X-Men at 20: A Look Back

Twenty years ago today, Bryan Singer’s X-Men arrived in theaters and it’s not hyperbole to call it one of the most influential pictures of the 21st century. The 20th Century Fox release found the comic book genre at a rather low point at the end of that said century. While Blade was a nice size hit in 1998, the years prior found at a lot to be desired with the quality of the genre. 1995 brought us Judge Dredd and 1997 saw the release of Batman and Robin, which found the Caped Crusader with Bat nipples and bad reviews.

X-Men, though it’s hard to remember now, was released at a time where the idea of superhero tales was an uncertain box office prospect. This is two years before Spider-Man broke all kinds of financial records. This is five years prior to Christopher Nolan reinvigorating the Bat franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. And this was eight years before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man, officially kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the summer of 2000, X-Men was by no means a guaranteed hit. It did, however, have credibility with the behind the scenes talent and cast. Bryan Singer was known for his heralded The Usual Suspects. Acclaimed actors Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (fresh off an Oscar nod for Gods and Monsters), Anna Paquin, and Halle Berry were among the onscreen players. And it was another casting decision that provided its most enduring legacy. Russell Crowe, who headlined that summer’s Oscar winner Gladiator, originally turned down the part of Wolverine. Dougray Scott was then cast in the role, but had to drop out when his role as the villain in Mission: Impossible II (also out that summer) prevented him from filming. So it was the unknown Hugh Jackman who donned the claws. He would go on to make it his signature role as he played Logan/Wolverine in numerous sequels and spin-offs (including three stand-alone projects of wildly divergent qualities).

Let’s back up. Before the 2000 release, X-Men was in development for over a decade and a half. At one point, James Cameron was slated to produce with his then wife Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct. Later on, Robert Rodriguez turned the project down. A gander at the pic’s Wikipedia page is an entertaining read (Mariah Carey was in the mix for Storm at one juncture and Angela Bassett was first choice). X-Men was rushed to make its summer release date 20 years ago today after it was originally intended for Christmas 2000.

That rushed feeling does show on up on screen a little, but the overall end result speaks for itself. What occurred two decades ago is a major mark in the comic book movie renaissance that continues to this day. The franchise has certainly had its ups and downs. X2: X-Men United was the first sequel in 2003 and it is generally considered a high point. Three years later, Brett Ratner took over directorial reigns with The Last Stand and (while a huge hit) the quality took a dip. Matthew Vaughn would reestablish critical kudos in rebooting the series in 2011 with First Class (bringing Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence to the screen playing younger counterparts to key characters). Jackman’s first spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine faced deserved backlash while 2017’s Logan was lauded and landed an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. And a cheeky and R rated offshoot called Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds would dazzle audiences and critics alike. Last summer’s Dark Phoenix didn’t do any dazzling and was another low ebb in the series. Spin-off The New Mutants has seen release date changes that began in 2018 and it’s pretty much a running joke as to whether it will ever come out.

That long road began in 2000 and has shaped the cinematic universe since. And if you had to mark a spot for the comic book landscape today as it stands now on the screen, it started that day.

The Irishman Movie Review

There are the types of characters we have met before in Martin Scorsese’s gangster genre works, but never quite like this. There are characters we never really meet here, but we’re introduced to the way they die. There are characters that never speak, but we’re aware of their thought process. And it’s that time consuming process that the filmmaker goes through here that makes The Irishman feel both invigorating and melancholy.

The thought of reuniting this director, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and anything involving the Mob is enough to get many running to the theater or, in this case for most, Netflix. Add Al Pacino to the mix (working with Scorsese somehow for the first time) and there’s more incentive. Yet this is far from a rehash of previous material. It’s an often stunning work that stands on its own merits. There is no coasting happening with De Niro or Pacino and that’s something they can rightfully be accused of in the past quarter century or so. The pair (who shared just a couple of scenes in Michael Mann’s masterful Heat and greater screen time in the unfortunate Righteous Kill) contribute some of their finest work in years. For Pesci, he hasn’t worked in years and his return finds him playing a Mafia boss but in a way you won’t expect.

The unexpected is key here and welcome. Just as GoodFellas gave audiences a final act kinetically viewed from Ray Liotta’s coked out perspective, the last segment of The Irishman is made from a considerably lower dosage. As De Niro’s character enters his final act, we witness him finally pause to consider his existence. And it’s not of a glorified nature.

