Oscar Watch – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

J.K. Rowling’s world of wizardry is back in theaters next weekend with the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s the second in a series of five planned features as it looks to conjure up huge box office dollars like predecessor Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did.

Early reviews are out and the reaction is mixed at 56% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Not even the most acclaimed Harry Potter pics were ever considered awards contenders for major categories. However, down the line technical races are another story.

Two years ago, the first Beasts managed two Oscar nominations: Production Design and Costume Design. It won the latter. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t be a factor in both of those categories again. That said, voters could feel they’ve already honored the franchise with part 1. Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling are in the realm of possibility, if unlikely.

Bottom line: the costumes especially could garner attention, but don’t expect Grindelwald to exceed (and maybe not match) the first movie.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Box Office Prediction

The wizarding world of J.K. Rowling is back next weekend when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald debuts. This is the follow-up to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which precedes the events of the massive Harry Potter franchise. David Yates (who made the last four Potter flicks and the first Beasts) is back directing. Returning cast members include Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, and Johnny Depp, whose role as the villainous title character will expand from his cameo in the predecessor. Jude Law joins the party as a younger Dumbledore.

There is no doubt that Grindelwald will easily top the charts upon its release, just as all Rowling universe titles have. The real question is how it opens in comparison to 2016’s effort, which premiered on the same November weekend. I believe there’s some solid historical data to consider.

In 2001, the first Potter film (The Sorcerer’s Stone) made $90 million out of the gate. One year later, follow-up Chamber of Secrets made just a tad less at $88 million. This seems like a likely scenario with Grindewald. 

The first Beasts took in $74.4 million for its start two years ago and I’ll put the sequel right under that for a low 70s beginning.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opening weekend prediction: $70.1 million

For my Widows prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/07/widows-box-office-prediction/

For my Instant Family prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/11/07/instant-family-box-office-prediction/

Best Actor: A Look Back

My look back at the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present arrives at Best Actor today! If you missed my posts covering Actress and the Supporting races, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/31/best-actress-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/25/best-supporting-actor-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As with those previous entries, I am picking the three least surprising winners of the last 28 years, along with the three biggest upsets. Additionally, you’ll see my personal picks for strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the winners from 1990 to now:

1990 – Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

1991 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

1993 – Tom Hanks, Philadelphia

1994 – Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

1995 – Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

1996 – Geoffrey Rush, Shine

1997 – Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

1999 – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

2000 – Russell Crowe, Gladiator

2001 – Denzel Washington, Training Day

2002 – Adrien Brody, The Pianist

2003 – Sean Penn, Mystic River

2004 – Jamie Foxx, Ray

2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

2006 – Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

2008 – Sean Penn, Milk

2009 – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

2010 – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

2011 – Jean Dujardin, The Artist

2012 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

2013 – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

2016 – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2017 – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Let’s begin with the three that I’m deeming as the non-surprise winners. Whittling this down to that number was a challenge. The double wins by Hanks and Penn and even last year’s winner Oldman could’ve easily been named here, too. Here goes…

3. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

The legendary thespian was 0 for 6 when it came to nominations and wins entering 1992. He picked up his 7th and 8th nods that year with his supporting role in Glengarry Glen Ross and lead role as a blind former colonel in this Martin Brest directed drama. By Oscar night, it was clear he was finally going to make that trip to the podium.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Like Pacino, DiCaprio had been an Academy bridesmaid before… four times. His fifth nod for The Revenant guaranteed he’d finally be a winner against weak competition (more on that below).

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

I could have named the Method actor’s victory in 2007 for There Will Be Blood as well, but his win five years later as the nation’s 16th President edges it out. From the moment the Steven Spielberg project was announced, Day-Lewis was the odds on favorite and it never changed.

Now – my selections for the upsets:

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

While it might seem an obvious win nearly 30 years later, Nick Nolte’s work in The Prince of Tides had nabbed him the Golden Globe. Additionally, there was some controversy about Sir Anthony’s inclusion in the lead race due to his approximate 16 minutes of screen time. This is truly evidence of a performance so towering that it couldn’t be ignored.

2. Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

The Italian director/writer/actor was an underdog against competition that included Nick Nolte (once again) for Affliction and Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters. Mr. Benigni seemed a bit shocked himself when his name was called, as he famously bounded exuberantly to the stage.

1. Adrien Brody, The Pianist

The smart money in 2002 was with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt or Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York. Brody’s win was pretty shocking, as was the giant smooch he planted on presenter Halle Berry.

When it comes to overall fields, I’m going recent history with both. For strongest, I’ll give it to 2012. That’s the year Day-Lewis won for Lincoln. All other nominees were rock solid as well with Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

For weakest, I’m picking 2015. This is the aforementioned year of DiCaprio’s overdue win. The rest of the field, however, was a bit lacking. It consisted of Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), and Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl).

And there’s your Actor look back, folks! Keep an eye out for Best Picture soon as the final post in this series…

Early Man Box Office Prediction

StudioCanal is hoping family audiences will wish to travel to the Stone Age when their stop-motion animated tale Early Man debuts next weekend. Directed by Nick Park, maker of Chicken Run and numerous Wallace & Gromit efforts, the pic features the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall.

