Amsterdam Review

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam exasperates more than it fascinates. Opening with the tagline “A lot of this actually happened”, the brief explorations of American history between the World Wars hint at a compelling narrative. Wanting to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole afterwards doesn’t necessarily make for a gratifying experience.

Dr. Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) is a member of New York high society through marriage. His snooty in-laws and high maintenance wife (Andrea Riseborough) ship him off to what will become World War I in 1918. Under the command of the kindly Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.), the good doc practices his skills for an all black regiment. They must wear French uniforms since the American forces aren’t integrated. That’s a part that actually happened. Burt makes fast friends with Harold Woodsman (John David Washington). They fight together and are seriously wounded together. Burt is given a glass eye that’s often used for screwball comedy effect. Their injuries introduce them to peculiar nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie), who takes the soldier’s battle scars (such as the metal embedded in their flesh) and turns it into surrealistic art. Burt, Harold, and Valerie form a close bond including the romantic sort for the latter two. The trio live a joyous existence in the title city until Burt returns to the Big Apple. Harold eventually follows suit to become an attorney. The men stay friends and colleagues while Valerie’s whereabouts are unknown.

Fifteen years later, the U.S. is in a depression. Our two New Yorkers have an even more pressing issue. Former war commander Meekins (now a Senator) turns up dead and mysteriously so. His daughter Elizabeth (Taylor Swift, in a performance that will surely generate memes) enlists dad’s former soldiers to investigate. This snooping leads to a vast government conspiracy – some of which falls under the actually happened headline. The case additionally leads them back to Valerie and an all-star cast beyond Bale, Washington, and Robbie.

Chris Rock is a member of the French uniformed clad force. Michael Shannon and Mike Myers are intelligence officers amusingly masquerading as bird experts. Zoe Saldana, in the picture’s most underdeveloped role, helps perform autopsy work and is a potential love interest for Burt. The most intriguing character is General Gill Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro), a combat hero being recruited for fascist propagandist purposes. Russell’s screenplay gives De Niro a noteworthy role to play with (this is the fourth collaboration between them). The legendary actor has done some of his finest 21st century work with the filmmaker.

The political potboiler aspects kick into gear when Dillenbeck pops up for the second half. That’s when Amsterdam improves. The first half feels like Russell’s attempt to do a Wes Anderson or Coen Bros type whimsical comedy and he fails the test. There’s a lot of characters crowding the scene. Rami Malek is an affluent textile magnet with connections to Valerie. Anya Taylor-Joy is his wife, who has a funny fangirl crush on Dillenbeck. Alessandro Nivola and Matthias Schoenaerts are detectives assigned to track the lead trio.

Once Russell gets to what Amsterdam is really about (with some unmistakable current events overtones), I realized lots of these famous faces and subplots could’ve been jettisoned for a more focused approach. Of all the names, Bale (always committed) and De Niro come out best. The director’s eye for the solid material keeps getting dislodged – like Burt’s fake one. This makes it questionable as to whether it’s worth seeing. More of the stuff that actually happened and not the forced whimsy would have been a reasonable start.

**1/2 (out of four)

October 14-16 Box Office Predictions

Horror should rule the box office with Halloween Ends debuting and Smile continuing its impressive run. Jamie Lee Curtis’s alleged final battle with Michael Myers is the only new release this weekend and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Halloween Ends Box Office Prediction

Predecessor Halloween Kills from last year made considerably less out of the gate than its predecessor from 2018. Even with a simultaneous release on Peacock (same as Kills), I will give Ends a start in the mid to high 40s. That’s on pace with Kills. 

Smile should easily hold the #2 spot after a very sturdy hold in its sophomore outing (more on that below). Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (after a unimpressive opening) may experience a high 30s second weekend fall while The Woman King and bomb Amsterdam round out the top five.

Here’s how I see it:

1. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $47.6 million

2. Smile

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million

3. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million

4. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

5. Amsterdam

Predicted Gross: $3 million

Box Office Results (October 7-9)

I expected Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile to take a bigger bite out of the charts and open in first place. That didn’t occur as the family friendly musical took in $11.4 million for second place. This is well below my prediction of $17.6 million.

That’s because Smile had a remarkable hold (especially for its genre) at $18.4 million. I was lower at $13.3 million. The low budget Paramount scare fest has amassed $50 million in ten days and looks like a solid contender to make nine digits domestically.

