James Bond and the U.S. Presidency: A History

A fascinating factoid is out now that the U.S. Presidential Election of 2020 is in the rearview. As fans of the James Bond franchise are aware, we are now approaching the 60th anniversary of the series in 2022. The release of No Time to Die will mark the 25th official feature in the 007 canon when it (hopefully) debuts in 2021. As you are likely aware, the fifth and final Daniel Craig appearance as the British super spy was originally slated for April 2020 before its COVID-19 related delay.

Why am I saying all of this as it relates to the election that just happened? Well, it turns out that the Trump presidency will be the first since the series began in which no James Bond picture was released. That means there have been 10 U.S. Presidencies in a row where 007 appeared on the silver screen… from Kennedy to Obama. Until now. This will clearly resume when No Time is released in plenty of time for when Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office.

Based on this interesting little nugget of trivia info, I thought it might be fun to run through the movies that were released under each former POTUS and take stock with how their administrations matched up with Bond’s adventures onscreen:

The Presidency of John F. Kennedy

The Bond Pictures: Dr. No (1962)

It seems more than appropriate that this franchise started under JFK’s tenure. President Kennedy was a self-professed fan of the Ian Fleming novels. The producers of Bond actually chose From Russia with Love to be the second in the series because JFK singled it out as a favorite book. Sadly, the last movie the President ever watched at the White House was From Russia (months before its actual US release, though it was out in the UK). That was on November 20. Two days later is when Kennedy took the fateful trip to Dallas.

The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson

The Bond Pictures: From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967)

I would say it’s hard to argue that Johnson’s time in the White House isn’t the most impressive when it comes to the 007 catalogue. This was, of course, the heyday of Sean Connery’s time in the role which turned him into an international superstar. The first two titles on the board are often cited as the greatest of the bunch (my personal favorite is Russia).

The Presidency of Richard Nixon

The Bond Pictures: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973)

Nixon wins having the most Bonds during his time in office. There were three as his Presidency marked George Lazenby’s one off in Service, Connery’s return in Diamonds, and Roger Moore’s first outing with Live. I would also say the trio is all somewhat underwhelming to a degree (though I know the Service diehards will not appreciate that statement).

The Presidency of Gerald Ford

The Bond Pictures: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Pretty slim picking for Mr. Ford with Moore’s second go-round as 007. This is deservedly considered one of the weakest in the franchise.

The Presidency of Jimmy Carter

The Bond Pictures: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979)

The best of times and worst of times for Roger Moore matched with the Carter Administration. I would easily call Spy the finest Moore pic in his run while Moonraker is the low point.

The Presidency of Ronald Reagan

The Bond Pictures: For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987)

It’s appropriate that some of the titles here incorporate the Cold War activities happening in Reagan’s 1980s era. The list here includes two solid Moore outings (yes, I think Octopussy is quite good) and the middling finale of View. It also marks Timothy Dalton’s fairly pleasing debut in Daylights. As a side note, while not considered an official Bond pic in the canon sense, Sean Connery returned to his signature part with 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

The Presidency of George H.W. Bush

The Bond Pictures: Licence to Kill (1989)

The last one term President until now had just one 007 flick. I maintain that Licence may be just the most underrated one of the whole series. It was Dalton’s swan song for his brief tenure.

The Presidency of Bill Clinton

The Bond Pictures: Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The Clinton Era matches with the Pierce Brosnan era as the franchise was revitalized financially with these three blockbusters which were all decent in quality.

The Presidency of George W. Bush

The Bond Pictures: Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008)

A mixed bag. I consider Brosnan’s finale of Day to be the worst James Bond adventure of all time. On the other hand, Daniel Craig’s emergence in Royale is second only to From Russia with Love in my opinion. Quantum was just OK and the weakest of the Craig pics.

The Presidency of Barack Obama

The Bond Pictures: Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015)

Bond reached a billion dollars in the Obama era with Skyfall, rightfully considered one of the strongest of the two dozen pictures. Spectre didn’t match its quality, but was still pretty good.

The Presidency of Donald Trump

As I said… nada. No Time to Die would have been the one Trump time release if not for the pandemic. It will instead be unveiled when President Biden is in office and there could be even be a new 007 under his Presidency depending on how quickly the studio casts a new spy.

 

Connery. Sean Connery.

It is, quite simply, the greatest screen introduction of all time. Nearly 60 years ago, the suave tuxedoed super agent lighting his cigarette in the posh casino and uttering three words that changed cinematic history.

“Bond. James Bond.”

