The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

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American Assassin Box Office Prediction

Lionsgate Films is hoping American Assassin successfully targets action fans when it debuts next weekend. The pic features Maze Runner star Dylan O’Brien as a CIA recruit teamed with a Cold War vet played by Michael Keaton. Sanaa Lathan and Taylor Kitsch costar in this effort from director Michael Cuesta (who last made the Jeremy Renner thriller Kill the Messenger).

The biggest draw here should be Keaton, who’s experienced a genuine career resurgence that began with back to back Best Picture winners Birdman and Spotlight in 2014 and 2015 and continued this summer with his well-received villainous turn in Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

Assassin also has the benefit of being the only straight up action pic geared towards a male audience. That said, there is still competition with It‘s second weekend and mother!‘s first.

Reviews (not out at press time) could cause a revision here, but I’ll project Assassin ends up hitting low to possibly mid teens.

American Assassin opening weekend prediction: $13.3 million

For my mother! prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/06/mother-box-office-prediction/

 

Oscar Watch: Battle of the Sexes

Another widely anticipated Oscar hopeful was served up at the Telluride Film Festival as Battle of the Sexes has screened. The film is centered on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and comes from Little Miss Sunshine makers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Early buzz out of Telluride suggests this is a major crowd pleaser and also a timely tale about gender that is being compared to the 2016 presidential election. If Sexes manages to score with audiences (and it likely will), that momentum could carry it to Best Picture recognition (I’m not quite as sold yet on a nomination for its directors).

Then there’s Emma Stone, who won just last year for La La Land. She looks poised to receive yet another nod and it would be her third in four years (she got a Supporting nomination for 2014’s Birdman). It was also confirmed this week that Carell will be campaigned for in lead Actor. His inclusion in that category should hinge on how potentially considerable competition shakes out in coming weeks and months.

Bottom line: Battle of the Sexes was expected to be in the conversation for Oscar attention and today solidified that.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Founder Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton has had the rare feat of appearing in the last two Best Picture Oscar winners with 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight. For awhile, The Founder (out next weekend) was looked at as potential awards bait. Keaton headlines the biographical drama playing Ray Kroc, the man who acquired what would become the multi billion dollar McDonald’s franchise. John Lee Hancock directs and his previous efforts include The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, and B.J. Novak costar.

The Founder has had a shifty journey to the big screen. It was originally tapped to debut in November before being pushed up to August before being pushed back to January. It had a very limited release in December to qualify for Academy consideration, but that probably won’t matter much. While reviews so far have been decent (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s likely to receive zero nominations. This won’t be a Keaton trifecta for Best Picture.

What does it all mean for the box office? While any moviegoer is certainly familiar with the subject matter, I don’t that see that translating to much business. That said, the pic comes with just a tiny reported $7 million budget. I’ll predict it mkea under that in its first weekend for a mid single digits start.

The Founder opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my xXx: Return of Xander Cage prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/xxx-return-of-xander-cage-box-office-prediction/

For my Split prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/split-box-office-prediction/

For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/20th-century-women-box-office-prediction/

For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/the-resurrection-of-gavin-stone-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Founder

Another day, another piece of the Oscar puzzle coming into more focus as The Founder has screened for critics. The film is a biopic of Ray Croc, the man behind the McDonald’s franchise. Michael Keaton stars with John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directing. Costars include Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, Patrick Wilson, and John Carroll Lynch.

This has been fairly low on the radar screen of many awards prognosticators. Part of that could be due to its consistently shifting release date over the past few months. It was originally scheduled to debut this Friday and then was pushed up to August before being pushed back to December and its wide release won’t come until January. Got all that?

Nevertheless, The Founder found some positive critical reaction as of yesterday and it currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Will it get a Best Picture nomination? Most likely not, but it could be a factor in one particular race. Michael Keaton has been on a roll lately (he’s appeared in the last two Best Picture winners – Birdman and Spotlight). The Best Actor race appears to be rather fluid, with only Denzel Washington (Fences) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) as seemingly sure things. Keaton could easily find himself in the mix with Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Tom Hanks (Sully), Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and others. It could also make a play for Best Original Screenplay, though that could be more of a long shot.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2015 Reaction

Well – after months of prognosticating the nominees and the winners of the 2015 Oscars, the season officially came to a close last night. This was a truly unpredictable year at the Academy Awards and it bore out with my so-so performance at just 13/21 on predictions. There were some REAL surprises last night and plenty of races that went according to plan. Let’s break it down with my various takes on the telecast and the winners:

