Oscar Watch: White Boy Rick

Ahead of its stateside bow in just two weeks, White Boy Rick has premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. The 1980s set crime pic tells the true story of Richard Wershe Jr. (played by newcomer Richie Merritt), who became a drug kingpin and FBI informant at age 14 in Detroit. Matthew McConaughey plays his father with French director Yann Demange (maker of the acclaimed 2014 indie ‘71) behind the camera.

White Boy Rick was never exactly looked at as a major Oscar contender, but it was a curiosity as to whether its two main actors could receive attention. McConaughey is just five years removed from a gold statue for Dallas Buyers Club. While some early reviews have commended him and Merritt, there’s been an overall mixed to negative vibe from critics.

Bottom line: This should be a total non-factor when it comes to Academy Awards chatter.

The film opens September 14. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Chappaquiddick Box Office Prediction

Arriving in theaters a little later than anticipated, historical drama Chappaquiddick debuts next weekend. Directed by John Curran, the film recounts the 1969 car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne and Ted Kennedy’s role in it. Jason Clarke plays Kennedy with Kate Mara as Kopechne. Supporting players include Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Taylor Nichols, and Clancy Brown.

The pic receives its first screening last fall at the Toronto Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive and it stands at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, reaction was muted enough that Entertainment Studios moved it from its December 2017 awards qualifying run to this April roll out.

Chappaquiddick likely faces a tough road ahead. Premiering on approximately 1500 screens, its only real hope to appeal to older moviegoers who recall the events from nearly a half century ago. I’ll project that only gets this to $2-$3 million.

Chappaquiddick opening weekend prediction: $2.3 million

For my A Quiet Place prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/27/a-quiet-place-box-office-prediction/

For my Blockers prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/28/blockers-box-office-prediction/

For my A Miracle Season prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/30/the-miracle-season-box-office-prediction/

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino’s “worst” picture is far better than most director’s best pictures and so it is with The Hateful Eight, his 8th effort (if you count the two Kill Bill’s as one). Incorporating aspects of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and a little Django Unchained and Kill Bill for good measure, Eight finally gave me a Quentin experience that I wouldn’t award four stars. That doesn’t mean it isn’t well worth the time – far from it. It just means it can’t quite measure up to what he’s given us for the last two decades plus.

The Hateful Eight could be a stage play and it wouldn’t surprise if it is someday. The pic takes place almost exclusively in a stagecoach and in a lodge known as Minnie’s Haberdashery sometime shortly after the Civil War. The stagecoach holds John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), who is transporting his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to her execution in nearby Red Rock, Wyoming. Along the way they pick up company: bounty hunter and possible war hero Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and former Confederate militia man Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). Ruth is dubious of their separate appearances along the journey for two reasons: a nasty blizzard is approaching and there’s a $10,000 bounty on Daisy’s demented head. Nevertheless, they make it to the aforementioned Minnie’s where the owner is nowhere to be found. Instead, they find an old Confederate general (Bruce Dern), a Mexican (Demian Bichir) tasked with looking after the lodge, a mysterious cowboy (Michael Madsen) who claims he’s headed home for Christmas, and the man (Tim Roth) who just happens to the one that’s supposed to hang Daisy in a couple of days.

Inclement weather bounds these eight souls (and a couple more) together at Minnie’s and we soon learn that no one may be who they say they are. It sets up a nearly three hour mystery where the character’s motivations are constantly examined and reexamined. And in a true QT style, there are long monologues by the principles outlining their pasts and what they see going down in the future – with Jackson’s Warren often getting the juiciest and filthiest dialogue. Those of us (like me) who have truly loved the writer/director’s screenplays will relish so much here. We have an abundance of wicked humor mixed with menace. And those of us who cherish his stylized violence will find it in plentiful supply in spots. Heads explode as they should in this man’s oeuvre.

Tarantino knows better than most directors the importance of casting and he uses his company of regulars including Jackson, Roth, Madsen, and Russell (who gave one of the performances of his career in Quentin’s Death Proof) to fine effect. Yet it’s Goggins (who had a smaller role in Django Unchained) and Leigh who pretty much steal the proceedings. They are the characters among the eight whom you may find yourself thinking of the most when the lights come up.