They were, of course, spoken by Sean Connery. And that line of dialogue, flawlessly delivered, kicked off the franchise of all franchises. The role of 007 was followed by George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Yet to most lovers of the art form – Connery is Bond. He perfected Ian Fleming’s British hero from the start in Dr. No and continued to do so in the seminole pictures from the series including From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. 

When a performer passes on, as Connery has at age 90, it’s easy to delve into hyperbole. That doesn’t apply here. The man truly was and is an icon. Just being the best and original Bond would be enough to cement that legacy.

However, there’s plenty more. His Oscar winning turn as the tough and gruff Malone in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. His role as the father to Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade. Being Alfred Hitchcock’s leading man in Marnie. His Soviet captain in The Hunt for Red October. The escape artist opposite Nicolas Cage in The Rock. His shining star among other legends in Murder on the Orient Express.

The man who will always be Bond and much more may be gone, but that famous introduction and hours of additional first rate entertainment will be there for us to appreciate. And nobody looked cooler providing it to us.

Sean Connery. Icon. August 25, 1930-October 31, 2020.

Daily Streaming Guide: April 5th Edition

Available via Netflix, today’s streaming guide highlights a Depression era gangster pic that took its star out of his typical comfort zone:

2002’s Road to Perdition casts Tom Hanks as a 1930s hitman whose family falls victim to his professional choices. The pic comes from Sam Mendes as the follow-up to his Oscar winning American Beauty. The supporting cast includes Paul Newman in one of his final onscreen appearances, Jude Law, and a pre 007 Daniel Craig (Mendes would direct him later in Skyfall and Spectre).

This was a rather bold choice for everyman Hanks and it paid off with solid reviews and robust box office. If you missed it the first time around, it’s well worth a view.

That’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

2019 Golden Globe Final Predictions – WINNERS

With the exception of two or three categories, the only thing that seems certain for Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards is that host Ricky Gervais will say something to upset people. With questions about who and what will emerge victorious this awards season, there is plenty of drama to go with the music and comedy this weekend.

While I spend a lot of time prognosticating the Oscars on this blog, I only did one post estimating what the Hollywood Foreign Press gave us for consideration. And now it’s time to predict the winners.

First, a quick Globes 101. This ceremony splits the lead acting races and pictures into Drama and Musical or Comedy. They do not split screenplay into Adapted or Original like the Academy does. Furthermore, unlike the Oscars, foreign pictures are nominated only in that race and are not eligible for the two top Picture categories.

This creates a fascinating dynamic Sunday evening as Oscar’s likely top three potential Best Picture winners (The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite) are all in different races. Bottom line: the Globes could be more helpful in pointing out what direction Academy voters may go in the acting derbies. We shall see…

Here goes as I break down each competition with analysis and a winner pick:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

The Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, The Two Popes

Analysis: Of the three motion picture races, this is the one I feel least confident about. In 2018, the HFPA went with a giant blockbuster and a surprise with Bohemian Rhapsody. If they go this route again, you can expect Joker to be the victor. After all, 1917 hasn’t even opened wide yet (it could sneak a win too) and the other three are Netflix releases. This ultimately serves as the first major test for The Irishman as it moves through awards season. I’ll give it the edge, but not my much.

PREDICTED WINNER – THE IRISHMAN

Alternate – Joker

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

Analysis: Some simple math here as Hollywood is the only nominee that also scored a nod for its director. That bodes well and this is the clear frontrunner.

PREDICTED WINNER – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Alternate – Rocketman

Best Director

The Nominees: Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Analysis: This could certainly come down to Scorsese vs. Tarantino. Yet Sunday could be the beginning of a huge run for Joon-Ho picking up directing honors. I think that’s what happens.

PREDICTED WINNER – BONG JOON-HO

Alternate – Quentin Tarantino

Best Actor – Drama

The Nominees: Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Analysis: The Driver vs. Phoenix battle begins with the Globes. Joker did extremely well with Globes voters and this race probably represents its best chance for a victory. Driver is quite viable, but I’m going Phoenix.

PREDICTED WINNER – JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Alternate – Adam Driver

Best Actress – Drama

The Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Analysis: In what could absolutely be the Oscar final five, Zellweger’s work as the iconic Judy Garland seems like the type of performance HFPA will eat up. Johansson and Theron are threats, but this could be the first of a couple more Zellweger podium walks.

PREDICTED WINNER – RENEE ZELLWEGER

Alternate – Scarlett Johansson

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Daniel Craig (Knives Out), Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit), Leonardo Dicaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

Analysis: For Craig and Davis, it’s an honor to be nominated as this is a three person race. Both Egerton and DiCaprio should pick up significant votes and I’m awfully tempted to go Leo. However, Murphy’s acclaimed performance and his legendary status (especially coming so soon after his SNL return) could be irresistible to the HFPA.

