2021 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

Thanks to the Toronto Film Festival, we have a new #1 atop the charts in Best Picture and it’s Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. 

The coming-of-age drama won the festival’s People’s Choice Award and that is no minor development. 12 of the past 13 victors have received a BP nod. Five of them have won. And that’s enough to allow Belfast the designation of soft frontrunner (with lots of time to go and lots yet to be seen). However, the fact of the matter is, you have to go back to 2006’s The Departed to find a BP winner that didn’t screen at one of the higher profile festivals.

The Power of the Dog was a runner-up for the People’s Choice prize and it slides just one spot. Director Jane Campion  maintains top billing in her category.

There are further developments to point out:

    • King Richard is back in my top 10 BP projections edging out The Humans. The Will Smith sports drama also enters Original Screenplay over C’Mon C’Mon.
    • Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) is in for Best Director over Ridley Scott for House of Gucci.
    • The praise for Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is enough to put her at #2 in Actress. It’s not enough to dislodge Kristen Stewart (Spencer) from her ruling perch. I will admit that the subpar box office grosses for Faye this weekend doesn’t help, but I’m relatively confident at this juncture that she’s in.
    • The revolving door that is slot #5 in Best Actor lands on Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley).
    • Big changes in Supporting Actor as Jamie Dornan (Belfast) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci) are in. Dropping are Dornan’s costar Ciaran Hinds and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).
    • While the Supporting Actress five stays intact, I’ve vaulted Ann Dowd (Mass) back to the top spot.

By this time next Sunday, we will know the buzz for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth as it opens the New York Film Festival this Friday. Stay tuned for my Oscar Predictions post on that next weekend.

You can peruse all the action below and the forecasts will be updated next Sunday!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 4) (+3)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 5) (+1)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (-2)

6. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. King Richard (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Spencer (PR: 15) (+3)

13. CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Hand of God (PR: 13) (-2)

16. Flee (PR: 17) (+1)

17. The French Dispatch (PR: 16) (-1)

18. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19) (+1)

19. A Hero (PR: 18) (-1)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: 20) (E)

21. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 24) (+3)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22) (E)

23. Cyrano (PR: 23) (E)

24. Passing (PR: 21) (-3)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 25) (E)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (E)

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

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 14) (E)

15. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 4) (E)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (E)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7) (E)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2) (E)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (E)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (E)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (E)

9. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11) (E)

12. Ben Foster, The Survivor (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jude Hill, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, Annette

Filippo Scott, The Hand of God

Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-2)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9) (E)

10. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (-4)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (E)

13. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15) (E)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 7) (+4)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3) (-5)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12) (+1)

12. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Timothy Spall, Spencer

Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Hand of God (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (-1)

10. A Hero (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Parallel Mothers (PR: 10) (-1)

12. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Being the Ricardos (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: 14) (E)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Humans (PR: 3) (E)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

11. Cyrano (PR: 11) (E)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 12) (E)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 13) (E)

14. The Green Knight (PR: 15) (+1)

15. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

With the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals having just wrapped and Toronto going strong, there are fresh updates to my Oscar predictions in every category but Director!

Of course, the big question from the past week might be: Will a movie with the word “pizza” in it finally get a Best Picture nomination? That’s more possible than ever since Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest (which had the working title Soggy Bottom) is now apparently called Licorice Pizza. It makes perfect sense if you research the setting.

It’ll be a while before we know how much of a contender that one actually is.   There is some movement based on actual buzz and it starts with Stephen Karam’s The Humans, which has screened at Toronto. I believe it could make the BP cut and I’ve got it in. I’m also returning West Side Story to the top ten. Dropping out are CODA and King Richard, though either could certainly find themselves back in the mix.

In other developments:

    • Penelope Cruz’s Venice win for Best Actress gets her back in the top five. Falling out is Jennifer Hudson for Respect.
    • I now have Bradley Cooper as a double nominee. In addition to him maintaining the top spot in Supporting Actor for Pizza (that’s gonna take some getting used to), he’s listed in Actor for Nightmare Alley. He takes the place of Adam Driver in House of Gucci. 
    • With category placement still in flux for certain pics, I’ve chosen to put the ensemble for Belfast all in supporting. That means Caitriona Balfe is in for Supporting Actress over her costar Judi Dench. I’m also elevating Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) and dropping Marlee Matlin (CODA). Furthermore, I have Frances McDormand moved to supporting from lead and she sits just on the outside at #6. Kirsten Dunst takes over the #1 position over Ann Dowd in Mass.
    • Jamie Dornan (Belfast) also enters the competition in supporting instead of lead, but he’s not in my five. There is one change: Jason Isaacs (Mass) over Jared Leto (House of Gucci).
    • C’Mon C’Mon gets the 5th slot in Original Screenplay over Spencer. And Belfast is now listed first instead of Pizza. 
    • In Adapted Screenplay, The Humans and The Lost Daughter make the cut over The Tragedy of Macbeth and CODA. The latter did not have a good week as you can see (dropping out of Picture, Supporting Actress, and here).

