident Dourif didn’t have to act much to look as terrified as he does. It is my favorite example in his long and impressive filmography as to just how menacing Hackman can be. This time around, you’re rooting for him. The scene also expertly shows (in that brief glimpse of when Dafoe tries to enter the business) the difference between the two protagonist’s means to their ends.

Mississippi Burning earned seven Oscar nominations and is notable for being Frances McDormand’s first nod as Dourif’s abused wife that Anderson assists. He’s not in the mood to help her husband in that barber shop. He’s out to scare the daylights out of him and the whiskers off his racist face. It’s a sequence that’s Movie Perfection due to Hackman’s brilliance and I smile just thinking about it.

Benedict Cumberbatch vs. Will Smith: A Best Actor Showdown

When King Richard came out in November, the preceding reviews and buzz pointed to a likelihood in the Best Actor race for this year’s Oscars – Will Smith would be on his way to his first gold statue. Playing Richard Williams, patriarch of the family that gave us tennis royalty Venus and Serena Williams, the film provides us multiple Academy bait scenes for the actor.

Mr. Smith has gone to the Oscars before as a nominee. 20 years ago, he was up for Ali (where to lost to Denzel Washington in Training Day). 15 years back, he scored his second nod for The Pursuit of Happyness (coming up short to Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland).

This time around felt different. Obviously Smith is a beloved figure across the entertainment spectrum from movies to music to TV and he’s had blockbuster upon blockbuster in the last quarter century. Richard seemed like the right role for him to get that Oscar. Third time’s the charm.

That could still absolutely happen. In fact, I still have him ranked #1 in the Actor derby where he’s been perched for months. Yet I must admit, doubts are creeping in.

Why? A couple of reasons. First off, King Richard underwhelmed at the box office and that’s being kind. The sports drama has taken in less than $15 million. Part of the reason has to be due to its simultaneous release on HBO Max, but there’s no sugarcoating that it’s a subpar performance.

Secondly, there’s the rise of Benedict Cumberbatch in Netflix’s The Power of the Dog. The actor (who’s about to land his second nod after 2014’s The Imitation Game) is becoming the critical favorite and he’s picking up hardware from their associations. It also helps that Cumberbatch has been highly visible in 2021 with four pics (including financial behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home).

In that sense, the 2021 Best Actor race is starting to look like what we witnessed in 2020. As an aside, I do see this a two-person competition at the moment (though Andrew Garfield from Tick Tick, Boom! may have a remote shot). There’s a head vs. heart vibe emerging. Last year, the sentimental favorite was the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The performance that was equally if not more hailed by critics came from Anthony Hopkins in The Father. And it was Hopkins who ultimately and somewhat surprisingly prevailed.

Could we see a repeat in 2021 and a slight upset by Cumberbatch over the favored Smith? Stay tuned…

The 355 Box Office Prediction

One thing is for certain – Simon Kinberg’s spy flick The 355 will be the highest grossing movie released in 2022. That’s, of course, because it will be the first and it will hold that title briefly since Scream comes out a week later. Coming out a year after its COVID delay, it marks the second directorial effort from Kinberg (who’s known primarily for his screenwriting). His first was the commercial and critical X-Men misfire Dark Phoenix. 

Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, and Edgar Ramirez make up the cast. Two of them (Chastain from The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Cruz in Parallel Mothers) may find themselves competing against each other for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars.

January is often seen as a dumping ground for material that isn’t expected to make waves at multiplexes. The 355 is slated to be available for streaming on Peacock 45 days after its cinematic debut.

I don’t see this posting impressive numbers and I would certainly be surprised if it manages to top $10 million. It may be lucky to reach even $5 million.

The 355 opening weekend prediction: $3.8 million

December 31-January 2 Box Office Predictions

As 2021 transitions into 2022, the top five on the box office charts should look similar to as it did over Christmas with Spider-Man: No Way Home easily on top and Sing 2 firmly in the runner-up spot. There are no new wide releases this weekend as New Year’s Eve falls on Friday and holdovers should all experience fairly small drops.

One in particular – the football drama American Underdog with its A+ Cinemascore grade – could even gain viewers and rise to the third spot. That’s assuming The Matrix Resurrections, after its subpar debut and mixed audience reaction, has the steepest fall of the leftovers. The King’s Man should round out the top five in its sophomore frame.

And with that – here’s I foresee the year closing out and the new one beginning at multiplexes:

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home

Predicted Gross: $52.8 million

2. Sing 2

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million

3. American Underdog

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million

4. The Matrix Resurrections

Predicted Gross: $4.8 million

5. The King’s Man

Predicted Gross: $4.5 million

Box Office Results (December 24-26)

Let’s start with this caveat – some studios (namely Sony and Warner Bros) are apparently taking a holiday break and haven’t reported final box numbers from the Christmas weekend. So some of these tallies are estimates…

As anticipated, Spider-Man: No Way Home dominated the holiday with a reported take of $84.5 million in weekend 2. That brings its total to approximately $470 million through December 26th. The 68% drop is considerably larger than I anticipated and I had it making $125.2 million over the three days. Regardless – this movie is setting pandemic records right and left.

Sing 2 was second with $22.3 million from Friday to Sunday and $37.9 million when counting its Wednesday and Thursday opening grosses. I went a bit higher at $31.3 million and $46.8 million, respectively, but you can expect the Illumination Entertainment animated sequel to play well into the next few weeks.

The Matrix Resurrections, as mentioned, disappointed. Perhaps the HBO Max simultaneous release didn’t help, but there’s no way to spin the fourth franchise entry (arriving 18 years after the last) simply failed to meet expectations. It took in an estimated $12 million from Friday to Sunday and $22.5 million since Wednesday for third place. I was far more generous at $26.7 million and $40.3 million.

Sequelitis also struck down The King’s Man. The Kingsman prequel was fourth with $5.9 million (Friday to Sunday) and $9.5 million (Wednesday to Sunday) compared to my projections of $8.8 million and $13.1 million.

American Underdog debuted on Christmas Day for a two-day haul of $5.8 million. I said $7.2 million. As discussed above, I look for this to stick around and rise from fifth to third.

West Side Story was sixth with $2.8 million, outpacing my $2 million prediction for $23 million total.

A Journal for Jordan also started on Saturday and made $2.2 million over two days. I was a tad higher at $2.9 million.

Eighth place belonged to the expansion of Licorice Pizza with $1.9 million, right on target with my $1.8 million estimate. It’s made just over $3 million overall.

Sing 2 took a big bite out of Encanto‘s audience (plus it became available on Disney Plus). It was ninth with $1.8 million and I overshot with $4.3 million. Total is $88 million.

Finally, Ghostbusters: Afterlife rounded out the top ten with $1.2 million (I went with $2 million) for $120 million total.

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