Foxcatcher Movie Review

Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is certainly an example of truth being stranger than fiction and we see it play in bizarre, unsettling, tragic, and fascinating ways in the director’s third feature. His previous two efforts, 2005’s Capote and 2011’s Moneyball, dealt with the issue of competitive nature within us and Foxcatcher does as well. This time around, it’s in a much darker fashion.

The film tells the fact based story of two Olympic gold medalists, Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schulz (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with John du Pont (Steve Carell), heir to his family’s chemical mega fortune. Foxcatcher begins in 1987 when the brothers are training for the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. The early proceedings show that Mark is a bit in his brother’s shadow. He has to remind others that he won the gold. Dave doesn’t seem to have that issue.

Mark’s preparation for Seoul takes a turn when he is contacted by people affiliated with Mr. du Pont, who resides on a sprawling family compound/horse ranch in Pennsylvania. He is summoned to the estate where du Pont expresses his desire to help Mark realize his goals. In the meantime, he will provide a state of the art practice facility. Dave is extended the same offer, but declines. Mark is impressionable and it doesn’t take long for du Pont to establish a strange and often creepy bond with him. Dave watches from afar with growing concern, at least initially.

du Pont’s behavior includes an affinity for guns and a highly inflated opinion of his actual ability to train young men to wrestle. Most write this off as him being an eccentric millionaire. He monograms his clothing with Team Foxcatcher, his hand picked name for his squad of brawlers. He produces documentaries about himself which extol his questionable virtues. John also has serious Mommy issues with the matriarch of the dynasty (Vanessa Redgrave).

Family issues are central to Foxcatcher and it extends to the brothers. Mark and Dave grew up poor and moved around a lot. The concept of home is foreign to them. du Pont is available to provide one for Mark and eventually Dave. The financial stability involved keep them there for longer than it should. We witness Mark go from adoration of his sibling to contempt and du Pont plays a role. We witness Dave go against his better instincts with du Pont and allow the promise of a place to settle override his genuine concerns.

Along the way, we are privy to three powerhouse performances from the leads. Carell has received the lion’s share of publicity and it’s easy to see why. The actor known mostly for his comedic talents is unrecognizable with his heavy makeup job. He oozes awkwardness and insecurity and supreme creepiness. The film is not overly concerned with delving into how du Pont became so unhinged, but we see glimpses and some suggestions as to why. And that’s mostly enough.

Tatum’s work is impressive in its own right and his performance is an accomplishment of body language, from his slightly dumb jock lumbering to a scene where his movements best represent a wounded dog who’s upset his owner. Ruffalo is the heart of the movie and yet even his heart isn’t always in the best place, when he places the aforementioned promise of a comfortable life higher than du Pont’s increasingly scary actions.

Foxcatcher is an absorbing character study of these three individuals just as Miller has done before with Truman Capote and Billy Beane. This is no doubt the bleakest of the lot, but once again the director has picked a fascinating true story and the right actors to realize his telling of it.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Winner Predictions: Todd’s Take

We are officially ten days away from Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Oscars and it seems like a perfect time to chime in with an update on what and who I believe will win in the eight major categories. Next weekend – I’ll provide final predictions in all of the races. Here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Of the eight movies nominated here, it now appears only two have a legit shot at becoming 2014’s Best Picture: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman. The momentum still appears to be on the side of Linklater’s 12 years in the making family drama.

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Birdman

Other Nominees: American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash 

BEST DIRECTOR

Like the Picture race, it’s between Linklater and Inarritu. This practically seems like a coin flip at this point, but I’ll give the Birdman maker the slight edge since he just won the Director’s Guild of America award (often a solid predictor of who wins here).

Predicted Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Runner-Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Other Nominees: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

BEST ACTOR

While Michael Keaton remains the front runner for his Birdman comeback, don’t sleep on the chances of Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, especially following his somewhat surprising SAG Awards victory. I’m still clinging to Keaton winning though.

Predicted Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Runner-Up: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

BEST ACTRESS

Julianne Moore’s work in Still Alice is widely expected to nab the celebrated actress her first golden statue. Any other winner here would be a rather big surprise.

Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Runner-Up: Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Two Days One Night), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Another easy race to predict as J.K. Simmons’ turn as the sadistic music teacher in Whiplash has won essentially all precursors. Only a Birdman sweep could mean Edward Norton is victorious and that’s a long shot.

Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Runner-Up: Edward Norton, Birdman

Other Nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Like the two previous acting categories, Patricia Arquette’s Boyhood performance has scored at other awards shows and anyone but her winning would be a massive upset.

Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Runner-Up: Emma Stone, Birdman

Other Nominees Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

This is one heckuva category but again should come down to Birdman and Boyhood. Like in the Director race, Birdman gets a small edge. Watch out for Budapest as a potential spoiler.

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: Boyhood

Other Nominees: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

This would appear to be the best chance for The Imitation Game to win a major award, but Theory of Everything may be hot on its heels.

Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game

Runner-Up: The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: American Sniper, Inherent Vice, Whiplash

And that’ll do it. Keep an eye out for final predictions next weekend!

2014 Oscar Nominations Reaction

And they’re out!

The Oscar nominations for the 2014 movie year were released this morning. As readers of the blog know, I made my final predictions yesterday evening in the eight major categories. So how did I do?

Well… not too shabby as I see it. Of the 44 nominations predicted, I correctly got 38 which equates to 86% overall and perfect scores in three of the races. Let’s take a look at the categories one by one and, for the first time, I’ll offer my initial thoughts on what and who will win:

BEST PICTURE

As mentioned last night, I finally got on the Nightcrawler bandwagon. Frankly, I should have been thinking more about the American Sniper bandwagon. It’s the only movie that received a nod that I didn’t predict. There were eight nominees instead of my estimated nine, which meant my Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler calls were left off. So overall – 7 out of 9 on Best Picture.

Nominees

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

This appears to be a three film race between Boyhood, Birdman, and The Imitation Game with Boyhood appearing to have the edge. Selma was once thought to be in that mix, but today’s lack of nods in other categories render its chances virtually non-existent.

Current Predicted Winner: Boyhood

BEST DIRECTOR

Went 4 out of 5 here. Bennett Miller’s nomination for Foxcatcher was only surprising because the picture itself wasn’t recognized. I included Ana DuVernay for Selma yet her exclusion isn’t that shocking since Selma has been losing steam.

Nominees

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

For the last two years, Oscar has split their Picture and Director winners. I could easily see a scenario where Boyhood takes top prize with Inarritu’s virtuoso work in Birdman victorious in this category. This is a tough call, but for now I’ll go with Linklater’s heralded and long gestating accomplishment in Boyhood.

Predicted Winner: Linklater

BEST ACTOR

4 for 5 again. This race had turned into a seven man showdown and two were going to be left out. They were David Oyelowo in Selma (who I predicted wouldn’t be nominated) and Jake Gyllenhall in Nightcrawler (I predicted he would). The Sniper love meant Bradley Cooper picked up his third consecutive nomination and he’s the one I left out.

Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

We’ll keep this short and sweet. Cumberbatch or Redmayne could spoil, but this is Keaton’s race to lose.

Predicted Winner: Keaton

BEST ACTRESS

5 for 5 here! I’ll pat myself on the back for including Marion Cotillard’s “surprise” nom for Two Days One Night. Some were surprised at Jennifer Aniston’s exclusion for Cake, but the film was so small and reviews so not solid that I wasn’t.

Nominees

Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Like the Best Actor race, we have a big front runner here and it’s Moore (a celebrated and often nominated actress who’s never won). It’s simply hard to imagine any of the other four topping her.

Predicted Winner: Moore

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

5 for 5 again!! Not much to add here as these five actors were the expected nominees and that’s how it panned out.

Nominees

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but again there’s a major front runner. J.K. Simmons has won most of the precursors. Only an extremely good night for Birdman and a Norton upset seems plausible… but not that plausible.

Predicted Winner: Simmons

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

4 for 5 here as Laura Dern’s work in Wild (which I’d predicted previously but took her off) was included and Jessica Chastain’s in A Most Violent Year was excluded.

Nominees

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

The broken record continues as Stone could reap the benefit of a Birdman love fest. However, Arquette seems to be in a solid position for gold.

Predicted Winner: Arquette

Best Original Screenplay

Perfection again – 5 for 5!!! ‘Nuff said…

Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

This would appear to be the race where Birdman has an ever so slight edge over Boyhood. If there’s a spoiler, it could be Grand Budapest.

