The Best Picture Coulda Been Contenders: 1990-2008

In 2009, the Academy underwent a change in the number of Best Picture nominees honored each year. The rule change allowed a fluctuation of five to ten nominees per year, as opposed to a finite five (all other categories stayed at that number).

As has been discussed on this blog, many felt the change was triggered by 2008’s The Dark Knight, the critically acclaimed comic book pic that was also highest earner of the year. It failed to a garner a Best Picture nod and the thinking was that it was time for more popular options to make it into the mix.

Since the change, the magic number has been nine nominated pictures in most years. This got me thinking: what if that rule had been in effect during prior years? What movies that failed to get a nomination would have certainly made it?

That brings us here. I have gone back to 1990 through 2008 and I’m listing two films from each year that I am confident would have made the shortlist. In selecting each title, here were some of the key indicators. If a Director was nominated for his work and the film failed to get nominated, that probably means it would have been included. Additionally, the screenplay races are a decent predictor of some titles that might have made the magic nine (or eight or ten). For reference sake, I am including the five movies that did get nominated.

So here goes! Two features from 1990-2008 that coulda and likely woulda been contenders…

1990

The Actual Nominees: Dances with Wolves (Winner), Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Grifters, Reversal of Fortune

1991

The Actual Nominees: The Silence of the Lambs (W), Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boyz N The Hood, Thelma & Louise

1992

The Actual Nominees: Unforgiven (W), The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Malcolm X, The Player

1993

The Actual Nominees: Schindler’s List (W), The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Philadelphia, Short Cuts

1994

The Actual Nominees: Forrest Gump (W), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Bullets Over Broadway, Three Colors: Red

1995

The Actual Nominees: Braveheart (W), Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas

1996

The Actual Nominees: The English Patient (W), Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Sling Blade

1997

The Actual Nominees: Titanic (W), As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Huinting, L.A. Confidential

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boogie Nights, The Sweet Hereafter

1998

The Actual Nominees: Shakespeare in Love (W), Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Gods and Monsters, The Truman Show

1999

The Actual Nominees: American Beauty (W), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Being John Malkovich, Topsy-Turvy

2000

The Actual Nominees: Gladiator (W), Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Almost Famous, Billy Elliot

2001

The Actual Nominees: A Beautiful Mind (W), Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive

2002

The Actual Nominees: Chicago (W), Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Far from Heaven, Talk to Her

2003

The Actual Nominees: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (W), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit 

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: City of God, In America

2004

The Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby (W), The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake

2005

The Actual Nominees: Crash (W), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Syriana, Walk the Line

2006

The Actual Nominees: The Departed (W), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Pan’s Labyrinth, United 93

2007

The Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men (W), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Away from Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2008

The Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire (W), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Dark Knight, Doubt

And there you have it! There will be a part II to this post. What if the rule change had never occurred? From 2009 until the present, what would have been the five nominated Pictures if only that number was allowed. Stay tuned…

 

The Blog Turns 5!

Five years ago tomorrow night, I decided on a whim to start this here movie blog. Truth be told, I had no clue what it would turn into or if I would even keep up with it.

This now marks the 1,897th blog post. And five years later – I know what it’s turned into for now. Primarily, the blog is focused on box office predictions, Oscar predictions and movie reviews.

There are deviations on occasion. I’ll even dip into my love of music. Sadly some of that has been due to the immeasurable loss of icons lately like Prince and David Bowie and Tom Petty (I’m still considering a top 25 songs for that genius).

Five years from now – who knows? That’s the joy of looking at a blank page nearly 2000  times and just starting. I love movies. I love writing. It’s that simple.

The blog has forged a great relationship with Fantasy Movie League, a remarkable website in which I’m fortunate to write a weekly box office predictions column for. It’s a terrific community with dedicated participants.

Time is a funny thing. 20 years ago today – Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant Boogie Nights opened. There is a solid argument to be made that no more impressive movie has been made since. There’s a scene involving a drug deal gone bad, a gloriously unhinged Alfred Molina, and Chinese firecrackers that ranks among the most memorable film scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

The joy of movies. They never stop. There’s always more to discover. More to study. More to speculate about. It’s a beautiful reel on continuous play for over 100 years. That’s a lot of time for the most timeless form of entertainment; the real American and worldwide pastime.

I’ve passed a lot of time writing this blog over the last half decade and loved every minute of it. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Box Office Prediction

The sixth (and apparently last judging by the title) franchise entry in a nearly decade and a half series, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opens next weekend. Stemming from the Capcom video game which premiered nearly 20 years ago, Evil brings back Milla Jovovich as heroine Alice with a supporting cast that includes Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose (she’s costarring in another just out sequel xXx: Return of Xander Cage), and Iain Glen. Paul W.S. Anderson (not as you may suspect, the guy who did Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood), directs his fourth Resident feature.

