95th Academy Awards Nominations Reaction

It was a glorious performance for Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin with this morning’s Oscar nominations. Both pics were up everywhere they needed to be for everything to potentially win the big prize on March 12th.

There were also strong showings for All Quiet on the Western Front, Elvis, The Fabelmans, and Top Gun: Maverick. However, it’s fair to say that each missed a key race or two that would’ve helped for their Best Picture viability.

As far as my own showing, I went 79 for 105 in my projections. I’ll take it though it’s slightly under my 82/105 performance from the previous year. One bright spot: no 2 for 5’s as I’d experienced a couple of times in preceding years.

Let’s walk through each race one by one with initial thoughts, shall we?

Best Picture

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, Women Talking

How I Did: 8/10

No real shockers. The movies that I had listed 11th and 12th (Avatar and Women Talking) made it over my selections of Babylon and The Whale. I went a little bold omitting Water in the first place.

As hinted at, I’m seeing this as between Everything and Banshees with Fabelmans as a potential spoiler (and maybe Maverick if I’m feeling bold).

Best Director

The Nominees: Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Todd Field (Tár), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ruben Ostlund (Triangle of Sadness), Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

How I Did: 4/5

The Daniels v. Spielberg is where this may come down to. All Quiet had a solid morning, but Edward Berger missing (I predicted him) likely eliminates it as a BP winner. Ostlund gets in instead.

Best Actress

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Tár), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

How I Did: 3/5

In just the last few days, there was an organic (?) campaign launched for Riseborough by plenty of famous faces. She was nowhere near the radar for the bulk of the season. Her inclusion might alter how campaigns look in the future. Williams (who was looking shaky) and Riseborough make it over my predictions of Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till). Both of their pics were shutout completely. As for who makes the podium trip, it’s either Blanchett or Yeoh.

Best Actor

The Nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), Bill Nighy (Living)

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

For most prognosticators, this came down to Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick vs. Mescal for the fifth slot. It wasn’t to be for a fourth Cruise nod. For Mescal and Nighy, it’s an honor to be in the quintet. The race is between Butler and Farrell and Fraser (who have all nabbed key precursors). FYI – this entire lineup is first-time nominees and 16 of the acting nominees are newbies (which is very high).

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Hong Chau (The Whale), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

How I Did: 4/5

Hsu, who was my alternate, is in over Triangle‘s Dolly De Leon. If you’d told me De Leon’s movie would get Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay – I would’ve been even more confident she’d make it. With victories already at the Globes and Critics Choice, Bassett is the frontrunner.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

How I Did: 4/5

Henry gets the unanticipated nod over my pick of Paul Dano in The Fabelmans (many had Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse projected here). This is, frankly, the simplest acting derby to call and it is Quan.

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, Triangle of Sadness

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

The expected five as the Banshees v Everything showdown could be a clue during the night as to what wins BP at the end of it.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Living, Top Gun: Maverick, Women Talking

How I Did: 3/5

Maverick and All Quiet over She Said (which was shut out) and The Whale. Considering Women Talking made it in the BP ten, it could get the gold in this race and this one only since it received the least amount of nods (2) for the BP hopefuls. As an aside, there’s always a screenplay contender that gets no other noms anywhere else. This year it was Glass Onion.

Best Animated Feature

The Nominees: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Sea Beast, Turning Red

How I Did: 4/5

Pinocchio should take this, but this marks its only nod (it was expected to contend for Song and some techs). I had gone with Netflix’s Wendell and Wild for the fifth spot over Netflix’s The Sea Beast.

Best International Feature Film

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close, EO, The Quiet Girl

How I Did: 3/5

Here’s where there was a total surprise with Decision to Leave getting snubbed. I would’ve had it as the runner-up possibility to win over All Quiet (easily the favorite). I didn’t have Close or EO (though neither is unexpected). In addition to Decision, I also had Joyland.

Best Documentary Feature

The Nominees: All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Fire of Love, A House Made of Splinters, Navalny

How I Did: 4/5

Had Descendant instead of Splinters. There’s a path to victory for everything but Splinters in my view.

Best Cinematography

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Bardo, Elvis, Empire of Light, Tár

How I Did: 3/5

Top Gun: Maverick missing is baffling considering it was a major threat to win. It misses along with The Batman in favor of Bardo and Tár. I wouldn’t discount Empire for the victory though Quiet could make noise in this one.

