Eternals Review

When the core group of Avengers assembled in their climactic battle for that classic shot from the 2012 film, it held power because we’d come to know them in previous MCU entries. By the time we got to 2019 as seemingly half of Hollywood was ready to take on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, the same emotions were present. The mere fact that we were witnessing many members of Marvel’s extensive roster ready for action via high quality predecessors was impressive.

That’s a testament to what Kevin Feige and team had pulled off. For all the nitpicking about the franchise, it’s easy to forget the monumental achievement in bringing these heroes to life in 20 plus pictures and getting us back to care about them. That’s not an easy assignment and they pulled it off.

This brings us to Eternals, the 26th entry in the series. And it often feels like we are meant to feel the same sentiments that I’ve described above. There’s a problem with that. Chloe Zhao’s immersion into the MCU is tasked with introducing us to a brand new team of heroes in its 156 minutes. Most of them, quite frankly, aren’t very compelling. Comic book lovers may be familiar, but the masses aren’t. When Iron Man got the gang together nearly a decade ago, we knew the gang. Eternals, which loves it landscapes and sunsets silhouetting its protagonists, strains to properly introduce them. For a movie that feels long, it’s still short on character development and getting us to care about this team in ways we previously did. I admired plenty about this latest adventure, but it still stands as one of the MCU’s overall weakest experiences.

A prologue set in 5000 B.C. establishes the players. The Eternals are a group of immortals tasked with saving planets from Deviants, a lot of monstrous CGI creations. Their leader is Ajak (Salma Hayek), who takes her orders from the almighty Arishem. Each Eternal has their own set of powers. Sersi (Gemma Chan) can transform matter. Her love interest Ikaris (Richard Madden) can shoot freakin lasers from his eyeballs (think Cyclops). Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is the science nerd capable of advancing technology centuries ahead of time. And… we’re gonna be here all day if I keep this up, but a couple more. Sprite (Lia McHugh) can create illusions, but can’t hide the fact that she’ll look like a 12-year-old girl for eternity. Thena (Angelina Jolie) is capable of creating weapons from thin air. Yet she’s a weapon herself because she has a condition that causes her to turn against her counterparts and try to kill them.

The Eternals spend centuries on Earth taking on the Deviants and appear to achieve their mission in 1521. The band breaks up and they’re free to roam free on our Earthly soil, which Nomadland director Zhao frames in loving travelogue mode. Importantly, Ajak orders them not to interfere with the many conflicts that will transpire over the coming centuries. That means the Eternals are not involved when Thanos wipes out half the population in Avengers: Infinity War. They’re not showing up for house calls with Doctor Strange or assisting Hulk smash anything.

In present day, the Deviants resurface and they must assemble (!) again. Some have taken on unexpected careers. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Bollywood leading man with a trusty assistant (Harish Patel). He’s been a superstar for decades with the public believing his dad, granddad, and so on were different people. The real function for Nanjiani is to provide some comic relief in a story that needs it.. The actor and the superb Patel are up to the assignment. They might be the two characters I’d be excited to see return in future MCU tales.

On the flip side, the failed romance between Sersi and Ikaris is a yawner. And familiar faces like Hayek and Jolie aren’t given enough screen time to register. Barry Keoghan, always a compelling actor to watch, is Druig. He can manipulate minds and his superpower runs counter to his orders. Druig has the potential for a fascinating character arc yet, once again, the packed nature of the screenplay prevents it.

The look of Eternals is undoubtedly different than the MCU sheen we’re accustomed to. It has more of a real location feel as opposed to video game extravaganza. Some of the action sequences are well constructed. Others fall into the confused CGI jumble that’s hampered even some of the finest franchise flicks.

Here’s the bottom line – Eternals is by no means bad (even the middling stories in this series are quite watchable). It feels unnecessary because it never fully succeeds at making us understand why we need to be invested. Ajak’s hideaway in the present day is in South Dakota. Nothing that happens here made me think any Eternal will be carved into the Mt. Rushmore of Marvel’s cinematic universe.

**1/2 (out of four)

Eternals Box Office Prediction

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been unleashing product at a furious pace following COVID delays and that continues November 5th with Eternals. Arriving four months after Black Widow, two months following Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and a month a half before Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is the 26th MCU superhero tale in the massive series. Chloe Zhao, fresh off a Best Picture and Director win for Nomadland, directs with a cast featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie.