In this tale based on certain truths and possible myths, De Niro is Frank Sheeran. He’s a World War II vet and truck driver residing in Philadelphia. Frank saw plenty of combat overseas and he’s willing to have a career of killing back stateside. His employer becomes Russell Bufalino (Pesci), the area crime boss and confidante of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Frank soon becomes Hoffa’s body man, enforcer, and trusted friend. Whether on assignment from Bufalino or Jimmy, Frank’s speciality is to “paint houses” (code for taking out whomever he’s ordered to). He’s skilled at it and the screenplay from Steven Zaillian gets into the occasional minutia and necessary strategy of carrying out such tasks.

Hoffa’s bigger than life personality (something Pacino is perfect to portray) often conflicts with the more buttoned down approach of Bufalino (something Pesci is more surprisingly adept at). This frequently leaves Frank in the position of mediator of murder or no murder. There’s plenty of it here, but The Irishman is noticeably less bloody than GoodFellas or Casino. 

De Niro has by far the most screen time and his work is perhaps the most impressive in a picture loaded with two other heavyweights in excellent form. It’s ultimately his film to carry and he does so with an ability he hasn’t shown in a long while. There’s plenty of other familiar faces from Harvey Keitel as another boss to Ray Romano as the group’s very busy attorney. Frank’s family is given the short shrift, but that’s no accident as he doesn’t have much time for them. His relationship with one daughter played by Anna Paquin is a constant thread and it’s a quiet and powerful one.

The Irishman transpires over several decades and Scorsese made the choice not to use younger actors to play the main roles in their 30s and beyond. This is done through de-aging visual effects that, while certainly not perfect, are the best I’ve seen yet. Most importantly, I didn’t find it as a distraction after a couple of minutes.

Just as Hoffa is obsessed with punctuality, The Irishman is about time. In this world of criminals and betrayal and violence, time moves fast. The film itself doesn’t at three and a half hours. That didn’t feel overly padded to me. This is good company. However, as this draws to a close, time slows down for some characters as well. And as Scorsese and three legendary actors expertly show for 209 minutes, some doors for reflection are slammed shut with a bang. Others are left slightly open for it.

**** (out of four)

2019 Oscar Predictions: October 3rd Edition

Going into this week’s predictions, there was no question that Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman would be the headline. The gangster epic premiered last Friday at the New York Film Festival to overwhelmingly glowing reviews. That reaction has propelled it to the #1 spot in Picture, Director, and kept it there in Adapted Screenplay.

Additionally, the festival greatly increased the chances for Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to land nominations. De Niro makes an appearance in lead for the first time, pushing out Antonio Banderas. Pacino enters Supporting Actor, displacing Willem Dafoe. And Pesci rises to the #6 slot in that category.

Yet the movement this Thursday extends beyond Irishman. Renee Zellweger’s title performance in Judy is now #1 in Actress. In Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers vaults to first position.

In Picture, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood makes its inaugural showing in my top ten projections. That pushes out Little Women, as we await reaction for it.

Finally, it was revealed (fairly unsurprisingly) that Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell will be released in December for awards consideration. I have the film, Clint, Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates, and its Adapted Screenplay mentioned as possibilities.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Irishman 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Lighthouse 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (Previous Ranking: 3)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

4. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

7. 1917 (PR: 7)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. The Farewell (PR: 10)

10. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

11. Joker (PR: 12)

12. Little Women (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 13)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 18)

15. Pain and Glory (PR: 14)

16. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

17. Judy (PR: 23)

18. Booksmart (PR: 21)

19. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

20. Bombshell (PR: 16)

21. The Report (PR: 20)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 22)

23. Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 25)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 17)

Dropped Out:

The Lighthouse 

Knives Out 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 2)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 4)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 3)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

10. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 12)

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

14. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 13)

15. Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

4. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 4)

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 7)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 9)

10. Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

12. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 3)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 5)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 8)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

11. Isabelle Huppert, Frankie (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

13. Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love 

Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

5. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: 11)

9. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

10. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: 13)

14. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Laundromat 

Anna Paquin, The Irishman 

Octavia Spencer, Luce 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 7)

8. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 9)

10. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 8)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 11)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 14)

14. Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sam Rockwell, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari 

Chris Evans, Knives Out 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Pain and Glory (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Booksmart (PR: 9)

9. Bombshell (PR: 10)

10. The Report (PR: 8)

11. 1917 (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

13. Ad Astra (PR: 13)

14. Dolemite Is My Name (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Knives Out

Uncut Gems 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 5)

5. Little Women (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 6)

7. Downton Abbey (PR: 9)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 7)

9. Judy (PR: 8)

10. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Dark Waters (PR: 10)

12. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

13. Luce (PR: 12)

14. Hustlers (PR: 13)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Laundromat 

Oscar Watch: The Irishman

The biggest Oscar domino not yet fall screened has been Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the three and a half hour gangster drama headlined by genre legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. That changed today. The epic opened the New York Film Festival exactly two months ahead of its Netflix debut. And – no real surprise here – it appears to be a serious contender.

The Irishman is said to be both a humorous and contemplative piece with De Niro and Pacino providing their best performances in years. Same goes for Pesci as he’s been away from the silver screen for nearly a decade.

While nearly all reviews are positive, they’re not all raves. My early hunch is that this will earn Picture and Director nods. Winning is another story and that is one still left to play out. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 100%. This will likely mark Scorsese’s ninth nomination (he’s won once for 2006’s The Departed). That’s also his only effort to be named Best Picture. The Adapted Screenplay from Steve Zaillian should also make the final cut.

Down the line recognition presents many chances including Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, and Visual Effects. For the latter, the de-aging technology that allows its stars to look younger could attract the notice of that branch. The pic would actually be the second Scorsese title to get a Visual Effects nod after 2011’s Hugo (which won).

Now to the thespians. The thinking is that De Niro will be in lead actor with Pacino and Pesci in supporting. It sounds as if they will be the trio in contention. De Niro would gunning for his eighth appearance as a nominee. He won Supporting for 1974’s The Godfather Part II and lead in Scorsese’s 1980 masterwork Raging Bull. I’ve had him listed in spot #6 for some time in my weekly rankings. I could still see him missing the cut as his role is said to be less flashy than his costars, but I think his chances are better today. Numerous critics have stated that Pacino steals the show and he’s going for nomination #9 (his sole win is 1992’s Scent of a Woman). Like De Niro, I’ve had him slotted sixth and I expect him to enter the top five in a supporting actor race that is already jam packed. As for Pesci (who won for 1990’s Scorsese classic GoodFellas), other reviewers are singling him out. That opens the door for two men to be nominated in the supporting race for the second time since 1991 when Harvey Keitel (who’s also in this) and Ben Kingsley were recognized for Bugsy. This occurred again two years ago with Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Pesci is not the near sure thing Pacino is, but it could happen.

Bottom line: The Irishman did what it needed to do in the Big Apple to establish itself as a player in awards chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 27th Edition

When it comes to Oscar prognosticating, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend without any festivals or particularly high profile screenings. Yet that’s bound to change tomorrow because The Irishman cometh.

Two months ahead of its Netflix debut, Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster drama with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci will open the New York Film Festival. There are a few notable Academy hopefuls that haven’t screened like 1917, Bombshell, Little Women, and Dark Waters. Mr. Scorsese’s latest is the most eagerly awaited and we will know its potential Oscar viability in just a few hours (expect my individual post for it no later than Saturday).

So as we await that verdict, there were some developments in the past week:

  • I have moved Christian Bale from lead actor to supporting and that means he’s in for the first time, replacing Jamie Foxx.
  • Awkwafina gets the Best Actress #5 spot over Alfre Woodard.
  • The Two Popes has shifted to Adapted Screenplay and that takes Joker out.
  • The misfortune for Joker continues as I’ve moved it out of my top ten Picture projections in favor of The Farewell. 
  • With Popes removed from Original Screenplay, Waves takes its slot.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Farewell 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Joker 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. The Irishman (PR: 3)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. 1917 (PR: 6)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. Little Women (PR: 10)

10. The Farewell (PR: 13)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Joker (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 12)

14. Pain and Glory (PR: 18)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

16. Bombshell (PR: 16)

17. Ad Astra (PR: 23)

18. Just Mercy (PR: 14)

19. The Lighthouse (PR: 17)

20. The Report (PR: 21)

21. Booksmart (PR: 19)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 20)

23. Judy (Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. Knives Out (PR: 22)

Dropped Out:

