Oscar Predictions: Catherine Called Birdy

Catherine Called Birdy is actually Lena Dunham’s second 2022 directorial feature that she also wrote. Sharp Stick, which began streaming just last month, managed only a 47% Rotten Tomatoes score. The Girls creator might have better luck with Catherine Called Birdy. The medieval times set comedy played the Toronto Film Festival and begins its limited theatrical run tomorrow. Its Amazon Prime premiere is October 7th.

Based on a 1994 children’s novel by Karen Cushman, Bella Ramsey is the title character and the supporting cast includes Andrew Scott, Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ralph Ineson, and Russell Brand. Reviews are certainly sharper than Stick with an 89% RT meter.

I don’t really see this as an Oscar contender, but I wonder if Amazon might attempt a play for Globes attention in the Musical/Comedy race. I doubt if it comes to fruition though the decent buzz doesn’t make it out of the question.My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Good Night Oppy

Ryan White’s documentary Good Night Oppy centers on the Mars rover Opportunity and its decade and a half long journey through the red planet. It played the Telluride and Toronto film festivals and is slated for limited theatrical release on November 4th and Amazon Prime streaming on November 23rd.

Early reviews are mostly solid as it holds a 79% Rotten Tomatoes rating. While that’s certainly decent, there will be plenty of other docs with stronger critical reaction. Yet if it strikes a chord with viewers, perhaps the Academy will put it on their shortlist and maybe even final five. Oppy is also the rare true life tale that could theoretically be a contender for Best Visual Effects. I doubt that will materialize, but it’s at least worth mentioning. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: My Policeman

Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, and David Dawson headline the 1950s set romantic drama My Policeman, which has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival prior to its November 4th debut on Amazon Prime. An October 21st awards qualifying run is also slated. Michael Grandage directs the adaptation of the 2012 novel by Bethan Roberts. Costars include Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett as the older versions of the aforementioned stars.

The tale of forbidden love is getting most of its ink due to Styles playing a homosexual policeman. Yet early reviews are quite mixed on the effectiveness of his performance (Corrin is being called best in show). The Rotten Tomatoes meter for the film itself is a mere 47%.

Unless it gets a random Costume Design or Production Design nod (which I doubt), we can likely discount My Policeman to get on the blotter of awards voters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Nanny

Nikyatu Jusu’s directorial debut Nanny first drew viewers earlier this year at Sundance and will be screened in Toronto next week. Anna Diop stars as a Senegalese caretaker working for an affluent NYC family. Their arrangement appears, judging from the trailer, to morph into arthouse horror territory. Costars include Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, and Morgan Spector.

After its festival run, Nanny is slated for a limited November 23rd theatrical run before its streaming rollout on December 16th via Amazon Prime. Reviews are continuing to pop up as it plays other fests throughout the country and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 90%. It won the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The last two winners of that award were the Best Picture nominated Minari in 2020 and last year’s CODA which, of course, took home the Academy’s biggest prize. I would also note that the five winners before that came nowhere near a BP nod.

Diop is receiving raves along with appreciation for Jusu’s original screenplay. Nanny would really need some high profile love from critics groups before I’d consider entering this into Academy chatter. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but I wouldn’t count on it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Oscar Predictions: August 10th Edition

For my first Oscar analysis in the 8 major categories for the month of August, the ten BP contenders remain the same. However, Everything Everywhere All at Once moves to #2 with Babylon slipping a spot to third. I truly do believe there’s a path for Once to take the top prize next year depending on how the next five months of releases play out.

At the end of July, I vaulted Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans to #1 in BP. Today I’m putting the filmmaker in first with Babylon‘s Damien Chazelle now in second.

While my lead actress and actor picks remain unaltered, there is movement in both supporting derbies. In Supporting Actress, Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Griselda Sicillani (Bardo) are in my projected quintet with Hong Chau (The Whale) and Zoe Kazan (She Said) falling out. In Supporting Actor, I’m switching Empire of Light costars with Michael Ward making the cut over Colin Firth.

Finally, I’ve taken Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives out of contention in all categories where I previously had it listed as a possibility. If Amazon Prime mounts a campaign later this year, it could find itself back in the mix. I wouldn’t count on it despite its solid reviews.

Expect another update in the next week or two! You can peruse all the movement below:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Babylon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Son (PR: 6) (E)

7. Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Whale (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. White Noise (PR: 12) (+1)

12. She Said (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Elvis (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (-1)

16. Decision to Leave (PR: 16) (E)

17. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 18) (+1)

18. Bones and All (PR: 20) (+2)

19. Till (PR: 19) (E)

20. Broker (PR: 17) (-3)

21. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 22) (+1)

22. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 23) (+1)

23. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

24. The Woman King (PR: 24) (E)

25. Amsterdam (PR: 21) (-4)

Dropped Out:

Thirteen Lives 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 8) (E)

9. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (+1)

11. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9 (-2)

12. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 12) (E)

13. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Maria Schrader, She Said (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Bax Luhrmann, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Hirokazu Kore-eda, Broker

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 9) (E)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 10) (E)

11. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Frances McDormand, Women Talking (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Florence Pugh, The Wonder (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling

Emma Corrin, Lady Chatterley’s Lover 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 1) (E)

4. Damien Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (E)

11. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Timothee Chalamet, Bones and All (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Harry Styles, My Policeman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Griselda Sicillani, Bardo (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Samantha Morton, She Said (PR: +2)

14. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Patricia Clarkson, She Said 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 10) (+6)

5. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: 9) (-2)

12. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 15) (+3)

13. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Don Cheadle, White Noise (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 13) (-2)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (E)

7. Decision to Leave (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Bardo (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Tar (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Menu (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Broker (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 15) (+3)

13. Bros (PR: 13) (E)

14. Amsterdam (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Whale (PR: 3) (E)

4. White Noise (PR: 4) (E)

5. She Said (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bones and All (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 7) (E)

8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 8) (-2)

11. Living (PR: 14) (+3)

12. The Lost King (PR: Not Ranked)

13. The Woman King (PR: 13) (E)

14. Blonde (PR: 15) (+1)

15. The Good Nurse (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Thirteen Lives 

Oscar Predictions: Thirteen Lives

Ron Howard is no stranger to Academy voters as 1995’s Apollo 13 was his first effort to nab a Best Picture nomination. Six years later in 2001, A Beautiful Mind won the big prize as did the former child star for his direction. It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Frost/Nixon and that was his last title to compete for BP.

On paper, Thirteen Lives looks like a contender. On the flip side, so did Hillbilly Elegy two years ago and it only managed a Supporting Actress nod for Glenn Close and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Following its limited release on July 29th, Lives streams on Amazon beginning August 5th. The true life survival tale recounts the events of the Tham Luang cave rescue of 2018. Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgerton costar. Early reviews are decent but perhaps a tad deceiving. The current 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating masks the fact that several critics claim it’s merely serviceable. While it might be a crowdpleaser, the initial reaction leads me to think voters won’t take the bait.

There’s lots of mentions of last year’s documentary The Rescue which covered the same subject matter. That film surprisingly missed the cut for Documentary Feature. It won’t be unexpected when Thirteen Lives misses Best Picture. Perhaps a tech nod (Sound?) could materialize. I wouldn’t count on it. In my Sunday update, I had Lives listed in the Other Possibilities section for Picture, Actor (Mortensen), Supporting Actor (Farrell), and screenplay. Don’t be surprised if they all fall out of contention in my next update. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

All the Old Knives Review

I’ve watched sharper spy games than All the Old Knives, but it’s a durable diversionary thriller with a solid spark between its two leads. From Danish filmmaker Janus Metz Pedersen, Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton are coworkers and lovers who break up over a seized flight (that old chestnut).

Some explanation is warranted. In 2012, CIA officer Henry Pelham (Pine) is in an office romance with analyst Celia Harrison (Newton). Stationed in scenic Vienna (this a lovely looking picture), the seizure and tragic ending of the hijack leads to suspicions that someone on the team leaked intel to the terrorists. Perhaps it’s Harry or maybe it’s Celia. There’s also higher ups played by Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Pryce.

In 2020, Harry’s got a few more gray hairs while Celia is married with kids in California. She’s far removed from government employment while her ex is still investigating the near decade old case. This brings the pair together in a near deserted fancy restaurant for an interrogation or a bubbly fueled rekindling… or both.

Knives slashes back and forth between these events as twists fill up as frequently as the former couple’s wine glasses. Surprisingly light on action, the screenplay might get drowned out if there wasn’t adequate chemistry between the stars. Luckily there is and it was enough to keep me guessing. Pine missed the mark once as a better known CIA agent in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This one hits the target more often.

*** (out of four)


Oscar Predictions: Lucy and Desi

At last weekend’s Oscars, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem were both nominated as Lucy (as in Lucille Ball) and Desi (as in Arnaz) for Being the Ricardos. We could see the couple/sitcom stars represented at next year’s ceremony in documentary form.

Lucy and Desi premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime. It was directed by another famed TV comedienne – Amy Poehler. Reviews stand at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Docs about notable entertainment subjects often fail to garner the attention of Academy voters. Recent omissions from the five nominees in the race include Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Mister Rogers) and Julia (2021’s feature about Julia Child). Despite the pleasing critical reaction, I suspect Lucy and Desi could suffer the same fate. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Being the Ricardos

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Sorkin could be in line for their respective fifth acting and writing nods at the Oscars with Being the Ricardos. The biopic, out December 10 in limited fashion before its Amazon Prime premiere December 21, centers on Kidman’s Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem’s Desi.

After generating some casting controversy ink for its leads, an early screening this weekend has been met with positive social media reaction. It indicates Kidman has a better chance at making the top five in Best Actress than I originally anticipated. If so, this would mark her fifth nod overall after winning 19 years ago for The Hours (the others were in lead with Moulin Rouge! and Rabbit Hole and supporting for Lion).

Bardem’s inclusion could be a less likely scenario though not impossible if voters fall hard for the pic. A Supporting Actor victor for 2007’s No Country for Old Men, he’s a two-time Actor contestant with Before Nights Falls and Biutiful. 

In a Supporting Actor race that’s seemingly wide open, J.K. Simmons (playing William Frawley) could be back seven years after his gold statue for Whiplash. Same goes for Nina Arianda’s Vivian Vance though it is worth noting there’s several viable possibilities in Supporting Actress.

As for the writer/director, I’d say Sorkin’s original screenplay has a far better shot at making it than his behind the camera work. That’s similar to his trajectory last year when his penmanship of The Trial of the Chicago 7 received a nomination. He’s thrice been up before with his screenplays for The Social Network (where he won), Moneyball, and Molly’s Game. 

Last and certainly not least, the Academy often falls for fare about its own industry and a Best Picture nod is not out of the question. I’ve yet to list Ricardos in my top 15. Look for that to change on Thursday when I update and you can certainly anticipate its quartet of actors to rise. My Oscar Predictions for the films of 2021 will continue…

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…