We are mere hours away from knowing whether Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) deserves her #3 placement in Actress. Those developments and more will be available when I update next Sunday. Until then, you can peruse all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

4. Belfast (PR: 4)

5. Dune (PR: 6)

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) – formerly Soggy Bottom

8. West Side Story (PR: 11)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. The Humans (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

11. CODA (PR: 10)

12. King Richard (PR: 9)

13. The Hand of God (PR: 17)

14. Mass (PR: 12)

15. Spencer (PR: 13)

16. The French Dispatch (PR: 19)

17. Flee (PR: 16)

18. A Hero (PR: 15)

19. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 20)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Passing (PR: 24)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22)

23. Cyrano (PR: 18)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 5)

5. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 10)

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 15)

11. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 9)

12. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 11)

15. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Sian Heder, CODA

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristin Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 11)

8. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 15)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 14)

14. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (moved to Supporting Actress)

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 5)

5. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 12)

12. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 13)

13. Filippo Scott, The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Simon Rex, Red Rocket (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast (moved to Supporting)

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

3. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 6)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

8. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 7)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

10. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12)

11. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 3)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

13. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 9)

14. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 11)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos

Olga Merediz, In the Heights

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 4)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3)

4. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

5. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

7. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

8. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

9. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 8)

10. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 13)

12. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

13. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Timothy Spall, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reed Birney, Mass

Simon Helberg, Annette

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Adam Driver, The Last Duel

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 2)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 6)

7. Spencer (PR: 5)

8. The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 11)

10. Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

11. Being the Ricardos (PR: 12)

12. A Hero (PR: 8)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. The Humans (PR: 6)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4)

7. Dune (PR: 8)

8. CODA (PR: 5)

9. West Side Story (PR: 12)

10. Passing (PR: 11)

11. Cyrano (PR: 10)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 13)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 9)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: 15)

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

Where to even begin? It’s been 11 days since I updated my Oscar predictions (a longer break than normal) but there’s good reason. A lot has transpired since then. That would be the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals where numerous contenders have been unveiled.

That means there are significant changes in all of the 8 major races that I’m currently forecasting. Let us count the ways:

    • Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was certainly one of the most awaited arrivals. Before Venice, I had it placed #1 in Picture, Director, and Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch). The reviews do not automatically indicate it will win the prize. However, they were enough raves that I have not moved it out of the top spot in Picture and Director. Yet there is a new #1 in Actor…
    • That would be Will Smith in King Richard. While Cumberbatch only slips to #2, the reaction to Smith’s work has me thinking a narrative could develop where he sweeps the season.
    • Richard also moves into the top ten in my Best Picture rankings. So does Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, another major story of the past few days. I didn’t have the black and white period drama getting any nods a week and a half ago. It’s now listed in Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actor (Ciaran Hinds), and Original Screenplay. There is a question with how the studio will figure out placement for its ensemble. I currently have Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as possibilities in the lead derbies with both falling short.
    • The two newcomers in Best Picture takes out West Side Story and The Hand of God. Branagh’s rise in Director removes Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth).
    • In Actress, the festival praise for Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) has me thinking she’s in at this juncture. Falling off the top five: Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth. I nearly put McDormand in Supporting Actress and I wouldn’t be surprised if she contends there instead.
    • Another development in Actress is the vaulting of Kristen Stewart (Spencer) to the #1 slot over Lady Gaga (House of Gucci). The Venice love indicates she’s the strong frontrunner to win gold.
    • Peter Dinklage’s title role as Cyrano makes the top five in Actor to the detriment of Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up).
    • Judi Dench’s inclusion in Belfast for Supporting Actress has Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) on the outside looking in. I desperately wanted to put Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) in the five and wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it in soon. I just couldn’t decide who to take out.
    • There are two changes in Supporting Actor. The Power of the Dog buzz provided a bit of a shocker. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to hold a better chance at getting in over Jesse Plemons (who falls out of the mix). Also, the addition of Ciaran Hinds removes Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth). For those keeping score, that’s two Supporting Actor hopefuls in the five that weren’t even ranked 11 days ago.
    • In Original Screenplay, it’s Belfast and Spencer in and The French Dispatch (whose fortunes are falling in my opinion) and The Hand of God out. In Adapted Screenplay, I have put CODA back in (sorry to The Humans… which we’ll know more about when it debuts in days up in Toronto).

