2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

Best Director is on deck for my closeup looks at six major categories at the Oscars. If you missed my posts covering the four acting derbies, you can find them here:

As I have with the other competitions, let’s see how accurate my estimates were from 2019-21 at the same early November time period. In 2019, I correctly had 4 of the 5 eventual directors: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was identified in Other Possibilities. 2020 was a trickier year due to COVID complications and I had 2 of the contenders rightly pegged: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland (who won) and David Fincher for Mank. Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were not yet in my top ten. Last year, I had 3 of 5 with the victorious Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza). Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) was in Other Possibilities and I didn’t have Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) yet in the mix.

I don’t have Spielberg down as an Other Possibility in 2022. This time around, he could be in line for his third Best Director statue behind 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. It would mark his ninth overall nom. If he wins, he would become only the fourth filmmaker with three or more victories. John Ford has 4 while Frank Capra and William Wyler have 3.

The last four years have given us a nominee with an International Feature Film contender. In addition to Joon-ho in 2019 and Vinterberg and Hamaguchi the following years, Alfonso Cuaron took the prize in 2018 for Roma. There are two in 2022 that stand the best shot: Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front) and Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave). If you want to be brave and predict an out of nowhere selection (like Vinterberg kinda was in 2020), look to Lukas Dhont (Close) or Jerzy Skolimowski (EO). Maybe even Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Bardo though he faces a tough road due to mixed critical reception.

However, I’m not quite ready to elevate any of them to the forecasted quintet. Damien Chazelle’s Babylon will soon screen prior to its December bow. It has the looks of a contender and he’s in unless the buzz tells me differently in a few days.

I’m also feeling good about the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Same goes for Sarah Polley (Women Talking). Both appear to be surefire BP selections and would mark the Academy’s first mentions for them in this race.

As for the fifth spot, there’s plenty of names beyond the aforementioned international auteurs. Todd Field for Tár tops that list with Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin) not far behind. If Avatar: The Way of Water approaches the reception that the original received, James Cameron could enter the conversation.

If She Said or The Whale pick up even more steam in BP, I wouldn’t discount Maria Schrader or Darren Aronofsky respectively. That same logic applies to Ruben Ostlund for Triangle of Sadness. I’ve had him in my five previously.

Perhaps the voters will honor the maker of the year’s biggest blockbuster with Joseph Kosinski for Top Gun: Maverick. The more likely path is a BP nom and a few tech inclusions.

This race can and will evolve over the next couple of months. Here’s the state of the race right now:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1 . Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tár (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Picture is up next, folks! Stay tuned…

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

1989 was unquestionably the Summer of the Bat as Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader broke records. For 1992, it’s a bit more murky but we could call it The Summer of the Cat based on the sequel being the season’s biggest blockbuster.

As I have every season on the blog, I’m recounting the top 10 hits as well as some notable pics and failures from the summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago. For 1992, it was a time of no crying in baseball, a Best Picture winner being discovered, and audiences refusing a biopic about a discoverer of America.

We begin with the moneymakers from #10 on up before moving to additional hits, misses, and those somewhere in between.

10. Housesitter

Domestic Gross: $58 million

While not the blockbuster he’d had just six months prior with Father of the Bride, Steve Martin had a midsize performer with this rom com costarring Goldie Hawn.

9. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

Domestic Gross: $58 million

The return of Rick Moranis and plenty of special effects had shrunken grosses compared to the predecessor. The $58 million tally is less than half of what Honey, I Shrunk the Kids made. Nevertheless a direct to video sequel and TV series followed.

8. Far and Away

Domestic Gross: $58 million

Tom Cruise is ruling summer 2022 with Top Gun: Maverick. It was a different story 30 years ago with this rare misfire. Ron Howard directed the epic Western costarring Tom’s ex Nicole Kidman. The domestic take was less than the reported $60 million budget. Cruise would quickly get back in the good graces of moviegoers later in 1992 with A Few Good Men. 

7. Boomerang 

Domestic Gross: $70 million

While not approaching the earnings of his largest hits, Eddie Murphy’s first foray into romantic leading man territory did decent business. A string of flops would follow before a plus sized comeback four years later in The Nutty Professor. 

6. Patriot Games

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Harrison Ford stepped into the role of Jack Ryan after Alec Baldwin (who played the role in The Hunt for Red October) didn’t return. The result didn’t quite reach the financial or critical levels of its predecessor, but it easily made enough to warrant Clear and Present Danger two summers later.