  • The three picture race for the top category was just that with Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight winning over presumed front runner The Revenant (which was my prediction). The journalistic expose won only one other category (Original Screenplay, which I correctly predicted) and it’s the first Best Picture winner to be victorious in only two categories since 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth.
  • Speaking of history, expected recipient Alejandro G. Inarritu is the first Director to win (for The Revenant) twice in a row (2014’s Birdman) in 65 years.
  • The sixth time was finally the charm for Leonardo DiCaprio as he picked up a golden statue for The Revenant, as he was widely expected to.
  • The female acting competitions went according to plan: Brie Larson in Actress for Room and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl in Supporting. Same goes for Foreign Language Film (Son of Saul), Animated Feature (Inside Out), Adapted Screenplay (The Big Short), and Documentary (Amy), even though I went with the upset pick of Cartel Land.
  • Sylvester Stallone was the heavy favorite in Supporting Actor for Creed, but the Academy instead went with Mark Rylance’s work in Bridge of Spies. This category has had a history of upsets (Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine over Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls circa 2006) and this is indeed another one.
  • It was a good night in the technical categories for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road as it picked up six awards: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Costume Design, Editing, and Makeup and Hairstyling. It was nominated in Cinematography, but that went as anticipated to The Revenant. The big shocker in the tech categories was Ex Machina‘s out of nowhere win for Visual Effects. This truly was a massive upset as I would have picked it fifth to win over competitors Mad Max, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Martian.
  •  While Best Score went as planned to legendary Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight (for which he learned a long and deserved standing O), the Song category honored Sam Smith’s Spectre theme “Writing’s on the Wall” over expected winner “Til It Happens to You” by Lady Gaga from The Hunting Ground, just moments after her peformance was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden.
  • As for the show itself, Chris Rock’s handling of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was handled with the edgy humor you’d expect from one of the greatest stand up comedians of all time. The telecast, per usual, was way longer than it should have been. The idea, however well intended, to allow winners to thank various people via a scroll at the bottom of the screen didn’t serve its intended purpose. Look for it to be gone next year. As solid as Rock was in his hosting duties, I couldn’t help but watch Louis C.K.’s brilliant introduction of the Best Documentary Short Subject race and hope that the Academy tabs him to host like… next year.

And there you have it! Another Oscar season that’s come and gone. Before we know it, I’ll be predicting the 2016 films and performers that could be recognized a year from now…

Dracula and Uncle Buck Make a Movie Together

Confused by the blog post title?

I understand. The name comes from a rather ingenious movie game idea that came to my attention via my Uncle Steve over the weekend and I’ve been rather preoccupied with it ever since. If you’re a true movie buff, it’s quite a bit of fun and it’s something good to quiz your fellow movie buff friends on.

The concept is simple. Take the character names (real or fictional) of actors who’ve appeared in a film together and make your subject guess which picture they all appear in together. Still confused? This should clear it up:

Batman, Al Capone, Lois Lane, Chris Kyle, Katniss Everdeen, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

I’ll give you a moment… (DON’T READ ON IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GUESS)

That would be American Hustle, whose cast included Christian Bale (Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy), Robert De Niro (Capone in The Untouchables), Amy Adams (Lois Lane in Man of Steel), Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle in American Sniper), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise), and Jeremy Renner (Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer). Kinda fun isn’t it?

Or how about Elvis Presley, Andy Kaufman, Virginia Woolf, Ty Cobb, and Ernest Hemingway?

That would be Batman Forever with Val Kilmer (Presley in True Romance), Jim Carrey (Kaufman in Man on the Moon), Nicole Kidman (Woolf in The Hours), Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb in Cobb), and Chris O’Donnell (Hemingway in In Love and War).

There’s last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman with Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), The Hulk (Edward Norton), Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and Princess Diana (Naomi Watts).

And 2012’s Oscar winner Argo starring Daredevil (Ben Affleck), Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Fred Flintstone (John Goodman), Shawshank Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), and “Orange is the New Black” main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling).

This December’s eagerly awaited Quentin Tarantino pic The Hateful Eight boasts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Magic Mike (Channing Tatum).

What 1991 Oscar nominated political drama features Robin Hood, Ren McCormack, Harvey Dent, Harry Lyme, Dracula, Carrie White, Felix Ungar, Albert Einstein, President Snow, Uncle Buck, and “Seinfeld” neighbor Newman? It’s Oliver Stone’s JFK and I’ll let you figure out who’s who… it’s part of the fun!

And many of you took in this weekend’s #1 pic Ant-Man with Brian Fantana, Liberace, Kate Austen, Congressman Peter Russo, and Papa Doc.

I could go on and on, but just thought this might provide some film buff fanatics with an enjoyable new way to quiz and frustrate your friends. And thanks to Uncle Steve!