Originally scheduled for November 2020 before the pandemic altered Disney’s plans, this is the long anticipated adaptation of Jack Kirby’s comics that debuted over half a century ago. Surprisingly, initial buzz is mixed in a way Marvel rarely sees. The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently sits at 63%. That’s the lowest score of any MCU offering to date (just below Thor: The Dark World‘s 66%).

If there’s any franchise that’s teflon, it would be this one. Reviews shouldn’t matter too much, but the word-of-mouth could keep Eternals from reaching COVID era records. Venom: Let There Be Carnage has the best three day start of the period with $90 million. In July, Black Widow took in $80 million out of the gate. Over Labor Day weekend, Shang-Chi surpassed projections with $75 million from Friday to Sunday and $94 million when adding the Monday haul.

Had Eternals achieved the glowing chatter of Shang-Chi, I might be discussing an opening weekend of over $100 million. Now I’m skeptical. I believe it’s more likely that Eternals could debut on pace with what its MCU predecessor did during the first three days. That’s just fine, but it’s an adjustment down from what I would’ve figured even a week or so ago.

Eternals opening weekend prediction: $77.8 million

For my Spencer prediction, click here:

Spencer Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Eternals

Chloe Zhao was the big winner at the previous Academy Awards when Nomadland took Best Picture and she became the second female filmmaker to take the trophy for her direction. Her follow-up is a high profile one in Marvel’s Eternals, which opens November 5th and had its review embargo lifted today.

With an eclectic cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie, MCU entry #26 is undoubtedly one of 2021’s most anticipated blockbusters. However, critical reaction is certainly mixed. The 74% Rotten Tomatoes score is on the lower side for this series. Just this year, Black Widow stands at 79% while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings got to 92%.

Any thought of Zhao’s having two Best Picture winners or nominees in a row (or being mentioned again in Director) has fallen by the wayside. The one race where I did feel hope for Eternals sprung was in Visual Effects. That could still happen, but I’m not near as confident. Competition will be fairly strong. Dune is easily the frontrunner and will likely win. Other notable contenders include The Matrix Resurrections, Don’t Look Up, Godzilla vs. Kong, Nightmare Alley, Jungle Cruise, Finch, and Free Guy. And then there’s the other MCU rivals like Shang-Chi and the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

There could still be room for Eternals in VE, but I’m thinking it may on the outside looking in. Even some of the reviews aren’t gushing about the visuals. Bottom line: Eternals took itself out of the running for the big races and could be iffy in the one tech competition where I thought it stood an excellent shot. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: Vivo

While we wait to see whether or not most of the Best Picture contenders truly are viable, the Animated Feature race is already packed with contenders. Vivo is available on Netflix today. The Sony Pictures effort comes from director Kirk DeMicco (best known for making The Croods) and features original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The voice cast includes Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer, and Gloria Estefan.

The film’s reviews are solid with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating. In a lighter year, that might automatically warrant inclusion in the final five. Not so fast in 2021. The list of other hopefuls already released includes Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, Belle and The Mitchells vs. the Machines (another Netflix title that they should campaign heavily for). Additionally, Miranda has Mouse Factory effort Encanto this autumn which is another likely player. Add to the list the critically acclaimed animated doc Flee and Henry Selick’s Wendell and Wild and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2 (also both upcoming from Netflix). So, yeah, it’s crowded.

If Vivo doesn’t make the cut, it could still make a play in Original Song. Estefan has the track “Inside Your Heart”. That particular competition is also expected to have plenty of tracks competing against each other.

Bottom line: there’s a lot of pics and songs in the mix, but Vivo is at least on the radar for attention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Woman in the Window Review

The deeply troubled agoraphobic Anna Fox (Amy Adams) has a habit of avoiding reality in The Woman in the Window by chugging a bottle of wine and distracting herself with classic old movies. This is her way of not dealing with the story unfolding around her. There are times where I could relate as those vintage pictures would provide a better escape than what happens here for the most part.

Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour), Window is based on a 2018 novel by A.J. Finn. It features quite a list of Oscar winners (Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore) and actors you may think have won them (Adams, Jennifer Jason Leigh). The screenwriter Tracy Letts is a Pulitzer winning playwright. With that  level of talent involved, one would think Window would rise above the histrionic Hitchcockian “homage” that it is. Mentioning Mr. Hitchcock might be too complimentary. This shares many similar plot points to 2016’s The Girl on the Train, which was also based on a book meant to be read on an airplane or the beach you rush to after the flight. You could easily call this The Girl on the Painkillers.