As mentioned, the primarily claustrophobic proceedings are sometimes offset by glorious shots of the Western landscape courtesy of impeccable camerawork by Robert Richardson. There’s also a terrific Ennio Morricone score to boot (we also expect amazing music in QT’s pics and it’s here). The Hateful Eight is divided into chapters just as in Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. There’s time shifting like we’ve seen in many of his works. And for the first time, every once in a while it feels like a Tarantino “greatest hits” instead of a singular great movie. Most of the time, it just feels great for fans like me that put him on a higher pedestal than his contemporaries. There’s a reason for it. He deserves it. It may have taken 22 years for me to downgrade one of his pictures from four stars to something slightly less, but Quentin Tarantino and his dialogue are still a bloody treat.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Hateful Eight Box Office Prediction

Quentin Tarantino is back behind the camera with Western whodunit The Hateful Eight, which unspools in cinemas on New Year’s Eve following a limited release on Christmas Day. The titled Eight are Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, and Michael Madsen. The three hour epic hopes to replicate the massive success of Tarantino’s last two efforts, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and 2012’s Django Unchained.

Both of those pics earned Best Picture nominations and made a killing at the box office. Basterds took in $38 million out of the gate, leading to an overall gross of $120 million. Django marked career highs, with a $63 million debut over a long Christmas week three years ago and an eventual take of $162 million.

The Hateful Eight does (for the most part) have critics on its side with a current rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, Quentin has a built-in audience of movie lovers who will rush out to see anything he stamps his name on. The pic’s wide release was pushed up by one week to capitalize on its solid buzz (and maybe to avoid direct competition with The Revenant). The release date change does make me wonder if it’s capable of reaching the heights of his two predecessors, partly because people have plans on New Year’s Eve and are often, um, relaxing on New Year’s Day. Also, while reviews are strong, this is not receiving the level of awards buzz that his two predecessors did.

Even with those potential demerits, The Hateful Eight should score an opening in the $25-$30M range for what will likely be a sturdy #2 posting behind the third frame of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

**Blogger’s note (12/28): with today’s announcement that the film will open on Wednesday (12/30) instead of Friday, my prediction has been altered to reflect that late breaking change.

The Hateful Eight opening weekend prediction: $27.2 million (Friday to Sunday), $36.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Oscar Watch: The Hateful Eight

While its reviews are embargoed for another week and a half or so, Quentin Tarantino’s eagerly awaited The Hateful Eight has conducted industry and critics screenings over the past few days. The celebrated and controversial director’s ninth feature film has been a major question mark as to its Oscar chances ever since the project was announced. Quentin’s last two features, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and 2012’s Django Unchained, were both nominated for Best Picture so it stood to reason that Eight could follow suit.

The verdict based on word of mouth that’s seeped out? Well, it’s still a bit of a question mark. The Hateful Eight, based on its buzz, seems to be on the bubble of receiving a nod in the big race. Some screenings have indicated a mixed reaction and when it comes to ultra violent awards worthy fare, voters may only recognize Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant. Based on these factors, I find it unlikely that Mr. Tarantino will nab his third nomination for Director (after 1994’s Pulp Fiction and Basterds). Where he’s more likely to be honored is in Original Screenplay, for which he’s won twice.

Tarantino pics have a nice history of getting their actors nominated and this is likely to hold true for Jennifer Jason Leigh in Supporting Actress. She could a threat to win. As for the males – Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, and others may cancel themselves out.

The other category where a nomination seems probable is Cinematography, where Robert Richardson’s work shooting in 70 mm is assured to earn him attention.

As the weeks roll along, you can follow how The Hateful Eight tracks as, beginning this weekend, I’ll be doing weekly updates on my Oscar predictions. Stay tuned!

2014 Oscars: Best Actor Prediction

Tonight on the blog brings me to my prediction for Best Actor and, so far, this is the most difficult one. While Jared Leto for Supporting Actor and Cate Blanchett for Actress are safe bets and I picked Lupita Nyong’o in Supporting Actress as a slight favorite over Jennifer Lawrence – the Actor race boasts four performers who could possibly win. Let’s recap them:

Christian Bale, American Hustle

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Mr. Bale was a bit of a surprise nominee and he’s the one that I see very unlikely to emerge victorious. As for the others – a 12 Years sweep could reward Ejiofor, though he’s won no major precursors. Same goes for Dern, though the Academy could pick him to honor his decades long career. As a side note – 2013 was unquestionably a strong year for lead actor roles. In lesser years – Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix in Her, Robert Redford in All is Lost, or Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler would have been nominated.

