Best Supporting Actress: A Look Back

Today begins a new blog series where I’m looking back at five of the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present: the four acting races and Best Picture. This is essentially the time period where I’ve closely watched and analyzed. My charge? Picking the three largest upsets in each said category and the three least surprising winners… a film or performer where it truly would have been a shock if they didn’t emerge victorious.

We begin with Best Supporting Actress and this is one in which there have been some genuine upsets over the past quarter century plus. Unlike some other races we’ll get to later, it was not a challenge to pick three unexpected winners.

The other agenda item here is I’m picking my personal selections for strongest and weakest overall field among the five nominees in the acting derby’s and five-ten for Best Picture.

For starters, here’s the list of women that won gold statues in the supporting race from 1990 to now:

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

1991 – Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

1992 – Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

1993 – Anna Paquin, The Piano

1994 – Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

1995 – Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

1996 – Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

1997 – Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

1998 – Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

2000 – Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

2001 – Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

2002 – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

2003 – Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2004 – Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

2005 – Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

2006 – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

2007 – Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

2008 – Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

2009 – Mo’Nique, Precious

2010 – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

2012 – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

2015 – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

2016 – Viola Davis, Fences

2017 – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

I’ll begin with the least surprising winners. Truthfully, there are plenty of selections (and will be in each race) to pick from here. It’s normal procedure for the front runner to actually win. Here’s three that did just that:

3. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

Of the 28 recipients to choose from, note that 3 of them were under the direction of Woody Allen. None were surprise winners. That’s most evident with Wiest’s showcase work as an aging diva here. Her win here came just eight years following her Oscar winning role in another Allen pic, Hannah and Her Sisters.

2. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Fans of the Broadway play this is based upon knew Ms. Hudson could have a legitimate breakthrough part here. She nailed it and her win was never in much doubt.

1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Similar to Hudson’s victory, Hathaway’s casting as Fantine and her “I Dreamed a Dream” dramatic solo made her the odds-on favorite from the moment the project was announced. That never changed.

Now we get to the upsets and there were four to choose from. I could easily include Anna Paquin in The Piano, who became the second youngest winner when she beat out favorite Winona Ryder for The Age of Innocence. Here’s 3 I rank as even more surprising:

3. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Harden had won no significant precursors and Kate Hudson was expected to have her name called for Almost Famous. She wasn’t even nominated for a Golden Globe or SAG.

2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

While the film itself was the anticipated winner for Picture (which it did), the Oscars were expected to select the legendary Lauren Bacall for her work in Barbra Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yet it was Binoche’s performance that was unexpectedly honored.

1. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

For starters, comedic roles are rarely nominated and wins are even more unheard of. Tomei was a newcomer in a picture that wasn’t a factor in any other category. Her competition was a list of venerable actresses: Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Joan Plowright (Enchanted April), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and Miranda Richardson (Damages). The victory here was so shocking that conspiracy theories emerged that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name. That’s been debunked, but Tomei’s trip to the stage remains one of Oscar’s largest jaw droppers.

As for the fields, I’m going with 1991 for the weakest link in the chain. I probably would have given the award to Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear. However, the group was not particularly strong:

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King (Winner)

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes

For the strongest field overall, I went with 2004 when Cate Blanchett won for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. The other nominees:

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

And there you have it! I’ll have Supporting Actor up soon…

Tomb Raider Movie Review

Tomb Raider finds Alicia Vikander following in the career footsteps of Angelina Jolie – win yourself a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and headline a big-budget adaptation of a well-known video game. Lara Croft is back in a reboot that finds this London girl’s life as a bike courier interrupted by her tomb raidin’ father’s discoveries on a remote island.

Vikander’s Croft has been separated from father Richard (Dominic West) for seven years after he took off on a mission called Himiko and vanished. His task was to locate the resting place of a mythical queen on a remote island who can destroy the world. When Lara finds clues to the island’s whereabouts, she sails off with Hong Kong captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to find it.

Once there, she finds ruthless archaeologist Mathias (Walton Goggins) also looking for the grave. He’s got a group of mercenaries commanding a slave labor force. This portion of the running time could be deemed “Get Back to Work!” on the Blu Ray, since that line of dialogue is shouted loudly and repeatedly. Lara also discovers a lot of Papa Croft’s motivations on the island when not preoccupied by grand action set pieces. Both Mathias and Richard are guilty of neglecting many a daddy/daughter dance due to their occupations.

One of these days, the protagonist in an adventure will be faced with an extremely long jump over an object that is disintegrating quickly. They will make said jump and clear the crumbling item by about ten feet and be shocked by their solid performance skills. In Tomb Raider and everything else, that hurdle is cleared by approximately one inch and then the fall and then the subsequent Herculean effort to pull oneself back up. The first feature where the hero manages to do it with room to spare will elicit deserved laughter from the audience, if set up correctly.