5. Unforgiven

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Clint Eastwood’s tale of an aging cowboy out for revenge took the August box office by storm and eventually was an awards favorite – winning Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for the villainous Gene Hackman. Unforgiven is the rare BP winner to release in the summer season and kickstarted an impressive second act for the legendary filmmaker.

4. A League of Their Own

Domestic Gross: $107 million

Penny Marshall’s World War II era baseball comedy was celebrated for its interplay between players like Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell in addition to one of cinema’s longest urination sequences from Tom Hanks.

3. Sister Act

Domestic Gross: $139 million

Coming on the heels of her Ghost Oscar, Whoopi Goldberg hit the jackpot with this fish out of water pic putting the comedienne in a convent. A less regarded sequel would follow in December 1993 as well as a Broadway musical.

2. Lethal Weapon 3

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s third go-round in their buddy cop franchise didn’t generate the reviews of its two predecessors, but it had no trouble raking in the bucks. Rene Russo joined the party this time as Gibson’s love interest and fellow officer. Part 4 would come six years later and a fifth is in development right now.

1. Batman Returns

Domestic Gross: $162 million

Breathlessly anticipated and then received with mixed reaction due to its dark tone, Batman Returns is now seen by many as an improvement over the 1989 original. One thing that’s generally agreed upon is Michelle Pfeiffer nailing the role of Catwoman. This would be Burton’s last time helming the series with Joel Schumacher taking the franchise in a far more cartoonish direction for 1995’s Batman Forever.

And now for some other noteworthy selections outside of the top ten:

Unlawful Entry

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Coming on the heels of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. Riots, this thriller starring the late Ray Liotta as a dirty cop tormenting Kurt Russell felt timely.

Single White Female

Domestic Gross: $48 million

Liotta was the Cop From Hell while Jennifer Jason Leigh was the Roommate From Hell terrorizing Bridget Fonda in this memorable psychological thriller.

Encino Man

Domestic Gross: $40 million

The cinematic era of MTV personality Pauly Shore (as well as Brendan Fraser) began with this caveman comedy that grossed several times its meager $7 million budget.

Universal Soldier

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Action lunkheads Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren teamed up for this futuristic sci-fi pic that turned a nifty profit and spawned numerous sequels. Four summers later, director Roland Emmerich would dominate the season with Independence Day. 

Honeymoon in Vegas

Domestic Gross: $35 million

With a plot similar to Indecent Proposal that would follow a few months later, Honeymoon in Vegas took the more comedic route and earned decent grosses in the cast led by Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the just departed James Caan. Plus… Flying Elvis impersonators!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Domestic Gross: $16 million

It did manage to double its meager budget, but this vampire comedy likely wouldn’t be remembered had it not led to a critically acclaimed WB series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The title role in the film version belonged to Kristy Swanson with a supporting cast including Luke Perry, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman), and pre double Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

My final section of the summer 1992 recap gets to the under performers and downright flops…

Death Becomes Her

Domestic Gross: $58 million

This star studded satire from Robert Zemeckis boasted Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis above the title and some innovative special effects. While it just missed the top ten, the $58 million take barely surpassed the $55 million budget. Audiences and critics were mixed though Death has become a cult favorite in subsequent years.

Alien 3 

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Despite marking the directorial debut of David Fincher and featuring a memorably bald Sigourney Weaver, Alien 3 is considered to be a step-down from its iconic predecessors Alien and Aliens. In spite of the backlash, the franchise has continued and, of course, Fincher went onto brighter (albeit even darker) pastures.

Cool World

Domestic Gross: $14 million

Animator Ralph Bakshi is best known for his X-rated 1972 feature Fritz the Cat. After Cool World, he was still mostly known for Fritz the Cat. This hybrid of live-action and cartoon fantasy starred Kim Basinger and Brad Pitt. Yet it bombed with reviewers and crowds alike and only earned half its budget back stateside.

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

Domestic Gross: $8 million

No one had interest in discovering this critically drubbed Columbus biopic that had Marlon Brando and Tom Selleck in the cast. Later in the fall, Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise about the title character would also bomb.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Domestic Gross: $4 million

In 1990, David Lynch’s bizarre TV series was a cultural phenomenon… at least for a season. The movie version arrived after the second and final season and audiences had tuned out.

