Oscar Watch – Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese

The eyes of many Oscar prognosticators will be on The Irishman later this year. The Netflix release comes from Martin Scorsese and the Mafia saga reunites many of his favorite players like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Yet the filmmaker could find himself in contention in another race with another saga featuring a legendary performer.

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese debuts on the same streaming service tomorrow. The concert documentary follows Dylan’s unique 1975 tour and has caught the attention of critics. It stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is far from the first time Scorsese has turned his attention to the rock and roll world in this genre. It began over four decades ago with The Last Waltz, his feature about The Band. He’s since made pics centered on The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, and Dylan previously (2005’s No Direction Home).

Concert docs are a rare inclusion for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, but perhaps the Academy could decide it’s time to honor Scorsese’s contributions to the genre. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Biggest Little Farm

After playing the festival circuit last fall and early this year, The Biggest Little Farm cultivated a decent limited release debut this weekend. The documentary follows a married couple who move from Los Angeles to agricultural country in SoCal to pursue farming. John Chester, whose short docs on Oprah Winfrey’s network has earned him Emmys, directs.

The film has garnered praise from critics (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and environmentalists.  As mentioned, Farm first screened last fall in Toronto and has played at multiple fests since including Telluride and Sundance. Neon picked up distribution rights and a theater count expansion is planned for Friday.

If this manages to stay on the radar screen for Academy voters, it stands an outside shot at a Documentary Feature nod. That could be a tall order if competition heats up as the year rolls along, which is probable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Apollo 11

Focused on the mission that put a man on the moon a half century ago, the documentary Apollo 11 launched in select cities this weekend to solid box office results. The feature is directed by Todd Douglas Miller and it first garnered buzz during its January screenings at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics landed firmly in its camp as it currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Apollo took in approximately $1.6 million on 120 screens for a laudable $13,000 per theater average. There are likely to be numerous docs contending for the Academy’s attention. Neon and CNN Films will need to mount a campaign that keeps this in the voters minds for months, but that’s feasible. It’s worth keeping an eye on for a Best Documentary Feature nod.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is a surprise late entry into the Documentary race at this year’s Oscars and it could be poised to make beautiful noise like its subject – the legendary late singer Aretha Franklin. This is a concert film shot in 1972 by famed director Sydney Pollack. After being shelved for over four decades, Grace was unveiled at the AFI FIlm Festival this week.

Reviews are strong across the board and it’s at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The pic will undoubtedly receive plenty of attention considering Aretha’s recent passing. That said, 2018 has been a banner year for docs. Just some of its significant competitors include Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Free Solo, RBG, Three Identical Strangers, and Minding the Gap.

Bottom line: there’s a lot of features competing for attention, but awards voters could certainly pay a little respect to Amazing Grace. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Love, Gilda

In a year filled with documentaries focused on legendary figures, Friday sees the limited release of Love, Gilda. The pic recounts the life of original SNL cast member Gilda Radner, including her time on that landmark show, her marriage to Gene Wilder, and her battle with cancer. It features interviews with her contemporaries and admirers including Chevy Chase, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader.

Gilda first screened last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival to positive, if not overly praising reviews. It sits at 83% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. As mentioned, from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to Quincy to RBG to Jane Fonda in Five Acts to McQueen, 2018 has been loaded with high-profile docs.

Bottom line: while Gilda may well please her many fans, I don’t see this making the cut in this year’s loaded race.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Fahrenheit 11/9 Box Office Prediction

Fourteen years after making the highest grossing documentary in box office history, Michael Moore is back next weekend with the politically charged Fahrenheit 11/9. The film is the director’s commentary on the current administration and it comes after a banner summer for documentaries which saw hits such as RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The title of Moore’s latest is a flip on the aforementioned Fahrenheit 9/11. That picture, which focused on the War on Terror in 2004, shocked prognosticators with a $23.9 million opening and eventual $119 million domestic haul. That easily puts it on the top spot in its genre. Apart from that, Moore has made two $20 million plus earners with 2002’s Bowling for Columbine ($21 million) and 2007’s Sicko ($24 million). In the last few years, he hasn’t had as much success on the big screen. 2016’s Where to Invade Next grossed just under $4 million total.

11/9 is slated to debut on approximately 1500 screens. I’m not so sure audiences will rush out this time around for a doc in which the subject matter plays out 24/7 on cable news. There could also be a significant difference in how the pic plays on the coasts compared to middle America.

I will predict that this makes about a fourth of what the first Fahrenheit accomplished nearly a decade and a half ago.

Fahrenheit 11/9 opening weekend prediction: $5 million

For my The House with a Clock in Its Walls prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/11/the-house-with-a-clock-in-its-walls-box-office-prediction/

For my Life Itself prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/15/life-itself-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Two-time Oscar winner (for Klute and Coming Home) and seven-time nominee Jane Fonda won’t receive any awards attention this year for her summer hit Book Club. However, it could be a different story when it comes to a documentary made about her life – Jane Fonda in Five Acts.

The tale of the actress/political activist/fitness guru originally debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and it premieres on HBO on September 24th. Reviews are strong and the Academy’s respect for its subject could warrant inclusion in the Best Documentary Feature race.

That said, this has been an impressive year for docs. Among those expected to be nominated concentrate on other legendary figures like Mr. Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG).

Bottom line: the level of competition is steep, but Ms. Fonda’s story as opposed to her acting could make its way to the attention of voters.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…