Oscar Watch – All In: The Fight for Democracy

Streaming on Amazon Prime since September, the political doc All In: The Fight for Democracy is establishing itself as a real contender in awards season. Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes, the pic focuses on voter suppression and features Georgia’s recent gubernatorial race with Stacey Abrams (who shares a producer credit).

Democracy has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and co-director Garbus is no stranger to Academy attention. She’s been nominated twice for 1998’s The Farm: Angola, USA and 2015’s What Happened, Miss Simone? In this heightened electoral climate, this could easily make the final cut in the Documentary Feature race and I currently have it listed in fourth for possibilities. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Soul

Disney/Pixar’s second 2020 release Soul has long been seen as their most viable Oscar contender over this spring’s Onward. Today’s buzz after it held the first screening at the London Film Festival confirms that. The jazz infused tale from Pete Docter and Kemp Powers is being called two familiar adjectives in the studio’s lexicon – heartfelt and crowd pleasing. Soul, after experiencing delays due to the COVID pandemic, is slated for a Disney+ debut on Christmas Day.

Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Angela Bassett, several reviews are already claiming it’s in the upper echelon of Pixar pics. Docter is no stranger to Academy love. All three of his directorial efforts – Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out – were nominated for Best Animated Feature. The latter two emerged victorious and Up is one of three animated flicks to achieve a Best Picture nomination.

The question is not whether Soul will make the final cut in Animated Feature. It absolutely will and it’s absolutely the strong front runner to win. A better debate is whether this is the fourth animated effort to contend for the big prize. I don’t believe that’s automatic. Inside Out also garnered sterling critical reaction in 2015 and fell short of that achievement. However, Soul has solidified its position as a legit hopeful.

Additionally, expect Best Sound and the Original Score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to be in the mix. Bottom line: Soul helped it cause to play beyond Animated Feature. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: French Exit

French Exit closed the New York Film Festival last night ahead of its planned February 2021 debut and that keeps it in line for awards consideration in this altered Oscar season. The eccentric comedy from Azazel Jacobs is based on the 2018 novel by Patrick deWitt, who adapts his own work (he’s also responsible for the source material for 2018’s The Sisters Brothers).

To say Exit is experiencing mixed reviews and social media reaction is an understatement. The focus of most Academy chatter is whether or not Michelle Pfeiffer will land her fourth nomination and her first in nearly 30 years. The star garnered nods for 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons for Supporting Actress and lead for 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys and 1992’s Love Field. 

First things first: the wildly divergent critical notices probably keep this out of contention for anything and anyone other than Pfeiffer. That leaves her costars Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Danielle Macdonald, and Imogen Poots out of the conversation. Yet even some of the negative reviews point to sterling work from Pfeiffer as a down on her luck socialite widow who relocates to Paris. Variety called it the “role she’ll be remembered for” in a likely bit of hyperbole. Several other publications were far less kind, but kinder to its lead.

Best Actress currently looks more crowded than Best Actor. Already screened performances like Frances McDormand in Nomadland and Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman appear headed for the final five (with McDormand as a near shoo-in). There are major hopefuls waiting in the wings including Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), and Jennifer Hudson (Respect) among others.

I have had Pfeiffer listed in fifth place for some time in my weekly estimates (ahead of Adams and Hudson). Whether that changes with my update on Thursday is something I’ll need to ponder. I believe she could absolutely still make the cut, but I don’t think this weekend’s showing guarantees her a spot. Some soft reviews could be a detriment, but that didn’t prevent Renee Zellweger from taking gold last year as Judy. Bottom line: Pfeiffer may need to play the waiting game as the verdict comes down for other possible nominees. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Forty-Year-Old Version

After it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to a Dramatic Competition Directing prize, Radha Blank’s The Forty-Year-Old Version is available on Netflix this weekend. A humorous take on the director/writer/star’s real life experiences, her first feature is being hailed in critical circles with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%.

Its title emanating from the 2005 Steve Carell breakthrough The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the pic is certainly generating some buzz now that it’s available for mass consumption. However, I’m not confident that will translate to Oscar voters. Netflix has a mighty full plate of contenders to campaign for and this could fall under the radar. As I see it, Version‘s sole chance for recognition lies in its Original Screenplay. Unless critics groups give it momentum in the months ahead, that’s probably a stretch. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Honest Thief Box Office Prediction

Liam Neeson is a notorious bank robber trying to go good in the aptly titled Honest Thief, one of the few major theatrical releases hitting screens this month (and 2020 for that matter). The action pic is directed by Mark Williams with a supporting cast including Kate Walsh, Robert Patrick, Anthony Ramos, Jeffrey Donovan, and Jai Courtney.