Dr. Fox is a child psychologist whose condition has kept her confined to her Manhattan apartment. In addition to her binge drinking/movie watching, she spends most of her day spying on neighbors. The new ones across the street are the Russell family – businessman Alistair (Oldman), wife Jane (Moore), and teen son Ethan (Fred Hechinger). Or maybe not. After the wife and boy visit her, Anna suspects some abuse is occurring in the household. The mystery deepens when Jennifer Jason Leigh shows up as Alistair’s spouse. Maybe the abundance of Anna’s medication is causing hallucinations. Our voyeur tries to enlist the NYPD, led by Brian Tyree’s Henry detective, and her basement tenant (Wyatt Russell) to assist with her amateur sleuthing. There’s also the matter of Anna’s only family. She’s separated from her husband (Anthony Mackie) and they have a young daughter. They turn up in flashback form and saying much more would enter spoiler territory.

The Woman in the Window contains plenty of twists that might have worked in paperback form. The treatment by Wright and Letts is a tonally frantic one. This is primarily a melodrama that begs to be taken seriously from time to time. Some of the performers seem in on it as Oldman, Moore, and Hechinger got the memo to overact wildly. Yet this never reaches its apparent goal of being a genuine guilty pleasure. That’s too bad because the behind the camera personnel and cast in front of it deserved better. Many of those examples are contained in Anna’s cinematic collection in her brownstone where less spellbinding developments are transpiring.

** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Woman in the Window

On paper, at least, Joe Wright’s The Woman in the Window has a whole lot of Oscar connections in it. The psychological thriller stars Amy Adams, recipient of six nominations who’s never won (she’s considered well overdue for a victory). Costars include Academy winners and nominees such as Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore in addition to Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, and Brian Tyree Henry. Screenwriter Tracy Letts has a Pulitzer Prize to his name. And Wright has seen two of his efforts (Atonement, Darkest Hour) nab Best Picture nods.

Window hits Netflix today after originally being planned for a fall 2019 premiere via 20th Century Fox. It was pushed back to May 2020 due to reshoots and the COVID-19 pandemic. The pic was finally snatched up by the streamer, foregoing a theatrical release. So there’s the question of whether this is even eligible for the Oscars since it’s not hitting the big screen. Not that it matters.

Word of mouth over the past several months has not been kind and the just lapsed review embargo confirms that. The Rotten Tomatoes score is a troubling 27% with many critics calling it a poor Hitchcock ripoff. Despite the many participants with a nexus to awards attention, Window appears more likely to garner Razzie mentions than anything at the big dance.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Godzilla vs. Kong Review

Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong is lighter than its MonsterVerse predecessor Godzilla: King of the Monsters from 2019. I don’t just mean lighter in tone (which it is), but actually lighter where it counts. When the two title character titans clash, we can actually see it. That’s an improvement over what transpired two years ago when Godzilla’s battles were too dimly lit or obscured by pounding rain. That’s a major plus, but not every aspect of this franchise has leveled up. The human characters are still an uninteresting and bland group. We have fine actors whose primary responsibility is to talk about the massive CGI combatants and react to what they’re doing. Their character development is a secondary consideration. That said – we’re not here for that, are we? This is the culmination of three pictures leading to a movie being named Godzilla vs. Kong and it frequently manages to deliver.

We last left King Kong in the 1970s during Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla in the aforementioned Monsters when he successfully warded off King Ghidorah and others. The fourth franchise entry picks up five years after Monsters as Kong is being monitored by Monarch on his native island. His human contact is mostly with linguist Dr. Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her deaf adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who’s a native of the island. A magazine cover identifies the doctor as the “Kong Whisperer”, but it’s clearly Jia who’s found the most sincere connection with the massive ape. Also on Kong patrol is geologist Dr. Lind (Alexander Skarsgard).

While Kong is living a pretty chill existence on Skull Island, Godzilla’s fiery temper unexpectedly flares up. The not so jolly green giant has resurfaced to do lots of property destruction. His inexplicable attitude adjustment causes the CEO of APEX (Demian Bichir) to recruit Kong to solve this dilemma. APEX is a big shadowy corporation that sells itself as trying to solve the Titans problem. That doesn’t gel with conspiracy theorist Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) and he’s got sympathizers with Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown, returning from Monsters) and her nerdy buddy Josh (Julian Dennison). Madison’s dad, played by Kyle Chandler, also reprises his Monsters role.

