Adam Driver often turns up in prestige pics with awards buzz, but 65 is a rare exception. The prehistoric action thriller comes from directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who wrote A Quiet Place. That acclaimed feature nabbed a Sound Editing nom back in 2018. The 65 buzz is rather silent and it could be a big budget flop for Sony.
With a 25% Rotten Tomatoes rating, most critics are far from impressed. Yet with its lead battling dinosaurs, tech races like Sound and Visual Effects could be in the mix. Not so fast. Even the creatures are being called subpar versions of what the Jurassic Park/World franchise have given us. And if all the Jurassic follow-ups couldn’t achieve VE nominations, there’s no real chance for 65 to make noise anywhere. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
The writers of A Quiet Place are hoping to make some noise at the box office when 65 opens on March 10th. Scribes Scott Beck and Bryan Woods handle directorial and scripting duties for the sci-fi thriller. The number refers to “million years ago” as pilot Adam Driver becomes stranded on Earth where dinosaurs roam and attack. Costars include Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, and Nika King.
Reportedly made for a substantial price tag of over $90 million, 65 risks hefty losses for Sony. Buzz seems to be muted and theaters could be a quiet place where it’s playing. Some potential viewers may be distracted by Scream VI debuting against it. It also may not help that this isn’t based on known IP and that Driver, while certainly an acclaimed actor, isn’t a box office draw.
I’ll say this manages to top double digits, but not by much.
The American Film Institute (AFI) said yes to Nope and nope to The Whale and Babylon today as they named their top ten movies of 2022. Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror tale was perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch.
The AFI list, in the previous decade, typically gives us seven of the eventual Best Picture contenders at the Oscars. In other words, they’re worth paying attention to. Coupled with Wednesday’s National Board of Review selections, there’s much to discuss. First, here’s the full AFI Ten:
Avatar: The Way of Water
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick
The Woman King
It’s key to remember that only U.S. made pictures are eligible. That means titles like All Quiet on the Western Front, Decision to Leave, RRR, and The Banshees of Inisherin were not in the mix. However, Banshees received a Special Award similar to what eventual Academy hopefuls like Roma and Parasite nabbed.
I went 7 for 10 on my predictions. I correctly named Avatar, Elvis, Everything Everywhere…, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Women Talking. I didn’t name Nope, She Said, and Tár. Instead I picked Babylon, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. For She Said and Tár especially, these were important nods considering they missed NBR (as did Nope).
Let’s start with the films that made the AFI and NBR lists. I’m counting Banshees with its AFI Special Award shout-out and there’s six more: Avatar: The Way of Water, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King, and Women Talking. This is a list you want to be on when it comes to an Oscar BP nom.
In the previous five years, ten pictures that made AFI and NBR were ignored by the Academy. They are 2017’s The Florida Project, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, First Reformed, and Eighth Grade (all from 2018), Knives Out and Richard Jewell from 2019, Da 5 Bloods and Soul in 2020, and last year’s The Tragedy of Macbeth.
If history is our guide, at least one of the seven from 2022 will miss out. Looking at the list, The Woman King is probably most vulnerable. That said, I’ve yet it to include it in my Oscar ten and the stock is rising.
In the past five years, only five pics have missed AFI and NBR (including Special Awards) and received a BP nod from the Academy. They are Darkest Hour from 2017, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice in 2018, The Father in 2020, and last year’s Drive My Car.
What about the movies that didn’t make AFI or NBR in 2022? That list includes Babylon, The Whale, Triangle of Sadness, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, All Quiet o the Western Front, and Decision to Leave. The last two weren’t eligible for AFI. Nevertheless this isn’t a list you want to be on though the outlook isn’t completely dire.
If history guides us again, 2 of the aforementioned 2022 titles could still get love from Oscar. Perhaps Monday’s Golden Globes nods will save some of them. There’s no doubt that Babylon and The Whale are looking shakier for Academy inclusion after this week. They need some attention from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
I’ll have my Golden Globe nominations recap up Monday and if you missed my predictions on them, you can find them here:
Updated Oscar predictions will be on the blog Tuesday!
The American Film Institute announces their top ten pictures of the year tomorrow and it’s usually a good indication of half or more of the eventual BP contenders at the Oscars.
Keep in mind that American product only is eligible for this particular group. Since this list began in 2000, the Academy’s BP recipient has only missed here five times. Four of those occasions were due to the whole country of origin thing – 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King Speech, The Artist in 2011, and Parasite from 2019. The Departed in 2006 also didn’t make the cut. This means you shouldn’t expect Aftersun, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, Decision to Leave, or RRR to surface here.