Moving on, Tomb Raider doesn’t reinvent the wheel but earns some points by embracing its video game heritage. There are segments where it truly feels like the action could be generated by a controller. And it’s a testament to the direction of Roar Uthaug, the sturdy work of Vikander, some gorgeous scenery and well-placed humor that Tomb Raider is as engaging as it is. It’s far from perfect, but it’s more impressive than your typical video game adaptation and that includes both of Jolie’s Croft works.

*** (out of four)

Tomb Raider Box Office Prediction

Warner Bros hopes to kick off a new franchise nearly two decades after the first one when Tomb Raider debuts next weekend. Based on the iconic video game, it finds Alicia Vikander in the role of Lara Croft that was first portrayed by Angelina Jolie. Directed by the awesomely named Roar Uthaug, the adventure costars Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Nick Frost, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

In the summer of 2001, original adaptation Lara Croft: Tomb Raider premiered to $47 million with an eventual $131 million overall gross. The 2003 sequel The Cradle of Life experienced a significant dip with a $21 million opening and $65 million total. That was a long time ago and it will be interesting to see if old and new fans of the many video games will turn out.

There is potential for a bigger than anticipated roll out. In fact, the nearly $50 million generated by the first Raider certainly exceeded projections. Yet I believe this is more likely to earn a touch higher than the sequel 15 years ago.

Tomb Raider opening weekend prediction: $26.4 million

For my Love, Simon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/07/love-simon-box-office-prediction/

For my I Can Only Imagine prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/11/i-can-only-imagine-box-office-prediction/

Tulip Fever Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/25): The reported theater count of only 600 screens has caused my revision to be lowered to $1.9 million.

There’s only new picture opening over the long Labor Day weekend and it’s unlikely to blossom into any sort of hit. Justin Chadwick’s Tulip Fever finally makes it to the big screen with a cast that includes Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Matthew Morrison, and Cara Delevingne.

The reported $25 million production from the Weinstein Company has had a long and delayed journey to the silver screen. Tulip was shot over three years ago and was originally slated to debut in theaters last summer before the studio’s financial woes got in the way. It was then rescheduled for February of this year. Finally, it was supposed to debut this coming weekend before the Weinstein Company chose to release it wide (with little fanfare) just days ago as the sole release over the holiday weekend.

This does not bode well for its chances stateside. Even though there’s little competition, I’d say its best scenario is earning the $6.1 million captured by last year’s Labor Day release The Light Between Oceans (also starring Vikander). However, I’m not convinced it even manages that (a theater count when released will help). For now, I’ll say a debut between $4-$5 million is my diagnosis.

Tulip Fever opening weekend prediction: $1.9 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Hazlo Como Hombre prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/28/hazlo-como-hombre-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Light Between Oceans

Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans sure looked like an Oscar contender on paper, but things change quickly in the busy awards derby. Based on a bestselling novel and starring a trio of Oscar winners and nominees, the period piece romance opens Friday. Frankly, I thought it was a bit curious that reviews were embargoed until yesterday.

Now we may know why. Sitting at a so-so 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, many critics haven’t been kind to it. Cianfrance has experienced raves throughout his directorial career with 2010’s Blue Valentine and 2013’s The Place Beyond the Pines (neither received Academy attention, however).

Critics have been gentler with the performers, with Rachel Weisz especially being singled out. She remains a contender in Supporting Actress – albeit a long shot. Fassbender and Vikander appear to be out of the running, as do nods for Picture or Director. Its best chance at recognition probably goes to its composer, Alexandre Desplat. It would mark his ninth nomination.

While La La Land gave us a surefire autumn contender this week, The Light Between Oceans presented quite the opposite.

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!

The Light Between Oceans Box Office Prediction

The Light Between Oceans opens over Labor Day weekend and hopes to bring in a sizable female crowd to combat the typical box office doldrums of this particular holiday weekend. The World War I era romantic drama stars Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender and Oscar winners Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. Based on a 2012 novel by M.L. Stedman, it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance, best known for Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines.

Light‘s best hope at audience exposure should be if reviews are strong and it generates any Oscar buzz. This is an unknown at press time. That said, films that premiere over Labor Day typically have a tough time breaking out (this is a traditionally very slow time at multiplexes). I’ll predict Oceans manages to just break double digits over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend with a couple million added for the Monday extension of the holiday frame.

The Light Between Oceans opening weekend prediction: $9.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $11.3 million (Friday to Monday)

For my Morgan prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/24/morgan-box-office-prediction/