PREDICTED WINNER – EDDIE MURPHY

Alternate – Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Ana de Armas (Knives Out), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go Bernadette), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Emma Thompson (Late Night)

Analysis: Awkwafina is really the only player here with an Oscar shot so she’s a strong frontrunner. It’s pretty much that simple. I’d say de Armas is the only upset possibility and it’s rather slim.

PREDICTED WINNER – AWKWAFINA

Alternate – Ana de Armas

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Analysis: What a list of legends we have here as Pacino and Pesci may split votes and that paves the way for Pitt. Expect this to be a familiar refrain.

PREDICTED WINNER – BRAD PITT

Alternate – Joe Pesci

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Annette Bening (The Report), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

Analysis: The smart money is on Lopez, who’s had a remarkable comeback in 2019. I may regret this, but I’m going with a gut feeling that Dern takes it and that may represent the only win for Marriage Story of its six nods.

PREDICTED WINNER – LAURA DERN

Alternate – Jennifer Lopez

Best Screenplay

The Nominees: The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, The Two Popes

Analysis: The only entry here I don’t see with a fair shot of winning is Popes. This is a coin flip situation. Despite what I just said about Dern, Marriage could absolutely win. The Parasite love could extend here and same with Irishman. Tough one, but I’ll give Tarantino the edge (especially since I’m betting against him in Director).

PREDICTED WINNER – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Alternate – Marriage Story

Best Foreign Language Film

The Nominees: The Farewell, Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Analysis: All five pics have their ardent admirers, but here’s the deal. If Parasite doesn’t win, it would constitute the biggest upset of the evening. Not happening.

PREDICTED WINNER – PARASITE

Alternate – umm… let’s say Pain and Glory

Best Animated Feature Film

The Nominees: Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, The Lion King, Missing Link, Toy Story 4

Analysis: Disney has 60% of the nominees here, including that rather shocking Lion King inclusion. I wouldn’t totally count out Dragon, but Pixar should get the glory.

PREDICTED WINNER – TOY STORY 4

Alternate – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Best Orignal Score

The Nominees: 1917, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Motherless Brooklyn

Analysis: This one isn’t easy as just Brooklyn seems unlikely to get it. I’ll give Thomas Newman (1917) a small advantage over cousin Randy (Marriage Story), Alexandre Desplat (Women), and Hildur Guonadottir (Joker).

PREDICTED WINNER – 1917

Alternate – Little Women

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II, “Spirit” from The Lion King, “Stand Up” from Harriet

Analysis: Never count out Disney with the ballad from Frozen II, but the general consensus is it’s no “Let It Go”. There’s some serious heavy hitters here with Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Elton John in the mix. HFPA might want to see Elton onstage.

PREDICTED WINNER – “(I’M GONNA) LOVE ME AGAIN” FROM ROCKETMAN

Alternate – “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II

So this means I’m predicting the Globes spread it around with the following winner counts:

3 Wins

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2 Wins

Parasite

1 Win

1917, Dolemite Is My Name, The Farewell, The Irishman, Joker, Judy, Marriage Story, Rocketman, Toy Story 4

I’ll have a recap of the show up Sunday night with my results!

2019 Golden Globe Nominations Reaction

Perhaps the most preeminent Oscar precursor announced their nominations this morning and that means it’s both time for my analysis and a report on how yours truly did with the predictions!

Some quick takes before breaking down each race… Joker and The Two Popes had good mornings and did better than anticipated. Marriage Story led the way with 6 nominations followed by The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with five apiece. As for Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic, it did miss in one key category.

Let’s take it race by race, shall we?

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, The Two Popes

How I Did: 3/5

Analysis: As mentioned, it was indeed a solid morning for Joker and Popes. Those were the two entries I didn’t predict and they got in over Ford v Ferrari and Little Women (which had a rather subpar day). They were my two picks for alternates at least. This appears to be a race between the pictures with the most nods – Irishman and Marriage Story with the former having the edge (see Director).

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: It was my first alternate Dolemite getting in over Cats, which did screen for Hollywood Foreign Press voters even though its review embargo hasn’t yet lapsed. This is Hollywood‘s category to lose and it’s the strong front-runner.

Best Director

Nominees: Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: The surprise here is certainly Phillips, who I didn’t have listed as an alternate. He gets in over Noah Baumbach, which could mean a Best Drama victory for the film itself got tougher. I’m thinking Scorsese vs. Tarantino here with Joon-Ho as a very serious spoiler.