And that’s your look at the cinematic summer from 30 years ago! My recap of 2002 will be available in short order…

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

After the 2008 Oscars, the Academy decided to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. This rule would hold for 2009 and 2010 and then it shifted from anywhere between 5 and 10 (where it was typically 8 or 9). As of 2021, we’re back to a set 10.

Yet what if that had never happened? What if only five nominees from the last decade plus made the cut? My initial writeup where I predicted which five from 2009 would have done so can be found here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Now we move to 2010. It was a year in which Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech led the evening with 11 nominations. It would win four – Director, Colin Firth for Best Actor, Original Screenplay, and the big prize Picture. So there’s 20% of our theoretical lineup.

As for the others, let’s take them one by one and I’ll give my thoughts on whether each would’ve made that other 80% of the quintet.

127 Hours

In 2010, Danny Boyle was coming off 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. That little film that could cleaned up on Oscar night with 8 trophies including Picture. This survival drama with James Franco landed six nods. It won zero, but earned recognition in the Best Pic prerequisites that count like screenplay and editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. This is a tough one. As you’ll see below, there are more than five pics that check important boxes. My hunch is that it would’ve nabbed the fifth slot (though you may feel differently when you read on and I tell you what doesn’t make my cut).

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s intense balletic drama earned Natalie Portman an Actress statue and four other nods: Director, Cinematography, and Film Editing. Certainly the director and editing mentions are notable as is Portman’s victory.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. When Picture and Director were both set at five, they rarely matched. 4 out of 5 directors matching the BP nominations was most common. Here’s an example where I don’t think a match would’ve occurred. The biggest reason? Of the 10 BP nominees, Swan is the only one that didn’t land a screenplay nod. That’s significant.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project didn’t land him a nod, but it did for three of his costars. Christian Bale took home Supporting Actor while onscreen mother Melissa Leo won Supporting Actress (with Amy Adams also nominated). The direction, screenplay, and editing also were up for a total of 7 nominations.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The wins in the two acting races and the fact that it hit in all the key precursors give the relevant tale of the tape.

Inception

There’s speculation that the reason the Academy switched to 10 nominees is because Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was omitted from the five in 2008. His follow-up two years later did not miss the expanded cut. It won Oscars for half of its 8 nominations – Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The other three nods besides Picture were Original Screenplay, Score, and Art Direction.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. And here’s where some readers may disagree. I’m giving 127 Hours an ever so slight edge over this. Why? The 8 nods don’t mean much to me because the bulk of them are in tech races. By the way, The Dark Knight also received 8 nominations. Its misses are what make me skeptical as Nolan didn’t get in for his direction and it also wasn’t up for editing.

The Kids Are All Right 

The family drama received acting mentions for Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo and for its original screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Too many heavy hitters this year and it was probably toward the bottom of the ten that got in.

The Social Network

David Fincher’s saga about the founding of Facebook won three of its 8 nods in Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes… easily. It was probably #2 behind King’s Speech in terms of winning Picture and Director.

Toy Story 3

The Pixar threequel holds the distinction of being the second animated title to make the BP list after Beauty and the Beast. On Oscar night, it won Animated Feature as well as Original Song and received an Adapted Screenplay nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The Academy probably would’ve been OK with it being a slam dunk Animated Feature winner if only five pics were in contention.

True Grit

The Coen Brothers Western remake was behind only King’s Speech in terms of nominations with 10. Beside Picture – you had Director(s), Actor (Jeff Bridges), Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design. It went 0 for 10.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the batting average, the sheer volume of nods indicates it would have still been included.

Winter’s Bone

This indie drama introduced the Academy and many moviegoers to Jennifer Lawrence. She received a nomination as did her costar John Hawkes in Supporting Actor. Adapted Screenplay was in the mix too.

Does It Make the Final Five? 

No but here is a prime example of a smaller film that received attention due to the broadening of the BP base.

So that means if there had been just five Best Picture nominees in 2010, I believe they would have been:

The King’s Speech

127 Hours

The Fighter

The Social Network

True Grit

I will be back soon with my final five take on 2011!