Despite the star power of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and many more, David O. Russell’s critically lambasted Amsterdam was a dud with $6.4 million, under my $8.4 million take. Look for this see a drop in the mid 50s (at least) and sink fast.

The Woman King was fourth with $5.1 million (I said $4.7 million) and it’s reached $54 million total.

Don’t Worry Darling rounded out the top five with $3.5 million (I was right there with $3.4 million) for $38 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

October 7-9 Box Office Predictions

Family friendly Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile hopes to make its mark on the charts and easily win the weekend as the star studded Amsterdam also debuts. My detailed prediction posts on the newcomers can be found here:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Box Office Prediction

Amsterdam Box Office Prediction

We’ve had about a two month break between movies geared toward kids and that should help Lyle achieve a low 20s start. It’s unlikely to have any trouble hitting the #1 spot.

Despite the considerable ensemble of Oscar winners and nominees, David O. Russell’s first feature in seven years is garnering mostly mediocre reviews from critics. The marketing campaign has been so-so in my view. Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and company could elevate this to low double digits or even teens. However, I’m estimating it’ll flop in high single digits.

That would put it in third behind the sophomore frame of Smile. The horror pic got off to an impressive debut (more on that below) and I’ll say the second weekend dip might be in the low to mid 40s.

Holdovers The Woman King and Don’t Worry Darling should round out the top five. Bros had a very disappointing opening (more on that below too), but it did nab an A Cinemascore grade. If it manages a smallish decline, it might give Darling a run for its money in the five spot.

Here’s how I see it shaking out:

1. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $17.6 million

2. Smile

Predicted Gross: $13.3 million

3. Amsterdam

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million

4. The Woman King

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million

5. Don’t Worry Darling

Predicted Gross: $3.4 million

6. Bros

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

Box Office Results (September 30-October 2)

Paramount is undoubtedly doing just what the title says as Smile opened widely to a pleasing $22.6 million. That’s ahead of my $18.7 million projection. The B- Cinemascore is actually fairly decent for a horror flick and it could play well next weekend before Halloween Ends arrives the following one.

Don’t Worry Darling cratered in weekend #2 with $6.8 million, not matching my $8 million call. Even with the 65% plummet, it’s nearly managed to outgross its budget domestically in just 10 days with $32 million (price tag was reportedly $35 million).

The Woman King was third and it also made $6.8 million to bring its three-week take to $46 million. I forecasted slightly more at $7.4 million.

The Avatar re-release was fourth with $5 million (I was more generous at $6.6 million) as the 2009 juggernaut now has $779 million in the bank.

Bros with Billy Eichner, billed as the first wide release LGBTQ rom com from a major studio, was a massive disappointment. In fifth place with only $4.8 million, it came nowhere near my $12.1 million prediction. You can bet the marketing department at Universal is furiously second guessing themselves today, but it struggled mightily to find an audience beyond coastal metro areas. That aforementioned A Cinemascore does indicate it could find plenty of fans eventually… just not in multiplexes.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Amsterdam Box Office Prediction

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam will need to rely on star power to bring in audiences when it opens October 7th. Considering the middling word-of-mouth and so-so trailers and TV spots, that could be an uphill battle. The comedic mystery is the filmmaker’s first picture since 2015’s Joy. It boasts an impressive cast led by Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington. Other familiar faces include Zoe Saldana, Anya Tayl0r-Joy, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Alessandro Nivola, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, and Matthias Schoenaerts.

From 2010-2013, Russell had a trilogy of Oscar and audience friendly titles. The Fighter, in addition to multiple Academy nods, made $93 million domestically. Silver Linings Playbook, in addition to multiple Oscar nods, took in $132 million. American Hustle, in addition to its several award nominations, earned $150 million.

Times have changed. The aforementioned Joy, which drew a more mixed reaction than Russell’s predecessors, grossed $56 million. In the seven years that have followed, the director has been embroiled in some concerning stories about his personal life.

20th Century Studios didn’t bother to screen Amsterdam for the film festival circuit a couple of weeks back. Critical reaction has skewed toward the negative with a 36% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Despite the pedigree, the red lights glowing indicate a high profile flop. This might not manage double digits.

