Oscars 2020: The Case of Frances McDormand

The fourth contender is up in what has become the most fascinating competition at the Oscars (Best Actress) with Frances McDormand in Nomadland. If you missed coverage on the first three (Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman), they’re here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

Oscars 2020: The Case of Andra Day

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/09/oscars-2020-the-case-of-vanessa-kirby/

The Case for Frances McDormand

She’s starring in the Oscar favorite for Best Picture and Director with one of her most acclaimed roles. That’s saying a lot. Nomadland marks McDormand’s sixth nomination overall. She’s been nominated thrice in supporting for Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country where’s she 0 for 3. However, in her previous Best Actress plays, she’s 2 for 2 with Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Just this weekend McDormand took the award at BAFTA and there is a 9/10 Oscar match from 2010-2019. Added to that is the history she would make. By taking three Best Actress honors, she would become only the second woman ever to do so (Katherine Hepburn received 4).

The Case Against Frances McDormand 

This is as unpredictable a race as it gets. While McDormand’s BAFTA is a sure sign that’s she in this, other precursors have not followed suit. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Andra Day took the Golden Globes and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) is the Critics Choice honoree. All stand reasonable chances and there could be a feeling that McDormand has been there and done that (twice). In an interesting stat, only one Best Actress winner in the 21st century has seen her film take the big prize (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby).

The Verdict

The BAFTA vaults McDormand into even more serious consideration to take Oscar #3 in a race that seems to be coming down to the wire.

My Case Of posts will continue with Gary Oldman in Mank…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Thomas Vinterberg

Thomas Vinterberg’s direction of the Danish dramedy Another Round is my next Case Of post in that race. If you missed the previous ones covering Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), and David Fincher (Mank), they’re right here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

Oscars 2020: The Case of David Fincher

The Case for Thomas Vinterberg:

Another Round has emerged as the favorite to win Best International Feature Film at the April 25th ceremony and, just today, took the BAFTA for its version of that category. His nomination came as a pretty massive surprise so there’s clearly some voters with him on their minds…

The Case Against Thomas Vinterberg:

OK, now let’s real. The fact that his nod practically came out of nowhere means his winning changes are next to none. Most notably, Round was not nominated in Best Picture. In order for its director to take the gold, their movie kinda has to get a mention. Had it landed in the big race (or even star Mads Mikkelsen getting into Best Actor), this might be a more serious conversation.

The Verdict

Vinterberg making the final five cut is the victory. The other four filmmakers not named Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) are all far behind her. Vinterberg is the furthest.

My Case Of posts will continue with Frances McDormand in Nomadland…

2020 BAFTAs: The Nomadland Train Keeps Rolling

The road for Nomadland to Best Picture coronation at the Oscars keeps rolling today thanks to the BAFTAs (the United Kingdom’s version of the Academy Awards). Meanwhile, the Actor and Actress derbies got a bit more interesting while the supporting players continued its recent narrative.

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland won Best Film and Director in what has become a common theme. However, Frances McDormand’s victory in Actress is her first major precursor in an Oscar race that has truly become a tossup. To break it down, the four significant precursors have all produced different results: McDormand for BAFTA, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) at SAG, Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) at Critics Choice, and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) at the Globes. Bottom line: it’s going to be quite a chore to make a final predictions for the Academy’s ceremony two weeks from today.

Chadwick Boseman’s work in Ma Rainey had swept all the precursors, but that was interrupted this afternoon by Anthony Hopkins in The Father. This is not a huge upset since Hopkins is British royalty. Yet it does establish him as the surefire runner-up to Boseman and a potential threat.

The supporting races followed the SAG path with Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) in Supporting Actress and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) continuing his sweep in Supporting Actor. Both can be considered favorites at the Oscars (especially the latter).

In the screenplay competition, The Father took Adapted over Nomadland in what could be a two picture race in two weeks. Promising Young Woman took Original honors (besting The Trial of the Chicago 7, which came up empty across the pond). Promising also took home Best British Film.

Unlike the other precursors, the BAFTAs cover most of the down ticket categories and I’ll simply say that all the victors below stand decent to very strong chances at repeating at the Oscars:

Animated Film: Soul

Documentary: My Octopus Teacher

Film Not in the English Language: Another Round

Cinematography: Nomadland

Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Editing: Sound of Metal

Makeup & Hair: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Original Score: Soul

Production Design: Mank

Sound: Sound of Metal

Special Visual Effects: Tenet

My final Oscar predictions will be before you know it! Stay tuned…

DGA: The Zhaomentum Continues

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is a pretty darn accurate predictor of who will win at the Academy Awards. In the past 20 years, the DGA and Oscar winners for Best Director have matched 17 times. It is worth noting that one of the 3 non matches was last year as Sam Mendes (1917) took DGA while Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) took the Academy’s gold.

