No Time to Die Review

The five film run of Daniel Craig as perhaps the world’s most famous cinematic character comes to a close in No Time to Die, the 25th feature in the nearly 60-year-old 007 franchise. It began 15 years ago with Casino Royale, which I list at #2 in the canon behind only From Russia with Love (Sean Connery’s second entry).

For those who think the dedicated team behind the series have no time for surprises, be prepared. Like the midsection poker sequence in Royale that stands as one of the finest in Bond history, there’s times where they go all in. There’s also moments that harken back to the Roger Moore days and, in this case, I mean it as a compliment. By the time we reached Craig’s third and deservedly praised Skyfall in 2012, the pics had achieved a level of seriousness that risked becoming too dour.

Despite its considerable flaws, 2015’s follow-up Spectre thankfully remembered that the action and plots in this cinematic universe can be silly. 007’s 25th adventure isn’t afraid to display that. The threat to the world here involves passing a weaponized virus only through that individual’s DNA and those related to them. It’s a little ridiculous and I once again mean that in a good way.

This is not quite the triumph that Casino Royale was. In fact, I’d also rank this a smidge behind Skyfall. The villain is not particularly memorable. Like all Craig films that followed the first, no romantic entanglement will rival the one he had with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Yet Die achieves the unlikely feat of bringing those fun Moore elements dashed with Timothy Dalton’s more weighty tone. The result is that Craig’s time as the super spy (the longest in terms of actual time but not volume of titles) is easily the most satisfying since Sean Connery’s.

From the jump, we realize Die is going to be a little different. The pre-title sequence begins with a franchise first: an eerie and gorgeously rendered flashback that sheds light on the childhood of Madeleine Swann. As you may recall, she’s Bond’s love interest from Spectre played by Lea Seydoux. Her connections to that criminal enterprise led by Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) is expanded upon. In the present day, James and Madeleine are making a romantic go of it. A visit to Vesper’s tomb disrupts both their safety and Bond’s trust in his current relationship.

This all occurs in the lengthy prologue before we hear Billie Eilish’s title cut. Let’s dispense with that. Ms. Eilish has some quality tunes, but her contribution is forgettable and not the kind of Bond tune you’ll be humming leaving the theater or rushing to download for the ride back.

In the serialized fashion we’ve come to expect from Craig’s tenure (something unique only to his), we jump five years to Bond in retirement. And (gasp) he’s no longer 007. MI6 is still going strong but relations with their U.S. counterparts are strained. It’s not the new 007 (Lashana Lynch) or M (Ralph Fiennes) or even his beloved Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) or Q (Ben Whishaw) that convince Bond to emerge from his Jamaican R&R. Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), along with a new eager associate (Billy Magnussen), recruit him for a mission that involves dismantling SPECTRE. Bond hooks up (not literally as Bond’s libido seems to be catching up with his age) with another agent (Ana de Armas) to do so. This culminates in a wonderfully fabulous and bizarre action set piece in Cuba.

All this activity soon puts James in the same space with Madeline again and with Blofeld. And we soon meet Safin (Rami Malek), the head baddie with his own troubled history with the criminal organization. I won’t wax rhapsodic about Safin as I mentioned he’s a pretty weak villain. On the other hand, No Time to Die is not really focused on his story. This Bond story, more than any other besides Skyfall, is really about Bond. That gives us one more opportunity to soak in Craig’s terrific performance that’s spanned this quintet. One could argue the series goes too far in making it all about him. With Craig in control, you’ll hear few complaints from me (heck even Quantum of Solace had some cool stuff in it).

No Time to Die has Cary Fukunaga taking over directorial duties from Sam Mendes, who helmed the previous two. He presides over some amazing looking chases and battles that rank right at the top of what we’ve seen previously. On a slightly contradictory note, there’s one during the climax that was a little too video game oriented for my taste. The screenwriters (with an assist from Phoebe Waller-Bridge) also remember to bring the humor. As much as Safin isn’t much of a memorable character, he does get a moment with a toddler that left me chuckling for a good minute or two after their interaction. The makers also don’t forget that these pictures can be quite weird in their production design. Safin’s Poison Garden is a glorious example.

Additionally, the team isn’t afraid to bring a rare level of emotion to the proceedings. However, it’s not that out of place for Craig’s service. We witnessed a love story in Casino Royale that went beyond his typical dalliances. His connection to Judi Dench’s M (particularly in Skyfall) went far deeper than the same character giving James his orders in the past. In No Time to Die, Mr. Craig’s mission involves the striking visuals that we’re used to. What’s different is that over the five adventures connected to each other, I felt like these missions developed a familial bond that shook the foundation of a franchise in a stirring fashion.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: No Time to Die

The 15 year era of Daniel Craig as one of cinema’s most famous characters concludes with No Time to Die. James Bond will return… but not with arguably his best incarnation since Sean Connery. Prior to the October 8 stateside bow, the embargo lifted this evening and the results are encouraging.

