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 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…

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 6th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions begin with a blogger’s note. For the past two and a half months, I’ve been providing these updates each Thursday. This will now switch to every Friday (busy work schedule is the reason).

And we move on with a significant development in the rankings. For the first time since I began these predictions, the #1 slot for Best Picture is not named Mank. The David Fincher Netflix pic had its official review embargo lift today. Some of the critical reaction is excellent. Other write-ups, while still overwhelmingly positive, call into question whether this will take the biggest prize of all. It certainly still could in my estimation, but I’m currently giving an ever so slight advantage to Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland (and with The Trial of the Chicago 7 not far behind). I am still listing Fincher in top position with Director as I could envision a victory being a partial career achievement award. That said, Zhao is right on his heels as she would be the second female filmmaker ever to take the gold.

We continue to Best Actor as Amazon has confirmed the acting placements for the performers in Regina King’s One Night in Miami. Of note is that Kingsley Ben-Adir will be campaigned for in Best Actor with Leslie Odom Jr. vying for Supporting Actor. In my view, this increases the chances for both to make the cut as they won’t be competing against each other. Odom was already on my Supporting list last week. Ben-Adir jumps into the Actor final five and that’s to the detriment of Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluuya could absolutely still get in, but there’s uncertainty as to whether he will be campaigned for in Actor or Supporting Actor. There’s also no confirmation yet as to when Warner Bros. will release the picture. So for now, he’s on the outside looking in until further information is provided.

The Actress and Supporting Actress contests remain the same without even any ranking alterations. That’s not to indicate those races aren’t fluid. There just wasn’t anything major in the past week to shift my thinking in the past 8 days.

Finally, Disney has delayed the release dates of both Death on the Nile and Free Guy to 2021 TBD. The former was a potential nominee in several tech races such as Costume Design and Production Design. The latter could have been a hopeful in Visual Effects.

And with that, let’s get to the guesstimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. News of the World (PR: 4)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

7. The Father (PR: 7)

8. Minari (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

12. Soul (PR: 12)

13. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

14. The White Tiger (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: 15)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

8. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 7)

9. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 6)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

9. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

4. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 4)

5. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Supporting Actor)

Other Possibilities:

6. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

9. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 8)

10. George Clooney, The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tom Holland, Cherry

Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

7. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Nicole Kidman, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

5. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

7. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

8. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: 9)

10. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (moved to Best Actor)

Best Original Screenplay 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 6)

8. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 4)

4. Onward (PR: 3)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Connected (PR: 6)

7. Lupin III: The First (PR: 8)

8. The Willoughbys (PR: 7)

9. Bombay Rose (PR: 9)

10. Earwig and the Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 1)

2. Totally Under Control (PR: 3)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 2)

4. The Dissident (PR: 5)

5. Boys State (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Time (PR: 7)

8. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

9. 76 Days (PR: 8)

10. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. New Order (PR: 2)

3. Another Round (PR: 3)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. My Little Sister (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Disciple (PR: 6)

7. Night of the Kings (PR: 5)

8. True Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 10)

10. Atlantis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Wife of a Spy

A Sun

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Tenet (PR: 6)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 5)

5. Rebecca (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

7. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 7)

8. News of the World (PR: 10)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Death on the Nile

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 4)

7. Tenet (PR: 6)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

3. Mank (PR: 6)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

5. Coming 2 America (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 2)

8. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Mulan (PR: 7)

10. Ammonite (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Emma

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Soul (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Tenet (PR: 4)

5. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

7. Minari (PR: 5)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

One Night in Miami

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

5. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Love Myself” from The High Note (PR: 10)

9. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 8)

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

3. Mulan (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 6)

5. Rebecca (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 8)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 5)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Tenet (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 6)

4. Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 4)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Greyhound (PR: 8)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Invisible Man

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 6)

4. Mulan (PR: 3)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 4)

8. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 8)

10. Dolittle (PR: 9)

And this equates to these pictures nabbing the following numbers of nods:

12 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

News of the World

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

Nomadland, One Night in Miami

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father

4 Nominations

Tenet

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, The Midnight Sky, Mulan, Soul

2 Nominations

The Life Ahead, Minari, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Rebecca

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Ammonite, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Coming 2 America, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, My Little Sister, New Order, On the Rocks, Onward, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Sound of Metal, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: Time

Garrett Bradley’s documentary Time hit streaming on Amazon Prime this month after winning accolades earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Focused on a wife trying to free her husband from a 60-year prison sentence, the pic earned Bradley the directing prize for its genre at the aforementioned fest in January. She is the first African American female to win the prize.