Whew. Got all that? You can peruse all the movement below. And you can bet that I’ll be posting about all the fresh updates from Toronto. Until then…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

4. Belfast (PR: 14)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

6. Dune (PR: 7)

7. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. King Richard (PR: 21)

10. CODA (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. West Side Story (PR: 8)

12. Mass (PR: 13)

13. Spencer (PR: 17)

14. The Humans (PR: 11)

15. A Hero (PR: 15)

16. Flee (PR: 16)

17. The Hand of God (PR: 10)

18. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

19. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

20. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19)

21. The Last Duel (PR: 20)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

23. Parallel Mothers (PR: 22)

24. Passing (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

8. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 15)

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

11. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 10)

12. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 14)

14. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

15. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 4)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 14)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 7)

9. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8)

11. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10)

14. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 11)

15. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6)

8. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8)

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11)

13. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Yeun, The Humans

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11)

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

5. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 15)

8. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

9. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 10)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 8)

12. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

13. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: 13)

14. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 12)

15. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 3)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

8. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

10. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

11. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 13)

12. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up

Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Belfast (PR: 7)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. Spencer (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 15)

7. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

8. A Hero (PR: 8)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 3)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

11. The Hand of God (PR: 5)

12. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

5. CODA (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 5)

7. The Lost Daughter (PR: 12)

8. Dune (PR: 7)

9. The Last Duel (PR: 8)

10. Cyrano (PR 13)

11. Passing (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen

Back at it next week!

Oscar Predictions: Belfast

Kenneth Branagh’s varied filmography has included Shakespeare adaptations (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing), MCU pics (Thor), Disney live-action remakes (Cinderella), action franchise entries (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), and Agatha Christie retellings (Murder on the Orient Express). None of them have received a Best Picture nod though Branagh was nominated for his direction of Henry V in 1989.

The Telluride Film Festival unveiled his black and white coming of age tale Belfast. Calling it his most personal film, it’s also one of his most acclaimed thus far. And it appears poised to give the filmmaker his first contender in the Best Picture derby. He could also be called out for his behind the camera work and his original screenplay.

As for the cast, Focus Features will need to decide where to place its principals. The quartet of Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, and Judi Dench could all go supporting. However, the studio may choose to put Balfe and Dornan in lead with the distinguished veterans in supporting. My feeling is that Dench (going for her 8th nod) and Hinds (trying to get his first) stand the best chances.

I also anticipate Belfast will be recognized for its cinematography which critics are singling out. Bottom line: the buzz from Colorado suggests Belfast has good reason to be hopeful during awards season. My Oscar Prediction posts on the films of 2021 will continue…

First Man Movie Review

Perhaps the largest overarching theme of Damien Chazelle’s First Man is control. Mission control of the world famous Apollo 11 flight, yes. There’s also a mission in which Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) tragically cannot control with the death of his young daughter to a brain tumor. In Gosling’s face as he lands for the first time ever on the outer reaches of our solar system, we sense his myopic focus on this historic assignment. It is coupled with a sense of loss of what he experienced a few years prior with a task he couldn’t achieve in saving her life.

That, more than anything else, is where the power of this picture lies. Yet these moments are not particularly frequent. We all know how First Man is going to end with Armstrong’s first footprint on a never before stepped upon surface. There is little dramatic tension there, though the booming musical score helps a little bit. Chazelle’s film takes the moon landing and shows it through the eyes of the man who did it. That means we see the extraordinarily small spaces he trains and rides in. And in the years prior to success, we see a string of losses from his daughter to several coworkers who perish along the way.

This is not the space saga I expected from Chazelle. It’s entirely different in tone from his previous efforts Whiplash and La La Land. Armstrong was a famously low key figure and First Man takes cues from his personality. The saga begins eight years prior to his claim to fame. Armstrong is a test pilot with a devoted but strong in her convictions wife Janet (Claire Foy) and two children. With two-year-old Karen, Neil treats her illness as a mathematical equation to be solved, like his daily work. He can’t solve this problem.

His piloting career coincides with his nation’s fervent desire to beat the Russians to the moon after being beat out by them in earlier missions. As we know, he’s eventually given captain status with Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas) alongside him. Before that occurs, we see Neil’s friendship with another famed astronaut Ed White (Jason Clarke) and others. All of these innovators reside in Houston and develop a close community where the wives are constantly living in fear of whether their husbands will come home.