The Open Road production should see a decent number of screens (probably 2000+) as there’s just not much fresh product in the marketplace. Neeson, of course, began a run of similar genre fare over a decade ago with the release of the surprise hit Taken. The grosses have dwindled in recent years. 2019’s Cold Pursuit managed just $11 million for its start.

We are in different times with smaller expectations in this COVID world. For example, this weekend’s The War with Grandpa starring Robert De Niro appears headed for an opening weekend take in the $3-4 million range. I’m not sure Thief makes off with quite that amount, but it might be close.

Honest Thief opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

Oscar Watch: Over the Moon

Glen Keane is a bit of a Disney legend having served as a character animator for classic titles including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. He’s also no stranger to Academy attention. Three years ago, he won an Oscar alongside collaborator Kobe Bryant for the short film Dear Basketball. On October 23, Netflix debuts his feature length directorial debut Over the Moon. The computer drawn musical features the voices of Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, and Sandra Oh.

Early reviews are pretty encouraging. That said, Keane’s most notable competition comes from his former employer. Disney/Pixar’s Soul (which just announced a Disney+ streaming bow on Christmas Day) is rumored to be special and it’s been the strong front runner for Animated Feature for some time. That hasn’t changed and the real question is what’s the current runner-up.

Over the Moon could be it, but I’m beginning to believe Wolfwalkers might be in second position based on its fantastic critical reaction. Bottom line: expect Moon to be in the final five for animated fare. A win is far less likely. Also look for its Original Song titled “Rocket to the Moon” to get some attention in that category. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Hubie Halloween Movie Review

Adam Sandler doesn’t have many new tricks up his sleeve with his latest Netflix “treat” in Hubie Halloween. Here he employs his Waterboy voice as a self professed holiday monitor in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Hubie is a constantly bullied and goodhearted mama’s boy (also Waterboy shades) who is easily scared and easily grates on one’s nerves within moments. This is the typical streaming mediocrity we have come to expect from its star, but it’s slightly more of a letdown after the career best work we just saw from him in Uncut Gems. 

Collaborating with his frequent director Steven Brill, Hubie is squarely aimed at teens and Sandler diehards. There’s familiar faces galore and many of their characters are marked not by funny dialogue, but “funny” appearances. Kevin James (the town law enforcement) has funny facial hair! Tim Meadows has funny hair! Steve Buscemi has funny arm hair because he might be a werewolf! June Squibb (as his dear mama) wears funny t-shirts! Shaquille O’Neal has a funny voice in a bit that pays homage to John Carpenter’s The Fog (one of the few that I actually chuckled at).

As for plot, Sandler’s latest weird title character has to deal with an overstuffed amount of it. There’s his romantic subplot with his Happy Gilmore love interest Julie Bowen. We have a recently escaped patient from a mental institution. There are multiple tormentors of Hubie who get plenty of screen time, including Ray Liotta and Michael Chiklis. And it all happens on one long (and 102 minutes is too long here) Halloween day and night where Hubie’s constant sidekick is an all purpose thermos which serves soup, is a megaphone, and serves every other function imaginable.

Hubie Halloween isn’t awful (some other Sandler Netflix experiences are) as much as totally disposable. It’s as childish as the central character. Sometimes that works for this comedic performer with the right screenplay. This one, with a smattering of decent jokes, is mostly stuck in its own unfocused fog.

The main issue here is a familiar one. Sandler is either playing someone obnoxious or a buffoon. It’s the latter in this case and too often this latest buffoon just isn’t that funny. Even with all that supposedly hilarious hair everywhere.

** (out of four)

2020 Oscar Predictions: October 8th Edition

As much as I want to predict Mel Gibson’s Santa Claus revenge tale Fatman in all categories based on its bonkers trailer, I shall refrain. However, there is more news to be discussed in my latest round of Oscar predictions.

Speaking of trailers, we got our first looks at two major contenders this week: David Fincher’s Mank (still holding in 1st place in Picture and Director and more) and News of the World from Paul Greengrass (with an impressive 10 predictions). Mank, by the way, leads all contenders with 12 and that takes over last week’s leader The Trial of the Chicago 7. 

We also learned that Dune and No Time to Die have officially moved out of contention due to release date changes. I had Dune down for 8 nominations last week. I also listed the theme song from No Time to Die (performed by Billie Eilish) in first place for Original Song. These drops are reflected below.

Other developments:

  • Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress remain unchanged. I will note that French Exit will screen this weekend for critics and we will have a better idea as to Michelle Pfeiffer’s viability and if it could be a contender in other categories.
  • While Supporting Actor stays intact, I have moved Amanda Seyfried’s work in Mank in the Supporting Actress five over Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman. 