007’s 25th adventure stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes (with 35 reviews out at press time). Many critics are calling it a surprisingly emotional swan song for Craig’s contribution to the British super spy series. There’s also hints that it resembles more of the Roger Moore era of the canon than one might expect (a direction it seemed to be taking with predecessor Spectre). Ana de Armas is drawing raves for her very short amount of screen time. The consensus on Rami Malek’s main villain seems a bit mixed. There’s some complaints about the length (a Bond high 163 minutes).

Yet no one seems to be arguing that it’s a rather fitting conclusion to Craig’s tenure in the part. So will Oscar take notice? Skyfall, the third pic in the actor’s five appearances, probably came close to a Best Picture nod. It did earn five nominations – winning Sound Editing and Original Song (Adele’s title track) with mentions in Sound Mixing, Score, and Cinematography. 2015’s follow-up Spectre (which had less laudatory reviews) managed a sole nomination in Song with Sam Smith’s “The Writing’s on the Wall” where it scored an upset victory.

I wouldn’t be shocked if an internet campaign is mounted for Craig to get a Best Actor slot (kind of as a tribute to the whole run). It’s highly unlikely to materialize. I do believe Die will make it three in a row for the songs with Billie Eilish’s title tune work. Whether she wins is a question mark (Beyonce has a ditty from King Richard that might serve as its main competition). Cinematography and Sound are two other feasible possibilities.

Bottom line: while I don’t foresee this factoring into the biggest races, tech and musical recognition could be coming its way. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

No Time to Die Box Office Prediction

***Blogger’s Note Part III (10/06): I have revised my No Time to Die prediction from $104.1 million down to $94.1 million, which would still set a COVID era record.

***Blogger’s Note Part II (10/03): With the news that Venom: Let There Be Carnage has grossed approximately $90 million out of the gate, it’s go big or go home for No Time to Die! I’m re-upping my estimate from $84.1 million to a COVID era best $104.1 million***

**Blogger’s Note (10/01): A week before its stateside premiere, I have decided to significantly increase my prediction (partly due to the apparent over performance of Venom: Let There Be Carnage). I’m going from $72.1 million to $84.1 million**

Ladies and gentlemen, the second frame of October finally marks the weekend for Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007 in No Time to Die. The 25th official entry in the James Bond franchise was gearing up for release in April of 2020 (Billie Eilish’s title track had already dropped) when COVID scuttled the plans. It experienced several more delays before at last settling on October 8. Craig is back for his fifth and final appearance along with series returnees Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear, and Christoph Waltz. On the job for the first time are Rami Malek as the main villain, Lashana Lynch, Craig’s Knives Out costar Ana de Armas, and Billy Magnussen.

Anticipation is certainly present with the culmination of Mr. Craig’s service as the British super spy – one rivaled by only Sean Connery. He’s actually had the longest run as the character in terms of time, though not actual volume of pictures. It seems like eons since moviegoers have had their Bond fix. With the frequent pushbacks, the just shy of a six-year wait is the second lengthiest break between 007 adventures (beaten by the sabbatical of 1989’s Licence to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye at nearly six and a half years).

Fifteen years ago, Craig defied expectations with the critically acclaimed Casino Royale. It made $40 million for its start but legged out very impressively. Sequel (and it was the first true Bond sequel) Quantum of Solace debuted two years later with $67 million. 2012’s Skyfall marked a high point at the box office as it grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. The premiere stateside is a series best $88 million. Three years later, Spectre kicked off with $70 million.

So where will this golden era of 007 culminate in terms of opening weekend? There’s certainly a range of possibilities. First things first: it will have no trouble eclipsing what Craig’s first foray achieved a decade and a half ago. I do believe the COVID times will prevent the record setting starting number of Skyfall managed (but you never know). It’s hard to totally factor in the excitement for its star’s last go-round. A video of Craig bidding adieu to his costars and crew has been widely circulated on social media in recent weeks.

My hunch is that a premiere in the range of Quantum and Spectre is most likely stateside (I’m sure its overseas haul will be massive). I’m tempted to say a low to mid 60s gross just under them could occur. However, I’ll err on the side of over performance and project low to mid 70s. (PER ABOVE: I have increased estimate from $72.1M to $84.1M to $104.1 million)

No Time to Die opening weekend prediction: $94.1 million

2020 Oscar Predictions: October 8th Edition

As much as I want to predict Mel Gibson’s Santa Claus revenge tale Fatman in all categories based on its bonkers trailer, I shall refrain. However, there is more news to be discussed in my latest round of Oscar predictions.

Speaking of trailers, we got our first looks at two major contenders this week: David Fincher’s Mank (still holding in 1st place in Picture and Director and more) and News of the World from Paul Greengrass (with an impressive 10 predictions). Mank, by the way, leads all contenders with 12 and that takes over last week’s leader The Trial of the Chicago 7. 

We also learned that Dune and No Time to Die have officially moved out of contention due to release date changes. I had Dune down for 8 nominations last week. I also listed the theme song from No Time to Die (performed by Billie Eilish) in first place for Original Song. These drops are reflected below.