The Good Liar 

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 3)

3. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 14)

13. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 15)

14. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

15. James Gray, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

5. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

7. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

8. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

11. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 9)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

15. Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 13)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 12)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

14. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (moved to Supporting)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 5)

8. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 7)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 9)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 10)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 11)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 13)

14. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 12)

15. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Bell, Rocketman 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 6)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

10. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 11)

11. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

15. Octavia Spencer, Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory 

Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters 

Ana de Armas, Knives Out 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Original)

4. Little Women (PR: 3)

5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 5)

7. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

8. Judy (PR: 10)

9. Downton Abbey (PR: 8)

10. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Luce (PR: 12)

13. Hustlers (PR: 13)

14. The Laundromat (PR: 9)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Motherless Brooklyn 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 5)

5. Waves (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

8. The Report (PR: 10)

9. Booksmart (PR: 7)

10. Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

12. Knives Out (PR: 11)

13. Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Uncut Gems (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Two Popes (moved to Adapted)

1917

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are updated! Some events from over the last week:

  • By Friday next week, The Irishman will have screened and we will know how much of a contender it truly is. I’ve held it as a placeholder in first since I started my projections a month ago. I’m shaking it up a bit and sliding the picture and Martin Scorsese to third. That means Marriage Story takes over in slot one for Pic and Quentin Tarantino is first for direction.
  • Winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, Jojo Rabbit got just the shot in the arm it needed after mixed reviews. 10 of the past 11 Toronto recipients have nabbed a Best Picture nod. So it’s back in my mix. It replaces Waves.
  • In Director, Sam Mendes is back in with James Mangold out.
  • No changes to the top five in Best Actor. . In Actress and Supporting Actress – same story as even 1-5 rankings remain consistent.
  • In Supporting Actor, it’s Willem Dafoe returning to the predictions over Sterling K. Brown.
  • The five Adapted Screenplays haven’t changed while in Original, it’s The Farewell over Waves. 

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Jojo Rabbit 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Waves 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. 1917 (PR: 10)

7. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 14)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 4)

9. Joker (PR: 8)

10. Little Women (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Waves (PR: 9)

13. The Farewell (PR:12)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 13)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

16. Bombshell (PR: 18)

17. The Lighthouse (PR: 20)

18. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

19. Booksmart (PR: 22)

20. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

21. The Report (PR: 15)

22. Knives Out (PR: 21)

23. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. The Good Liar (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

2. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

3. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

7. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 13)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

13. Todd Phillips, Joker (Not Ranked)

14. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

15. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 3)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 2)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 13)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 10)

13. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim 

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 10)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 12)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 13)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: 15)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 8)

7. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 7)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 11)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 6)

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 7)

7. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 5)

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

9. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

10. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 8)

11. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

15. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Aldis Hodge, Clemency 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 4)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Booksmart (PR: 10)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. The Report (PR: 7)

11. Knives Out (PR: 11)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

3. Little Women (PR: 2)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 3)

5. Joker (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

8. Downton Abbey (PR: 13)

9. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

10. Judy (PR: 11)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 15)

12. Luce (PR: 10)

13. Hustlers (PR: 9)

14. Toy Story 4 (PR: 12)

15. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

Back at it next week!!

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

Well, a lot has certainly transpired on the Oscar prognostication front in the past week! Most notably would be the Toronto Film Festival and as usual, it helped some pictures and performers and threw shade on the hopes of others.

For blog followers, you’ve seen a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts over the last few days. Various rankings in the eight major categories have shifted as we arrive at today’s predictions with some newcomers hitting predicted territory.