So what will? The AFI ten and the Oscar ten had a solid match last year at 8. Tick, Tick… Boom! and The Tragedy of Macbeth were the AFI inclusions that didn’t make it with the Academy. They went with two features from outside the U.S. in Belfast and Drive My Car. In recent years, the match number is usually 6 or 7.
It’s not uncommon for AFI to pick blockbusters or animated fare that the Academy does not. Recent examples include Soul, Knives Out, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, Wonder Woman, Zootopia, Inside Out,Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Straight Outta Compton.
Let’s talk of the pics I have just missing the cut. It was hard to leave off Tár. If it fails to be named tomorrow, that would be two disappointing days in a row after it surprisingly missed the National Board of Review (NBR) list today. Same goes for She Said and The Whale while Till did make NBR. More popcorn flavored flicks like The Batman, Nope, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are all viable contenders.
We shall see if any of them get in. Avatar, Babylon, Elvis, Glass Onion, Pinocchio, and The Woman King all feel like pics that should make it here if they have any hope of making the Academy’s cut. It is rare for the Oscars to nominate a more mainstream title that AFI doesn’t.
I’ll have a recap up tomorrow with commentary and how I did!
Two significant Academy precursors are coming our way tomorrow when the Directors and Producers Guilds of America reveal nominees. Both groups could shed major light on who and what we will see on Oscar nomination morning in less than two weeks.
The DGA nominates five directors for their top prize and it is a reliable preview for usually 4 of the 5 eventual hopefuls at the big show. In the past five years, the DGA’s list corresponds with the Academy’s on the 4 of 5 ratio. The exception was 2018 when it was 3/5. You have to go back to 2009 to find the last year in which there was a perfect match.
For weeks, my Oscar projections in Best Director has remained consistent: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune). That’s probably the safest lineup to predict for DGA as well, but I’m hesitant to do so since it’s been over a decade with the two corresponding.
So who’s vulnerable and who could rise up? It’s hard to see Campion (the Oscar frontrunner), Villeneuve, or Spielberg missing. Same generally goes for Branagh though there’s whispers that Belfast could be slipping a bit (still not enough for me to take him out). That leaves Anderson and there’s some precedent. In 2017, the Academy nominated him for Phantom Thread while DGA omitted him. He’s the easiest to leave off their ballot.
Who takes his place? I doubt that it’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car. In recent times, the Academy has been more generous with nods for filmmakers and their international features. Last year, they nominated Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) and in 2018 they did the same for Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) while DGA ignored them.
If there’s a surprise fifth nominee in store, watch out for Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter) or Sian Heder (CODA). However, I think it could come down to Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up). The latter is a two-time DGA nominee (The Big Short and Vice) and Don’t Look Up is a buzzy streaming success story that’s been widely viewed. Coen, on the other hand, could be honored for the technical mastery of Macbeth.
This is a close call, but I’m ever so slightly leaning toward McKay and I’ll go that route. Therefore – my official DGA predictions are:
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve, Dune
Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Second Alternate: Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Let’s move to the PGA, shall we? Over the last five years, these are the matches between the Producers and the Academy when it comes to their Best Picture awards:
It’s important to keep in mind that the Academy, for the past several years, can have anywhere between 5-10 BP contenders (the magic number has been 8 or 9). Yet in 2021, the Oscars are reverting back to a set 10 (the PGA always nominates 10 except for 2017 when they had 11 for some inexplicable reason).
That means there’s only been three films (Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread in 2017 and The Father in 2020) that received Oscar nods and didn’t materialize on the PGA list.
My current 10 selections for BP from the Academy are as follows: Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Dune, House of Gucci, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story.
I’m estimating that only Gucci and Tragedy could be truly vulnerable to miss the PGA cut (anything else being left off would constitute a pretty big surprise). If that happens, CODA or Richard might be the ones.
In my view, Tragedy is exactly the kind of feature that PGA may not recognize. Gucci is more of a question mark as the Producers generally like to nominate pictures that performed well at the box office. To that point, the PGA has a history of honoring moneymakers that the Academy does not. Recent examples include Bridesmaids, Skyfall, Gone Girl, Straight Outta Compton, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, Crazy Rich Asians, A Quiet Place, and Knives Out.
That could absolutely open the door for No Time to Die or Spider-Man: No Way Home… or both. I’m slightly more hesitant to include Spidey being that neither Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame got PGA love. However, I’m not oblivious to the fact that this guild may want to mention the picture that broke pandemic era box office records.