Time stands at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes with 90 reviews up. As the Documentary Feature category is still taking shape, this joins several others as legit possibilities. It has yet to enter my top ten contenders in my weekly Thursday estimates, but expect that to change in the next write-up. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: I’m Your Woman

Rachel Brosnahan has collected an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her small screen work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Julia Hart’s 1970s set crime drama I’m Your Woman marks her first starring role in a feature. Prior to its December streaming release from Amazon Studios, the pic screened yesterday at the AFI Fest.

Reviews thus far are of a mixed nature. Some critics are comparing it to the work of John Cassavates while others aren’t near as kind. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 60%. As has been discussed before on the blog, Best Actress appears to be a crowded field in 2020. While I imagine Amazon will push Brosnahan for attention, I have yet to list her in the top ten possibilities for the race. Based on the varied reaction, I don’t expect that to change and I especially don’t envision a scenario where she approaches the final five. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch – All In: The Fight for Democracy

Streaming on Amazon Prime since September, the political doc All In: The Fight for Democracy is establishing itself as a real contender in awards season. Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes, the pic focuses on voter suppression and features Georgia’s recent gubernatorial race with Stacey Abrams (who shares a producer credit).

Democracy has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and co-director Garbus is no stranger to Academy attention. She’s been nominated twice for 1998’s The Farm: Angola, USA and 2015’s What Happened, Miss Simone? In this heightened electoral climate, this could easily make the final cut in the Documentary Feature race and I currently have it listed in fourth for possibilities. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed has seen his profile rise in recent years with roles in Nightcrawler, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Venom. On the small screen, he is an Emmy winner for his work on HBO’s The Night Of. And now he could receive the attention of Academy voters with Darius Marder’s upcoming Sound of Metal.

The film casts Ahmed as the drummer of a band who begins to lose his hearing. Costars include Olivia Cooke and Mathieu Amalric. Metal first screened at the Toronto Film Festival over a year ago. Critics responded favorably with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes score with most of the reviews heaping praise on its lead.

It was recently announced that Amazon had picked up distribution rights. After a short theatrical run in November, it will be available for streaming in early December. Translation: expect an Oscar push for Ahmed. And it could work. At the moment, Best Actor appears less crowded than Actress. Beyond Anthony Hopkins in The Father (surefire nominee) and Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods (likely nominee), the race looks wide open. Ahmed is an up and comer and with the right campaign, he could find himself in the mix. Two weeks ago, I had him listed 15th of 15 Actor hopefuls. Last week, that rose to 12th. On Thursday, I will whittle my contenders down to ten and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s listed.

Furthermore, the storyline to Metal could lend itself to a Best Sound nomination. This is the first year where Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are being combined into one race. While this category is normally reserved for big budget blockbusters and sci-fi material, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this make a legit play. Bottom line: Ahmed’s work and the sound techs have a shot here. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Aeronauts

Flying into Telluride this weekend is the hot air balloon adventure The Aeronauts, which reunites The Theory of Everything costars Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne. The Amazon Studios production comes with high hopes (a reported $80 million budget) and early reviews suggest it’s fast paced and fun entertainment. Tom Harper directs. Earlier this year, he put out the indie country music drama Wild Rose with an acclaimed performance from Jessie Buckley.

Jones and Redmayne both nabbed Academy nods five years ago for Theory with the latter winning Best Actor. Since then, they’ve moved on to franchise material like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the Fantastic Beasts pics. Their reunion is highly unlikely to make them return nominees.

If The Aeronauts can factor in anywhere, perhaps it’s Visual Effects. Yet that could be a tall order considering competition that could include heavy hitters such as Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, and this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Production Design and Costume Design might be reachable as well. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…