Best Costume Design

The Nominees: Babylon, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

How I Did: 4/5

Everything‘s over performance is evident. I had The Woman King instead. The first three alphabetically are your possible winners.

Best Film Editing

The Nominees: The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick

How I Did: 3/5

In years past, getting an editing nod is often needed if you want to take BP. So it’s bad news for All Quiet and The Fabelmans. Banshees and Tár join the lineup in their place. Elvis, Everything, and Maverick all possibilities.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Elvis, The Whale

How I Did: 4/5

Had Amsterdam and not Quiet. Elvis or The Whale are most likely.

Best Original Score

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans

How I Did: 3/5

Considering it made BP, I didn’t think Women Talking would miss. I also had Pinocchio but it’s All Quiet and Everything. This could be the sole Oscar for Babylon.

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, “This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once

How I Did: 4/5

Had Pinocchio‘s “Ciao Papa” and not the Everything tune. Despite big names like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and producer Diane Warren in the mix, “Naatu Naatu” has taken the precursors.

Best Production Design

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, Elvis, The Fabelmans

How I Did: 4/5

A rare occurrence as I had Everything projected and it didn’t make it. All Quiet materializes instead. This could be Elvis or maybe a second shot for Babylon.

Best Sound

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Batman, Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick

How I Did: 4/5

The sound you hear when the envelope opens might be Maverick‘s only victory (now that Cinematography is impossible). I had EEAAO and not The Batman.

Best Visual Effects

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Top Gun: Maverick

How I Did: 3/5

Had the wrong MCU pic with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and not Panther. All Quiet is also in and I had Thirteen Lives. This should be the Avatar trophy.

That means these movies ended up garnering these numbers in terms of nominations:

11 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

9 Nominations

All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin

8 Nominations

Elvis

7 Nominations

The Fabelmans

6 Nominations

Tár, Top Gun: Maverick

5 Nominations

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

4 Nominations

Avatar: The Way of Water

3 Nominations

Babylon, The Batman, Triangle of Sadness, The Whale

2 Nominations

Living, Women Talking

1 Nomination

Aftersun, All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Argentina, 1985, Bardo, Blonde, Causeway, Close, Empire of Light, EO, Fire of Love, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, A House Made of Splinters, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Navalny, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Quiet Girl, RRR, The Sea Beast, Tell It Like a Woman, To Leslie, Turning Red

So what’s next? Followers of the blog may recall that I will soon begin my “Case Of” posts. That’s 35 separate write-ups making the case for and against all contenders in Picture, Director, and the four acting competitions. Stay tuned!

95th Academy Awards Predictions: January 16th Edition

It has been two weeks since my last Oscar predictions and a lot has transpired since. The Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards aired. SAG nominations came out. So did the BAFTA shortlists and PGA and DGA contenders.

All of this has made the puzzle a little clearer. Yet the fact remains – Oscar will Oscar when noms are released in a week. This is my penultimate forecast. Final predictions will arrive this weekend. Tonight’s estimates are your last look at rankings. It will simply be the listed picks a few days from now with commentary and a runner-up projection in each feature film category.

Here’s the latest developments as we are almost at the end of the line:

The Whale rises as it is back in my top 10 BP nominees. Women Talking falls out. A similar scenario in Supporting Actress as The Whale‘s Hong Chau is in over Women Talking‘s Claire Foy. After victories at the Globes and Critics Choice, Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) vaults over Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) for the #1 slot in Supporting Actress.

On the other hand, I’m putting Austin Butler (Elvis) back in first over Brendan Fraser (The Whale). This is essentially a coin flip with Colin Farrell from Banshees as a legit spoiler.

Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front) returns to the directorial quintet and James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water) is out.

In Actress, Viola Davis (The Woman King) at last makes the cut with Margot Robbie (Babylon) dropping. That’s not the only news in this derby. I almost went with Ana de Armas (Blonde) instead of Davis. And there’s the recent development of Andrea Riseborough’s online campaign for the micro budget indie drama To Leslie. Numerous performers, including Cate Blanchett, have boarded the Riseborough bandwagon. Two weeks ago – she was on no one’s radar screen. Now the buzz is enough to put her in 8th.

