Oscar Predictions – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Utilizing similar rotoscoping technology as his earlier animated efforts Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood hits Netflix on Friday after its South by Southwest premiere a couple of weeks back. A coming-of-age tale set during the 1969 Moon landing, early reviews have mostly soared with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes launch.

Linklater is no stranger to the Oscars. He nabbed screenplay nods for Before Sunset and Before Midnight. 2014’s Boyhood was nominated for six categories. Since that effort seven years ago, his follow-ups (Everybody Wants Some!!, Last Flag Flying, Where’d You Go, Bernadette) have all failed to reach the Academy’s radar.

Apollo could change that trajectory with an Animated Feature mention. The critical reaction is strong enough, but let’s see what else lands in the remaining nine months. It’s entirely possible that two of the five eventual contenders (Turning Red and this) are already available for streaming pleasure as of this weekend. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Lone Screenplay Nominee: An Oscar Prediction Analysis

We are getting the nitty gritty on nailing down Oscar predictions on this blog and it’s time to consider a prevailing trend in the 21st century when it comes to the Adapted and Original Screenplay contests. That would be The Lone Screenplay Nominee.

What’s that you ask? For the last 20 award ceremonies, at least one movie has been nominated in its screenplay race and in no other additional category. That’s a rather startling statistic, but it’s true. You have to go all the way to 2000 to find a year in which the ten nominated films in those two derbies didn’t get a nod elsewhere.

Here’s the list from 2001-2020 of pictures that got The Lone Screenplay nomination (abbreviation are AS for Adapted and OS for Original):

2001 – Ghost World (AS), The Royal Tenenbaums (OS)

2002 – About a Boy (AS), My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama Tambien (OS)

2003 – American Splendor (AS), Dirty Pretty Things (OS)

2004 – Before Sunset (AS)

2005 – Match Point, The Squid and the Whale (OS)

2006 – Borat (AS)

2007 – Lars and the Real Girl (OS)

2008 – Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges (OS)

2009 – In the Loop (AS)

2010 – Another Year (OS)

2011 – The Ides of March (AS), Margin Call (OS)

2012 – Moonrise Kingdom (OS)

2013 – Before Midnight (AS)

2014 – Nightcrawler (OS)

2015 – Straight Outta Compton (OS)

2016 – 20th Century Women, The Lobster (OS)

2017 – The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game (AS), The Big Sick (OS)

2018 – First Reformed (OS)

2019 – Knives Out (OS)

2020 – The White Tiger (AS)

Clearly the writing branch of the Academy enjoy singling out a pic or two that doesn’t get any love elsewhere. And it’s a tradition that I haven’t really factored into my predictions for 2021’s hopefuls. That changes today.

My latest round of predictions from last week were the following for Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay:

Adapted – CODA, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Original – Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

Here’s the problem – all ten of those pictures are highly likely to find nominations elsewhere.

So… what’s vulnerable and what are the movies that could fit the Lone Screenplay Nominee mold when the announcement is made on February 8?

Glad you asked. In Adapted, Dune could absolutely miss. The voters in the screenplay race could decide that it’ll get plenty of tech nods (it will) as well as Picture and Director mentions (highly probable). Its screenplay nod could  wait until its sequel.

So what are the contenders in Adapted that may not get nods elsewhere? There’s The Last Duel, which could get points for its unique script that tells its medieval tale from three differing perspectives. It appears to have little chance at Picture or even Jodie Comer’s acclaimed performance in lead actress.

There’s also Passing, but that’s assuming Ruth Negga misses out in Supporting Actress (and I’ve got her in). Other possibilities are Nightmare Alley (though it should at least be recognized for Production Design) and Tick, Tick… Boom! (which could be in line for Picture but especially for Andrew Garfield in lead actor). The Lost Daughter could be the one. However, I have a hard time seeing Olivia Colman not getting in for Best Actress.

Moving to Original Screenplay, my five current nominees all seem destined to achieve mentions elsewhere. I look at King Richard and Being the Ricardos as potentially being two that could miss the screenplay cut.

There are three pictures with original scripts that could fill the slots and be The Lone Nominee and they are:

    • C’Mon C’Mon. And there’s history here. Mike Mills was the writer/director for the aforementioned 20th Century Women from 2016. With Joaquin Phoenix as a long shot for Best Actor inclusion, this is the type of nominee that the writers might celebrate.
    • Mass. It looked like a potential BP nominee for some time but it has fallen (it’s not even in my top 15). Ann Dowd could score a Supporting Actress nomination, but I currently have her ranked 7th. It’s a pic that’s all dialogue between four actors and that could strike the voters fancies.
    • Parallel Mothers. The Pedro Almodovar pic was not Spain’s selection for International Feature Film and is therefore not eligible. Penelope Cruz is a possibility for Actress, but I have her outside the top five.

When I update my estimates for all categories this weekend, expect to see one of these titles (either in Adapted or Original or maybe both) selected. History says it’s the right call. Stay tuned!

Oscar Watch: Tesla

My second Oscar Watch post over the weekend for a film that has five letters and begins with the letter T is definitely not as high profile as Tenet, but Tesla is worth discussing as it has hit streaming services.

The film casts Ethan Hawke as pioneering inventor Nikola Tesla with a supporting cast featuring Kyle MacLachlan, Eve Hewson, and Jim Gaffigan. It reunites its lead with his Hamlet director Michael Almereyda from that 2000 adaptation. Critics first screened the biographical drama at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January and it is available for viewing at home as of this weekend.

Reviews are decidedly mixed and the Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 58%. That’s right in range with Hawke and Almereyda’s Shakesperean collaboration at 59%. Reviewers do seem to be appreciating Hawke’s performance. He’s a double nominee in the Supporting Actor field for Training Day in 2001 and Boyhood in 2014. For his contributions to the screenplays of Before Sunset and Before Midnight, he received a pair of Adapted Screenplay nominations. Despite some lauded lead roles in 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and 2018’s First Reformed, Hawke has never managed a Best Actor nod.

I would say that Tesla simply won’t get enough visibility for the actor to make a play in 2020 and the so-so reaction thus far doesn’t help. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Everybody Wants Some!!

This past week, Richard Linklater’s latest pic Everybody Wants Some!! came out in limited release and critical reaction has been strong. This has become typical for its director, who previous effort Boyhood received much Oscar attention (eventually losing in 2014 to Birdman).

His new effort is described as a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 acclaimed cult classic Dazed and Confused. The 1980s set comedy features a cast of unknowns, though that might not be for long. You’ll recall that the “unknowns” from the aforementioned Dazed included Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, and Parker Posey. Everybody currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 90%.

So what does this all mean for its Oscar prospects? I would say this stands at outside shot at Best Picture and Director attention, though it’s probably unlikely. Where Some!! could shine is in the Original Screenplay category for Linklater. If so, it would mark his fourth nomination in the writing races (for Boyhood and Before Sunset and Before Midnight). That would appear to be its best chance at Academy attention several months down the road and it’d be foolish to count this celebrated director out.