First Man often focuses on that sense of dread and the fact that, in the 1960s, NASA was a program often running blind. Ever hopeful, but with rickety rockets and a cross your fingers and hope for the best attitude. It takes a toll on Neil’s marriage. Foy is excellent as Janet and she’s given a scene or two to shine.

Gosling’s work is, like his subject, tougher to nail down. It’s not a showy role. However, in the moments where he must convey Armstrong’s laser concentration, Gosling flourishes. I admired Chazelle’s tactic of making this tale that goes outside our galaxy a small and personal one. First Man is ultimately an experience that easier to appreciate than be grandly entertained by. Neil Armstrong worked in his own way and so does this for the most part.

*** (out of four)

First Man Box Office Prediction

With awards buzz lifting its potential box office prospects, Damien Chazelle’s First Man debuts next weekend. Ryan Gosling headlines as Neil Armstrong in the story of the journey that led him to walk on the moon. Costars include Claire Foy (in a role garnering Oscar chatter), Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas.

Since premiering at the Venice Film Festival, First Man has received positive word of mouth with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%. Like Chazelle’s last two pictures (Whiplash and La La Land), a Best Picture nomination is expected. Older audiences should turn out (and Gosling fans), but it could be a film that plays well for weeks as opposed to a huge opening.

October has been kind to space flicks, most notably Gravity and The Martian. They both launched to over $50 million out of the gate. First Man is not expected to achieve those numbers. Competition is serious with the second weekends of Venom and A Star Is Born in particular.

I’ll say this manages a low to likely mid 20s start with solid grosses continuing beyond.

First Man opening weekend prediction: $23.5 million

For my Goosebumps 2, Haunted Halloween prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/03/goosebumps-2-haunted-halloween/

For my Bad Times at the El Royale prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/03/bad-times-at-the-el-royale-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: First Man

The Venice Film Festival has kicked off today with Toronto coming next week. That means you can expect two dozen or more Oscar Watch posts coming your way on the blog over the next few days!

The opening film from Venice is a big one – Damien Chazelle’s First Man. The story of Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) journey to the moon has screened for critics and the early verdict is quite strong.

It should come as no surprise that Man is considered a potential serious awards contender. Director Chazelle has seen both of his previous works – 2014’s Whiplash and 2016’s La La Land – land Best Picture nominations. The latter infamously lost to Moonlight. Additionally, both pictures resulted in Oscar wins for their performers (J.T. Walsh for Supporting Actor in Whiplash and Emma Stone in lead Actress for La La).

So where does this stand based on early buzz emanating from Italy? It would appear First Man is highly likely to be director’s third effort in a row to be recognized in Best Picture. Chazelle also stands a great chance at a directing nod (he won for La La and was the youngest filmmaker in history to do so).

As for the actors, critical notices have heaped praise on Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife Jan. Her inclusion in Supporting Actress is probable. Of the many recognizable male supporting players, it appears Jason Clarke is receiving the most attention. It’s possible that Universal’s Oscar campaign’s focus could primarily center on Gosling and Foy, but I wouldn’t count Clarke out.

Which brings us to Gosling. Critics have been very kind in praising his understated work. I don’t think it’s yet a guarantee that Gosling lands his third Best Actor nod (after Half Nelson and La La Land), but he’s absolutely in the mix.

In addition to Best Adapted Screenplay, First Man should definitely find itself under consideration for numerous tech races including Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Production Design, and Original Score.

Bottom line: First Man is the first fall festival picture to be screened… and it’s established itself as a major player.

First Man opens domestically on October 12. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Red Sparrow Movie Review

Jennifer Lawrence teams up with her Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence once again with Red Sparrow. This spy thriller could rightfully be called The Somber Games. To put it in Red Bull terms, there are times when Sparrow could use some wings.

While Lawrence gives a solid performance, the film never quite strikes a satisfying balance between wanting to be a little trashy and wanting to take itself as stone faced seriously as every character who inhabits it.

Here we have Jenny from the Red Block – with the star playing Dominika. She’s a well-known Russian ballerina whose career is cut short in a freak injury. Unable to care for her ill mother (Joely Richardson) or make ends meet, her high-ranking government official uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) offers her an ultimatum. Dominika is to become an employee of the Foreign Intelligence Service and extract information from suspects by any means possible.

This brings her to an intensive training course called State School 4 or as she later coins it – Whore School. It’s an apt description as most of the methods taught by its headmaster (Charlotte Rampling) involve seduction. Her training soon puts her in close contact with CIA agent Nash (Joel Edgerton) as he knows the true identity of a Russian mole.