The likely scenario is a battle between Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. McConaughey. With his acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club role, McConaughey is the frontrunner. He’s also won the lion’s share of precursor awards. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s had a truly impressive career resurgence over the past couple of years.

With all that said, I have a gut feeling that DiCaprio’s chances are improving. Many of his performances have received raves yet he hasn’t taken home a gold statue. His work in Wall Street is among his most acclaimed performances and voters might feel like it’s his time.

While the argument for Leo is strong, it just isn’t enough for me (at this point) to go against McConaughey – though I’ll reserve my right to change picks in my final predictions post in a couple of weeks.

Predicted Winner: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s FINAL Predictions

The time has come to make my FINAL predictions for the Oscars. Nominations will be out on Thursday and I’m predicting every category that involves feature films. Therefore, the animated and documentary short films will not be predicted. I have written extensively about why I’m predicting certain movies, performers, and so on. That time is over. Here is my final listing of what and who I believe will be honored. The predictions are written by order of chances of nomination and I am listing runner-ups for each race in case some of my picks don’t pan out (which is guaranteed to happen). And here we go:

BEST PICTURE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. American Hustle

4. Nebraska

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Her

7. Captain Phillips

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

9. Dallas Buyer’s Club

Runner-Ups:

10. Saving Mr. Banks

11. Philomena

12. Blue Jasmine

13. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

14. August: Osage County

15. Lone Survivor

16. Fruitvale Station

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

3. David O. Russell, American Hustle

4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Spike Jonze, Her

7. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

8. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST ACTOR

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

4. Robert Redford, All is Lost

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

7. Christian Bale, American Hustle

8. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

9. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

BEST ACTRESS

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

3. Judi Dench, Philomena

4. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Amy Adams, American Hustle

7. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour

8. Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

4. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

5. Will Forte, Nebraska

Runner-Ups:

6. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

7. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

8. James Gandolfini, Enough Said

9. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

3. June Squibb, Nebraska

4. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

7. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County

8. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. American Hustle

2. Nebraska

3. Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Her

5. Blue Jasmine

Runner-Ups:

6. Dallas Buyer’s Club

7. Gravity

8. Fruitvale Station

9. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

10. Saving Mr. Banks

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Philomena

3. Before Midnight

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. August: Osage County

7. The Book Thief

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1. Frozen

2. The Wind That Rises

3. Ernest&Celestine

4. Monsters University

5. Despicable Me 2

Runner-Ups:

6. The Croods

7. A Letter to Mono

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Gravity

5. The Invisible Woman

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. Rush

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. Nebraska

7. All is Lost

8. Prisoners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. The Great Gatsby

2. American Hustle

3. 12 Years a Slave

4. The Invisible Woman

5. The Book Thief

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST FILM EDITING

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. American Hustle

4. Captain Phillips

5. Rush

Runner-Ups:

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Lone Survivor

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. American Hustle

2. The Lone Ranger

3. The Great Gatsby

Runner-Ups:

4. Dallas Buyer’s Club

5. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Gravity

2. Rush

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Captain Phillips

5. Lone Survivor

Runner-Ups:

6. All is Lost

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. 12 Years a Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

1. Gravity

2. Captain Phillips

3. Rush

4. Pacific Rim

5. All is Lost

Runner-Ups:

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

7. Lone Survivor

8. Man of Steel

9. World War Z

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1. Gravity

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

3. Pacific Rim

4. Iron Man 3

5. World War Z

Runner-Ups:

6. Star Trek Into Darkness

7. Elysium

8. Oblivion

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. The Book Thief

4. Saving Mr. Banks

5. Her

Runner-Ups:

6. Monsters University

7. All is Lost

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. “Let It Go” from Frozen

2. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

3. “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

4. “In the Middle of the Night” from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. “The Moon Song” from Her

Runner-Ups:

6. “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

7. “Rise Up” from Epic

8. “Sweeter than Fiction” from One Chance

I’m not listing alternates for the final two predicted categories, mostly because I’m supremely not confident with my limited knowledge for these races.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing

Blackfish

The Square

Stories We Tell

20 Feet from Stardom

This means my predictions would garner the following number of nominations for these pictures:

10 Nominations – 12 Years a Slave, Gravity

8 Nominations – American Hustle

6 Nominations – Captain Phillips, Nebraska

5 Nominations – Rush

4 Nominations – The Great Gatsby, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street

3 Nominations – Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis

2 Nominations – All is Lost, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, The Book Thief, Frozen, The Invisible Woman, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Pacific Rim, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

1 Nomination – Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Lone Survivor, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, World War Z

And there you have Todd’s final Oscar predictions. I will have reaction in a blog post Thursday once nominations are released and include a tally of how I did!