Other developments:

  • Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress remain unchanged. I will note that French Exit will screen this weekend for critics and we will have a better idea as to Michelle Pfeiffer’s viability and if it could be a contender in other categories.
  • While Supporting Actor stays intact, I have moved Amanda Seyfried’s work in Mank in the Supporting Actress five over Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman. 

With that, let’s get to the latest guesstimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

7. The Father (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 10)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

12. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 13)

13. Ammonite (PR: 14)

14. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The White Tiger (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

9. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 8)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 4)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

10. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

5. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

8. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

9. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 9)

10. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 5)

5. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Abigail Breslin, Stillwater

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

4. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 6)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 10)

8. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 8)

10. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 5)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Soul (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 6)

8. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Stillwater (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ammonite

C’Mon C’Mon

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

8. French Exit (PR: 10)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 9)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Over the Moon (PR: 2)

3. Wolfwalkers (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Predicted Nominees:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. Connected (PR: 7)

8. Bombay Rose (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Trolls World Tour (PR: 9)

10. Earwig and the Witch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rumble

Ride Your Wave

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Crip Camp (PR: 1)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 4)

3. Boys State (PR: 2)

4. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 3)

5. The Dissident (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

7. Totally Under Control (PR: Not Ranked)

8. 76 Days (PR: Not Ranked)

9. MLK/FBI (PR: 7)

10. Notturno (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Spaceship Earth

John Lewis: Good Trouble

Miss Americana

On the Record 

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. Another Round (PR: 6)

3. New Order (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

5. The Disciple (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Wife of a Spy (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Atlantis (PR: 5)

10. A Sun (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Ema

The Life Ahead

Young Ahmed

Memory House 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 10)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Ammonite

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Mulan (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

7. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 10)

8. Coming 2 America (PR: 6)

9. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 4)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

7. The Father (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

10. Tenet (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Mank (PR: 1)

4. Mulan (PR: 5)

5. Coming 2 America (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

9. Emma (PR: 8)

10, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

No Time to Die

Wonder Woman 1984

Ammonite

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 6)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

7. Over the Moon (PR: 9)

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

9. Tenet (PR: 10)

10. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 7)

3. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: Not Ranked)

4. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

5. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 3)

8. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 6)

9. “Carried Me with You” from Onward (PR: 8)

10. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

“See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 3)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

7. Rebecca (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Ammonite (PR: 6)

9. Death on the Nile (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

One Night in Miami

Tenet

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 3)

3. News of the World (PR: 7)

4. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Greyhound (PR: Not Ranked)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Respect (PR: 5)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

The Invisible Man

No Time to Die

Wonder Woman 1984

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 2)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 6)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: Not Ranked)

7. The Call of the Wild (PR: 7)

8. Birds of Prey (PR: 10)

9. Free Guy (PR: 9)

10. Dolittle (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dune

Wonder Woman 1984

No Time to Die

That equates to the following numbers of nominations for features:

12 Nominations

Mank

10 Nominations

News of the World, The Trial of the Chicago 7

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

6 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, Nomadland, One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

The Father, Mulan, Soul

2 Nominations

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Ammonite, Minari, Over the Moon, Tenet

1 Nomination

Birds of Prey, Boys State, Coming 2 America, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Giving Voice, Greyhound, Hillbilly Elegy, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Midnight Sky, New Order, Night of the Kings, The One and Only Ivan, Onward, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: The One and Only Ivan

Disney’s streaming service combines humans and familiar faces voicing creatures this weekend with the release of The One and Only Ivan, based on the 2012 children’s book by K.A. Applegate. Directed by Thea Sharrock, the family friendly fantasy features Bryan Cranston, Ramon Rodriguez, and Ariana Greenblatt in front of the camera. Stars including Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklyn Prince, and Chaka Khan (!) lend their voices as gorillas, elephants, and dogs.

In what is now a familiar story on this blog, Ivan was intended for theatrical release last Friday before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the plans. It is now hitting the Disney+ service this weekend. Why an Oscar Watch post for this unlikely contender? Fair question as even a Visual Effects nod is probably a long shot. Reviews out today are decent, but not overwhelmingly positive with a current 64% Rotten Tomatoes score.

There is, however, a solid shot for Ivan to come under Academy consideration and that’s with Original Song. It was announced this week that Diane Warren has written the track “Free” that will play over the end credits. Performed by Charlie Puth, the song is another possibility in a lengthy list of Warren’s works that could vie for a nomination.

Diane Warren has been nominated in the Original Song race 11 times over four decades. This began with “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from 1987’s Mannequin and runs through last year with “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough. In between, we have massive hits like Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close and Personal and the Aerosmith ballad “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from Armageddon in the 90s. Despite the multitude of nods, Warren has never made the trip to the podium.

I doubt that “Free” would earn her the win, but a 12th nomination is certainly feasible. It remains to be seen how this particular category will play out in the coming months. Billie Eilish’s title track for the upcoming 007 adventure No Time to Die will likely make it in the final five.

Bottom line: Original Song could mark the one and only nod for Ivan next year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…