Let’s go through some highlights:

  • One of the more unexpected events from up north was the love for Hustlers, out tomorrow. The attention was particularly centered on the performance of Jennifer Lopez. She goes from unranked all the way to #3 in Supporting Actress.
  • The Two Popes is gathering more admirers as it plays the circuit. I now have it #4 in my BP derby (up five spots). This could change, but I think it’s one of a handful of pics that could win top prize.
  • Joker surprised many by emerging victorious for the Golden Lion at Venice. It now enters the fray as a predicted nominee in BP and Adapted Screenplay, in addition to Joaquin Phoenix.
  • Like Popes, Waves is also making a festival splash and it enters my projected BP recipients in ninth.
  • My projections in the lead acting categories remains the same ten, albeit with some jockeying from last week to this one.
  • In Supporting Actor, lots of movement. Tom Hanks was heralded for his portrayal of Mister Rogers in Toronto for Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I also have Sterling K. Brown in Waves pulling a J-Lo and going from not ranked to nominee. And Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy is drawing acclaim so he joins the shortlist. They replace Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, and Taika Waititi in a crowded field.
  • Speaking of Waititi, Jojo Rabbit was met with wildly divergent opinions in Toronto. I now have it only receiving an Adapted Screenplay nod, but expect its journey to Oscar attention or no attention to be an ongoing story.
  • Harriet seemed to be a bit of a Toronto disappointment. While I’m still listing Cynthia Erivo’s work as the title character in Actress, the movie itself has dropped completely out of my top 25.
  • There is no doubt that the badly reviewed The Goldfinch has seen its Academy dreams totally vanish.

Keep reading on to see how I have everything shaking out at the moment and I’ll have updates forecasts next Thursday!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Joker (PR: 15)

9. Waves (PR: 12)

10. 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

12. The Farewell (PR: 11)

13. Just Mercy (PR: 21)

14. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

15. The Report (PR: 10)

16. Pain and Glory (PR: 13)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 18)

19. A Hidden Life (PR: 16)

20. The Lighthouse (PR: 19)

21. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Booksmart (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: 23)

24. Rocketman (PR: 22)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

The Laundromat

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

7. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 11)

10. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 9)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 13)

13. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

15. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

3. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 5)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 9)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

10. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 15)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 10)

13. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 12)

14. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 13)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 14)

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 9)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 15)

13. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 12)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

3. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

5. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

7. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 3)

8. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 7)

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 8)

11. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

12. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 15)

13. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aldis Hodge, Clemency (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 6)

8. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 11)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

12. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Taylor Russell, Waves

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Little Women (PR: 3)

3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

4. Joker (PR: 7)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 4)

8. The Laundromat (PR: 5)

9. Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Judy (PR: 15)

12. Toy Story 4 (PR: 11)

13. Downton Abbey (PR: 14)

14. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 12)

15. The Good Liar (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Goldfinch

The King

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Waves (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. The Report (PR: 5)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. Booksmart (PR: 10)

11. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

Dolemite Is My Name

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 5th Edition

A lot can change in a week and that’s certainly the case in my second edition of weekly Oscar predictions for 2019. That’s because the Venice and Telluride festivals have happened and numerous contenders have emerged. Some have seen their fortunes dwindle (like Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat or Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn). Other films and performances have received a serious boost like Ford v Ferrari, Waves (not even on my radar last week), The Two Popes, and Renee Zellweger in Judy.

While last Thursday provided my pre festival rankings, there’s plenty of movement that’s occurred since then. And by next Thursday… the picture will begin more clear with the Toronto Film Festival beginning today and where several other high profile hopefuls will screen.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 11)

5. Parasite (PR: 7)

6. 1917 (PR: 4)

7. Little Women (PR: 5)

8. Jojo Rabbit (PR, 10)

9. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Report (PR: 9)

11. The Farewell (PR: 6)

12. Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

14. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

15. Joker (PR: 15)

16. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 13)

19. The Lighthouse (PR: 21)

20. Harriet (PR: 14)

21. Just Mercy (PR: 20)

22. Rocketman (PR: 22)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

24. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

Booksmart

Avengers: Endgame

The Goldfinch

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 4)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 5)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

7. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

11. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 13)

13. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

15. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 5)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 2)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 4)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 6)

8. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky (PR: 12)

9. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

12. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 15)

13. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 13)

15. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

4. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 8)

7. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 4)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 5)

9. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 7)

10. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

12. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 14)

13. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 15)

14. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, The Report

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 1)

3. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 3)

5. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Janelle Monae, Harriet (PR: 10)

10. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

11. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 13)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 12)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 6)

15. Taylor Russell, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

3. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 4)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

7. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 7)

9. Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

11. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 5)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat (PR: 3)

14. Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

Timothee Chalamet, Little Women

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 4)

3. Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Dark Waters (PR: 5)

