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…

Oscar Watch: Quincy

Focused on the legendary life of musical composer Quincy Jones, a documentary about him has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones, the pic about the man behind classic film scores and unforgettable music from Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and many more has garnered respectable reviews.

That said, I’m not sure that will be enough for Quincy to warrant attention this Oscar season. The Documentary category is already crowded with titles such as RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, and Fahrenheit 11/9 all vying for spots.

Bottom line: this doc about a man who has won 27 Grammys and been nominated for 7 Academy Awards might come up short come nomination time.

Quincy premieres on Netflix on September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Fahrenheit 11/9

One of the year’s most awaited documentaries has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in the form of Fahrenheit 11/9, the latest from Michael Moore. The film’s title, of course, slightly changes the numerical composition of the filmmaker’s biggest grosser Fahrenheit 9/11 from 2004.

Early critical reaction is out and it’s no surprise that many from the festival are praising Moore’s critical look at the current administration. The pic is also said to be equal parts a take down of the response to the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Some reviews have remarked that 11/9 (the date of President Trump’s election in 2016) isn’t quite as focused as his most acclaimed works.

Moore is no stranger to the Oscars. 2002’s Bowling for Columbine won the award for Best Documentary Feature and 2007’s Sicko was nominated. However, Fahrenheit 9/11 was not.

2018 has already seen at least three docs released that seem to be strong contenders for recognition in the doc race: RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and Three Identical Strangers. Academy voters may want to nominate 11/9 due to its political relevance, but I’m not sure at this point there will be room for it.

Bottom line: While Moore’s latest stands a chance at a nod, it’s no guarantee in a crowded field.

Fahrenheit 11/9 opens domestically on September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: McQueen

It’s been a summer full of documentaries that could receive attention come Oscar time and we can add another one in the mix with McQueen. The picture focuses on the life of the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who took his own life in 2010.

Reviews have been quite strong and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, it stands behind at least two other docs from this season when it comes to a nomination possibility. Those would be Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and RBG and we also have Three Identical Strangers and Whitney out there. I’d say McQueen is probably above Whitney, but let’s not forget we’ve got an entire autumn full of possibilities waiting as well.

Bottom line: McQueen is in the mix for consideration, but competition is steep.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Three Identical Strangers

Amidst the comic book and animated sequels of the summer, this season has seen a rather surprising share of documentaries bringing in box office bucks. Over the weekend, Three Identical Strangers performed well in limited fashion. The doc tells the tale of three twins separated at birth and there’s apparently a host of twists and turns that go along with that. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Like other solid performing docs premiering in the past month or so, Strangers debuted at a film festival and garnered critical acclaim months before its release. Both Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and RBG opened at Sundance and so did this.

At this juncture, I’d say Neighbor and RBG stand stronger chances at recognition come Oscar nomination time for Best Documentary Feature. Yet I wouldn’t discount this at all. We may look back at the five nominees a few months from now and recognize that the summer was the hot season for them.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Whitney

There’s been some high-profile documentaries as of late focused on high-profile people. This Friday, that trend continues with the release of Whitney. It covers the life of the late Whitney Houston and is directed by Kevin Macdonald. He’s known for making fictional efforts such as The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, as well as critically heralded docs Touching the Void and Marley (which covered another legendary musician).

Whitney screened in May at the Cannes Film Festival to positive notices (the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 90% right now). In order for it to be noticed by Oscar voters, it would need to get on equal footing with other recent acclaimed docs like RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

This could be a challenge. My feeling is that Whitney may have trouble making the short list come nomination time as voters may save their love for other entries.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Opening in limited fashion this weekend is one of the year’s more hotly anticipated documentaries – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Focused on the life of Mister Rogers, whose public access children’s program spanned decades and inspired generations of youngsters, it premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival to wide acclaim. Its Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 97% currently.

The Oscar pedigree for it is evident as its director Morgan Neville won Best Documentary Feature in 2014 for 20 Feet From Stardom. Neighbor, like the recent RBG, is the rare doc that has legitimate box office breakout potential due its familiar subject matter. That said, the documentary branch of the Academy is an unpredictable lot. Last year’s Jane, for instance, covered a much appreciated figure, was looked at as a front-runner in some circles, and ended up without a nomination.

Yet don’t surprised to find this on the short list of inclusions come next year. Interestingly, the story of Rogers could find itself in the Oscar mix for two years in a row. 2019 brings You Are My Friend, a biopic starring Tom Hanks as the sweater clad host.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…