Based on a 2013 novel by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow follows the spy flick playbook of frequent double crosses and surprising character reveals. Unlike some recent entries in the well-worn genre, it’s bursts of violence are hardcore and it’s filled with sex. Dominika is tasked with always staying a step ahead of her mostly male coworkers and marks. That almost always involves their uncontrolled libido.

Director Lawrence and Jennifer Lawrence deserve some credit for making this pretty interesting for the first hour or so. The pic is not short on style and watching Dominika first adapt to her new reality has some entertaining and unexpected pleasures at first.

After a while, however, Red Sparrow struggles as it devolves into more familiar torture scenes and unsurprising “surprises”. Unlike Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron (a much better genre experience), there’s hardly any sense of fun here. The Lawrence’s seem convinced that the dour happenings are enough to sustain a 140 running time. Not quite.

**1/2 (out of four)

Justice League Movie Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a bit of a mess and it earned its reputation as such in many ways. However, I found myself seemingly in the minority of those who sort of dug it. Where it failed – it failed significantly. That includes the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor with his manic and bizarre take on the iconic villain. There were some narrative choices that were questionable. Yet when BvS worked, I felt it worked well and that included Ben Affleck succeeding as Batman.

Justice League is less cluttered. Zack Snyder, directing this DC Universe for the third time, captains a tighter ship with a shorter running time than what’s preceded it… and nearly all recent comic book adaptations for that matter. It is, of course, Warner Bros venture into Avengers territory. There’s a somewhat lighter tone that we first saw in the summer’s Wonder Woman stand-alone feature. The inclusion of The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) contribute to that. So does the fact that the unusually somber Superman (Henry Cavill) who brooded through much of Man of Steel and BvS is absent much of the time.

As you’ll recall, Superman was dead and buried at the BvS conclusion. Justice League opens with the world missing him and crime on the rise. Batman is doing his level best, but he needs a squad. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still dealing with the loss she experienced in her own movie, but she’s game to help. They recruit the newbies only glimpsed upon in BvS: The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). It is their mission to thwart the Earth dominating plans of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), a motion capture evil alien. The League incorporates their powers to do so, but they know they must resurrect the Big S to complete the task.

The Avengers had the advantage of having introduced several of its core characters in separate entries. That doesn’t hold true here for half of the Justice League. Miller provides some decent comic relief, Momoa has a memorable moment or two and Fisher’s backstory is a bit blah. Their inclusion feels a little rushed and a little watered down.

Curiously the villain issue of BvS, while highly disappointing, was at least fascinating to witness in a rather bad way. Here the character of Steppenwolf isn’t really interesting at all. Many of these comic book adaptations have suffered the most from bland baddies and this is another.

League finds time to bring back Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and Clark’s mama (Diane Lane) in limited fashion. J.K. Simmons turns up briefly as the previously MIA Commissioner Gordon. It is Gadot who shines brightest, which is no surprise considering her rock solid solo spotlight just months prior.

In essence, Justice League feels ordinary too often. It’s got the same flaws as others in the genre. It has the same bright spots with certain performances. There’s action sequences that impress and others with dodgier CG. Call me crazy, but I admired BvS often for its occasional audacity and untidiness. With Justice, it joins a league of plenty others like it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Silence Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update: Silence prediction being revised down based on reported theater count on just 750 screens.

One of Martin Scorsese’s passion projects finally rolls out in wide release next weekend when Silence debuts. The historical epic was shot entirely in Taiwan and tells the story of two Jesuit priests in Japan during the 17th century. Andrew Garfield (fresh off his well received turn in Hacksaw Ridge), Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds, and Issey Ogata (garnering some Oscar chatter) star.

Speaking of Oscar chatter, Silence has been the subject of it. However, its inclusion in the Best Picture race is not assured. If that chatter had been louder, it may have helped box office performance. Additionally, the pic is debuting on a packed weekend in which there’s plenty of other adult fare competing for attention, including Patriots Day and Live by Night.

The best hope for Silence may be a host of Academy Awards nods that will be announced nearly two weeks after its release. That could propel it to steady grosses over awards season. As for its opening, I believe low to mid single digits is the likely scenario.

Silence opening weekend prediction: $3 million

For my Patriots Day prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/patriots-day-box-office-prediction/

For my Live by Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/live-by-night-box-office-prediction/

For my Sleepless prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/sleepless-box-office-prediction/

For my Monster Trucks prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/monster-trucks-box-office-prediction/

For my The Bye Bye Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/the-bye-bye-man-box-office-prediction/