Enough with the plot which also involves specialized vehicles zooming through gravity fields. All of this is a prelude to watching Godzilla and Kong fight. It happens early (no shades of the slow buildup of 2014’s Godzilla) and round 1 transpires on water and is gloriously lighted for our entertainment.

The main event is in Hong Kong and that’s when we learn why Godzilla is being so irritable (hint: corporate greed is a factor). The climactic matchup is preceded by some fairly dull scenes with humans. No performance is bad. They’re just inconsequential with the exception of Hottle’s Jia in a winning performance. As long as we’re able to ignore the poor people in the buildings that are demolished with Kong and Godzilla’s every twitch and stumble, these skirmishes are expertly staged and enjoyable. I’d put it a notch below 2014’s Godzilla stand-alone from Gareth Edwards, but a hair above Kong: Skull Island and certainly ahead of Monsters. This delivers on its title well enough and is lit properly.

*** (out of four)

Godzilla vs. Kong Box Office Prediction

The fourth film in the MonsterVerse franchise stomps into theaters and HBO Max on Wednesday (March 31) with Godzilla vs. Kong. Adam Wingard takes the directorial reigns with a cast including Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza Gonzalez, Kyle Chandler, and Demian Bichir. Of course, the real stars are the giant green monster (from 2014’s Godzilla and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters) and massive gorilla (of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island) who will duke it out in the production with a budget reportedly in the $200 million range.

This awaited matchup was originally set for viewing last spring before going through the now familiar myriad of delays due to COVID-19. It’s the latest example of Warner Bros. unveiling their pics simultaneously in multiplexes and HBO’s streaming service. With theaters in New York and Los Angeles now operating (albeit in diminished capacity) and with vaccinations rising, Godzilla vs. Kong is being seen as a major test for the industry. The previous COVID era highest opening weekend belongs to Wonder Woman 1984 (another WB/HBO Max venture) at $16.7 million over this past Christmas. That number exceeded expectations and the thought is that Kong will outpace it.

I tend to agree. It is worth noting that the last MonsterVerse title, King of the Monsters, was a box office disappointment. Due partly to poor reviews, it premiered in late May 2019 to a subpar $47 million with an eventual domestic gross just north of $100 million. By comparison, 2014’s Godzilla took in $200 million while Kong: Skull Island made $168 million. A $47 million debut here would be beyond even the wildest expectations in these Coronavirus times.

Godzilla vs. Kong has the benefit of bringing these two iconic creatures together and that’s a significant selling point. It’s also the kind of epic production that many may wish to see on a giant screen as opposed to on their couch via HBO Max (though I’m sure plenty of moviegoers will go that route).

With a five-day rollout, I believe a Friday to Sunday haul in the $20 million range is possible with mid to high 20s overall for the entire frame.

Godzilla vs. Kong opening weekend prediction: $21.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $27.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Unholy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/26/the-unholy-box-office-prediction/

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 17th Edition

The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals have resulted in a number of Oscar Watch posts from last Thursday to now! And that means some changes are to be discussed.

The most notable film to debut was Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, which solidified itself as a major contender in Best Picture, Director, Actress (Frances McDormand), and Adapted Screenplay. In fact, the pic remains firmly in 2nd place in Picture and Director and #1 with its screenplay based on its sterling critical reaction. McDormand, meanwhile, jumps to #1 in Actress. Time will tell if she remains atop the chart, but it seems a given that she’ll vie for her third win in the category.

News was more mixed for Francis Lee’s Ammonite. The mixed reaction to it has caused me to drop it from my nine predicted Picture nominees and from Original Screenplay. Yet Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan remain in my top five in the actress categories.

There were six other titles that I penned Oscar Watch posts about. None of them show up anywhere below. This includes the work of Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) and Naomi Watts (Penguin Bloom) and Mark Wahlberg in Good Joe Bell. It’s not impossible that they could surface later, but I’m not confident at the moment. As for Bell, perhaps the supporting work of Reid Miller could have a chance to enter my 15 names in Supporting Actor. When I expand my predictions to all categories covering feature pics in October, expect to see Wolfwalkers as it appears to be a shoo-in nominee in Best Animated Feature.