Outside of the blockbuster mold, you could also see titles like Being the Ricardos, Drive My Car, The Lost Daughter, Nightmare Alley, or Tick, Tick… Boom! factor in.
I’m keeping Gucci in (with extreme uncertainty) and projecting 007 in the mega-earner slot so here’s my PGA ten:
Don’t Look Up
House of Gucci
No Time to Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
Runner-Up: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Second Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth
So there you have it! I’ll have reaction up on both DGA and PGA tomorrow on the blog…
The Abbott family is back in A Quiet Place Part II as they continue to hope that the sound of silence prevents acts of violence. John Krasinski continues to prove he’s quite adept at this horror/sci-fi genre. When I wrote my review for 2018’s predecessor, I stated that future sequels might be tempted to explore reasons why the creatures came to Earth in the first place. In my view, there’s really no pressing need to do that. Extraterrestrials are here. Keep your mouth shut or you’re getting pulverized. What more do you need?
The sequel doesn’t go down that potentially unnecessary route. Instead Part II expands its cinematic universe beyond the Abbott farmhouse. As you may recall (and spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched part I), we last left Evelyn (Emily Blunt) as a shotgun reloading widow who’d just given birth and was in full Mama Bear mode to her other children. Regan (Millicent Simmonds) is the deaf daughter responsible for cracking a code to kill the monsters.
The other child Marcus (Noah Jupe) is failing at cracking a baseball bat in the film’s prologue showing the last moments of normalcy before the invasion. This allows Krasinski’s patriarch to briefly return as idyllic small town life turns into a hostile takeover.
A year and change later, a radio transmission convinces Regan that hope for survival could exist elsewhere. The rest of the family unit is skeptical, but we’ve already learned in the original that this girl is determined. Another survivor Emmett (Cillian Murphy) finds himself as the partner on her journey. Evelyn, Marcus, and baby are stuck at a hideout in need of medical supplies.
A Quiet Place Part II is not the self contained unit that we witnessed before. The freshness of A Quiet Place‘s concept is gone. Yet this manages to produce some genuinely nifty and tense set pieces. Much of the credit goes to Michael P. Shawver and his tight editing. This includes the first few minutes at the ballpark as well as a train turned mortuary and especially at a marina that contains more threats than audibly superior aliens.
Simply put, this is better than most horror sequels. It broadens the story without bogging itself down in superfluous backstory. Blunt still exudes her fiercely protective demeanor though it’s Simmonds and Jupe who are the true all-stars. I’m not sure how long this franchise can continue to garner the vocal support of audiences and critics, but so far so good.
Fourteen months after its scheduled release, A Quiet Place Part II looks to make noise at the box office when it debuts over Memorial weekend. John Krasinski’s horror sequel starring wife Emily Blunt was days away from release before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world. The 2018 original was critically hailed and generated some Oscar buzz. However, it managed only a nod in Sound Editing (this was before Sound Editing and Sound Mixing were combined into one category). It lost to Bohemian Rhapsody.
The review embargo lifted today. The general consensus is that AQPII nearly matches the quality of its predecessor, but not quite. This is evident in the Rotten Tomatoes score. Part I reached 96%. Part II sits at 90%. The chances of a Best Picture nomination seemed rather unrealistic anyway. This does not hold true for Best Sound where it could make a play. There is bound to be serious competition in the form of musicals like In the Heights and West Side Story and spectacles such as Dune and Top Gun: Maverick.
Marco Beltrami’s score is getting some kudos (his work in the original received a Globe nod), but that could be a long shot as well. There is another higher profile race to mention. Millicent Simmonds, reprising her role as Blunt’s daughter, is being singled out. The deaf actress received raves for Part I and critics are saying her work here is a highlight. A Best Supporting Actress is not impossible, but there’s a major caveat.
It seems like an actress in a horror flick has been hyped up every year in recent times. This includes Toni Collette in Hereditary, Lupita Nyong’o for Us, and Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man. Yet the Academy seems to never take the bait. It is worth noting that Blunt won Supporting Actress at SAG for the original and then didn’t get in at the Oscars. Simmonds probably won’t make final cut though it’ll be worth monitoring the strength of this category in the months ahead.
The American Film Institute will announce their top 10 pictures of the year tomorrow and it’s usually a safe predictor of half or more of the films that will land Best Picture nods at the Oscars. Over the past five years, the magic number has been 7 of the AFI selections getting Oscar love in the big race. That holds true for 2016, 2017, and 2019. In 2015 – it was 6. In 2018- it was 5.