With that, let’s get to the latest guesstimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

7. The Father (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 10)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

12. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 13)

13. Ammonite (PR: 14)

14. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The White Tiger (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

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

9. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 8)

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

Dropped Out:

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

10. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

5. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

9. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 9)

10. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

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

5. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Abigail Breslin, Stillwater

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

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

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 6)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 10)

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

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 8)

10. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 5)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Soul (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. On the Rocks (PR: 6)

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

9. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Stillwater (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ammonite

C’Mon C’Mon

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

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

8. French Exit (PR: 10)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 9)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Over the Moon (PR: 2)

3. Wolfwalkers (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Predicted Nominees:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. Connected (PR: 7)

8. Bombay Rose (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Trolls World Tour (PR: 9)

10. Earwig and the Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rumble

Ride Your Wave

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Crip Camp (PR: 1)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 4)

3. Boys State (PR: 2)

4. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 3)

5. The Dissident (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

7. Totally Under Control (PR: Not Ranked)

8. 76 Days (PR: Not Ranked)

9. MLK/FBI (PR: 7)

10. Notturno (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Spaceship Earth

John Lewis: Good Trouble

Miss Americana

On the Record 

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. Another Round (PR: 6)

3. New Order (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

5. The Disciple (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Wife of a Spy (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Atlantis (PR: 5)

10. A Sun (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Ema

The Life Ahead

Young Ahmed

Memory House 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 10)

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

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Ammonite

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Mulan (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

7. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 10)

8. Coming 2 America (PR: 6)

9. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 4)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

7. The Father (PR: Not Ranked)

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

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

10. Tenet (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Mank (PR: 1)

4. Mulan (PR: 5)

5. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

9. Emma (PR: 8)

10, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

No Time to Die

Wonder Woman 1984

Ammonite

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 6)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

7. Over the Moon (PR: 9)

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

9. Tenet (PR: 10)

10. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 7)

3. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: Not Ranked)

4. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

5. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 3)

8. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 6)

9. “Carried Me with You” from Onward (PR: 8)

10. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

“See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 3)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Rebecca (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Ammonite (PR: 6)

9. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

One Night in Miami

Tenet

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 3)

3. News of the World (PR: 7)

4. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Greyhound (PR: Not Ranked)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

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

9. Respect (PR: 5)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

The Invisible Man

No Time to Die

Wonder Woman 1984

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 2)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 6)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: Not Ranked)

7. The Call of the Wild (PR: 7)

8. Birds of Prey (PR: 10)

9. Free Guy (PR: 9)

10. Dolittle (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Wonder Woman 1984

No Time to Die

That equates to the following numbers of nominations for features:

12 Nominations

Mank

10 Nominations

News of the World, The Trial of the Chicago 7

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

6 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, Nomadland, One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

The Father, Mulan, Soul

2 Nominations

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Ammonite, Minari, Over the Moon, Tenet

1 Nomination

Birds of Prey, Boys State, Coming 2 America, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Giving Voice, Greyhound, Hillbilly Elegy, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Midnight Sky, New Order, Night of the Kings, The One and Only Ivan, Onward, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Wolfwalkers

No Time to Dune

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Assistant Movie Review

On Netflix’s popular series Ozark, the words of Julia Garner’s Ruth often speak louder than her actions. Her boisterous character serves as a de facto assistant to Jason Bateman’s beleaguered money launderer and the performance has earned her Emmys. The Assistant, written and directed by Kitty Green, finds Garner in a much different occupation in terms of duties and with her overall demeanor.

Jane works as a film production assistant to a mostly unseen and unheard big shot. She works long hours steeped in tedium as she cleans up the literal and figurative messes of her boss and his minions. From travel arrangements from their New York office to L.A. to making excuses to the whereabouts of her superior to his wife, this is not the dream job that Jane envisioned. Even her hopes that this is leading to something bigger and better seem to be diminishing.

The camera rarely leaves Jane on the Monday that the proceedings occur. Aspiring actresses flow in and a mysterious and very young new assistant is flown in from Idaho and put up in a fancy hotel. Sitting with her fellow junior staffers (Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins), they develop a strained if well-meaning support system.

Yet our title character knows she’s in a hostile work environment. When Jane approaches the company’s HR head (Matthew MacFayden), it’s made chillingly clear that her complaints are falling on deaf ears. We get the idea that if she just keeps quiet, her mundane existence in this drab office will improve. At what cost? Her words and actions don’t matter.

Like that office, The Assistant is not flashy. The Weinstein type figure feet away from Jane’s desk is left to our imagination. All we have to see is her weary but expressive face to know that he’s dangerous. It is Garner’s performance, wildly different from her Ozark persona, that kept my attention. This is essentially a horror film where the scary incidents are usually hinted at or, more sadly, joked about. They develop over Jane’s long day where it seems the next day will be just as long and with no resolution in sight. That’s pretty frightening.

*** (out of four)