Amsterdam opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile prediction, click here:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Amsterdam

From 2010-13, David O. Russell made three pictures (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) that collectively earned an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations. This included acting wins for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Jennifer Lawrence. The filmmaker himself has yet to receive a gold statue and his previous effort (2015’s Joy) nabbed just 1 Academy nod for its lead Lawrence.

His latest is Amsterdam and the comedic mystery will be lucky to garner any attention during awards season. It was a curious decision when Russell’s first feature in seven years skipped the festival circuit of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Now we may know why.

Early reviews for the October 7th release are not encouraging. There’s only a handful of official reviews which show a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet we also have plenty of social media reaction claiming this is a high profile disappointment. The impressive cast is led by Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington with tons of other familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldana, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and Chris Rock (to name some). I wouldn’t expect any to compete in the acting derbies. Bale and De Niro are getting some decent notices, but it shouldn’t matter (maybe Bale could show up at the Globes for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy if competition is light).

As I see it, Costume Design and/or Production Design are the only possibilities for Amsterdam to be an Academy player. It’s entirely feasible that it won’t show up at all. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Best Picture 2013: The Final Five

My blog series continues with speculation on what a Best Picture lineup of five would have looked like in the years since the format changed to up to 10 nominees. That began in 2009 and if you missed my previous posts covering 2009-2012, you can peruse them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

In our year of 2013, the magic number was 9 contenders. We know that Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave would have been included since a win in Best Picture was among its nine nominations. It also took Director, Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o), and Adapted Screenplay. So what else would’ve made the cut? Let’s speculate, shall we?

American Hustle

David O. Russell’s disco era crime pic tied for the most nods with 10, including Director and four acting mentions for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence. Despite the double digit nomination haul, it ended the night with zero victories.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Even with the goose egg, the sheer number of nods indicates making the quintet.

Captain Phillips

With Tom Hanks as the title character in the true life Somali pirate drama, Paul Greengrass’s tense thriller scored 6 overall nods. In addition to Pic, Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi), Adapted Screenplay, both Sound races, and Film Editing were in the mix. Like Hustle, there were no wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. With no nods for directing or Hanks’s performance (which was a huge snub), I think this would’ve been on the outside looking in.

Dallas Buyers Club

While our first two selections went 0 for 16, this mid 80s set AIDS drama won half of its six nominations – Actor (Matthew McConaughey), Supporting Actor (Jared Leto), and Makeup and Hairstyling. The other two mentions were Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but it’s a close call. The three gold statues put it over the edge in my opinion despite not landing a directing slot for the late Jean-Marc Vallee.


Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller tied Hustle with 10 nominations. Unlike Hustle, it won 70% of its possibilities: Director, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Visual Effects. Sandra Bullock was nominated for Best Actress and it got a Production Design nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Even without a screenplay nom, this would’ve been in contention and it was probably the runner-up to Slave considering the Cuaron win.


Spike Jonze’s quirky romantic drama won Original Screenplay and was up for Score, Song, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No because it missed out on key precursors including Director, Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), and Film Editing.


Alexander Payne’s B&W road dramedy nabbed five other nods for direction, Actor (Bruce Dern), Supporting Actress (June Squibb), Original Screenplay, and Cinematography. It didn’t emerge victorious for any.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I struggled with this one (it’s sixth). Film Editing is often the biggest indicator of a BP nom and that’s part of the reason I gave Dallas Buyers Club a slight edge.


Judi Dench received a Best Actress nod for this adoption drama. Adapted Screenplay and Score were the other mentions as its four overall are the least of the BP hopefuls.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The Academy loves Dench. However, that wouldn’t have been enough for this to survive a cut to five.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s raunchy tale of 80s excess landed Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill acting spots. The direction and Adapted Screenplay were up as well. It won none.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I will say I don’t think it’s automatic. Wolf‘s complete lack of nominations in the tech categories is a bit of a surprise, but ultimately I don’t think the voters would’ve ignored this.

So my quintet for 2013 would be:

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club


The Wolf of Wall Street

2014 is up next and will be on the blog soon!

2022 Oscar Predictions: August 19th Edition

With the Venice Film Festival less than two weeks away and Toronto and Telluride on its heels, the Oscar races are poised to become clearer quite soon. We are mostly in speculation mode at this juncture, but there’s change afoot in the Actor and Supporting Actor with this latest update.