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

After four posts focusing on the acting races at the 2021 Oscars, it’s time to turn to Best Director. If you missed those entries on the lead and supporting performer derbies, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

With the directing category, I do believe there’s three filmmakers that have likely punched their ticket to a nomination. Before we get there, let’s take a look at how my projections panned out at the same early November time frame in 2019 and 2020.

Two years back, I correctly identified four of the five contenders: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) as well as Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. 2020 was more unpredictable with two months left to go and that resulted in only two directors being accurately named: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), who took the gold, and David Fincher (Mank). Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while neither Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) or surprise nominee Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were yet listed in my top ten.

Back to 2021 and the three individuals who I believe stand probable shots at making the cut. They are Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).

It was 28 years ago that Campion was nominated for The Piano. If it hadn’t been for Oscar juggernaut Schindler’s List, she likely would’ve been making a speech. Upon its premiere in Venice, Campion took the Silver Lion (equivalent to this competition) for Dog. I don’t see her being left off the ballot.

Belfast is the current frontrunner for Best Picture and it’s hard to envision  writer/director Branagh not making it in. If so, it would be his first nod in directing since Henry V some 32 years back.

Dune is being heralded for its technical wizardry and it should pick up numerous down the line wins and nominations. Five years after his behind the camera work was recognized for Arrival, Villeneuve should be a factor again.

Interestingly, I don’t feel there’s a clear favorite to win. There are plausible scenarios for any member of this trio to emerge victorious. Campion, Branagh, and Villeneuve constitute my top 3 (in that order), but it’s more of a 1a, 1b, and 1c at press time.

As for the other two slots, there’s a few contenders stemming from unseen product. There’s big names in that bunch: Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley, who won four years ago for The Shape of Water), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza, a two-time nominee for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread), Ridley Scott (for House of Gucci and not The Last Duel), Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up, previously nominated for The Big Short), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick, Tick… Boom!), and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story,  a two-time winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan).

Any of these gentlemen could bubble up to the surface once their pictures are screened. I’m sticking with the two I’ve had in my five recently: del Toro and Anderson.

King Richard has a chance to win Best Picture, but I’m skeptical its maker Reinaldo Marcus Green makes it here. The sports drama seems destined to be recognized more for its performances, but if the Academy really falls for it, Green could be theoretically be swept in. That holds true for Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Pablo Larrain (Spencer) as well.

Lastly, Thomas Vinterberg’s nod in 2020 for Another Round came out of nowhere. While it was pegged to take International Feature Film (which it did), Round was not nominated in Best Picture. There’s a slew of directors who could fill the “surprise” slot this time around (many from foreign features): Pedro Almodovar (Parallel Mothers), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Asghar Farhari (A Hero), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World). I wouldn’t completely count out Rebecca Hall for Passing. Yet none of these upset selections are in my top ten.

The one that is: Jonas Poher Rasmussen for festival darling Flee. While I don’t have it nabbing a Best Pic nom at the moment, I do foresee the Danish doc contending in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film. That kind of attention could cause the voters to include him.

Here’s how those rankings look at the start of November:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 6)

7. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: 9)

10. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Best Picture is next!

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

The blog’s early look at the 2021 Oscar contenders arrives at Best Director. If you didn’t see the posts outlining my initial picks for the acting derbies, take a look here:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

In 2020, my first estimates in the directorial field yielded 2 eventual nominees: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). The three others were not even mentioned: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), and surprise contender Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round).

Here’s the players as I see it at this July juncture:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Other Contenders:

Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Leos Carax, Annette

Fran Kranz, Mass

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

David O. Russell, Canterbury Glass

Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

That leaves only Best Picture and it will be posted in short order!

2020 Final Oscar Predictions

Blogger’s Note (04/23): After ever more careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction again. I am not reverting back to Carey Mulligan instead of Viola Davis. Did I mention this is a tough category??

Blogger’s Note (04/21): After careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction from my original Monday (04/19) post. Carey Mulligan is out in favor of Viola Davis… no other predictions have changed.

And here we go! After 8 months of lots and lots of speculation, it’s time to make my final picks in the races covering feature length films. I have finished up my 33 posts covering the nominees in Best Picture, Director and the four acting races.

The 93rd Academy Awards airs this Sunday evening. A couple of quick note before delving into the forecasts on the 20 categories. There are surefire frontrunners in a lot of competitions this year and that includes Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress (as well as most technical races). The real drama lies in the two leading acting competitions, especially Best Actress.

