2020 Oscars Shortlist Analysis

Taylor Swift will not be performing an Oscar nominated track at this April’s ceremony. Sonic the Hedgehog will not be the Oscar nominated Sonic the Hedgehog. Sacha Baron Cohen’s makeup team from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm who transformed him into former President Donald Trump will not see their work recognized.

These are some of the headlines from today’s unveiling of shortlists in six categories covering feature films from the Academy. On the positive side for its respective studios, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey could contend in at least three races. A documentary about refugees from Chechnya is a Visual Effects hopeful. And Borat is still on the board for his song “Wuhan Flu”. There were mixed results from the announcements for features such as Hillbilly Elegy, The Invisible Man, and The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

Let’s break this all down and what it means for my weekly predictions, shall we?

Best Documentary Feature

Fifteen films were shortlisted today as follows:

76 Days

All In: The Fight for Democracy

Boys State

Collective

Crip Camp

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Gunda

MLK/FBI

The Mole Agent

My Octopus Teacher

Notturno

The Painter and the Thief

Time

The Truffle Hunters

Welcome to Chechnya

Analysis: 

There are two docs I had in my top ten that missed the cut: The Dissident, which I had ranked all the way up in second and Totally Under Control, which I had sixth. This is a pretty open race in 2020 and I had Time in first position two days ago. All In and Dick Johnson are sturdy contenders as well.

Best International Feature Film

Fifteen films were shortlisted today as follows:

Another Round

Better Days

Charlatan

Collective

Dear Comrades!

Hope

I’m No Longer Here

La Llorona

The Man Who Sold His Skin

The Mole Agent

Night of the Kings

Quo Vadis, Aida?

A Sun

Sun Children

Two of Us

Analysis:

My only top ten hopeful falling out was my #10 Notturno (which made the Documentary list). No real surprises with Another Round as a soft frontrunner to win.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Ten films were shortlisted as follows:

Birds of Prey

Emma

The Glorias

Hillbilly Elegy

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The Little Things

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

One Night in Miami

Pinocchio

Analysis:

Two of my predicted nominees from my last round had their possibilities cease today: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The United States vs. Billie Holiday (ranked fourth and fifth respectively). Also dropped: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (#7), News of the World (#8), and Mulan (#9). Ma Rainey will probably remain in my #1 spot with Hillbilly and Mank following.

Best Original Score

Fifteen films were shortlisted as follows:

Ammonite

Blizzard of Souls

Da 5 Bloods

The Invisible Man

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The Life Ahead

The Little Things

Mank

The Midnight Sky

Minari

Mulan

News of the World

Soul

Tenet

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis:

My #6 entry Hillbilly Elegy was a rather notable miss here while my other nine entries are still in the mix. This race could come down to Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor competing against themselves with Soul and Mank.

Best Original Song

Fifteen films were shortlisted as follows:

“Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy

“See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast

“Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

“Never Break” from Giving Voice

“Make It Work” from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

“Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah

“Seen” from The Life Ahead

“Rain Song” from Minari

“Show Me Your Soul” from Mr. Soul!

“Loyal Brave True” from Mulan

“Free” from The One and Only Ivan

“Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

“Green” from Sound of Metal

“Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis:

As mentioned, no Taylor Swift for her track “Only the Young” from Miss Americana. Yet a larger omission was “Over the Moon” from the animated Rocket to the Moon, which I had ranked at #4. Another to miss the cut: “Tigress & Tweed” from The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which achieved a Golden Globes nod. “Speak Now” might have an edge, but I wouldn’t count out “Seen”.

Best Visual Effects

Ten films were shortlisted as follows:

Birds of Prey

Bloodshot

Love and Monsters

Mank

The Midnight Sky

Mulan

The One and Only Ivan

Soul

Tenet

Welcome to Chechnya 

Analysis:

Some genuine shockers in VE with my #3 The Invisible Man and #4 Greyhound out of contention. Also missing: Wonder Woman 1984 (#7), Sonic the Hedgehog (#8), and The Call of the Wild (#10). In their places are pics I didn’t have on my radar like Bloodshot and Love and Monsters (the Chechnya nod was at least spoken of in recent days). Soul getting in certainly gives it a solid shot at inclusion, but Tenet and The Midnight Sky still appear to be the heavyweights.

Today’s news will certainly alter what you see when I update my estimates this weekend! Stay tuned…

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

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

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

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

The Presidency of John F. Kennedy

The Bond Pictures: Dr. No (1962)

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

The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson

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

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

The Presidency of Richard Nixon

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

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

The Presidency of Gerald Ford

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

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

The Presidency of Jimmy Carter

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

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

The Presidency of Ronald Reagan

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

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

The Presidency of George H.W. Bush

The Bond Pictures: Licence to Kill (1989)

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

The Presidency of Bill Clinton

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

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

The Presidency of George W. Bush

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

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

The Presidency of Barack Obama

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

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

The Presidency of Donald Trump

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

 

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: 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…

The Boss Baby Box Office Prediction

Next weekend, Alec Baldwin is The Boss Baby in Dreamworks Animation’s latest feature. Based on a 2010 childrens book, the pic has the SNL hosting record setter voicing a wiser than his years infant. Other voice over work is provided by Tobey Maguire, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow.