Best Actor – Drama

Nominees: Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: That key category that The Irishman missed is here with Robert De Niro not getting in the mix in favor of my first alternate Christian Bale. Another miss here is Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems as he’s won some precursors from the critical community. Just like the Oscars could be, this may come down to Driver or Phoenix.

Best Actress – Drama

Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

How I Did: 5/5

Analysis: No surprises here! It is worth mentioning that, despite some early critical precursor love, the work of Lupita Nyong’o in Us didn’t factor in. Zellweger may have the edge here, followed by Johansson or Theron. This could also match what the Academy does.

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Daniel Craig (Knives Out), Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

How I Did: 5/5

Analysis: Another sweep here as this list was as anticipated. DiCaprio is the favorite, but don’t sleep on Murphy or Egerton as spoilers.

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go Bernadette), Ana de Armas (Knives Out), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Emma Thompson (Late Night)

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: It’s first alternate Blanchett in for over Constance Wu from Hustlers. As I do believe Awkwafina is the only actress here with Oscar viability, look for her to win here.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

How I Did: 5/5

Analysis: Today could have given a boost to Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse or other outliers such as Wesley Snipes (Dolemite) or Song Kang-Ho (Parasite), but it wasn’t to be as this very star studded list materialized as predicted. With Pacino and Pesci potentially splitting votes, Pitt is in the driver’s seat.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Annette Bening (The Report), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

How I Did: 3/5

Analysis: I was a little shakier here as my first alternate Bening and unlisted Bates get in over Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) and Florence Pugh (Little Women). Expect Dern vs. Lopez in this one.

Best Screenplay

Nominees: The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, The Two Popes

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Another feather in the cap for Popes, which could in over Jojo (which had a rather subpar morning). Hollywood could have a very slight edge over Marriage. 

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

Nominees: The Farewell, Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Nothing unexpected as Les Miserables (my first alternate) was named over Atlantics. No doubt that Parasite is the massive favorite.

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Nominees: Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, The Lion King, Missing Link, Toy Story 4

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Perhaps the shocker of the day is The Lion King nabbing a nod here. I said I Lost My Body instead. With Disney holding now three of the five slots, they’ve got 60% chance to win. Dragon could upset, but Toy Story is the probable recipient.

Best Original Score

Nominees: 1917, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Motherless Brooklyn

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Brooklyn got a surprise nod. I had Ford v Ferrari instead. 1917 looks to take the trophy.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II, “Spirit” from The Lion King, “Stand Up” from Harriet

How I Did: 4/5

Analysis: Second alternate “Stand Up” is in over my “Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn. The Globe voters could be tempted to go with Elton John here, though Frozen II is probably a soft favorite.

So, al in all, I went 54 for 70 on my overall estimates. The Golden Globes airs January 5th on NBC with Ricky Gervais hosting.

2019 Golden Globe Predictions

On Monday, one of the most significant Oscar precursors announces their nominations. Yes, we have the Golden Globe nods coming out with the SAG Awards following on Wednesday (except my predictions on them early this week).

While I’ve been updating my Oscar projections on a near weekly basis, I don’t do the same with the Globes. This will serve as my first and last batch of predictions for the ceremony airing in January with Ricky Gervais hosting.

As you’re likely aware, this show does it a bit different than the Oscars by splitting their film and lead actor categories into separate Drama and Musical/Comedy categories. For each race, I’m making my five predicted features or performers that I believe will make the cut as well as a first and second alternate.

Let’s get to it!

Best Motion Picture – Drama

1917

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Little Women

Marriage Story

1st Alternate – Joker

2nd Alternate – The Two Popes

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Cats

Jojo Rabbit

Knives Out

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Rocketman

1st Alternate – Dolemite Is My Name

2nd Alternate – Hustlers

Best Director

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

1st Alternate – Greta Gerwig, Little Women

2nd Alternate – James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

Best Actress – Drama

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

Charlize Theron, Bombshell

Renee Zellweger, Judy

1st Alternate – Lupita Nyong’o, Us

2nd Alternate – Alfre Woodard, Clemency

Best Actor – Drama

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Robert De Niro, The Irishman

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

1st Alternate – Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

2nd Alternate – Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Best Actress – Comedy or Musical

Awkwafina, The Farewell

Ana de Armas, Knives Out

Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

Emma Thompson, Late Night

Constance Wu, Hustlers

1st Alternate – Cate Blanchett, Where’d You Go, Bernadette

2nd Alternate – Kaitlyn Dever, Booksmart

Best Actor – Comedy or Musical

Daniel Craig, Knives Out

Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit

Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

1st Alternate – Shia LaBeouf, The Peanut Butter Falcon

2nd Alternate – Himesh Patel, Yesterday 

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Bombshell

1st Alternate – Annette Bening, The Report

2nd Alternate – Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Al Pacino, The Irishman