I have vaulted Bill Nighy (Living) into the top 5 for Best Actor and that removes Adam Driver in White Noise. I’ve struggled with Brad Pitt’s placement in Supporting Actor for Babylon. At this point, it’s not certain whether he’ll be campaigned for in lead or supporting. Therefore I have Pitt on the outside looking in for Supporting Actor and that allows The Son‘s Zen McGrath to enter the projected quintet.

While no changes were made in the Picture, Director, the Actress derbies, or screenplay – there’s a new #1 for Best Actress. Since I started my estimates back in April, I’ve had Margot Robbie (Babylon) perched atop the charts. I’m now switching that to Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once. 

Finally, I’ve dropped David O. Russell’s Amsterdam from contention in all races. The studio’s decision to move it up a month from November to October is something I look at as a bad sign. That’s in addition to it getting no festival screenings, a trailer that didn’t impress, and lingering personal issues and bad press for Mr. Russell.

A final note: at this pre-festival juncture in mid-August of 2021, my predictions yielded seven of the eventual 10 BP contenders.

You can read all the movement below and I’ll likely have one more update prior to August 30th before the festival season is upon us!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. The Son (PR: 6) (E)

7. Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. She Said (PR: 12) (+1)

12. White Noise (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Decision to Leave (PR: 16) (+2)

15. Elvis (PR: 14) (-1)

16. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 15) (-1)

17. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 17) (E)

18. Till (PR: 19) (+1)

19. Bones and All (PR: 18) (-1)

20. Broker (PR: 20) (E)

21. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 21) (E)

22. The Menu (PR: 23) (+1)

23. The Woman King (PR: 24) (+1)

24. Living (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 22) (-3)

Dropped Out:


Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

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

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

4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 6) (E)

7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 9) (-1)

11. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 11) (E)

12. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 12) (E)

13. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 13) (E)

14. Baz Luhrmann, Elvis (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Maris Schrader, She Said (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 3) (E)

4. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (E)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (E)

8. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 9) (E)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 10) (E)

11. Frances McDormand, Women Talking (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Florence Pugh, The Wonder (PR: 15) (+3)

13. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Tang Wei, Decision to Leave (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 8) (E)

9. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (E)

11. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Timothee Chalamet, Bones and All (PR: 12) (E)

13. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Chevalier (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Harry Styles, My Policeman (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Paul Mescal, Aftersun 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Griselda Sicillani, Bardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 6) (E)

7. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 7) (E)

8. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 8) (-2)

11. Samantha Morton, She Said (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-3)

10. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 10) (E)

11. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: 13) (E)

14. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Don Cheadle, White Noise

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (E)

7. Bardo (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Tar (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Menu (PR: 10) (E)

11. Broker (PR: 11) (E)

12. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 12) (E)

13. Bros (PR: 13) (E)

14. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Chevalier (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Whale (PR: 3) (E)

4. White Noise (PR: 4) (E)

5. She Said (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bones and All (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Living (PR: 11) (+3)

9. Till (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 8) (-2)

11. The Woman King (PR: 13) (+2)

12. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Blonde (PR: 14) (+1)

14. The Lost King (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Good Nurse 

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

My latest Final Five post brings us to 2012 and the Oscars that occurred nearly a decade ago. If you’re reading this series for the first time, this is where I whittle the 8-10 Best Picture nominees from every year since 2009 to five. As you may know, it was in 2009 that the Academy stopped listing a quintet of movies for the big prize and expanded it upwards. If you missed my write-ups about 2009, 2010, and 2011 – you can access them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

As we do with each year, we start with the obvious. Ben Affleck’s Argo certainly would have made the cut since it won BP. 2012 was a strange year with the Academy’s voters. Argo emerged as the first film since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy where the BP recipient’s director wasn’t nominated in that category. It’s happened twice since with 2018’s Green Book and last year’s CODA. I will admit that picking a fifth entry was challenging. The other 3 besides Argo seem pretty clear. Let’s get into it!