You can read all the movement below and look for those FINAL predictions this weekend!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tár (PR: 5) (E)

6. Elvis (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 6) (-1)

8. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 10) (+2)

9. The Whale (PR: 12) (+3)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

11. Babylon (PR: 11) (E)

12. RRR (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Women Talking (PR: 8) (-5)

14. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 14) (E)

15. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Woman King

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

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

3. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Todd Field, Tár (PR: 4) (E)

5. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (+3)

8. S.S. Rajamouli, RRR (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Baz Luhrmann, Elvis (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Sarah Polley, Women Talking

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cate Blanchett, Tár (PR: 1) (E)

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

3. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 4) (E)

5. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Naomi Ackie, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway

Emma Thompson, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: 6) (E)

7. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 7) (E)

8. Adam Sandler, Hustle (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Tom Hanks, A Man Called Otto (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 4) (+3)

2. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 9) (+5)

5. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Janelle Monáe, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: 5) (-4)

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

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (E)

5. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway (PR: 6) (-2)

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

10. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Tár (PR: 4) (E)

5. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aftersun (PR: 6) (E)

7. Babylon (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Decision to Leave (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Menu (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Armageddon Time (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Bardo

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Whale (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 2) (-1)

4. She Said (PR: 4) (E)

5. Living (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities

6. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. White Noise (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 9) (E)

10. Bones and All (PR: 10) (E)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 1) (E)

2. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PR: 2) (E)

3. Turning Red (PR: 3) (E)

4. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (PR: 4) (E)

5. Wendell and Wild (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Bad Guys (PR: 6) (E)

7. My Father’s Dragon (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Strange World (PR: 8) (E)

9. Inu-Oh (PR: 9) (E)

10. Lightyear (PR: 10) (E)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 1) (E)

2. Decision to Leave (PR: 2) (E)

3. Close (PR: 6) (+3)

4. Argentina, 1985 (PR: 4) (E)

5. EO (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Saint Omer (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Bardo (PR: 5) (-2)

8. The Quiet Girl (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Joyland (PR: 9) (E)

10. Holy Spider (PR: 8) (-2)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (PR: 1) (E)

2. All That Breathes (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Fire of Love (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Navalny (PR: 2) (-2)

5. The Territory (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Descendant (PR: 6) (E)

7. Moonage Daydream (PR: 7) (E)

8. Retrograde (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Bad Axe (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Last Flight Home (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Janes

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 4) (E)

5. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Babylon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 7) (-1)

9. The Batman (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Nope (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Bardo

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Tár

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Elvis (PR: 1) (E)

2. Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Woman King (PR: 4) (E)

5. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Living (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (E)

9. Corsage (PR: 9) (E)

10. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. Elvis (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 9) (+3)

7. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Babylon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Tár (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Women Talking

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Elvis (PR: 2 (+1)

2. The Whale (PR: 1) (-1)

3. The Batman (PR: 3) (E)

4. Babylon (PR: 4) (E)

5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 6) (E)

7. Amsterdam (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Blonde (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Emancipation (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Crimes of the Future (PR: 10) (E)

Best Original Score

Predicted Nomnees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Babylon (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Women Talking (PR: 2) (-2)

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 4) (-2)

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

8. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 6) (-3)

10. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Naatu Naatu” from RRR (PR: 2) (+1)

2. “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (-1)

3. “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (E)

4. “Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 4) (E)

5. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. “This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing (PR: 7) (E)

8. “New Body Rhumba” from White Noise (PR: 8) (E)

9. “Good Afternoon” from Spirited (PR: Not Ranked)

10. “Stand Up” from Till (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

“Nothing is Lost (You Give Me Strength)” from Avatar: The Way of Water

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (-2)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Batman (PR: 10) (E)

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (E)

3. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Elvis (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Batman (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (E)

7. Babylon (PR: 7) (E)

8. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 8) (E)

9. Moonage Daydream (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Batman (PR: 3) (E)

4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PR: 4) (E)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 6) (E)

7. Nope (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Thirteen Lives (PR: 8) (E)

9. Jurassic World: Dominion (PR: 9) (E)

10. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (PR: 10) (E)

That equates to these movies garnering these numbers in terms of nominations:

9 Nominations

The Fabelmans

8 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

7 Nominations

All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick

6 Nominations

Avatar: The Way of Water

5 Nominations

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Whale

4 Nominations

Babylon, Tár

3 Nominations

The Batman, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Triangle of Sadness

2 Nominations

Living, The Woman King, Women Talking

1 Nominations

All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Argentina, 1985, Close, Decision to Leave, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Empire of Light, EO, Fire of Love, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Navalny, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, RRR, She Said, Tell It Like a Woman, The Territory, Till, Turning Red, Wendell and Wild

Amsterdam Review

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam exasperates more than it fascinates. Opening with the tagline “A lot of this actually happened”, the brief explorations of American history between the World Wars hint at a compelling narrative. Wanting to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole afterwards doesn’t necessarily make for a gratifying experience.

