Director Roger Ross Williams is no stranger to the Academy. His short film Music by Prudence was 2009’s recipient for Documentary Short Subject (making him the first African-American director to win an Oscar). The 2016 feature length doc Life, Animated was a contender in that race.
At Sundance, Williams is branching outside of the doc genre for Cassandro, which explores a real life subject. Gael Garcia Bernal is the title character – an openly gay Mexican wrestler who attained huge stardom. With a smattering of reviews in, the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%.
With earlier acclaimed roles in The Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education, and Babel, Bernal has yet to find his awards showcase role. He might get it here if distributor Amazon launches a serious campaign. The same can be said for Jonathan Majors and Magazine Dreams, which was my previous predictions write-up coming from Utah’s festival. Needless to say it’s early, but we already have potential hopefuls for next year’s Actor derby.
Cassandro could also contend for the memorable costumes that Bernal dons in the ring. Bottom line: this is worth keeping tabs on as the 2023 awards season is in its infancy. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Blogger’s Note (09/08): I am downgrading my original estimate from $4.3 million down to just $2.3 million. Simply put, this probably would have been better off going the streaming route.
Sony Pictures is hoping that a young audience will turn out for next weekend’s The Broken Hearts Gallery. The romantic comedy comes from first time director Natalie Krinsky and was originally scheduled for a July release before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plans. Executive produced by Selena Gomez, it stars Geraldine Viswanathan (best known for Blockers and HBO’s Bad Education) and Dacre Montgomery (Billy from Netflix’s Stranger Things). Costars include Utkarsh Ambudkar, Molly Gordon, and Bernadette Peters.
I’m a bit skeptical that this has any breakout potential. Many similar pics in this genre are based on novels with a hoped for built-in audience. Gallery doesn’t have that advantage or much star power to lure its intended demographic into the multiplex. The best hope for Sony is that this crowd is simply starved for anything to go see.
I don’t believe that’ll be enough to get this over $3 million.
The Broken Hearts Gallery opening weekend prediction: $2.3 million
Few actors had a better movie year as Hugh Jackman’s 2017 with two smash hits – Logan and TheGreatestShowman. Yet despite the acclaim, Oscar didn’t honor him. In fact, his sole nod came five years prior in LesMiserables. Last year’s TheFrontRunner looked like awards bait, but it fizzled quickly.
Now we have BadEducation for possible consideration as it screened in Toronto. The comedic drama tells the true tale of a beloved New York school superintendent cheating the system. And Variety has called it Jackman’s best performance to date. Other reviews also praise his work in this effort from director Cory Finley. This is his sophomore film following 2017’s well regarded Thoroughbreds. Costars include Allison Janney (who did win in 2017 for I, Tonya), Geraldine Viswanathan, Ray Romano, and Alex Woolf.
I say possible consideration because Education has yet to land a distributor. However, that shouldn’t be a problem. The real question is whether this gets released in 2019. If so, I would expect a campaign to be mounted for its lead actor. And as I’ve said repeatedly in the past few festival days, that race is looking incredibly competitive. Unlike TheFrontRunner, I would anticipate some critics vying for his inclusion. It could be a long shot, but he’s in the large mix. A Golden Globe nod in Musical/Comedy might be more reachable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…