5. The Laundromat (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

7. Joker (PR: 7)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 9)

9. The Goldfinch (PR: 11)

10. The Good Liar (PR: 12)

11. Toy Story 4 (PR: 8)

12. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

13. The King (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Downton Abbey (Not Ranked)

15. Judy (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Ford v Ferrari (moved to Original)

Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Parasite (PR: 5)

5. The Report (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 3)

7. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

8. Waves (Not Ranked)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Adapted)

10. Booksmart (PR: 6)

11. The Lighthouse (PR: 12)

12. Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Harriet (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 8)

15.  Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ad Astra

Us

Queen and Slim

Expect more changes next week when much of the Toronto happenings will have transpired! Until then…

2019 Oscar Predictions: August 29th Edition

Welcome to my first edition of my weekly Oscar predictions where I’ll be ranking my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 contenders in the directing, acting, and screenplay categories!

The dawn of my rankings coincides with the start of film festival season as Venice is in full swing with Telluride and Toronto on deck. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has already screened in Italy and solidified its status as a serious contender in numerous races. There’s a whole bunch of movies premiering in the coming days so expect the picture to become a wee bit clearer. That said, I’ve learned a lot of things from years of past predicting when it comes to this time of the year:

  • Movies thought to be contenders will fail to live up to their buzz
  • Movies will be pushed back to 2020 and render them ineligible
  • Leading actor and actress candidates will be moved to supporting and vice versa
  • Screenplays considered Adapted will become Original and vice versa
  • Sleepers not currently on the radar will rise up… think last year’s Best Picture winner Green Book

With all those caveats, let’s get to it! And expect updates every Thursday on the blog…

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. Marriage Story

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. 1917

5. Little Women

6. The Farewell

7. Parasite

8. The Laundromat

9. The Report

Other Possibilities:

10. Jojo Rabbit

11. Ford v Ferrari

12. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Bombshell

14. Harriet

15. Joker

16. Pain and Glory

17. Dark Waters

18. Booksmart

19. A Hidden Life

20. Just Mercy

21. The Lighthouse

22. Rocketman

23. Ad Astra

24. Avengers: Endgame

25. The Goldfinch

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Sam Mendes, 1917

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

5. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Greta Gerwig, Little Women

7. Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

9. Lulu Wang, The Farewell

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

12. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

15. Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

4. Robert DeNiro, The Irishman

5. Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

8. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

9. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

10. Adam Driver, The Report

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar

14. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

2. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

4. Awkwafina, The Farewell

5. Renee Zellweger, Judy

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

7. Alfre Woodard, Clemency

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim

11. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

12. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

13. Felicity Jones, Aeronauts

14. Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

3. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

4. Al Pacino, The Irishman

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman

11. Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

12. Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

14. Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

15. Timothee Chalamet, Little Women

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Annette Bening, The Report

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

3. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

5. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Other Possibilities:

6. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

10. Janelle Monae, Harriet

11. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

12. Anna Paquin, The Irishman

13. Jennifer Hudson, Cats

14. Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

15. Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. The Laundromat

3. Little Women

4. Jojo Rabbit

5. Dark Waters

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joker

8. Toy Story 4

9. Just Mercy

10. Ford v Ferrari

11. The Goldfinch

12. The Good Liar

13. Judy

14. Motherless Brooklyn

15. Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. The Farewell

4. The Report

5. Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Booksmart

7. Pain and Glory

8. 1917

9. Bombshell

10. Dolemite Is My Name

11. Harriet

12.  The Lighthouse

13. Ad Astra

14. Us

15. Queen and Slim

And that does it for my inaugural ranked predictions! Keep an eye on the blog daily for ongoing developments…

Best Supporting Actress: A Look Back

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

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

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

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

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

1991 – Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

1992 – Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

1993 – Anna Paquin, The Piano

1994 – Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

1995 – Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

1996 – Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

1997 – Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

1998 – Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

2000 – Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

2001 – Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

2002 – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

2003 – Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2004 – Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

2005 – Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

2006 – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

2007 – Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

2008 – Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

2009 – Mo’Nique, Precious

2010 – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

2012 – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

2015 – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

2016 – Viola Davis, Fences

2017 – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

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

3. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

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

2. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

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

1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

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

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

3. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

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

2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

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

1. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

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

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

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King (Winner)

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes

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

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

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