Dr. Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) is a member of New York high society through marriage. His snooty in-laws and high maintenance wife (Andrea Riseborough) ship him off to what will become World War I in 1918. Under the command of the kindly Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.), the good doc practices his skills for an all black regiment. They must wear French uniforms since the American forces aren’t integrated. That’s a part that actually happened. Burt makes fast friends with Harold Woodsman (John David Washington). They fight together and are seriously wounded together. Burt is given a glass eye that’s often used for screwball comedy effect. Their injuries introduce them to peculiar nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie), who takes the soldier’s battle scars (such as the metal embedded in their flesh) and turns it into surrealistic art. Burt, Harold, and Valerie form a close bond including the romantic sort for the latter two. The trio live a joyous existence in the title city until Burt returns to the Big Apple. Harold eventually follows suit to become an attorney. The men stay friends and colleagues while Valerie’s whereabouts are unknown.

Fifteen years later, the U.S. is in a depression. Our two New Yorkers have an even more pressing issue. Former war commander Meekins (now a Senator) turns up dead and mysteriously so. His daughter Elizabeth (Taylor Swift, in a performance that will surely generate memes) enlists dad’s former soldiers to investigate. This snooping leads to a vast government conspiracy – some of which falls under the actually happened headline. The case additionally leads them back to Valerie and an all-star cast beyond Bale, Washington, and Robbie.

Chris Rock is a member of the French uniformed clad force. Michael Shannon and Mike Myers are intelligence officers amusingly masquerading as bird experts. Zoe Saldana, in the picture’s most underdeveloped role, helps perform autopsy work and is a potential love interest for Burt. The most intriguing character is General Gill Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro), a combat hero being recruited for fascist propagandist purposes. Russell’s screenplay gives De Niro a noteworthy role to play with (this is the fourth collaboration between them). The legendary actor has done some of his finest 21st century work with the filmmaker.

The political potboiler aspects kick into gear when Dillenbeck pops up for the second half. That’s when Amsterdam improves. The first half feels like Russell’s attempt to do a Wes Anderson or Coen Bros type whimsical comedy and he fails the test. There’s a lot of characters crowding the scene. Rami Malek is an affluent textile magnet with connections to Valerie. Anya Taylor-Joy is his wife, who has a funny fangirl crush on Dillenbeck. Alessandro Nivola and Matthias Schoenaerts are detectives assigned to track the lead trio.

Once Russell gets to what Amsterdam is really about (with some unmistakable current events overtones), I realized lots of these famous faces and subplots could’ve been jettisoned for a more focused approach. Of all the names, Bale (always committed) and De Niro come out best. The director’s eye for the solid material keeps getting dislodged – like Burt’s fake one. This makes it questionable as to whether it’s worth seeing. More of the stuff that actually happened and not the forced whimsy would have been a reasonable start.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Matilda the Musical

Based on the 1988 Roald Dahl book as well as the musical stage show that followed years later, the cinematic rendering of Matilda the Musical streams on Netflix December 9th. That’s about two weeks after the UK rollout. It already made its festival debut in London to harmonious praise and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Matthew Warchus is behind the camera, adapting from his own onstage direction in England and on Broadway (where Olivier and Tony Awards abounded). This is the second reworking of the Dahl book behind 1996’s version helmed by Danny DeVito. Alisha Weir plays the title character with a supporting cast including Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson, Andrea Riseborough, and Stephen Graham.

Despite the praise, it’s a stretch to consider this an Academy contender. That is with the possible exception of Best Original Song where there are reported to be tunes separate from the stage version that could be eligible for consideration.

I wouldn’t sleep on Matilda‘s chances at the Golden Globes. The Musical/Comedy category could have room for a couple of surprises and this would fit the bill. Of the actors, Thompson is getting lots of love. However, I suspect Globes voters may honor her in lead Actress in Musical/Comedy for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (which premiered earlier this year). My Oscar (and Globe) Prediction posts will continue…

Amsterdam Box Office Prediction

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam will need to rely on star power to bring in audiences when it opens October 7th. Considering the middling word-of-mouth and so-so trailers and TV spots, that could be an uphill battle. The comedic mystery is the filmmaker’s first picture since 2015’s Joy. It boasts an impressive cast led by Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington. Other familiar faces include Zoe Saldana, Anya Tayl0r-Joy, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Alessandro Nivola, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, and Matthias Schoenaerts.