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Best Adapted Screenplay

4 for 5. The American Sniper props continued as I didn’t include it. That meant Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her book Gone Girl was left off… which was a bit of a surprise.

Nominees

American Sniper

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Here, The Imitation Game seems the most likely to win and it’ll likely represent its only victory in the main races.

Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game

As for surprises in the down ticket categories, there were a couple of big ones. In the Animated Feature category, The LEGO Movie was seen to many as a potential winner and it wasn’t even nominated. In the Documentary race, the Roger Ebert pic Life Itself was shockingly left out.

Please note that my current winner predictions are not my final ones and I will have a post up the weekend before the ceremony to make those picks in all categories.

Stay tuned!

 

Todd’s Final Oscar Predictions!

Well here we are! Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning and this is my sixth and final round of predictions for nominees in the eight major categories. For my final predictions, I’ll list the predictions as well as others that could potentially make the cut. Here’s what changed the most: I have finally gotten on the Nightcrawler bandwagon and am now predicting a number of nominations for it. Tomorrow – I”ll have my reaction post up and pontificate on where I went wrong and right.

As you may know, the Best Picture race (unlike all others) can list anywhere from 5-10 nominees. I finally settled on nine… which is the same number of films nominated each year since that system was put into place. And without further adieu – Todd’s Final Oscar Predictions:

Best Picture

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Imitation Game

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Other Possibilities: American Sniper, Gone Girl, Unbroken

Best Director

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ana DuVernay, Selma

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Other Possibilities: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Best Actor

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Jake Gyllenhall, Nightcrawler

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Other Possibilities: Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), David Oyelowo (Selma)

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Other Possibilities: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Other Possibilities: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma)

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Other Possibilities: Laura Dern (Wild), Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Naomi Watts (St. Vincent)

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Other Possibilities: The LEGO Movie, A Most Violent Year, Selma

Best Adapted Screenplay

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Other Possibilities: American Sniper, Wild 

And there you have it, folks! We’ll see how smart (or dumb) I am tomorrow morning!!

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: Round FOUR (December Edition)

We have arrived at take #4 of my Oscar Predictions and these reflect my first predictions in the month of December. Much has changed since my last pre-Thanksgiving picks. Most importantly, the nominations for the SAG and Golden Globe awards have been released and they obviously show many directions in which the Academy could go. Just as importantly, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken screened for critics. Many anticipated the picture could be a potential Oscar front runner. However, it didn’t pan out that way with its current 55% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It may struggle now to be nominated at all.

As I’ve done before, let’s breakdown the eight major categories one by one:

Best Adapted Screenplay

Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything appear to be locks for nominations here. I will still include Unbroken, though its inclusion is less clear. The fifth slot could be anything from Still Alice to American Sniper to Into the Woods. Yet (for now) I’ll go with Wild. This latest round replaces Into the Woods with the Reese Witherspoon drama.

Predicted Nominees

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Wild

Best Original Screenplay

No changes here in a very strong category. However, the list of movies that could be spoiler nominees includes Mr. Turner, Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, and even The LEGO Movie.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Selma

Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Just one change here as I’m taking out Carmen Ejogo for Selma and replacing her with Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year. Other potential nominees: Laura Dern in Wild, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl, and Kristen Stewart in Still Alice.

Predicted Nominees

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

The disappointment of the Unbroken reaction has led me to take out Miyavi for that picture and replace him with Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson in Selma. Other potential nominees: Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice and Tim Roth in Selma. Robert Duvall has landed SAG and Globe nods, but I still can’t bring myself to include him yet.

Predicted Nominees

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Tom Wilkinson, Selma

Best Actress

This category seems to have four locks: Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, and Rosamund Pike. The five spot is truly up for grabs. It could go to Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Emily Blunt (Into the Woods), or Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars). For now – I’m taking Blunt out and predicting the final slot goes to Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night.

Predicted Nominees

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor

In any other year – Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Jake Gyllenhall (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), and Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) might find themselves in the mix. However, there are five other strong contenders and they’re the same that I predicted last month.

Predicted Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

David Oyelowo, Selma

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Director

I’ve had Angelina Jolie included in my previous three posts, but she’s out for the first time. I’m replacing her with David Fincher for now. Other possibilities include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), and JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year), among others.