For each race, I will name my predicted winner and what I believe to be the runner-up. Without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

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

Analysis: Nomadland has taken all the precursors it needs to: Globes, SAG, Critics Choice, BAFTA. I would say that in most recent years, there’s been some drama in Best Picture. Not this year. If there’s any chance of an upset, it could be Minari or Promising Young Woman. For a Green Book type of upset, that could be The Trial of the Chicago 7 and that’s what I’m picking as my #2. Yet let me be clear: anything not named Nomadland taking the biggest prize would be a huge upset at this point.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director

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

Analysis: For reasons expressed above, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Chloe Zhao getting the gold. She’s won all the precursors and it’s difficult to even name a runner-up (I’ll go Fincher I suppose).

Predicted Winner: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Runner-Up: David Fincher, Mank

Best Actress

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

Analysis: Ugh. This is literally the most head scratching race of all. There is no favorite as the major precursors have split. Andra Day, in an upset, took the Globe. Carey Mulligan won Critics Choice. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Frances Mcdormand is the BAFTA victor. All of those precursors have a good or very good record of predicting the eventual Academy winner. Confused yet? Me too.

Vanessa Kirby is the least likely to take this and it’s not out of the question that she could. Day’s omission from SAG makes it tough for me to predict her. So we are left with Davis, McDormand, and Mulligan and they all could certainly be making a podium trip. With Nomadland almost surely taking Pic and Director and McDormand’s BAFTA win, it’s tempting to pick her. However, she’s won twice already and the last time was just three years ago. Promising Young Woman did very well in grabbing 5 nominations. Mulligan is a highly respected actress who’s only been nominated once before and this is a showy role that got a lot of attention. Davis’s SAG victory makes me lean toward her, but the Academy not giving Rainey a Best Picture nod gives me some pause.

So… my final decision is Mulligan… with zero degree of confidence. There’s great narratives for McDormand, Mulligan, and Davis so roll the dice with your pick and see what happens!

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actor

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

Analysis: For the duration of the precursor season, the late Chadwick Boseman appeared on a glide path to Oscar coronation. That’s until Anthony Hopkins took the BAFTA and made this race considerably more interesting. I will also say that Riz Ahmed has his supporters, but this is a two person race. I do truly believe Hopkins has a very good shot, but I ultimately just can’t pick against Boseman.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Best Supporting Actress

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

Analysis: This was a wide open category for a while, but Yuh-jung Youn’s recent victories at SAG and BAFTA came at the right time. There is upset potential from both Maria Bakalova and the eight times nominated and never won Glenn Close, but Youn is the safest pick.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actor

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

Analysis: Daniel Kaluuya has steamrolled through precursors and this is definitely the easiest pick of the acting derbies. I’m not even the least bit worried about his costar Lakeith Stanfield splitting votes.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (I guess)

Best Original Screenplay

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

Analysis: If Mulligan doesn’t win Best Actress (which is quite possible), Promising should still walk away with a win here. Minari and Trial are threats, but feeling pretty confident with this one.

Predicted Winner: Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

Analysis: While Nomadland looks like a shoo-in in Picture, I could see The Father threatening it in this race. I’m really tempted to go with it, but I’m sticking with Nomadland. Don’t be surprised if The Father takes this though.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Father

Best Animated Feature

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

Analysis: Not wasting much word count here. Pixar is dominant in this category. Soul has dominated the other shows.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary Feature

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

Analysis: My Octopus Teacher has surprisingly emerged as the favorite due to precursor wins. There’s certainly a narrative for its win as the other more serious selections could split votes. That said, while Octopus is the safe pick, I’m going for a bit of an upset with the acclaimed Time. For those filling out ballots for work and friend pools, Octopus might be the way to go.

Predicted Winner: Time

Runner-Up: My Octopus Teacher

Best International Feature Film

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

Analysis: It’s going to be Another Round. It’s wrapped up the precursors it needs and it would be foolish to pick against it.

Predicted Winner: Another Round

Runner-Up: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Cinematography

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

Analysis: Mank could be and should be a trendy upset choice, but Nomadland is most likely to grab this.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: Mank

Best Costume Design

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

Analysis: Another sturdy frontrunner here with Ma Rainey.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Emma

Best Film Editing

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

Analysis: For some time, it looked like this might be the one award Trial would receive. And then Sound of Metal started winning the big precursors. Sound is probably a little ahead by most standards, but I’m still leaning Trial for its flashier editing. This is essentially a coin flip in my view.