Joe Pesci, The Irishman

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

1st Alternate – Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

2nd Alternate – Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Best Screenplay

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

1st Alternate – The Two Popes

2nd Alternate – Knives Out

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Frozen II

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

1st Alternate – Weathering with You

2nd Alternate – Abominable

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

Atlantics

The Farewell

Pain and Glory

Parasite

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

1st Alternate – Les Miserables

2nd Alternate – Monos

Best Original Score

1917

Ford v Ferrari

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

1st Alternate – The Aeronauts

2nd Alternate – Us

Best Original Song

“Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats

“Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman

“Into the Unknown” from Frozen II

“Spirit” from The Lion King

1st Alternate – “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4

2nd Alternate – “Stand Up” from Harriet

And that equates to the following features nabbing these numbers when it comes to nominations:

7 Nominations

Marriage Story

6 Nominations

The Irishman

5 Nominations

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4 Nominations

Jojo Rabbit, Little Women

3 Nominations

1917, Knives Out, Parasite, Rocketman

2 Nominations

Bombshell, Cats, The Farewell, Ford v Ferrari, Frozen II, Hustlers, Joker, Pain and Glory, The Two Popes

1 Nomination

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Atlantics, Booksmart, Dolemite Is My Name, Harriet, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, Judy, Late Night, The Lion King, Missing Link, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Toy Story 4

Rest assured that I will have a post up with reaction to the Monday announcements with a recap on how I did! Until then…

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/

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…

The 2019 Oscar Season Cometh

As the summer season winds down, the movie industry and this blog’s attention will soon turn to the Oscar race. And if you think it’s too early to do that, consider that less than a month from now – an avalanche of Academy hopefuls will be unveiled at film festivals. Toronto, Venice, Telluride, and the New York festivals are on deck. The programmers behind those events have already released the names of many of the pictures premiering. Here are some of the pictures wishing for Oscar glory that are hitting the circuit:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks is iconic children’s host Mr. Rogers in director Marielle Heller’s follow-up to last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which nabbed nods for Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Premiering at Toronto.

Ad Astra

James Gray has made multiple critical darlings, but has yet to pop up on the awards circuit radar screen. Could this sci fi drama with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones change that? Premiering at Venice.

An Officer and a Spy

It will need serious acclaim to overcome the baggage that comes from its maker Roman Polanski, but this historical thriller will attempt to do so in Venice.

Dolemite Is My Name

Prior to its anticipated Netflix launch, Craig Brewer’s biopic of comedian Rudy Ray Moore portrayed by legendary comic Eddie Murphy will bow at Toronto.

Ema

Pablo Larrain has had his pics No and Jackie attract awards nods and this Chilean drama hopes to follow suit. Premiering at Venice.

Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in James Mangold’s 1960s set tale of the flashy automotive industry. Premiering at Toronto.

Harriet

Cynthia Erica was a breakout in last year’s Widows. This year she has an Academy baity role as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in this historical epic from Kasi Lemmons. Premiering at Toronto.

Jojo Rabbit

This concoction from Taika Waititi is set during WWII with a dark comedic premise finding a young child with an imaginary friend who happens to be Hitler. The filmmaker himself plays Hitler. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are among the cast.

Joker

Heath Ledger won a posthumous gold statue as the comic book villain in The Dark Knight. Joaquin Phoenix will attempt the same here. Premiering at Venice.

Judy

It’s been awhile since Renee Zellweger had a role receiving awards buzz. This biopic of Judy Garland could alter that. Premiering at Toronto.

Just Mercy

This drama about a falsely accused prisoner features Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson. Premiering at Toronto.

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s murder mystery has a sprawling cast of hopefuls including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon. Premiering at Toronto.

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach is a favorite of the critical community. This drama is headlined by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver and hits Venice and other fests before its Netflix premiere.

The Goldfinch

Brooklyn director John Crowley adapts this drama based on a well-known 2013 novel. The cast includes Nicole Kidman and Oakes Fegley. Premiering at Toronto.

The Irishman

Rightly kicking off the New York Festival, Martin Scorsese directs this gangster saga starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

The Laundromat

Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh directs this dramatic thriller with Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas. Premiering at Venice.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Lion nominee Dev Patel is the Charles Dickens character with a supporting cast including Tilda Swinton and Hugh Laurie. Premiering at Toronto.

The Two Popes

Jonathan Pryce is Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins is Pope Benedict in this Netflix effort from director Fernando Meirelles. Premiering at Toronto.

Followers of this blog know that I’ll do Oscar Watch posts on each of these and many others as they screen in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!