You can find all my posts from the past week here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/11/oscar-watch-nomadland/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/12/oscar-watch-ammonite/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/12/oscar-watch-the-devil-all-the-time/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-wolfwalkers/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-penguin-bloom/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-i-care-a-lot/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/13/oscar-watch-concrete-cowboy/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/15/oscar-watch-good-joe-bell/

Let’s quickly walk through the latest changes and developments:

  • With Ammonite now falling from my nine predicted Picture nominees, that makes room for Florian Zeller’s The Father to make my final cut for the first time.
  • My 5 Director nominees remains unchanged, as does Best Actor. It is worth mentioning that there’s some talk that Kingsley Ben-Adir from One Night in Miami could be campaigned for in the lead race. This follows rumors of the same happening for Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If that were to occur, it would absolutely upend my projections. For now, I’m keeping them both in supporting. Also – Clayton Davis of Variety confirmed today that Delroy Lindo will compete in the lead actor race for Da 5 Bloods. 
  • In addition to McDormand taking over the top spot in Actress over Viola Davis in Ma Rainey, I’m adding Vanessa Kirby’s work in Pieces of a Woman to my top 5. That means Jennifer Hudson in Respect drops out.
  • There’s a similar storyline in Supporting Actress with Ellen Burstyn in my five over Amanda Seyfried in Mank. Furthermore, Saoirse Ronan’s aforementioned work in Ammonite drops from #1 to #3 so we have Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) in first. At #2? Olivia Colman in The Father and that could make for a juicy race as Colman upset Close in lead actress two years ago.
  • While Nomadland definitely nabbed major Oscar buzz, the supporting performance from David Strathairn may not be big enough. He drops from #2 to outside the top five and that means Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) is back in.
  • I mentioned Ammonite had dropped from Original Screenplay and that is also to the benefit of Messiah.
  • The five Adapted Screenplay estimates stay the same.
  • Finally, while there’s no confirmation and this could change back, I’m shifting Meryl Streep from supporting to lead for The Prom. She has yet to make the five.

And with that, let’s get to it!

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: 5)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

6. Dune (PR: 4)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. The Father (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

11. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 13)

12. Soul (PR: 12)

13. Ammonite (PR: 7)

14. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Minari (PR: 16)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

18. Annette (PR: 18)

19. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

20. Respect (PR: 22)

21. Next Goal Wins (PR: 20)

22. Red, White and Water (PR: 21)

23. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

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

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

French Exit

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

I’m Thinking of Ending Things 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 11)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods, (PR: 7)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

11. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 13)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Francis Lee, Ammonite (PR: 8)

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

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

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 8)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

10. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Supporting)

12. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 13)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 11)

14. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Elisabeth Moss, Shirley

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: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

8. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

9. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

10. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 11)

11. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

12. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 13)

15. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Ansel Elgort, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 1)

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

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 15)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 5)

7. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 6)

8. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 10)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

10. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 8)

11. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 12)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 11)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Prom (moved to lead)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

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

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 2)

8. Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

9. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 11)

10. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

11. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 13)

12. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

13. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 8)

14. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

15. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Brian Tyree Henry, Red, White and Water 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

4. Soul (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

7. Ammonite (PR: 3)

8. Stillwater (PR: 9)

9. Minari (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 11)

11. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 15)

12. Promising Young Woman (PR: 10)

13. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 12)

15. Palm Springs (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 5)

3. News of the World (PR: 2)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Dune (PR: 6)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

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

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. The Humans (PR: 13)

12. French Exit (PR: 10)

13. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

14. First Cow (PR: 15)

15. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Respect 

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 10th Edition

We have arrived at the third week for my Thursday Oscar predictions in the eight major categories and the biggest change so far can be summed up in four words: One Night in Miami.

The historical drama, which marks the debut feature film from actress Regina King, made waves when it screened this week at the Venice Film Festival. It has vaulted into the following categories for a nomination prediction: Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay.

As for that supporting race, there are actually four contenders vying for attention. I’m currently giving the nod to Kingsley Ben-Adir for his portrayal of Malcolm X over his costars Leslie Odom, Jr. (Sam Cooke), Eli Goree (Cassius Clay), and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown). Yet this could be a fluid situation and don’t be surprised if those other performers make their way to the list in future postings.

Speaking of the supporting actor race, there has been some speculation that the late Chadwick Boseman may actually be campaigned for in the lead Actor competition with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As for now, I’m keeping him ranked first in Supporting Actor. We’ll see what transpires in the weeks ahead. If Boseman does go lead, it could open the door for Glynn Turman to get a supporting nod for the picture.

As for the week that was, my Oscar Watch posts focused on Miami, as well as some other titles that debuted as Venice. Most noteworthy is Pieces of a Woman, which has caused some chatter for its lead Vanessa Kirby and her costar Ellen Burstyn. Kirby also costars in The World to Come, which garnered solid reviews but isn’t identified in my current rankings. Other write-ups this week included The Duke (which could catch the attention of the Golden Globes for Jim Broadbent) and the heist comedic drama Kajillionaire. You can read all those detailed posts here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-one-night-in-miami/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-pieces-of-a-woman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/07/oscar-watch-the-world-to-come/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/05/oscar-watch-the-duke/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/09/oscar-watch-kajillionaire/

With Venice still rolling along and the Toronto Film Festival set to open, this Friday will see the initial screenings of two major contenders – Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and Francis Lee’s Ammonite. Expect Oscar Watch posts on both hopefuls this weekend.

The loser of the week is Tenet. I’ve taken it out of consideration for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. On the flip side, expect to see its name pop up again in October when I begin estimating all feature film races as it will surely nab some tech nods.

As for other developments since last Thursday:

  • My eight predicted Best Picture nominees from the past two weeks remains the same, but now it’s become nine with the addition of One Night in Miami.
  • Regina King’s inclusion in Best Director knocks out Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
  • My five Best Actress predictions remains the same, Both Vanessa Kirby and Jennifer Lawrence (Red, White and Water) join the overall mix with Julianne Moore (The Glorias) and Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) falling out.
  • Anthony Hopkins (The Father) takes over the #1 spot over Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods) in Best Actor. There are no changes in the top five. Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) makes his first appearance at #14 with Jesse Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) dropping out of the top 15.
  • Amanda Seyfried (Mank) enters the top 5 in Supporting Actress over Ariana DeBose for West Side Story. Ellen Burstyn enters the fold at #15 with Debra Winger’s work in Kajillionaire exiting the top 15.
  • As mentioned, Kingsley Ben-Adir vaults from 12th to 4th in Supporting Actor and he replaces Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah. The top 15 marks the first appearances for Brian Tyree Henry (Red, White and Water) and Glynn Turman for Ma Rainey. Dropping out are Lucas Hedges in French Exit and David Alvarez in West Side Story. 
  • In Original Screenplay, Never Sometimes Rarely Always gets its first mention since Tenet travels out of the race.
  • In Adapted Screenplay, One Night in Miami gets in over Dune in the top 5. First Cow makes its inaugural appearance in 14th with The Eyes of Tammy Faye dropping.

You can read the full slate of guesstimates here:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Dune (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 13)

7. Ammonite (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

11. The Father (PR: 16)

12. Soul (PR: 10)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 14)

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

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

16. Minari (PR: 15)

17. Stillwater (PR: 18)

18. Annette (PR: 17)

19. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

20. Next Goal Wins (PR: 23)

21. Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Respect (PR: 20)

23. French Exit (PR: 24)

24. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (PR: Not Ranked)

25. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Tenet

The Midnight Sky 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 5)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Francis Lee, Ammonite (PR: 7)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 11)

11. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 14)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 13)

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Christopher Nolan, Tenet

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 10)

14. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 15)

15. Elisabeth Moss, Shirley (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Julianne Moore, The Glorias

Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 2)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 1)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

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

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

7. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 8)

8. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

9. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

12. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

13. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ansel Elgort, West Side Story (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jesse Plemons, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

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

5. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

7. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 7)

10. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 11)

11. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

12. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 12)

13. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

14. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

15. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Debra Winger, Kajillionaire 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 2)

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

4. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 12)

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

10. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 6)

11. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 8)

12. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 11)

13. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 14)

14. Brian Tyree Henry, Red, White and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lucas Hedges, French Exit

David Alvarez, West Side Story 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

7. Minari (PR: 7)

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

9. Stillwater (PR: 9)

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: 10)

11. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 12)

12. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

13. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

14. Annette (PR: 11)

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

Dropped Out:

Tenet

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 2)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. The Father (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Dune (PR: 3)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

10. French Exit (PR: 11)

11. Next Goal Wins (PR: 12)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 13)

14. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Respect (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye 

And that does it for now, folks! I’ll be back at it next Thursday…