2014 Golden Globe Awards: Todd’s Predicted Winners

In four days, we’ll have the Hollywood Foreign Press bestow their honors to the film and television world at the Golden Globe Awards with return hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Readers of my blog will note that I’ve extensively and frequently been posting my Oscar predictions. I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the Globes, but I did want to put my two cents in and predict the winners in the picture, directing, and acting categories.

The Globes are different from the Oscars because categories are divided between Drama and Musical/Comedy categories for Picture, Actor, and Actress. Director and Supporting Actor and Actress are awarded regardless of genre. If you would like to read my detailed analysis of awards contenders, I suggest you look on the blog for my Oscar predictions posts. For the purposes of this post, I’ll simply predict who I think will Globes this Sunday and note the other nominees. I am noting my second choice if my primary choice doesn’t win in bold. I am not predicting the TV categories except for one: it should be an interesting showdown in Best Drama between the final season of “Breaking Bad” and first season of “House of Cards”, but ultimately I think Walter White and company win out.

And with that, my predictions:

BEST DRAMA

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush

BEST MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Other Nominees: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Other Nominees: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), David O. Russell (American Hustle)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Other Nominees: Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Kate Winslet (Labor Day)

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Other Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Other Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)

And there you have my predictions for your Golden Globe winners on Sunday!

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s Picks for Early January

And we’re off with my next to last round of Oscar predictions before they’re announced on Thursday, January 16th. The plan is to do my final predictions, most likely either on Sunday the 12th or Monday the 13th. These new picks reflect changes in four of the six top categories. Let’s get to it shall we?

BEST PICTURE

I’ve stayed consistent with predicting that nine movies will get nominated. The change here is that I’m including Dallas Buyer’s Club for the first time as I believe it’s gotten enough precursor momentum to get in. That means I had to take something out and Saving Mr. Banks has been dropped. As I see it, the race is still a battle between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity for the win with American Hustle as a possible spoiler.

Predictions:

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyer’s Club

Gravity

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

One change here: I believe the polarizing reaction to The Wolf of Wall Street might leave Martin Scorsese out in this competitive category. So he’s out and Spike Jonze, riding a wave of momentum for Her, is in. Like Picture, this race should come down to Slave‘s Steve McQueen and Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron for the victory with yet again Hustle‘s Russell as possible spoiler.

Predictions:

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Spike Jonze, Her

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

BEST ACTOR

This is seriously such a loaded category. In any other year, I’d be predicting Christian Bale in American Hustle, Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler or Joaquin Phoenix in Her. None of them make the cut. Conventional wisdom is that this is a six man race and only five make the cut. Last round of predictions, I had Tom Hanks’ work in Captain Phillips left out, but now he’s back in. This came down to a decision between whether to leave out Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street or Robert Redford in All is Lost. For the first time in my predictions, it’s Redford that I’ve got drawing the short straw. I believe Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern, or Matthew McConaughey could win.

Predictions:

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

BEST ACTRESS

Prediction wise, this category has remained the most stable and I have no changes this round either. As for who will win, Cate Blanchett is emerging as the clear favorite though Sandra Bullock has a shot.

Predictions:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This is likely the most unpredictable category that is capable of producing a surprise and my new picks reflect that. Jared Leto is the frontrunner to win and Michael Fassbender appears a lock for nomination. After that, all bets are off. I’m taking out Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street and Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks. I’m keeping in my Bradley Cooper for American Hustle prediction. Additions to my list: Daniel Bruhl, who’s picked up momentum for his role in Rush. As for the fifth slot, it could have been Hanks, Hill, the late James Gandolfini in Enough Said, Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, or Harrison Ford in 42. Like I said, I believe a real surprise nomination could surface here and that’s why I’m picking former SNL alum Will Forte in Nebraska.

