Oscar Watch: Radioactive

In 2014, Rosamund Pike received her first and only Oscar nomination for David Fincher’s  Gone Girl. The British actress has since appeared in a string of Indies that have garnered some critical kudos with scant awards attention. These titles include 2016’s A United Kingdom and 2018’s A Private War.

In the biographical drama Radioactive from director Marjane Satrapi, Pike portrays Nobel prize winning physicist Marie Curie. The film originally played at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and is now available for streaming today on Amazon Prime. It’s received generally positive reviews and stands at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the write-ups gearing more toward the negative praise Pike’s performance.

Gone Girl was a blockbuster and that helped the actress nab her Academy nod. The other projects just never broke through enough with mainstream audiences to get on the awards radar screen. That may well certainly apply to Radioactive as well. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: A United Kingdom

Amma Asante’s interracial romantic drama A United Kingdom has screened at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend. The pic tells the true life story of the relationship between an African prince (David Oyelowo) and a London woman (Rosamund Pike) some seven decades ago.

Initial critical reaction has mostly been positive, but not to the level where Academy attention seems realistic. The lead performers have been on the radar screen of Oscar voters just two years ago when Pike nabbed a nomination for Gone Girl and Oyelowo surprisingly missed out on a nod for Selma.

If Kingdom somehow breaks through at the box office, the dynamic could change. However, that looks doubtful at this juncture. In fact, awards voters are far more likely to turn their attention to Jeff Nichols’ Loving, another mixed race drama that has received more buzz.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue as more Toronto hopefuls screen…

2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We have reached day 6 of my earliest Oscar predictions and that means the big one – Best Picture!

This week, the Venice Film Festival has helped make the scene a little clearer in a couple of ways. For one, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land not only looks like an easy pick for a nomination, but it could potentially be a winner. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals and Denis Villenueve’s Arrival are also in the mix. For now – I’m leaving Arrival out and Animals in (obviously this could certainly change over the next weeks and months).

There’s plenty that we haven’t seen that appear strong – Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Denzel Washington’s Fences. Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.

And there are others that have already screened at other festivals that look like contenders: Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. Jeff Nichols’ Loving. This list also includes Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation and whether or not news stories involving its director prevent it from being nominated is a legit question. For now, I’ve got it in.

A host of other possibilities abound that have yet to be screened and I’ll be keeping you up to date with numerous prediction posts over the fall. At this juncture, I have nine movies being nominated (there can be anywhere from 9-10).

They are:

TODD’S EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS – BEST PICTURE

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

The Birth of a Nation

Fences

La La Land

Loving

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Nocturnal Animals

Silence

Other Possibilities:

The 13th

20th Century Women

Allied

American Pastoral

Arrival

Collateral Beauty

The Founder

The Girl on the Train

Gold

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

I, Daniel Blake

Jackie

LBJ

Live by Night

The Lobster

Lion

Miss Sloane

Passengers

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rules Don’t Apply

Snowden

Sully

A United Kingdom

2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Day #4 of my first 2016 Oscar predictions brings us to Best Actor and in the past two years, even these incredibly early predictions yielded positive results. My 2014 late August/early September Actor predictions gave us four of the five nominees and in 2015 – three.

We start with Michael Keaton. He just missed out on a win in 2014 for Birdman and has had the distinction of appearing in the last two Best Picture winners (Birdman, Spotlight). It’s likely he’ll receive buzz for this December’s The Founder, in which he plays Ray Kroc – inventor of the McDonald’s franchise.

Denzel Washington both stars and directs in Fences, based on an acclaimed play. It’s been 15 years since he won for Training Day and it could be time to hear his name called again.

Casey Affleck has received raves for Manchester by the Sea. Same goes for Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Readers of the previous posts in the Supporting races know that Moonlight looks to make some noise this season and that could extend to its star Trevante Rhodes.

Same goes for La La Land, which could mean a second nomination (ten years after Half Nelson) for Ryan Gosling. There’s Joe Alwyn in the title role of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the latest from double Oscar winner Ang Lee. Woody Harrelson plays the 36th President in LBJ. Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks is Sully. And so on and so on (I’ve even listed Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool as a possibility… even though it’s extremely unlikely).

This finally brings us to Nate Parker, director, writer, and star of The Birth of a Nation, which received raves on the festival circuit earlier this year. It is impossible to know right now how his recent publicity due to a years old rape charge (in which he acquitted)  and the suicide of the alleged victim plays out in the minds of voters. For now, I do not have him being nominated. Whether that’s because of the serious competition or other reasons is a factor that is sure to be discussed as the nominations draw closer.

Here’s how I have this initial round shaking out:

TODD’S EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS – BEST ACTOR

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Joel Edgerton, Loving

Michael Keaton, The Founder

Denzel Washington, Fences

Other Possibilities:

Ben Affleck, Live by Night

Bryan Cranston, Wakefield

Colin Farrell, The Lobster

Andrew Garfield, Silence

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals

Tom Hanks, Sully

Woody Harrelson, LBJ

Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake

Joseph Gordon Levitt, Snowden

Matthew McConaughey, Gold

David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation

Dev Patel, Lion

Brad Pitt, Allied

Chris Pratt, Passengers

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

Michael Shannon, Midnight Special

Will Smith, Collateral Beauty

Miles Teller, Bleed for This

We’ll hit Best Director tomorrow and then Best Picture!

2016 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Day 3 of my early Oscar predictions arrives with Best Actress. These late August/early September guesstimates yielded two of the eventual nominees in 2014 and three last year.

