Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Good Joe Bell has screened at the Toronto Film Festival and the drama is eliciting markedly different reactions from critics. It comes from co-writers Larry McMurtry and Dianna Ossana, who penned the Oscar winning adapted screenplay 15 years ago for Brokeback Mountain. Mark Wahlberg stars in the title role in this true story of a man walking the country following a tragedy involving his gay son.
The Rotten Tomatoes rating is currently 75%, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Some reaction is quite positive with Wahlberg’s performance being praised. Same goes for Reid Miller, who is said to be a breakout in the part of his child. Variety, on the other hand, deems the whole film “terrible”.
This seems to preview what could be wildly divergent opinions of the feature and that could spell trouble come awards time. Wahlberg has a limited history at the Oscars as he’s only been nominated once. That was a rather surprising nod for 2006’s The Departed. He was the only performer in the top 4 quartet of 2010’s The Fighter not to receive a nomination. Costars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were victorious in the supporting fields.
I doubt that Wahlberg will make the final five in Best Actor a few months from now, but he might creep into the top 15 in my weekly Thursday nominations. The distributor’s best hope could be Miller if they mount a strong campaign in Supporting Actor. It’s just as possible that Bell is ignored completely in the races to come. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Charlize Theron’s Megyn Kelly and dozens of other women deal with their own monster in Jay Roach’s Bombshell, a retelling of the Fox News harassment scandal that ended the reign of founder Roger Ailes. The ripped from the headlines tale features outstanding performances, incredible makeup work, and at least a handful of scenes that strike the right chord.
The film focuses primarily on three women in different stages of dealing with Ailes, as played by John Lithgow. Kelly is the star with her own highly successful primetime hour and loads of ambition. Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson is seeing her career on the downslide. She’s been moved from a top rated morning show to the desert of afternoon programming. Much of this has to do with her rebuffing the advances of Ailes. Carlson is already making moves to hold Ailes accountable while Kelly is conflicted. The fictional and composite character of Kayla (Margot Robbie) is just starting her journey at the network. In many ways, her role is the most fascinating. They say don’t meet your heroes and as a young conservative landing her dream gig, she (and her family) worship at the altar of the Fox logo. When Kayla maneuvers an introduction to Roger, her nightmare begins and a scene where the head honcho “auditions” her is horrific.
Charles Randolph’s screenplay peppers in many characters involved in the sordid saga. This allows for plenty of recognizable faces playing very or semi recognizable figures, including Allison Janney as Ailes attorney Susan Estrich, Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Richard Kind as loyal defender Rudy Giuliani. There’s also Kate McKinnon as Kayla’s confidante in the bullpen. Yet it’s the quartet of leads that eat up most screen time. Theron’s transformation to Kelly is pretty remarkable. Much of that is due to her performance and capturing her mannerisms, but the makeup work of Kazu Hiro and team must be mentioned. The writing of Ailes is well handled as the script doesn’t shy away from his creepiness. It also doesn’t shy away from his connection to people and that he got to the top of the mountain with his abilities. After all, it’s those traits that sadly allowed many to stay silent for so long. Robbie’s character is the most conflicted. Her eventual face to face with Kelly regarding Roger’s behavior takes an unexpected turn worthy of conversation afterwards.
Perhaps the best scene occurs in 2006 and it involves Rudi Bakhtiar (Nazanin Boniadi). Her harassment comes not from Ailes, but as a direct result of the culture he created. When her incident occurs, we hear her inner monologue while she attempts to navigate her way out of it. We know that so many others heard that voice and Bombshell holds our interest in showing us where those voices led them.
Ahead of its April 17th stateside debut, the revenge thriller Promising Young Woman has screened at Sundance. The pic marks the directorial debut of Emerald Fennell and casts Carey Mulligan in the title role alongside a supporting cast including Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Brody, Alfred Molina, Connie Britton, and Laverne Cox.
Early reviews are encouraging with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%. Some critical reaction is effusive enough to make one wonder if Mulligan could nab her second Oscar nod after 2009’s An Education.
In order for that, Focus Features will need to launch an aggressive campaign to keep voters focused on her work in the months that follow. The Sundance buzz, at least, is somewhat promising. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
The true story of the sexual harassment claims took down Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is dropped in theaters next weekend with the release of Bombshell. Jay Roach directs Charlize Theron in the role of Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson. The supporting cast includes Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell, and John Lithgow as Ailes.
Bombshell, just today, was a surprise multiple nominee for the SAG Awards. It garnered four nods – Ensemble and the performances of Theron, Kidman, and Robbie. Whether or not Oscar nods follow remains to be seen, but it’s certainly in the mix. That buzz should help it gather some eyeballs, but it could experience a gradual rollout like many adult oriented holiday titles do.
The film opens directly against Cats, which will be going for much of the same demographic. There’s also Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which appeals to pretty much everyone. I believe this will be lucky to reach $10 million for its start. Yet this stands a solid chance at legging out positively in the weekends ahead.
Bombshell opening weekend prediction: $6.9 million
For my Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prediction, click here:
A lot has happened in the film careers of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart since they starred in 2009’s Adventureland. Eisenberg earned an Oscar nod for The Social Network, starred in 2013’s summer sleeper hit Now You See Me, and got himself cast as Lex Luthor in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Stewart furthered her star status with more Twilight pics and Snow White and the Huntsman. Now the pair reunite for American Ultra, an action comedy out next Friday. I am highly skeptical this movie will be among their big earners.
Ultra has a supporting cast that includes Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, Bill Pullman, and Tony Hale. The pic seems to be flying a bit under the radar. Solid reviews could assist yet I wonder whether this manages to even post double digits in its opening. Ultra should have no trouble topping the $5.7 million debut of Adventureland (at least I think), but I will project it falls just under $10 million and likely fades fast.
American Ultra opening weekend prediction: $9.8 million
It’s got all-star cast and a director who’s had his share of successful comedies, but I have my doubts as to whether This Is Where I Leave You will have much of an impact with audiences. Shawn Levy, the man behind the Pink Panther reboot, the Night at the Museum franchise and Date Night, is behind the camera. The family comedy’s cast includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, and Abigail Spencer.
Yet my take is that the TV spots and trailers haven’t made this look like a must-see and reviews are mixed. This is the exact type of flick that audiences might wait to watch at home in a few months. The high-profile cast could theoretically push it to a bigger opening that I’m imagining, but my gut says it won’t even reach the mid teens and be a box office disappointment like Levy’s last outing, The Internship.
This Is Where I Leave You opening weekend prediction: $12.3 million