Predicted Nominees

Ana DuVernay, Selma

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Picture

Two changes here as Into the Woods and Interstellar are out. I’m still including Unbroken, but it may be in serious danger. The two newbies have both been predicted in previous posts but not last month: Foxcatcher and Gone Girl. 

Other pictures not predicted that could find a way in: The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, and Mr. Turner.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Whiplash

And that’s the latest folks! I’ll likely have a part two December predictions before the dawn of 2015. Stay tuned!

 

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: ROUND TWO (October Edition)

This evening on the blog, we arrive at round two of my Oscar Predictions for the 2014 race, which will air in early 2015 with Neil Patrick Harris handling hosting duties. In late August, I made my initial round of predictions and two months later, much has changed and much has stayed the same. Unlike my first round, my second go round will include the races of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay.

Let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s where I see the Oscar race right now in the eight major categories:

Best Adapted Screenplay

For my first crack at the Adapted Screenplay race, it’s probably safe to assume Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own bestseller Gone Girl will make the cut, as well as festival favorites The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. I’m also safely (at the moment) including Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, even though no one has seen it yet. The fifth slot includes several contenders: Still Alice, Inherent Vice, Wild, Into the Woods, and American Sniper. No one has viewed Sniper yet, but its recently released trailer inspires hope.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

American Sniper

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Best Original Screenplay

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman appear to be shoo-ins for inclusion. I’m also thinking Wes Anderson’s work for The Grand Budapest Hotel stands it best chance at a nod here. For the remaining two slots – I’m saying Foxcatcher and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, for now. Other contenders include Mr. Turner, Top Five, Whiplash, A Most Violent Year, Selma, and Big Eyes.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Interstellar

Best Supporting Actress

This race has changed quite a bit since my first round of predictions. I originally had both Emily Blunt for Into the Woods and Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything listed here, but it’s since been announced their performances will fall into the Best Actress race. They’re out – along with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in Selma. The only two actresses from my initial predictions are Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (who’s a front runner) and Laura Dern in Wild. Added to the mix are Emma Stone in Birdman and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game. Other possibilities for the fifth slot include Meryl Streep in Into the Woods, Jessica Chastain in Interstellar, Carrie Coon for Gone Girl, Sienna Miller in American Sniper, Julianne Moore in A Map to the Stars, Anna Kendrick in Into the Woods, Katherine Waterson in Inherent Vice, and Jessica Lange in The Gambler. I’ll go with Kristen Stewart as a surprise nominee for the acclaimed Still Alice.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Kristen Stewart, Still Alice

Emma Stone, Birdman

Best Supporting Actor

My first predictions didn’t include J.K. Simmons for his lauded work in Whiplash, but he could be considered the favorite at this juncture. Staying in are Edward Norton in Birdman and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher and it’s tough to imagine them not being recognized. For the other two slots, I’m including Miyavi for his villainous role in Unbroken and Ethan Hawke for Boyhood. Left out from my first round: Domhall Gleeson (Unbroken), Logan Lerman (Fury), and Tim Roth (Selma). Other contenders: John Goodman for The Gambler, Tom Wilkinson for Selma, Albert Brooks for A Most Violent Year, Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes, Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice, Robert Duvall in The Judge, and Johnny Depp for Into the Woods.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Miyavi, Unbroken

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Actress

Following my August estimates, the festival circuit anointed Julianne Moore as a likely front runner for playing an Alzheimer’s patient in Still Alice. I’m also sticking with initial predictions Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Since the announcement of her inclusion in this race and not Supporting Actress, Felicity Jones joins the fray for The Theory of Everything. Other possibilities: Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year (who made the cut in August), Emily Blunt for Into the Woods, Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars, and Hilary Swank for The Homesman.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ACTRESS:

Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor

Just like last year, what a crowded field we have! The following quartet seem virtual locks for nominations: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Michael Keaton (Birdman), and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher). The fifth slot is the real mystery. I originally had Joaquin Phoenix here for Inherent Vice, but I’m skeptical now. For now, I’ll replace him with Jack O’Connell in Unbroken. Other possibilities include Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner (who could easily find a way in), Bradley Cooper in American Sniper (same), Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ben Affleck in Gone Girl, Bill Murray for St. Vincent, David Oyelowo in Selma (depends on film’s success and critical reception), Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar (fact that he won last year hurts), Jake Gyllenhall for Nightcrawler (pic is probably too quirky and small), and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher (Carell likely to steal his thunder).