Tonight the DGA held their ceremony and it went as expected with Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) emerging victorious. This goes along with her numerous critics groups prizes and the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award. Anyone else being named this evening would have been a surprise and it’s further evidence that Zhao is the strong favorite for Oscar. If so, she will become the second female to do so after Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker.

This is also more evidence that Nomadland itself is in the driver’s seat for Best Picture as the Academy’s ceremony is just 15 days away. Bottom line: the Zhaomentum continues and none of the other nominees appear capable of interrupting it.

Oscars 2020: The Case of David Fincher

My Case Of posts for nominees at the 93rd Academy Awards reaches its third director with David Fincher for Mank. If you missed my previous two posts covering Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), they can be found here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

The Case for David Fincher

For over a quarter century, Fincher has been one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful filmmakers on the scene. His pictures have received a collective 40 Oscar nods. However, he’s yet to win himself for his direction despite two previous nods for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. In other words, there’s an overdue factor at play.

The Case Against David Fincher

Despite Mank leading in terms of total nominations (10) at the upcoming ceremony, it missed out in key categories like Original Screenplay and Editing. Of the 8 Best Picture nominees, it actually has the lowest (83%) Rotten Tomatoes score. While Fincher has landed mentions in the significant precursors, he’s lost at each turn to Chloe Zhao for Nomadland and she stands as the heavy favorite to take the Academy’s gold.

The Verdict

He may be overdue, but expect that to continue for Fincher as Zhao may well have this race wrapped up.

My Case Of posts will continue with Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) is the second filmmaker up in my Case Of posts for Best Director at the Oscars. If you missed my first writeup for Lee Isaac Chung work in Minari, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

The Case for Emerald Fennell

The actress turned multi-hyphenate (who served as a show runner for the acclaimed Killing Eve) drew widespread acclaim for her debut feature. She’s the first female Brit to garner a direction nod. Promising Young Woman is looked at as a potential spoiler to front-running Nomadland in Best Picture. The film could also emerge victorious in Actress (Carey Mulligan) and for Fennell herself in Original Screenplay.

The Case Against Emerald Fennell

Fennell’s inclusion here marks the first time in Academy history that two women are up in the category. Unfortunately for her, the other one is Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and she’s considered the strong favorite to take this award.

The Verdict

Fennell has a terrific opportunity to win an Oscar on April 25th, but it’s for her screenplay and not likely here.

My Case Of posts will continue with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

Now that my Case Of posts for the 8 nominated Best Picture candidates has concluded, it’s time to move to the 25 contenders in the directing and acting competitions. It begins with Best Director and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.

The Case for Lee Isaac Chung

Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, Chung’s drama about South Korean immigrants in 1980s rural America has been a critical and audience favorite. The film performed about as well as expected on nomination day with 6 nods. While Nomadland is certainly the frontrunner to take BP, Minari stands as one of the few titles with upset potential. Chung also landed a DGA spot which is critical for a win with the Academy.

The Case Against Lee Isaac Chung

Even if Nomadland doesn’t win the biggest prize of all, its maker Chloe Zhao seems destined for Best Director. While Minari performed well with Academy, its miss in Editing casts doubt on a BP victory. As for Chung himself, his lack of recognition at the Golden Globes seems significant. You have to go all the way back to Roman Polanski in 2002 for The Pianist to find an Oscar winning filmmaker who wasn’t nominated at the Globes.

The Verdict

In a trend you will see with other director nominees not named Chloe Zhao, it’s hard to envision Chung or the others overcoming her momentum.

My Case Of posts will continue in the field of Best Actress with Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom…

The Producers Roll With Nomadland

In the previous decade, the winner of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) best motion picture ended up matching with the eventual Oscar recipient 70% of the time. So it’s no wonder that all eyes of prognosticators were on tonight’s ceremony. Would the PGA do anything to interrupt the narrative that Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is a sturdy favorite to take the Academy’s gold?

The answer? No. Nomadland received yet another honor from the PGA to go with its Golden Globe for Best Drama, Critics Choice Award, and numerous regional group best pic designations. Had Minari or Promising Young Woman or The Trial of the Chicago 7 won, it might have created more suspense for the Oscar ceremony happening on April 25th. Yet the PGA victory is another arrow in the quiver for Zhao’s achievement.

If you’re another movie hoping to best Nomadland, the PGA and the Academy have differed three times in the last five years. In 2015, the Guild picked The Big Short over Spotlight. In 2016, it was La La Land instead of Moonlight. Last year – 1917 over Parasite. 

As for other races, Disney/Pixar’s Soul, as expected, took animated feature and it remains a major frontrunner at the big show. The documentary category went to My Octopus Teacher and that certainly puts it in serious contention in one month.

Bottom line: Nomadland is rolling and nothing may be able to stop it.

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is next up in my Case Of posts for the 8 Best Picture nominees from the 2020 Oscar season. If you missed my posts on The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, and Minari, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/16/oscars-2020-the-case-of-the-father/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/17/oscars-2020-the-case-of-judas-and-the-black-messiah/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/18/oscars-2020-the-case-of-mank/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/21/oscars-2020-the-case-of-minari/

Now to the business at hand:

The Case for Nomadland

Since its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September where it won the Golden Lion (the event’s top prize), Nomadland has been a serious contender that has managed to become the favorite. While many prognosticators predicted The Trial of the Chicago 7 would take the Best Drama category at the Golden Globes, Nomadland emerged victorious and it also won the Critics Choice Award recently. Other accolades include the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and numerous regional critics group selections as the film of 2020. Nomadland tied with five other pics last week with 6 Oscar nominations and it landed in the expected races beyond Picture with Director, Actress (Frances McDormand), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Editing. It is a contender to win them all.

The Case Against Nomadland

Being the frontrunner can be dangerous. It could be argued that the on paper favorites for three of the last ceremonies did not take the gold (2016’s La La Land lost to Moonlight, 2018’s Roma to Green Book, and 2019’s 1917 to Parasite). A narrative could certainly develop where a “surprise” winner (think Minari or Promising Young Woman, as well as the aforementioned Trial) could pose a serious threat.

The Verdict

Betting odds favor Nomadland as it’s done what it needs to be the picture to beat this year. That said, Oscar voters have had a way of recently upending the conventional wisdom.

My Case Of posts will continue with Promising Young Woman…

2020 Oscar Nominations Reaction

To Oscar prognosticators like yours truly, today was like Christmas morning as nominations were unwrapped early for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards, airing April 25th. Some things never change with the prediction game. There were categories where I was perfect (3 of them) and, as has become tradition, a dreaded race where I whiffed at 2/5.

As was the most likely scenario, Mank led all films with 10 nominations. Yet it did so by missing some key races that are usually needed to nab a Best Picture victory. This was followed by six pictures garnering six mentions: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Some of those over performed. Others – not so much.

Overall this blogger went 80/104 on estimates and in this topsy turvy year, I’ll take it. Let’s break it down race by race, shall we?

Best Picture

Nominees: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

How I Did: 7/9

The magic number of nominees ended up being 8 and I projected 9. I’ll say again… I’m very happy that the Academy is going with a set 10 again beginning in 2022. This means it was Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and One Night in Miami that missed and The Father (which had a solid showing) in. Judas, Minari and Sound of Metal proved their anticipated status as late bloomers making the cut.

Best Director

Nominees: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), David Fincher (Mank), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)

How I Did: 4/5

The Academy made history today when they nominated two women in Director for the first time. This was expected, but it is worth noting that Regina King (One Night in Miami) was a contender who missed the cut. That’s not where I went wrong as Vinterberg came out of nowhere to get a spot. While Another Round is expected to emerge victorious in International Feature Film, its director became the rare nominee to get in without a Best Picture slot. And despite being nominated for his writing, Aaron Sorkin (Trial) couldn’t get into this one.

Best Actress

Nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

I can’t put myself on the back too much here. This was widely seen as the most probable quintet and it remained true to form. Potential surprise picks like Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead) and Golden Globe Musical/Comedy winner Rosamund Pike (I Care a Lot) didn’t materialize.

Best Actor

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

Again, no shockers here. Any late momentum by Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round) or Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian) was squashed and Boseman stands tall as the major frontrunner.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

How I Did: 4/5

For the past couple of weeks, there have been six likely nominees and only five spots. I went with Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) over Seyfried. Fun fact: Foster is the first Globe winner from this category in 44 years to not land an Oscar mention. This is a wide open acting race (more so than the others by far).

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

How I Did: 4/5

The morning’s biggest surprise is the inclusion of Stanfield with his Judas costar Kaluuya. That has nothing to do with performance itself as Warner Bros. actually campaigned for Stanfield in Best Actor. The Academy simply ignored that and chose to put him here. In other words, this is the nomination that nobody saw coming. His inclusion prevented Boseman from being a double nominee for Da 5 Bloods (which had an almost nonexistent showing).