The latest blend of action and horror in this franchise has seen its longest lay-off in between pictures. That’s a trait recently shared by Underworld: Blood Wars, which came out earlier this month and posted a series low. The Evil pics have all opened in the high teens to mid 20s range. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Resident Evil (2002): $17.7 million opening

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004): $23 million

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007): $23.6 million

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010): $26.6 million

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012): $21 million

As you can see, the previous longest gap was three years and this one has been five. As with the aforementioned Underworld, that might mean a lower opening than the series has witnessed thus far. Blood Wars managed just $13.6 million out of the gate while the four preceding it all made over $20M.

My guess is that this will suffer a very similar final fate and a gross in the low to mid teens range.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million

For my A Dog’s Purpose prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-box-office-prediction/

For my Gold prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/gold-box-office-prediction/

Top 25 Best Movies (1990-2015): Nos. 5-1

This is it, loyal blog readers! We’ve reached the best of the best of my personal favorite 25 motion pictures of the past 25 years. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my picks and keep in mind that while I know your list likely differs from mine, I would encourage all of you to check out any titles on this here list you may have missed.

Our final installment brings us the top five and these are obviously pictures I hold among the greatest of all time. Let’s get to it:

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Has any actor done more with less screen time than Anthony Hopkins in his iconic role as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter? I think not. This masterfully constructed suspense thriller deserved the across the board Oscar attention it received – Best Picture, Director (Jonathan Demme), Actor (Hopkins), and Actress (Jodie Foster).

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

21 years later, it doesn’t matter how many times I see Andy Dufrane (Tim Robbins) make his escape past that poster on the wall… it still gives me goosebumps. Frank Darabont’s rendering of Stephen King’s short story is one of the ultimate feel good movies of any era about a man who had to experience years of hell to find redemption. And that moment seeing Andy walk the beach to meet Morgan Freeman’s Red gets me every time, too.

3. Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic about people in the California porn industry came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my all time favorites. The lengthy flick with its incredible cast (Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, Burt Reynolds in career best work, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham and so forth) moves us from the character’s glorious excesses of the 1970s to their dark spiral downward in the 1980s. The drug dealing scene involving Alfred Molina’s crazed character and Chinese firecrackers that serve as an amazing example of sound effects work is the crowning scene in a film filled with many of them.

2. GoodFellas (1990)

Coppola’s first two Godfather masterpieces stood as the highlight of the American Mafia film genre. In 1990, Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas made that list a trilogy. Astonishing from beginning to end, this stands as Marty’s finest hour in a career filled with fabulous work.

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Readers of my blog knew this was coming from a mile away and Quentin Tarantino’s time shifting crime drama/comedy served as a massive adrenaline shot to the movie industry. With an unrivaled cast that included a career resurgent role for John Travolta, Pulp merged the sensibilities of mainstream entertainment with the independent filmmaker spirit in a previously unforeseen way. In a career filled with one terrific picture after another, Pulp still stands as Quentin’s greatest. And that makes it the greatest movie of the last 25 years.

Thanks for reading, ladies and gentlemen! It was a pleasure.

Inherent Vice Movie Review

Like its constantly reefer toking lead character, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice could use a bit more focus and clarity. The complicated plot sometimes feels like a pothead is describing it to you as it’s occasionally challenging to follow along with. Yet you come away with the notion that Anderson, the master filmmaker responsible for Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, has made exactly the picture he wanted to make.

Based on a 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon, Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix (who gave a much different and also terrific performance in PTA’s last previous The Master) as Doc, a stoner private eye in California circa 1970. When we open, he’s visited by his hippie ex Shasta (Katherine Waterston) who’s gotten herself into some trouble with a real estate mogul (Eric Roberts) who may be the victim of some shady dealings by his family. It leads Doc to a case that involves Nazis, a thought to be dead musician (Owen Wilson), and a drug addled dentist (a typically memorable Martin Short). Along the way, we discover Doc’s antagonistic relationship with LAPD detective “Bigfoot”, played with gusto by Josh Brolin.

There’s a lot of subplots involved in Inherent Vice and it provides for smaller roles by familiar faces like Benicio del Toro and Joaquin’s Walk the Line counterpart Reese Witherspoon, among others. At its center is the love story between Doc and Shasta, though they talk about their connection like it barely exists. Phoenix, as always, turns in a fascinating performance that further demonstrates his considerable abilites (the guy can do slapstick comedy when called upon). Waterston, daughter of Sam, is the real find here in a sea of more famous faces.

For the most part, Inherent Vice couldn’t be more different than 2012’s The Master. They are similar in one way: I found it tough to get emotionally involved in either. To be fair, I do not believe that’s what PTA is going for. Vice is about atmosphere and characters and the plot is mostly an afterthought. As with all previous efforts by the director, the atmosphere is something to behold, as is the acting.

The picture has moments where it has a Big Lebowski vibe and not just due to the weed love of the star. There are times when you’ll remember this is coming from the guy who made the brilliant Boogie Nights. Inherent Vice doesn’t belong in the same category as either of those movies, but fans of PTA (of which I certainly am) should find this worthwhile. I suspect that this, like most of Anderson’s work, will improve upon subsequent viewings. The fact that I’ll likely sign up for a second viewing in the future is recommendation enough.

*** (out of four)