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ACTOR:

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Jack O’Connell, Unbroken

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Director

Only one change here as I’m taking Bennett Miller’s direction for Foxcatcher out and putting David Fincher’s work in Gone Girl in. I think the commercial and critical success of it and Fincher’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s best filmmakers gets him in (at press time). Those who could spoil my predictions: Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Ana DuVernay (Selma), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year), and Rob Marshall (Into the Woods).

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Angelina Jolie, Unbroken

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Christopher Nolan, Interstellar

Best Picture

As you may know, anywhere from 5-10 films can be nominated in the biggest category of them all. Since that system has been in place, nine pictures have been recognized every time. In August’s predictions, I predicted eight. And now – I’m going with nine. The MLK biopic Selma is the one I’ve removed. Don’t get me wrong – it could still easily make the cut, but no one’s seen it yet and it’s a question mark. Gone Girl and American Sniper enter the race in my opinion and this marks their first inclusion. Other films that could potentially make the cut (even though I say no at the moment): Mr. Turner, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Violent Year, and Into the Woods.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST PICTURE

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Todd’s Top Ten Most Eagerly Awaited Fall 2014 Movies

The summer of 2014 is heading towards its closure and that means school, football, and the Fall Movie Season is ahead of us! As many know, the months of September through December is when studios typically save up their major Oscar contenders and that is certainly the case this year. As for what’s been released pre-fall, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is the only shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination (it could win too) while Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel currently has a decent shot.

This brings us to my personal top ten most anticipated films being released in the final four months of the year. Some of my choices are Oscar hopefuls while others are not. I’ll get to my first round of inappropriately early Academy Award nomination predictions very soon on the blog. In the meantime, here’s the pics that this blogger is most looking forward to:

10. St. Vincent

Release Date: October 24

This comedy/drama had me at the actor headlining the cast: Bill Murray. He plays an irresponsible war veteran who befriends a young boy. Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts costar. If it’s good, expect Oscar buzz for Mr. Murray and Ms. Watts in the Supporting Actress race.

9. The Interview

Release Date: December 25

When Seth Rogen and James Franco have teamed up, it’s led to two hilarious comedies: Pineapple Express and This is the End. Here’s hoping the trend continues where they play two journalists given the task of assassinating Kim Jong-Un.

8. Big Eyes

Release Date: December 25

Tim Burton has seemed to be on autopilot lately with lackluster pics like Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows. This could change that in the true life tale of a man (Christoph Waltz) who fraudulently claims credit for his wife’s (Amy Adams) bestselling paintings. Oscar buzz could follow if this one if it delivers.

**No trailer released at press time

7. Birdman

Release Date: October 17

Not a biography of the tattooed Miami Heat player – rather Birdman stars Michael Keaton in what could be a huge comeback role. He plays an actor most known for playing an iconic superhero, which shouldn’t be much of a stretch. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifinakis round out the ensemble and it’s directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who brought us 21 Grams and Babel.

6. Dumb and Dumber To

Release Date: November 14

Whether or not the return of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) nearly 20 years after the iconic original works is an open question, but you can be damn sure I’ll be in the theater to find out.

5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Release Date: November 21

Catching Fire improved upon an already first-rate original in the franchise so I’m pumped to see the series continue. It also serves as one of our final opportunities to see the great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

4. Inherent Vice

Release Date: December 12

Anytime Paul Thomas Anderson makes a film, it’s noteworthy given his filmography includes Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, and The Master. This private detective tale stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon.

**No trailer released at press time

3. Foxcatcher

Release Date: November 14

Director Bennett Miller has seen both his features, Capote and Moneyball, earn Best Picture nominations. Advance word is that this will as well. The true story of John du Pont’s (Steve Carell) obsession with a pair of wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) is generating Academy Award chatter for all three actors.

2. Gone Girl

Release Date: October 3

One of the very best directors working today David Fincher adapts Gillian Flynn’s bestselling murder mystery novel. Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike (in a role likely to earn Oscar buzz), Tyler Perry, and Neil Patrick Harris star.

1. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan has given us the acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. In his latest, recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey is tasked with no less than saving the world. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and (of course) Michael Caine costar. Expect amazing visuals at the very least.

And that’s my top ten, folks. See you at the movies!