From 2010-2013, Russell had a trilogy of Oscar and audience friendly titles. The Fighter, in addition to multiple Academy nods, made $93 million domestically. Silver Linings Playbook, in addition to multiple Oscar nods, took in $132 million. American Hustle, in addition to its several award nominations, earned $150 million.

Times have changed. The aforementioned Joy, which drew a more mixed reaction than Russell’s predecessors, grossed $56 million. In the seven years that have followed, the director has been embroiled in some concerning stories about his personal life.

20th Century Studios didn’t bother to screen Amsterdam for the film festival circuit a couple of weeks back. Critical reaction has skewed toward the negative with a 36% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Despite the pedigree, the red lights glowing indicate a high profile flop. This might not manage double digits.

Amsterdam opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile prediction, click here:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Amsterdam

From 2010-13, David O. Russell made three pictures (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) that collectively earned an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations. This included acting wins for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Jennifer Lawrence. The filmmaker himself has yet to receive a gold statue and his previous effort (2015’s Joy) nabbed just 1 Academy nod for its lead Lawrence.

His latest is Amsterdam and the comedic mystery will be lucky to garner any attention during awards season. It was a curious decision when Russell’s first feature in seven years skipped the festival circuit of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Now we may know why.

Early reviews for the October 7th release are not encouraging. There’s only a handful of official reviews which show a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet we also have plenty of social media reaction claiming this is a high profile disappointment. The impressive cast is led by Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington with tons of other familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldana, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and Chris Rock (to name some). I wouldn’t expect any to compete in the acting derbies. Bale and De Niro are getting some decent notices, but it shouldn’t matter (maybe Bale could show up at the Globes for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy if competition is light).

As I see it, Costume Design and/or Production Design are the only possibilities for Amsterdam to be an Academy player. It’s entirely feasible that it won’t show up at all. My Oscar Prediction posts 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…

The Grudge Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (01/02): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my number down to $10.2 million

2020 begins at multiplexes in the same fashion as other recent years with a horror offering. This time around, it’s a remake of the 2004 supernatural pic The Grudge. And that Sarah Michelle Gellar hit was itself an update of a 2002 Japanese title in which Takashi Shimizu directed both. Nicolas Pesce is behind the camera now with a cast including Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, and Jacki Weaver.

As mentioned, this is the genre that has typically kicked off the cinematic calendar lately. In 2019, Escape Room surprised prognosticators with a debut north of $18 million. Two years ago, Insidious: The Last Key unlocked a gross just under $30 million.

The Grudge is not expected to approach those figures, but horror flicks always have the capacity to surprise. Yet this could also fall victim to the unasked for franchise fatigue that has plagued several titles recently. A decent comp could be 2017’s Rings, which was also a reboot of a Japanese series. It opened to $13 million and that sounds about right here (and perhaps a tad under).

The Grudge opening weekend prediction: $10.2 million

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A glossy and often relevant retelling of one of the most famous matches ever, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Battle of the Sexes is centered on both the tennis court and the court of public opinion. Both matters are firmly on the focused mind of Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), the famed pro who was demanding equal pay for women in 1973 when the picture is set.

King and her fellow female players aren’t getting near that, so they start a league of their own, under the sponsorship of Virginia Slim cigarettes (it was a different time). Another player sees an opportunity to cash in on the publicity and that’s Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), a former champion now in his mid 50s who spends most of his time as a compulsive gambler (though he doesn’t see it that way). His challenge to King to meet on the court generated a divide among the sexes and many eyeballs on the eventual event – apparently about 90 million.

The court of public opinion doesn’t extend to gender issues. King is married to Larry (Austin Stowell) who helps run her fledgling empire. Yet when she meets free spirit hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough), a romance quickly develops. King is smitten, but she knows it must stay in the closet to protect her career.

Battle of the Sexes tells this tale entertainingly and somewhat superficially. The themes of gender equality are ones that render four decades later. Stone has the most material to work with in her nuanced and strong portrayal of King. There’s not much nuance to Carell’s Riggs, though he’s certainly fun to watch.