Predictions:

Daniel Bruhl, Rush

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Will Forte, Nebraska

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Like the lead actress race, I’ve got no changes to report here either. This should still come down to Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence for the win.

Predictions:

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

I’ll be back with last round of nomination picks soon enough!

Oscar Predictions: Todd’s December Take

Well, folks, we’ve arrived at my December predictions for the six major categories at the Oscars! And there’s been significant changes in some categories. There’s not one category that’s remained the same from my last go-round of guesses. A lot has happened since my November predictions. Every major contender has now screened with critics. Golden Globe and SAG nominations have been announced. And, per usual, things are unclear. Don’t get me wrong – there’s certain films and actors that seem destined for nominations. However, no field is close to being set. Not even close.

For the first time in making my predictions, I am predicting the winner in each race. I would expect at least one more round (more likely two) prior to nominations being announced in mid January. Here we go!

BEST PICTURE

Todd’s Predictions –

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Saving Mr. Banks

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

Analysis: Yes, I am keeping the number at nine predicted pictures (there could be anywhere from five to ten). This new round of predictions brings in three new films – Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks – and takes out three – All is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Other possible nominees include Dallas Buyer’s Club, August: Osage County, Lone Survivor, Philomena, Rush, Prisoners and Fruitvale Station.

Predicted Winner: Conventional wisdom is that the race is between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, with The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle as potential spoilers. My gut tells me (at least for now) that 12 Years a Slave is in the driver’s seat and it is my current prediction to win.

BEST DIRECTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Analyis: As I see it, only Cuaron and McQueen are surefire nominees and should compete with each other for the win. Let’s not forget that last year’s Director nominees were a total shocker to everyone when Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) did not pick up expected nominations. My predictions today reflect putting Payne and Scorsese in and taking J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) out. Chandor seems highly unlikely to get a nod at this point, but any combination of Greengrass, Spike Jonze (Her), the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), or John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks) could get in.

Predicted Winner: As mentioned, Cuaron and McQueen are the frontrunners. I could easily see a scenario where 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture and Cuaron still nabs Director for the amazing technical achievement that Gravity was. It’s tempting, but for now, my prediction is that Picture and Director will match up and McQueen wins.

BEST ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Analysis: This is shaping up to be by far the most fascinating race to watch. My current predictions put Dern and DiCaprio in and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Joaquin Phoenix (Her) out. And don’t count out Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Christian Bale (American Hustle), or Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis). Frankly, I would say Ejiofor is the only nominee I would be shocked at if he’s not nominated. The crazy thing is – I could see any one of the five predicted nominees actually win and that’s rare. This is an extraordinarily tough call, but right now I’m staying on the 12 Years bandwagon and going with Ejiofor.

BEST ACTRESS

Todd’s Predictions –

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Analysis and Predicted Winner: Just one change here – Amy Adams (American Hustle) out and Emma Thompson in. This looks to be a showdown between Blanchett (who’s picking up the majority of critics awards) and Bullock (the most popular actress starring in a wildly popular film). The fact that Bullock won four years ago leads me to give Blanchett a slight edge and she’s my prediction. Other contenders not predicted: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), as well as Adams.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Analysis: Of the five predicted, I am only confident about Fassbender and Leto. My current predictions have Hanks in and his Captain Phillips costar Barkhad Abdi out. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abdi, John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Will Forte (Nebraska), Harrison Ford (42), or the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said) nominated.

Predicted Winner: A 12 Years sweep could give Fassbender the prize. However, my prediction is Jared Leto for his acclaimed work in Dallas Buyer’s Club.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Analysis: Voters might not be able to resist nominating Julia so she’s in and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) is out. Other not predicted contenders could be Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Margo Martindale (August: Osage County). This race appears to be coming down to Lawrence and Nyong’o.

Predicted Winner: Much like Supporting Actor, a 12 Years night should include Nyong’o. And then came Jennifer Lawrence, who’s having an incredible film year with her Best Actress Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook and headlining the massive hit The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her performance in Hustle is garnering raves. Could she win two years in a row? Between her and Nyong’o, this seems like a coin toss at this juncture. For now, I’ll predict the 12 Years momentum gives Nyong’o the win.

And there you have it. To recap, my current winner predictions:

PICTURE – 12 Years a Slave

DIRECTOR – Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

ACTOR – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

ACTRESS – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave