Knives Out Movie Review

Whodunits aren’t an omnipresent genre on the silver screen these days and rare recent ones like Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express have had a bit of an unnecessary regurgitated vibe to it. Not so with Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, which displays  the writer/director’s enthusiasm for playing in this murderous sandbox to satisfactory effect. Like the 1974 version of Orient Express, we have a 007 involved. 45 years ago, it was Sean Connery and now it’s Daniel Craig. There’s a Marvel superhero (Chris Evans) playing decidedly against type. A captain of the American crime novel industry meets his demise in a stately manner that’s a triumph of production design. Craig and Evans are having a good time here, as is the rest of the cast. Some get better opportunities to shine than others. One of the standouts even has her crowd pleasing moments that involves regurgitation.

The Thrombey family is celebrating the 85th birthday of their patriarch Harlan (Christopher Plummer), a wealthy novelist who won’t allow his capers to be adapted into films or TV specials. This is a source of frustration for son Walt (Michael Shannon), who cares for his publishing empire. The family drama doesn’t stop there. Harlan is prepared to expose family secrets or cut off the gravy train for eldest daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her philandering husband (Don Johnson) and daughter-in-law and would-be life coaching guru Joni (Toni Collette). Evans is the black sheep grandson in a clan where that’s saying something. Everyone has a reason to get rid of Harlan. His most healthy relationship is with a non-family member – caretaker Marta (Ana de Armas). She’s from another country and it could be Brazil or Ecuador and one ending with “guay”. Don’t ask the Thrombeys as they express an admiration for her, but hilariously have no clue where she came from. This is all part of Johnson’s integration of the immigration debate into a screenplay that manages to occasionally weave current events into the foul play happenings.

That foul play means Harlan’s celebration is short-lived. Enter private detective Benoit Blanc as played by Craig and his work is a far cry from James Bond. Adopting a thick Southern drawl and a patient attitude to finding the killer, Blanc nevertheless seems a step ahead of the other policemen investigating. They want to believe Harlan might have committed suicide as the evidence suggests. Yet no whodunit script could make it that simple, could it?

Knives Out clues the audience in on some revelations before they enter Blanc’s consciousness from time to time. Johnson probably could have held some back for stronger pacing results. And some of the performers never quite have the running time to develop their roles. These turn out to be minor criticisms in the grand scheme. De Armas and Evans form the yin and yang of the case and are afforded the most clock time in the game along with Craig. The frequent twists and turns experienced are a hoot as we anticipate what Johnson will throw up on the screen next.

*** (out of four)

Knives Out Box Office Prediction

In his first feature since dividing audiences and critics with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson has come up with a comedic whodunit in Knives Out. The pic debuted at the Toronto Film Festival back in September and critics have pointed it out as a winner. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 97%. Daniel Craig leads a cast of familiar faces including Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Rolling out over the long Thanksgiving holiday (with previews scheduled for this Friday to build anticipated word of mouth as an audience pleaser), Knives hopes to generate a #2 debut behind the second weekend of Frozen II. It will likely compete with the sophomore frame of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and perhaps Ford v Ferrari for that distinction.

I believe this should serve as a solid option for adults over the Turkey Day period. A start in the mid to high teens for the traditional Friday to Sunday portion and mid 20s for the five-day looks probable. That doesn’t get it near the $28 million earned two years ago in November by Murder on the Orient Express. However, if moviegoers enjoy what they see, Knives should succeed in avoiding sharp declines in the weekends ahead.

Knives Out opening weekend prediction: $18.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $27.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Queen & Slim prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/21/queen-slim-box-office-prediction/

2019 Oscar Predictions: October 3rd Edition

Going into this week’s predictions, there was no question that Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman would be the headline. The gangster epic premiered last Friday at the New York Film Festival to overwhelmingly glowing reviews. That reaction has propelled it to the #1 spot in Picture, Director, and kept it there in Adapted Screenplay.

Additionally, the festival greatly increased the chances for Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to land nominations. De Niro makes an appearance in lead for the first time, pushing out Antonio Banderas. Pacino enters Supporting Actor, displacing Willem Dafoe. And Pesci rises to the #6 slot in that category.

Yet the movement this Thursday extends beyond Irishman. Renee Zellweger’s title performance in Judy is now #1 in Actress. In Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers vaults to first position.

In Picture, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood makes its inaugural showing in my top ten projections. That pushes out Little Women, as we await reaction for it.

Finally, it was revealed (fairly unsurprisingly) that Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell will be released in December for awards consideration. I have the film, Clint, Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates, and its Adapted Screenplay mentioned as possibilities.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Irishman 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Lighthouse 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (Previous Ranking: 3)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

4. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

7. 1917 (PR: 7)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. The Farewell (PR: 10)

10. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

11. Joker (PR: 12)

12. Little Women (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 13)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 18)

15. Pain and Glory (PR: 14)

16. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

17. Judy (PR: 23)

18. Booksmart (PR: 21)

19. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

20. Bombshell (PR: 16)

21. The Report (PR: 20)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 22)

23. Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 25)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 17)

Dropped Out:

The Lighthouse 

Knives Out 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 2)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 4)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 3)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

10. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 12)

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

14. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 13)

15. Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

4. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 4)

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 7)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 9)

10. Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

12. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 3)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 5)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 8)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

11. Isabelle Huppert, Frankie (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

13. Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love 

Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

5. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: 11)

9. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

10. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: 13)

14. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Laundromat 

Anna Paquin, The Irishman 

Octavia Spencer, Luce 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 7)

8. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 9)

10. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 8)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 11)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 14)

14. Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sam Rockwell, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari 

Chris Evans, Knives Out 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Pain and Glory (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Booksmart (PR: 9)

9. Bombshell (PR: 10)

10. The Report (PR: 8)

11. 1917 (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

13. Ad Astra (PR: 13)

14. Dolemite Is My Name (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Knives Out

Uncut Gems 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 5)

5. Little Women (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 6)

7. Downton Abbey (PR: 9)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 7)

9. Judy (PR: 8)

10. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Dark Waters (PR: 10)

12. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

13. Luce (PR: 12)

14. Hustlers (PR: 13)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Laundromat 

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 27th Edition

When it comes to Oscar prognosticating, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend without any festivals or particularly high profile screenings. Yet that’s bound to change tomorrow because The Irishman cometh.

Two months ahead of its Netflix debut, Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster drama with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci will open the New York Film Festival. There are a few notable Academy hopefuls that haven’t screened like 1917, Bombshell, Little Women, and Dark Waters. Mr. Scorsese’s latest is the most eagerly awaited and we will know its potential Oscar viability in just a few hours (expect my individual post for it no later than Saturday).

So as we await that verdict, there were some developments in the past week:

  • I have moved Christian Bale from lead actor to supporting and that means he’s in for the first time, replacing Jamie Foxx.
  • Awkwafina gets the Best Actress #5 spot over Alfre Woodard.
  • The Two Popes has shifted to Adapted Screenplay and that takes Joker out.
  • The misfortune for Joker continues as I’ve moved it out of my top ten Picture projections in favor of The Farewell. 
  • With Popes removed from Original Screenplay, Waves takes its slot.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Farewell 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Joker 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. The Irishman (PR: 3)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. 1917 (PR: 6)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. Little Women (PR: 10)

10. The Farewell (PR: 13)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Joker (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 12)

14. Pain and Glory (PR: 18)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

16. Bombshell (PR: 16)

17. Ad Astra (PR: 23)

18. Just Mercy (PR: 14)

19. The Lighthouse (PR: 17)

20. The Report (PR: 21)

21. Booksmart (PR: 19)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 20)

23. Judy (Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. Knives Out (PR: 22)

Dropped Out:

The Good Liar 

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 3)

3. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 14)

13. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 15)

14. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

15. James Gray, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

5. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

7. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

8. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

11. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 9)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

15. Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 13)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 12)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

14. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (moved to Supporting)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 5)

8. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 7)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 9)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 10)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 11)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 13)

14. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 12)

15. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Bell, Rocketman 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 6)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

10. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 11)

11. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

15. Octavia Spencer, Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory 

Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters 

Ana de Armas, Knives Out 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Original)

4. Little Women (PR: 3)

5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 5)

7. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

8. Judy (PR: 10)

9. Downton Abbey (PR: 8)

10. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Luce (PR: 12)

13. Hustlers (PR: 13)

14. The Laundromat (PR: 9)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Motherless Brooklyn 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 5)

5. Waves (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

8. The Report (PR: 10)

9. Booksmart (PR: 7)

10. Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

12. Knives Out (PR: 11)

13. Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Uncut Gems (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Two Popes (moved to Adapted)

1917

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are updated! Some events from over the last week:

  • By Friday next week, The Irishman will have screened and we will know how much of a contender it truly is. I’ve held it as a placeholder in first since I started my projections a month ago. I’m shaking it up a bit and sliding the picture and Martin Scorsese to third. That means Marriage Story takes over in slot one for Pic and Quentin Tarantino is first for direction.
  • Winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, Jojo Rabbit got just the shot in the arm it needed after mixed reviews. 10 of the past 11 Toronto recipients have nabbed a Best Picture nod. So it’s back in my mix. It replaces Waves.
  • In Director, Sam Mendes is back in with James Mangold out.
  • No changes to the top five in Best Actor. . In Actress and Supporting Actress – same story as even 1-5 rankings remain consistent.
  • In Supporting Actor, it’s Willem Dafoe returning to the predictions over Sterling K. Brown.
  • The five Adapted Screenplays haven’t changed while in Original, it’s The Farewell over Waves. 

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Jojo Rabbit 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Waves 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. 1917 (PR: 10)

7. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 14)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 4)

9. Joker (PR: 8)

10. Little Women (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Waves (PR: 9)

13. The Farewell (PR:12)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 13)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

16. Bombshell (PR: 18)

17. The Lighthouse (PR: 20)

18. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

19. Booksmart (PR: 22)

20. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

21. The Report (PR: 15)

22. Knives Out (PR: 21)

23. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. The Good Liar (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

2. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

3. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

7. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 13)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

13. Todd Phillips, Joker (Not Ranked)

14. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

15. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 3)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 2)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 13)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 10)

13. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim 

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 10)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 12)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 13)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: 15)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 8)

7. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 7)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 11)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 6)

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 7)

7. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 5)

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

9. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

10. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 8)

11. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

15. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Aldis Hodge, Clemency 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 4)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Booksmart (PR: 10)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. The Report (PR: 7)

11. Knives Out (PR: 11)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

3. Little Women (PR: 2)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 3)

5. Joker (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

8. Downton Abbey (PR: 13)

9. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

10. Judy (PR: 11)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 15)

12. Luce (PR: 10)

13. Hustlers (PR: 9)

14. Toy Story 4 (PR: 12)

15. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

Back at it next week!!

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

Well, a lot has certainly transpired on the Oscar prognostication front in the past week! Most notably would be the Toronto Film Festival and as usual, it helped some pictures and performers and threw shade on the hopes of others.

For blog followers, you’ve seen a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts over the last few days. Various rankings in the eight major categories have shifted as we arrive at today’s predictions with some newcomers hitting predicted territory.

Let’s go through some highlights:

  • One of the more unexpected events from up north was the love for Hustlers, out tomorrow. The attention was particularly centered on the performance of Jennifer Lopez. She goes from unranked all the way to #3 in Supporting Actress.
  • The Two Popes is gathering more admirers as it plays the circuit. I now have it #4 in my BP derby (up five spots). This could change, but I think it’s one of a handful of pics that could win top prize.
  • Joker surprised many by emerging victorious for the Golden Lion at Venice. It now enters the fray as a predicted nominee in BP and Adapted Screenplay, in addition to Joaquin Phoenix.
  • Like Popes, Waves is also making a festival splash and it enters my projected BP recipients in ninth.
  • My projections in the lead acting categories remains the same ten, albeit with some jockeying from last week to this one.
  • In Supporting Actor, lots of movement. Tom Hanks was heralded for his portrayal of Mister Rogers in Toronto for Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I also have Sterling K. Brown in Waves pulling a J-Lo and going from not ranked to nominee. And Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy is drawing acclaim so he joins the shortlist. They replace Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, and Taika Waititi in a crowded field.
  • Speaking of Waititi, Jojo Rabbit was met with wildly divergent opinions in Toronto. I now have it only receiving an Adapted Screenplay nod, but expect its journey to Oscar attention or no attention to be an ongoing story.
  • Harriet seemed to be a bit of a Toronto disappointment. While I’m still listing Cynthia Erivo’s work as the title character in Actress, the movie itself has dropped completely out of my top 25.
  • There is no doubt that the badly reviewed The Goldfinch has seen its Academy dreams totally vanish.

Keep reading on to see how I have everything shaking out at the moment and I’ll have updates forecasts next Thursday!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Joker (PR: 15)

9. Waves (PR: 12)

10. 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

12. The Farewell (PR: 11)

13. Just Mercy (PR: 21)

14. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

15. The Report (PR: 10)

16. Pain and Glory (PR: 13)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 18)

19. A Hidden Life (PR: 16)

20. The Lighthouse (PR: 19)

21. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Booksmart (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: 23)

24. Rocketman (PR: 22)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

The Laundromat

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

7. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 11)

10. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 9)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 13)

13. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

15. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

3. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 5)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 9)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

10. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 15)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 10)

13. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 12)

14. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 13)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 14)

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 9)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 15)

13. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 12)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

3. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

5. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

7. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 3)

8. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 7)

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 8)

11. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

12. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 15)

13. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aldis Hodge, Clemency (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 6)

8. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 11)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

12. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Taylor Russell, Waves

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Little Women (PR: 3)

3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

4. Joker (PR: 7)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 4)

8. The Laundromat (PR: 5)

9. Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Judy (PR: 15)

12. Toy Story 4 (PR: 11)

13. Downton Abbey (PR: 14)

14. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 12)

15. The Good Liar (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Goldfinch

The King

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Waves (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. The Report (PR: 5)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. Booksmart (PR: 10)

11. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

Dolemite Is My Name

Oscar Watch: Knives Out

Good old fashioned whodunnits are rare on the silver screen, but Rian Johnson has one on deck with Knives Out. It’s premiered in Toronto and early reaction indicates a major crowd favorite that has killer box office potential. The Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi maker has apparently fashioned a laugh out loud comedy that makes fine use of its all-star cast led by Daniel Craig. We also have Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, and Christopher Plummer onboard.

So when it comes to this genre, will Knives follow in the path of Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (multiple nominations) or Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 version of Murder on the Orient Express (nada). The likelihood is that nods in the major categories could be elusive even if it strikes a chord with crowds. The best hope could be with Johnson’s original screenplay or supporting turns that have been singled out, like Evans and especially de Armas.

The better bet is a nomination for Production Design, which has been praised in every write up I’ve scanned. Bottom line: Knives Out has announced itself as a probable hit and there’s at least a chance that Academy voters could notice. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…