The screenplay doesn’t delve too deep into his story, but Carell plays it well enough to avoid him becoming a total caricature. King seems to know Bobby isn’t quite the chauvinist louse he purports to be. The same cannot be said for Bill Pullman’s Jack Kramer, a prominent former pro turned announcer who doesn’t understand anything about women’s liberation. The pic is peppered with familiar faces in smaller parts, including Elisabeth Shue as Bobby’s wealthy and frustrated wife and Alan Cumming as the team’s outfit designer who quickly figures out Billie’s affair.

King would eventually earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom due to her advocacy for gay rights and equal pay. Sexes sees her at the advent of that life’s work. We see her drive as she tirelessly practices to beat a man at his game when so few think it’s possible. In fact, hearing Howard Cosell’s actual play-by-play during the game is both a treat and a stark reminder that it was a different era. We know eventually that King’s relentless work ethic will be applied elsewhere and for an even greater cause. Battle doesn’t delve overly deep into how she got there, but it serves up its replay of history admirably enough.

*** (out of four)

Birdman Movie Review

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman has plenty to say about the current mega-blockbuster movie culture that we live in and have for some time. The screenplay (by the director along with Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo) puts in its two cents regarding the power that critics have, which is highly debatable in the Internet culture. Ironically, while Inarritu and his team may share a disdain for them, it is likely the rave reviews and Oscar buzz Birdman has received that will grant it a larger audience than expected. Yet, ultimately, this picture will be remembered as a story of an actor trying to make a comeback while giving its actual star one humdinger of a real one.

That would be Michael Keaton in the kind of part that most actors dream about and never get to play. He’s Riggan Thomson, an aging celebrity known to the world for his role as Birdman in a series of wildly popular comic book flicks from two decades ago. As you can gather, this is not much of a stretch for Keaton himself who brought Batman to the masses a quarter century ago. In the present day, he’s directing, writing, and starring in a Broadway play based on a Raymond Carver short story. He sees it as an opportunity to make himself relevant again and yet he’s haunted by his famous alter ego. The production of the play is a mess, which reflects Riggan’s personal life. He employs his fresh out of rehab daughter (Emma Stone) as his assistant. One of his actresses is his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), who may or may not be carrying his child. His ex-wife (Amy Ryan) turns up from time to time. Riggan makes life difficult for his lawyer and “best friend” (Zach Galifianakis). And his main co-stars (Edward Norton and Naomi Watts) are action packed with emotional issues.

Birdman shows us an actor on the edge of sanity who is grappling with this massive undertaking of the play and dealing with his wilting fame. He feels like he’s doing something of utmost importance while those around him may not see it that way. The screenplay doesn’t shy away from humorously but honestly ribbing the healthy egos that actors are often known for displaying. Norton’s character could perhaps be based on himself, if you believe the gossip about how difficult he is to work with in real life.

While the pic pokes its dark humor from time to time at the superhero genre craze, it cheekily employs three actors who’ve been a part of them: Keaton, Stone (Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man), and Norton (The Incredible Hulk). And while Inarritu could feel those movies are just visual fluff, Birdman itself is a technical marvel, so to speak. There is a visual trickery to make the film seem like one long continuous take and the result from Emmanuel Lubezki’s camerawork is often hypnotic.

The supporting cast is uniformly top-notch. Every performance is rock solid and every actor gets their moments to shine. Let me there be no doubt though – this is Keaton’s show. People who describe themselves as “movie people” (pretentiously or not) all seem to have a Keaton affinity. Part of it could be that he’s the original Caped Crusader in the blockbuster area. Same goes for Beetlejuice. We’ve never seen him like this, but I believe we always suspected he was capable of this kind of amazing performance. Here, Keaton must balance portraying several alter egos and it’s a joy to witness.

Birdman is not necessarily a movie for the masses. Its pitch black humor could fall flat with some while others will deem it too inside baseball. The ending may be perfect to some viewers, but it took one step too far into unnecessary ambiguity for my taste. There’s a terrific scene when Riggan tells off The New York Times theater critic (Lindsay Duncan). On one hand, he feels liberated telling her what he really thinks of her high-mindedness and misguided sense of self importance. On the other, he’s terrified of her negative review. This explains Riggan’s character in a way – looking for liberation where he may not ever find it and scared as hell the whole time. That probably describes the way a lot of actors truly feel and Birdman drives that point home in an original, often funny, and constantly interesting ways.

***1/2 (out of four)