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

How I Did: 4/5

No Mank is the headline here as Sound of Metal grabbed the spot. This omission is what makes a Mank BP victory highly doubtful.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Father, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, The White Tiger

How I Did: 3/5

Ma Rainey‘s bleaker than expected morning continued with no love here. Same goes for The Mauritanian (which goose egged today). In their place? Borat and The White Tiger.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Onward, Over the Moon, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Soul, Wolfwalkers

How I Did: 4/5

It was Sheep over The Croods: A New Age in a competition where Disney/Pixar’s Soul should dominate.

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees: Collective, Crip Camp, The Mole Agent, My Octopus Teacher, Time

How I Did: 3/5

This category (unpredictable usually) was a real head scratcher in 2020. I had Dick Johnson Is Dead and Welcome to Chechnya in over Crip Camp and The Mole Agent. This is a toughie to project, but I’ll say Time might have an edge.

Best International Feature Film

Nominees: Another Round, Better Days, Collective, The Man Who Sold His Skin, Quo Vadis, Aida?

How I Did: 2/5 (ugh)

The dreaded 2/5 came here with Better Days, double nominee Collective, and the charmingly titled The Man Who Sold His Skin in over my picks of Dear Comrades!, La Llorona, and Two of Us. This looks like Round‘s race to lose at press time.

Best Cinematography

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, News of the World, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

How I Did: 4/5

Judas over Minari was where I went wrong, but not shocking considering the former’s very good day. You may have noticed this is the first mention of News of the World, which picked up four tech nods but got zilch in the big derbies.

Best Costume Design

Nominees: Emma, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Mulan, Pinocchio 

How I Did: 4/5

Not many were saying Pinocchio would play here, but it nosed out my Ammonite selection.

Best Film Editing

Nominees: The Father, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

How I Did: 4/5

This is another high profile miss for Mank as The Father was selected instead. Of its six nods, this and Original Screenplay is where Trial has the best shot at gold.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Pinocchio

How I Did: 4/5

And here’s a scenario where I was saying Mank would miss. It didn’t as it edged out Birds of Prey, which was called out zero times this morning.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Mank, Minari, News of the World, Soul

How I Did: 4/5

Here marks the sole mention for Bloods in a race where it wasn’t anticipated. It got in over my pick of The Midnight Sky. Like Animated Feature, expect Soul to reign supreme here.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah, “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7, “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, “lo Si” from The Life Ahead, “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

How I Did: 4/5

The chances of Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams belting out their ballad from the Netflix comedy Eurovision became a reality! It makes the cut over “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (which also missed Documentary Feature).

Best Production Design

Nominees: The Father, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, News of the World, Tenet

How I Did: 3/5

This is where Mank stands its greatest chance at a victory among the ten nods. The Father and Tenet (both kind of unexpected here) get in over The Midnight Sky and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Best Sound

Nominees: Greyhound, Mank, News of the World, Soul, Sound of Metal

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

I’ll take it and the winner will probably be the one with the category name in its title.

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Love and Monsters, The Midnight Sky, Mulan, The One and Only Ivan, Tenet

How I Did: 3/5

The One and Only Ivan was my runner-up. Love and Monsters, on the other hand, was not expected. They get in over Mank and Welcome to Chechnya. 

To recap, the following pictures nabbed these numbers in terms of nominations:

10 Nominations

Mank

6 Nominations

The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

5 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Promising Young Woman

4 Nominations

News of the World

3 Nominations

One Night in Miami, Soul

2 Nominations

Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Collective, Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Mulan, Pinocchio, Tenet

1 Nomination

Better Days, Crip Camp, Da 5 Bloods, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Greyhound, The Life Ahead, Love and Monsters, The Man Who Sold His Skin, The Midnight Sky, The Mole Agent, My Octopus Teacher, The One and Only Ivan, Onward, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Quo Vadis, Aida?, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Time, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The White Tiger, Wolfwalkers

Quick tidbits:

  • 12 of the 20 acting nominees are first-timers (Day, Kirby, Ahmed, Boseman, Yeun, Bakalova, Seyfried, Youn, Cohen, Odom, Raci, Stanfield)
  • 3 are previous nominees (Mulligan, Close, Kaluuya)
  • 5 are previous winners (Davis, McDormand, Hopkins, Oldman, Colman)
  • Of the five directors, only Fincher has been nominated before and none have won

So this begins the next phase of my Oscar predicting as I will do a “Case Of” post individually for all the Picture, Director, and acting nominees. Yes, that means 33 posts in the next several weeks where I outline the pros and cons of each nominee taking the gold or coming up cold. Stay tuned!