Oscar Predictions: The Tender Bar

George Clooney’s The Tender Bar opens in limited release this December before its premiere on Amazon Prime in early January. The coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s and 80s screened at the London Film Festival over the weekend. Early reviews indicate a warm hearted tale that is unlikely to play in the highest profile races like Picture and Director.

Its famous director wooed Oscar voters 16 years ago with his second effort Good Night, and Good Luck. Scoring six nods (including Picture and Director) and winning none, it’s been slim pickings for Clooney’s behind the camera efforts ever since. 2011’s The Ides of March nabbed a sole Adapted Screenplay mention while last year’s The Midnight Sky made the cut in Visual Effects.

As I see it, The Tender Bar could play in two categories. The first is the screenplay adapted by William Monahan. He’s no stranger to Academy attention as he won in 2006 for his penmanship of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Inclusion there is less likely than for one of its performers.

That would be Ben Affleck. Another leading man turned writer/director, Affleck has a deep history with Oscar voters that has nothing to do with his acting. In 1997, his Good Will Hunting script with Matt Damon won. Fifteen years later, he directed and produced (hence a second trophy) Best Picture winner Argo. Surprisingly, he didn’t get a spot for his direction.

With a cast featuring Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, and Christopher Lloyd, the initial critical praise is being heaped upon Affleck. That’s in addition to some kudos for his supporting work in The Last Duel (out this weekend). Mr. Affleck has been on the radar screen before for his performances – think Hollywoodland, Argo, and last year’s The Way Back. Yet he’s never made the dance. As of now, the Supporting Actor derby for 2021 looks wide open. I’d go as far to say there’s no guaranteed nominees (though Jamie Dornan in Belfast and Richard Jenkins in The Humans look probable). I’ve had Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) listed at #1 for two months, but we still don’t know if his role is meaty enough to truly contend.

This could all contribute to Affleck finally getting some Academy TLC. That said, he’s been in the mix before and come up shy. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Mad Women’s Ball

Stateside audiences may know Melanie Laurent best as Shosanna in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but the French actress has been directing in her native county for a decade now. Following Adopted (2011) and Respire (2014), her latest is The Mad Women’s Ball and it is streaming on Amazon Prime as of yesterday.

Laurent costars in the thriller that premiered days ago in Toronto. Costarring Lou de Laage and Emmanuelle Bercot, Ball currently has a 77% Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s under her predecessor Respire (93%). I’m not so sure France will even submit this for the Academy’s consideration in International Feature Film and this appears unlikely to find its way on ballots in any other categories.

My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Benedict Cumberbatch is primed to receive his second Best Actor nod (after 2014’s The Imitation Game) for his work in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. It screened at Venice this week, but it’s not the only title headlined by the star.

The other is The Electrical Life of Louis Wain where Cumberbatch plays the real life title character of the English artist known for his cat drawings. Will Sharpe directs and the supporting cast includes Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Sharon Rooney, and Toby Jones. It hits theaters in mid October with an Amazon Prime streaming premiere in early November.

Early reviews are mixed. I don’t anticipate this getting any life with awards voters in any category. Bottom line: Cumberbatch should get a tuxedo or two or three ready for next year. And it will be for Dog and not the one about the guy known for cats. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Cinderella

Critics don’t seem overly charmed with the latest version of Cinderella, which hits Amazon Prime this weekend after slipping out of a theatrical release. The musical rom com casts singer Camila Cabello in the title role with a supporting cast including Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Billy Porter, and Pierce Brosnan. Kay Cannon writes and directs.

The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 45%. However, the would-be princess’s new iteration could at least make a case for some awards chatter. That would be in the category of Costume Design (where critical reaction doesn’t mean a whole lot). The better reviewed Disney live-action retelling from 2015 scored a nod there. However, I would say it’s chances are fairly slim. Cruella already has a reserved spot in all likelihood. And then there’s hopefuls such as The French Dispatch, House of Gucci, West Side Story, Dune, and The Last Duel (to name a handful).

Cinderella‘s shots don’t quite end there. Cabello recently debuted an original song “Million to One” for the soundtrack (which mostly consists of contemporary covers of tracks such as Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” and Queen’s “Somebody to Love”). This is another race where the level of forthcoming competition could determine its viability.

Bottom line: Cinderella could find its way into two categories, but I wouldn’t bet on it. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Ahead of its September 17th bow on Amazon Prime, the musical drama Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has premiered at Outfest this weekend. Based on a London stage play, Jamie centers on a 16-year-old (Max Harwood) who dreams of becoming a drag queen.

Early reviews are positive. Yet I’m not picking up a vibe where Academy inclusion is much of a possibility. In the three Thursdays where I’ve done my weekly predictions, I thought supporting player Richard E. Grant stood the greatest chance at a nod. Three years ago, Grant nabbed a nomination as Supporting Actor for Can You Ever Forgive Me? (losing to Mahershala Ali for Green Book). However, critical praise is mostly focused on young lead Harwood. I’ve had Grant listed at #7 in possibilities. Don’t be surprised if he drops out entirely when I do my updates in five days.

So could Harwood get in? Doubtful as I see plenty of upcoming hopefuls in Best Actor. Where Jamie could show up is Original Song. The film mixes tracks from the stage with a new one titled “This Was Me”. That could be where Amazon really focuses its campaign.

Bottom line: while critics are being kind – I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of Oscar voters to be talking about Jamie a few months down the road. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Val

Despite acclaimed performances in The Doors, Tombstone, and others, Val Kilmer has never been on the radar screen of awards voters. He’s also appeared in blockbusters like Top Gun, Batman Forever, and Heat, but his career faded in the late 90s after reports of him being difficult to work with became more prevalent. This week at the Cannes Film Festival, a documentary which Kilmer mostly shot himself could kick off an unexpected career resurgence (that and this fall’s Top Gun: Maverick). Val debuts in theaters on July 23 before its Amazon Prime streaming premiere on August 6.

Directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, this is a look at the performer’s life onscreen and off and it’s primarily derived from Kilmer himself being a prolific amateur videographer. Early reviews indicate it’s a unique and often moving portrait of a complicated figure. It stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Will the documentary branch of the Academy take notice? It’s certainly possible. After all, Hollywood in general digs features about their own. Val, from initial buzz, sounds like a fascinating one. And it could finally put its subject in the Oscar chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Annette

Vive la France!

The film community (and Oscar prognosticators like yours truly) are experiencing another return to normalcy today as the Cannes Film Festival kicked off today. The French fest is starting two months later than we are accustomed to, but it’s in-person and showcasing at least a handful of potential awards contenders.

The 2020 Cannes experience, before its cancellation, was supposed to feature Leos Carax’s Annette. The acclaimed auteur makes his English language debut in this musical headlined by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Early reviews are up and they indicate this will be a polarizing picture. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 85% for the moment.

Driver stars as a comedian (nearly all critics compare his character to Andy Kaufman) in a bad romance with Cotillard’s opera singer. This sounds like a meaty and memorable role for Driver. I’ll let you read about what he’s doing during a particular number called “We Love Each Other So Much”. Buzz indicates Cotillard (a Best Actress winner in 2007 for La Vie en Rose and nominee in 2014 for Two Days, One Night) may not have enough of a role to compete for a third recognition. If so, it would probably come in Supporting Actress. Some reviews have praised Simon Helberg’s supporting role. The Big Bang Theory costar likely came close to a nod for 2016’s Florence Foster Jenkins. This would have to generate a lot of love for him to be a factor.

That leaves Driver and his biggest 2021 competition could be himself. He will appear this autumn in not one, but two eagerly awaited Ridley Scott directed hopefuls. This includes a possibility at Supporting Actor in The Last Duel and especially in the lead derby for House of Gucci. If the latter doesn’t become a serious contender, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him gather his third try at gold in the past four years. Driver nabbed a supporting mention for 2018’s BlacKkKlansman and the following year in the lead with Marriage Story. 

There could be numerous potential slots for its original songs which were composed by rock band Sparks (they’re subject to an appreciated documentary out now made by Edgar Wright). Initial attention includes numerous shoutouts to opening tune “So May We Start”.

Some of the raves indicate that the Cannes crowd may eat this up more than the Academy. Expect the chatter to include some pining for its inclusion in the ten Best Pic finalists and others saying it has no place there. Amazon Studios, which will put this in theaters August 6 and on their streaming service two weeks later, will need to mount quite a campaign for it to make the cut.

Bottom line: hey, festivals are back and I’m loving it! Not everyone is loving Annette, but there’s enough admirers early on to keep it on the radar. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Tomorrow War

Chris Pratt is no stranger to his pictures getting nominated in the Visual Effects race at the Oscars. However, this is limited to his participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe via Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Neither Jurassic World or its sequel made the VE cut.

Mr. Pratt headlines another sci-fi spectacle with The Tomorrow War, debuting on Amazon Prime today. Budgeted in the $200 million range, the pic comes from Chris McKay (making his live-action directorial debut after helming The Lego Batman Movie). Costars include Yvonne Strahovski, Betty Gilpin, and J.K. Simmons. Originally slated for a December 2020 theatrical release, Tomorrow was relegated to streaming due to its COVID delay. It’s now out on Independence Day weekend and some critics have compared it to the 1996 summer blockbuster that shares its name with the holiday.

When it comes to awards attention, Visual Effects is the only possibility here. Reviews are middling as it currently sits at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. The VE branch can be an unpredictable one (remember that Love and Monsters nod last year?). That said, my hunch is that Tomorrow will be ignored by voters months down the line. The competition should be steep (more so than last year) with Dune, Eternals, Top Gun: Maverick, and others.

Bottom line: expect the MCU to still be Pratt’s filmography represented when it comes to souped up special effects.

The Boss Baby: Family Business Box Office Prediction

The Boss Baby: Family Business looks to pacify little ones and their parents over the Independence Day weekend. The DreamWorks animated sequel follows up on the March 2017 pic which greatly over performed with its target audience. Alec Baldwin is back voicing the title character alongside James Marsden, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, Eva Longoria, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and Jeff Goldblum. Tom McGrath resumes directorial duties.

In the spring of 2017, The Boss Baby was projected to earn around $30 million for its start. However, it blew past those estimates with $50.2 million in its opening frame and eventually took in $175 million domestically. Several factors are likely to complicate that kind of debut for part II.

For one, some of the little viewers who flocked to see it are four years older now. COVID-19 is still somewhat limiting potential. This was originally slated for March before its pandemic related delay. Family Business is also hitting streamer Peacock on the same day and some may simply choose to hold their Baby viewing from the comfort of home. That said, Peacock is not anywhere in the spectator realm of the big boys like Netflix, Amazon, or HBO Max as of yet.

Estimates have this reaching approximately $20 million over the holiday. I’ll give it a slight Baby bump considering its predecessor easily managed to top forecasts.

The Boss Baby: Family Business opening weekend prediction: $21.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Forever Purge prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/23/the-forever-purge-box-office-prediction/

Oscars 2020: The Case of Leslie Odom Jr.

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s performance as crooner Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami is my third writeup for Supporting Actor contenders at the Oscars. If you missed my first two covering Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/07/oscars-2020-the-case-of-daniel-kaluuya/

The Case for Leslie Odom, Jr.:

It was a sterling 2020 for the performer with his critically hailed work as Cooke in Regina King’s Amazon Prime drama. This is in addition to reminding viewers of his heralded take on Aaron Burr in Hamilton (which drew new viewers in its Disney+ filmed version). He’s managed mentions in all the significant precursors (BAFTA, Globes, SAG, Critics Choice).

The Case Against Leslie Odom, Jr.:

This category has a major frontrunner with Daniel Kaluuya, who has cleaned up in the precursor action. Miami also fell short of expectations on Oscar morning by missing an anticipated Best Picture nod and recognition for King.

The Verdict

Anyone not named Daniel Kaluuya is not expected to make a trip to the podium this year.

My Case Of posts will continue with Thomas Vinterberg’s direction of Another Round…