Looking over the field of possibilities for Best Actress in 2016, one thing seems clear. More than most years, this particular race seems loaded with legitimate contenders and it could be one of the more competitive categories of the year.

Let’s start with three actresses who have received nominations but never won: four-time nominee and never winner Annette Bening is headlining this fall’s 20th Century Women. She was a strong contender for wins in both 1999 and 2004 (for American Beauty and Being Julia), but lost out in both cases to Hilary Swank.

There’s five-time nominee and never winner Amy Adams, who has two pictures in which she could be recognized: Arrival and Nocturnal Animals.

We have Viola Davis in this December’s Denzel Washington directed Fences. She was nominated for 2011’s The Help but lost to Meryl Streep in her role as The Iron Lady.

Speaking of Meryl Streep… there’s Meryl Streep going for her 20th nomination as Florence Foster Jenkins. Its potential drawback could be muted box office numbers this summer, but you can never count her out.

Emma Stone will likely draw attention for her work in the musical drama La La Land. Ruth Negga has received early raves costarring in the interracial romance Loving. Then there’s the biopic Jackie (as in Kennedy), which casts 2010 winner Natalie Portman in the title role. She could be a major contender, yet there’s some uncertainty as to when it’ll come out.

Oh there’s more! Jennifer Lawrence will go for her fifth nomination in seven years with sci-fi drama Passengers. Emily Blunt could be a player with The Girl on the Train, as could previous nominees Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Rosamund Pike (A United Kingdom), and Rooney Mara (Lion). Not to mention previous winners like Sally Field (My Name is Doris), Helen Mirren (Eye in the Sky) and Marion Cotillard (Allied).

Bottom line: this race looks packed and we’ll see how it develops in the coming weeks. For now…

TODD’S EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS – BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Arrival

Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

Viola Davis, Fences

Ruth Negga, Loving

Emma Stone, La La Land

Other Possibilities:

Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals

Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train

Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane

Marion Cotillard, Allied

Sally Field, My Name is Doris

Rebecca Hall, Christine

Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers

Rooney Mara, Lion

Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky

Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Alicia Vikander, The Light Between Oceans

Rachel Weisz, Denial

Best Actor tomorrow!

16 for ’16: Oscar Contenders

The Academy Awards honoring the best of 2015 aired just over a week ago. So what does that mean? Well, it means that it’s time for incredibly early Oscar speculation on the films and performers that could factor into next year’s ceremony.

This evening on the blog, I take a look at 16 pictures that may find themslves in contention a year from now. Obviously, this is about as premature as it gets and there will be LOTS more speculation as the year rolls along. Yet here’s a first look at 16 for ’16 Oscar potentials:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Release Date: November 11

Ang Lee has directed four Best Picture nominees over the past two decades and received two wins for his direction (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi). This Iraq War themed drama (based on a well received novel) featuring newcomer Joe Alwyn and familiar faces Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, and Chris Tucker is highly likely to receive some chatter.

The Birth of a Nation

Release Date: October 7

Focusing on the true story of the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, this passion project from Nate Parker (who stars and directs) received glowing reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival and picked up an Oscar friendly release date.

Collateral Beauty

Release Date: December 16

The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel helms this comedic drama with an all-star cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, and Jonah Hill.

Finding Dory

Release Date: June 17

Pixar has found itself in the Best Picture mix before with both 2009’s Up and 2010’s Toy Story 3. This sequel to 2003’s beloved Finding Nemo may follow suit and it should at the least be a major contender in Best Animated Feature.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Release Date: TBD

Put Meryl Streep in anything and she might be a possibility for an Actress nomination. So it is with Stephen Frears’ comedy/drama, which casts the 19 times nominated and 3 time winning Streep as the opera singing title character.

The Founder

Release Date: August 5

Michael Keaton has found himself featured in the last two Best Picture winners (Birdman, Spotlight). Could it be a three-peat with this biopic, which finds Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc? John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directs with Laura Dern costarring.

Free State of Jones

Release Date: May 13

2013 Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey headlines this Civil War drama from Seabiscuit and Hunger Games director Gary Ross.

The Girl on the Train

Release Date: October 7

The Help‘s Tate Taylor directs this psychological thriller that could provide an Oscar friendly role for star Emily Blunt.

La La Land

Release Date:December 16

Damien Chazelle follows up his 2014 Oscar nominee Whiplash with this comedic musical drama starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons.

Nocturnal Animals

Release Date: TBD

Fashion designer Tom Ford follows up his acclaimed 2009 debut A Single Man with this drama featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Kim Basinger, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Michael Shannon.

Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?

Release Date: TBD

Lee Daniels directs this biopic of the legendary comedian with Mike Epps in the starring role and Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Murphy among the supporting cast.

Silence

Release Date: TBD

Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson headline this historical drama from Martin Scorsese, who has seen five out his last six movies nominated for the big prize.

Sully

Release Date: September 9

Clint Eastwood follows up his 2014 nominee American Sniper with the true life tale of the title character pilot who pulled off the “Miracle on the Hudson” (which I like better as a title, by the way). Tom Hanks is Sully with Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney backing him up.

A United Kingdom

Release Date: TBD

The period piece interracial romance features two stars who could be ripe for recognition – David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.

War Machine

Release Date: TBD

Release Date: This Afghanistan war comedy is likely to garner more attention than the last one, Tina Fey’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Based on a bestselling novel, it stars Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, and Topher Grace.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Release Date: TBD

This Holocaust themed drama (based on a bestseller) could be a factor in Picture and in Actress for Jessica Chastain’s lead role.

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