Baby arrives in the midst of a number of titles catering to younger audiences and their families. Beauty and the Beast will be in its third weekend and still posting large earnings. Power Rangers will be in its sophomore frame and Smurfs: The Lost Village will debut the weekend after.

Reviews haven’t been strong so far with just a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, Baldwin has surely been visible as of late with his President Trump impression and Dreamworks has a mostly impressive track record in their animated division.

The competition is likely to be a factor keeping this from truly significant grosses, but I’ll still estimate Baby manages a high 20s to possibly low 30s birth.

The Boss Baby opening weekend prediction: $28.6 million

For my Ghost in the Shell prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/23/ghost-in-the-shell-box-office-prediction/

Who Should Play Donald Trump?

This news should come as no surprise as HBO has announced they will be producing a miniseries in the near future focusing on the 2016 Presidential Election. The effort will come from the team behind Game Change, which told the tale of Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in her quest to become John McCain’s (Ed Harris) VP in 2008. Game director Jay Roach will be behind the camera.

There is little doubt the project will heavily focus on the man who became the 45th President of the United States. So that begs the question: who will play Donald Trump? I imagine this will be the focus on much speculation until an announcement is made, so I’ll get in on it too. I’ve come up with a dozen interesting choices outlined in this here post. However, before we move to that, let’s discuss some choices that are sure to bandied about.

Name one: Alec Baldwin. Of course, he may be the first actor people think of due to his portrayal of the President on SNL. Yet I find it extremely unlikely that Baldwin would be interested (he’s already announced his impression of POTUS on SNL is soon coming to an end). The filmmakers themselves also might not be wild about casting the performer only known for an exaggerated comedic take on Trump.

Then there’s some big names that might be given the role if they’re interested. Two that spring to mind immediately: Kevin Spacey and Bryan Cranston. Here’s another – Matthew McConaughey. After all, he’s worked with HBO before on “True Detective”.

Yet I wish to delve a bit deeper into Hollywood’s rolodex for some other names. Here’s a dozen of them for your consideration:

Tom Berenger

This choice seems unlikely as he’s probably not a big enough name anymore, but he’s the right age (67) and he does kind of bear a resemblance to POTUS. It’s been over three decades since Berenger was Oscar nominated for Platoon, but he’s popped up occasionally in recent years in pics like Training Day and Inception. 

Kenneth Branagh

The Irish actor has been known more lately for his work behind the camera, including 2015’s Cinderella. Later this year, he directs and stars in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express. That should be a high-profile project and could dovetail well into this very high-profile experience.

Kevin Costner

Coming off a supporting role in the blockbuster Hidden Figures, I question whether Costner could get the look down. Yet he’s a big star who HBO would probably consider.

Russell Crowe

This is a possible example of HBO going with the Oscar winner if he wants to do it. Crowe would be a huge actor to cast in the part and he could potentially add Emmy winner to his award shelf.

Thomas Haden Church

The Oscar nominee for 2004’s Sideways is currently on HBO right now alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce”. I could see him pulling off the look for Trump and see him as an intriguing prospect. Possible issue: big enough name?

Greg Kinnear

Another Academy Award nominee for 1997’s As Good As It Gets, it’s been awhile since Kinnear has had a major showcase role. I could see him totally pulling this off and he’s near the top of my choices.

Viggo Mortensen

Mr. Mortensen could be a fascinating pick and he’s coming fresh off an Oscar nod for Captain Fantastic. Like Kinnear, this pick would fascinate me.

Edward Norton

Like Crowe, this would be an example of a major movie star taking on the part. Norton can be a chameleon and I like this idea.

Bob Odenkirk

The Emmy winner for “Better Call Saul” could nail this part, I suspect. He’s shown both dramatic and comedic chops in his body of work.

Kurt Russell

Russell is simply one of my favorite actors period. He’s more versatile than he gets credit for and I totally buy him making this work.

James Spader

Another high-profile choice due to his exposure on “The Blacklist”, he’s toward the top of my personal choices.

Owen Wilson

Of all the choices here, I could really see him getting the look down. The big question: could his very distinctive voice pull off the tones of The Donald?

So there you have it! What actors not mentioned do you feel could step into the President’s shoes? And how about this question: how will Donald Trump react to his casting on Twitter??

 

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party Box Office Prediction

The 2016 presidential race may be omnipresent on your small screen for these two weeks (and through November for that matter), but this political season also comes to theaters this weekend as Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party opens wide.

Dinesh D’Souza directs this documentary focused on the presumptive Democratic Party nominee and let’s just say it’s unlikely to be played at next week’s convention for its title subject. D’Souza’s works have a decidedly conservative bent – as evidence by 2012’s 2016: Obama’s America. That pic became the 4th highest grossing documentary of all time domestically and 2nd highest one with a political bent after 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11. It earned $6.5 million in its initial weekend of wide release with an eventual gross of $32.9 million.

Arriving smack dab in the middle of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Hillary’s America will look to capitalize on its release date and interest from conservatives who made D’Souza’s previous doc a hit. I see no reason why this wouldn’t accomplish its mission and I have slated to open slightly higher.

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party opening weekend prediction: $7.1 million

For my Star Trek Beyond prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/07/13/star-trek-beyond-box-office-prediction/

For my Ice Age: Collision Course prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/07/14/ice-age-collision-course-box-office-prediction/

For my Lights Out prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/07/15/lights-out-box-office-prediction/