Predicted Winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Runner-Up: Sound of Metal

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

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

Analysis: Another tech race where Rainey seems way out in front.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Pinocchio

Best Original Score

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

Analysis: Like in Animated Feature, Soul has killed it in the precursors. This is not a tough choice.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Minari

Best Original Song

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

Analysis: This is a tough choice. I’ve had this nagging feeling that if “Husavik” got in, it could definitely win and I still feel that way. Then there’s Diane Warren who’s behind “lo si”. She’s been nominated 12 times without a win and the overdue factor is real. “Speak Now” is probably the safe choice. I really believe that we could see a surprise here, but I’ll reluctantly stick with Leslie Odom Jr. getting an Oscar for the One Night in Miami track.

Predicted Winner: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Runner-Up: “lo si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead

Best Production Design

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

Analysis: This is absolutely where Mank should win and that means I think it goes 1/10.

Predicted Winner: Mank

Runner-Up: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Sound

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

Analysis: Sound of Metal has had this wrapped up for some time. Plain and simple.

Predicted Winner: Sound of Metal

Runner-Up: Soul

Best Visual Effects

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

Analysis: This appears to be a two picture battle between The Midnight Sky and Tenet, but the latter seems to have moved fairly comfortably in front.

Predicted Winner: Tenet

Runner-Up: The Midnight Sky

That means I believe the following pictures will walk away with these numbers in terms of victories:

4 Wins

Nomadland

3 Wins

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

2 Wins

Promising Young Woman, Soul

1 Win

Another Round, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, One Night in Miami, Sound of Metal, Tenet, Time, The Trial of the Chicago 7

For the 8 Best Picture hopefuls, I’m projecting that only The Father will go home completely empty-handed (though it could certainly happen to Trial as well).

I will, of course, have a recap up with my thoughts on the show and how I did shortly after Sunday’s ceremony. Stay tuned!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried’s work as screen star Marion Davies in David Fincher’s Mank is next up for my Case Of posts in the Supporting Actress competition. If you missed the ones focused on Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), and Olivia Colman (The Father), click below:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/30/oscars-2020-the-case-of-maria-bakalova/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/06/oscars-2020-the-case-of-glenn-close/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/10/oscars-2020-the-case-of-olivia-colman/

The Case for Amanda Seyfried

The former Mean Girl drew career best notices for the Netflix pic and earned her first nomination. Seyfried also picked up nods at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

The Case Against Amanda Seyfried

She did not, however, get a SAG Award mention and that was a surprise. There’s been just two Oscar recipients (Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock and Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk) in Supporting Actress who didn’t at least get a SAG nomination. Furthermore, Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) has emerged as the frontrunner.

The Verdict

Upsets have happened in this category, but Seyfried’s chances are slim.

My Case Of posts will continue with Paul Raci in Sound of Metal…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman (Mank) is the fourth thespian in my Case Of posts for the Best Actor Oscar contenders. If you missed the ones covering Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and Anthony Hopkins (The Father), they’re here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/28/oscars-2020-the-case-of-riz-ahmed/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/04/oscars-2020-the-case-of-chadwick-boseman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/10/oscars-2020-the-case-of-anthony-hopkins/

The Case for Gary Oldman

He’s considered one of the finest actors working today and he found a plum role as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s Netflix pic. Oldman has found success in all the significant precursors garnering nods for this third Academy mention. His first came in 2011 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and he won the gold three years ago for Darkest Hour.

The Case Against Gary Oldman

In 2017, Oldman was a strong favorite for months and it paid off in victory. This is not the case for 2020. While Mank received the most nominations, it missed in key races like Original Screenplay and Editing. None of the precursors nods have resulted in wins.

The Verdict

Oldman is firmly behind Boseman, Hopkins, and Ahmed as far as chances for winning and might even be fifth when you take Steven Yeun (Minari) into account.

My Case Of posts will continue with Oldman’s Mank costar Amanda Seyfried…

Oscars 2020: The Case of David Fincher

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

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/26/oscars-2020-the-case-of-lee-isaac-chung/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/02/oscars-2020-the-case-of-emerald-fennell/

The Case for David Fincher

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

The Case Against David Fincher

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

The Verdict

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

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