Michael Haneke’s French drama was the easy winner of Foreign Language Film and nabbed 3 other nods: Director, Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), and Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can certainly be made. I would venture that with only five, the narrative would’ve been that it had no trouble in the foreign race and that would be the reward.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This micro-budgeted indie fantasy from Benh Zeitlin scored a surprise directing nod as well as Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis) and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It received the least amount of nominations of the nine nominees and won none of its four mentions. That said, it’s not entirely out of the question that it could have snuck in.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino scored the biggest hit of his career with this Western which won Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz). It also received nods for Cinematography and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, though an argument can be made yet again (especially with the Original Screenplay victory). That said, misses for directing and editing are indications that it might have just missed.

Les Miserables

With 8 nominations and wins for Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling, the adaptation of the famed musical was one of the biggest box office performers of the bunch.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No… and stop me if you’ve heard this before… but an argument could be made. Like Django, the directing and editing omissions prevent me from saying it is top five.

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s visually striking adaptation of a bestseller tied with most nominations (11). Lee would win for his behind the camera work and it would pick up gold statues for Score, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. Unlike our last two contenders, it did receive an editing nod.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Furthermore, it was probably the runner-up for the win.


Steven Spielberg’s historical tale was the other movie to receive 11 nominations. The sole win was for Daniel Day-Lewis’s embodiment of the 16th POTUS in Best Actor.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 1 for 11 showing, the sheer number of nods strongly suggest its inclusion.

Silver Linings Playbook

With 8 nominations and Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress, this was the rare pic that scored nominations in all 4 acting derbies. Unlike Lawrence – Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver didn’t win their respective races. This was also up for David O. Russell’s direction, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes – based on where else it landed attention.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker won Sound Editing. Jessica Chastain was up for Actress with Original Screenplay and Editing nods making it five overall. Bigelow’s snub in the directing race was unexpected.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes, but this is the one I’m most unsure about. One could easily make the case for Amour or Beasts or Django or Les Miserables. The fact that this had the screenplay nod and editing made me pick it.

So in my view your abbreviated 2012 BP lineup would be:


Life of Pi


Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty 

2013 is up next!

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.


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!

2022 Oscar Predictions: June 6th Edition

My first Oscar predictions in the six major categories for the month of June sees Top Gun: Maverick rising 3 spots to #17 in the BP derby. My ten predicted nominees remain the same as do the five estimated individuals in Director, Actor, and Supporting Actor. There are changes in Actress with Cate Blanchett (Tar) in my five over Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and in Supporting Actress with Hong Chau (The Whale) being elevated over Vanessa Kirby in The Son. You can peruse all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 6) (+1)

6. The Son (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Bardo (PR: 7) (E)

8. She Said (PR: 9)

9. The Whale (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Empire of Light (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

11. Rustin (PR: 11) (E)

12. Broker (PR: 12) (E)

13. Poor Things (PR: 18) (+5)

14. Amsterdam (PR: 14) (E)

15. Decision to Leave (PR: 13) (-2)

16. Tar (PR: 24) (+8)

17. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 20) (+3)

18. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 19) (+1)

19. Thirteen Lives (PR: 16) (-3)

20. White Noise (PR: 15) (-5)

21. Elvis (PR: 17) (-4)

22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 23) (+1)

23. Aftersun (PR: 25( +2)

24. Till (PR: 22) (-2)

25. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Armageddon Time 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (E)

7. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 11) (+4)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Broker (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Maria Schrader, She Said (PR: 12) (E)

13. Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things (PR: 15) (+2)

14. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (E)

15. George C. Wolfe, Rustin (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

David O. Russell, Amsterdam 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (E)

5. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (E)

9. Emma Stone, Poor Things (PR: 9) (E)

10. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 10) (E)

11. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Michelle Williams, Showing Up (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Saoirse Ronan, See How They Run (PR: 15) (E)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Colman Domingo, Rustin (PR: 4) (E)

5. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Song King-Ho, Broker (PR: 6) (E)

7. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Christian Bale, Amsterdam (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 9) (E)

10. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 8) (-2)

11. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11) (E)

12. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives

Paul Mescal, Aftersun 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Audra McDonald, Rustin (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Patricia Clarkson, She Said (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 14) (E)

15. Margot Robbie, Amsterdam (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Whoopi Goldberg, Till

Anne Hathaway, Armageddon Time 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (-2)

5. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, Poor Things (PR: 6) (E)

7. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Glynn Turman, Rustin (PR: 9) (E)

10. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 14) (+2)

13. John David Washington, Amsterdam (PR: 8) (-5)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Andre Holland, Shirley