So where do we stand this year? My overall estimates keep the estimated AFI number at 7 for my current Best Picture hopefuls (which could and probably will change). It is worth noting that for the previous two years, there’s a bit of an asterisk. Being that it’s the American Film Institute, foreign selections are ineligible. Due to this, surefire Oscar contenders Roma and Parasite didn’t qualify. This would apply in 2020 to The Father which is a British production.
As for the matches, they are as follows: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Minari, News of the World, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Now for the differences. AFI has shown a Disney love recently that the Academy did not share. AFI nominated Inside Out, Zootopia, and Mary Poppins Returns over the last five years with Oscar not following suit. Therefore I’m saying Pixar’s Soul makes the AFI cut.
The other two are critical favorites that (at press time) I have just missing Oscar’s cut: Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal. This means the three pics I have getting Oscar’s attention and not from AFI are Da 5 Bloods, The Father, and Judas and the Black Messiah.
What else could surprise? I would not be shocked to see Borat Subsequent Moviefilm make AFI’s list. If they don’t choose that comedy, there’s a lesser chance that Palm Springs could show up. AFI has also selected some blockbusters that Oscar ignored as of late. Examples include Knives Out, A Quiet Place, Wonder Woman, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, due to COVID in 2020, there’s just not a huge list of those types of contenders. Could Tenet sneak in? Doubtful.
Others that could be sleepers are First Cow, Pieces of a Woman, Malcolm & Marie, and Hillbilly Elegy, but here’s my take on what AFI does tomorrow:
Despite a number of critically praised lead and supporting roles, Emily Blunt has yet to break through with Oscar voters. That certainly makes her one of the most high profile actresses yet to get a nomination. Other awards shows and critics groups (including SAG and the Globes) have feted her in pics including The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario, Into the Woods, The Girl on the Train, A Quiet Place, and Mary Poppins Returns.
Her time probably isn’t far off, but it doesn’t sound as if she’ll get there with Wild Mountain Thyme. The romcom set in Ireland is slated for release this weekend. It comes from director John Patrick Shanley (adapting his own play) and he was on the radar screen of the Academy over three decades ago with Moonstruck, in which he won Best Original Screenplay. Costars here include Jamie Dornan, Jon Hamm, and Christopher Walken.
The reviews out today are on the negative side and it currently sports just a 33% Rotten Tomatoes score. Simply put, any Oscar attention is highly unlikely to materialize. On the other hand, the Hollywood Foreign Press has nominated Blunt six times. If distributor Bleecker Street mounts a spirited campaign for her in the Musical/Comedy category, I wouldn’t count her out for inclusion. The Academy is a totally different story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Well-known actors crafting nifty little suspense thrillers tinged with horror has become a thing lately (think John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place and Joel Edgerton’s The Gift). Dave Franco gets in on it with The Rental, which is swift in its running time and plentiful with twists that you see coming and some that are nicely rewarding. It also features a quartet of solid performers whose weekend getaway gives them far more than they bargained for.
Charlie (Dan Stevens) finds a swanky vacation house to nab for the weekend with help from his trusted assistant Mina (Sheila Vand). They’re celebrating something going right with their business and it’s good reason to let their hair down with Charlie’s wife Michelle (Alison Brie, the director’s real life spouse). Mina happens to be dating Charlie’s brother Josh (Jeremy Allen White) so he tags along with his puppy. Pets aren’t allowed at the establishment, but that turns out to be the least of their issues. For instance, there might be a psycho around and it’s not safe to be in the shower.
Upon arrival, the foursome confront the property’s caretaker Taylor (Toby Huss). The first problem is a racially tinged one. Mina, who’s of Middle Eastern descent, tried to rent the place and was promptly denied. Charlie had no such trouble. They decide to overlook that and the first night becomes an alcohol and designer drug filled party. This is where the aforementioned “twists” that follow are somewhat predictable in nature. However, the actors have a real chemistry with one another and you’ll want to see where it all leads.
Without venturing into spoiler territory, The Rental isn’t its eventual genre for about two thirds of its brisk 88 minutes. Credit is due to Franco and Joe Swanberg’s script for keeping the audience engaged in the dynamics of the four principals. Of them, it’s Vand who has the best role and she’s quite impressive.
When we arrive at the final third, the build up has been sturdy enough that we care about the fates of the characters as they navigate their way through dense fog and deeply personal conflicts. Franco has crafted a lean and effective directorial debut and its title is worth the price of one.