Expected to debut on approximately 2200 screens at press time, Early Man could have trouble finding its intended audience. There is direct competition in the form of the second weekend of Peter Rabbit. Also Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle should still be making some dough. Most importantly, plenty of kids will be preoccupied with what should be a massive opening for Black Panther.

I’ll project Early Man struggles in its four-day Presidents Day weekend roll out.

Early Man opening weekend prediction: $5.7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Black Panther prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/06/black-panther-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Early Man

We’re just 15 days into the new year, but my first 2018 Oscar Watch post has arrived courtesy of Early Man. The prehistoric stop-motion animated tale opens stateside on February 16 and it’s out in the United Kingdom next Friday. Early reviews are out and the initial Rotten Tomatoes score is a solid 86%.

Featuring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall, the family flick comes from director Nick Park. That’s where the Oscar chatter comes into play. Mr. Park has been nominated for the gold statue six times, mostly due to his animated short film efforts. In 2005, his feature length Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the WereRabbit was victorious for Best Animated Feature. He’s had other acclaimed pictures including 2000’s Chicken Run, which still stands as stop-motion’s largest earner.

There will be plenty of competition rolling out over the calendar year, including high profile releases like The Incredibles 2 and Dr. SeussThe Grinch. Yet it’s fair to say Early Man is an early contender for recognition among animated features.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Now that Harry Potter’s wand has been cinematically retired (at least until Warner Bros figures out how to eventually resuscitate him), it’s J.K. Rowling to the rescue with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is the first entry in the wizardry world with a screenplay directly from the famed author who created it. This expands greatly on her 2001 novel (which is when Harry debuted onscreen) to create another franchise meant to draw youngsters into its spell, as well as Potter fans of all ages.

In order to achieve that goal, David Yates is back directing. He’s responsible for the last four features in the Potterverse. Our central character this time around is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist from London who comes to New York City circa 1926 with a briefcase full of creatures. It’s not clear immediately why he’s in the Big Apple, but his back story tells us of his time at a little school called Hogwarts where he was expelled and was tutored by a much younger Dumbledore.

Wizards need to be registered stateside and Newt finds himself generating the skepticism of Tina (Katherine Waterston), who works for MACUSA, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (obviously). She’s frustrated with her job, which is headed by its President (Carmen Ejogo) and enforced by Colin Farrell’s head of security. Newt and Tina team up to protect his various beasts and those who wish to destroy them. It’s not a two-person team as Newt befriends aspiring baker and World War I vet Jacob (Dan Fogler). Tina’s mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) is also involved and is the apple of Jacob’s eye. Before we continue with the rest of the review, let me declare that the subplot of Jacob and Queenie’s flirtation and budding romance was my favorite thing about the movie. Fogler serves as the general comic relief here anyway and does so quite wonderfully. Sudol shines in her first role. Their chemistry has genuine magic and if there was ever a case for a rom com spin-off of a hoped for multi-billion dollar franchise, this is it.

Moving on, that’s a small but very winning part of the two-hour plus running time. I wish I could say the chemistry between Newt and Tina was as impressive, but it’s not. Tina is a bit of a blank slate in this first installment and it certainly remains to be seen whether Redmayne’s Newt will come anywhere close to being as beloved as you know who. He’s got a long way to go. Not even Harry Potter could have sold doing a “mating dance” with a titillated CG rhino and neither can Newt. On the other hand, Beasts has its own version of a Star Wars-like cantina scene with Ron Perlman’s cool voicing of a nefarious creation and it’s a highlight.

There are other performances worthy of note, including Ezra Miller as an abused teen with mysterious powers and Samantha Morton as his wizard hating adopted mom doing the abuse. Our main villain Grindelwald is mostly just spoken of but not seen (kind of like Voldemort was for a bit), but we know he’ll play a bigger role as the series moves along.

Fantastic Beasts is heavy on effects (most of them eye-catching) and creating the visually arresting template for sequels. I didn’t think it reached a Sorcerer’s Stone level of quality as far as part 1’s, but Rowling is generally successful in making us curious about what comes next with this real and generated crop of characters.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Breathe

Andrew Garfield goes for his second Best Actor Oscar nod in a row with Breathe, which has screened at the Toronto Film Festival. In it, Garfield plays a man diagnosed with polio who becomes a disabilities advocate. The drama marks the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, known most for giving life to CG creations in the Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes franchises. Other stars include Claire Foy and Hugh Bonneville.

Early reviews haven’t been too positive, but they’ve pointed out it wears its Oscar hopes on its sleeve. It’s been compared to The Theory of Everything, which did win Eddie Redmayne a statue. With Best Actor looking like it has some open slots (for now), a strong campaign could give Garfield nod #2 after last year’s Hacksaw Ridge. Yet the troubling reviews won’t help.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Box Office Prediction

The wildly popular fantasy world created by J.K. Rowling is back in theaters for the first time in five years as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them debuts next weekend. Based on a novel by the Harry Potter author, Beasts looks to create a new franchise for Warner Bros after that aforementioned wizard yielded the studio $2.3 billion dollars for the previous one. David Yates directs and he knows this universe well after making the last four Potter installments. Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne stars with a supporting cast that includes Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight.

The reported $225 million production is intended as the first in a five-part series and it’s safe to say there’s a lot riding on this one. Seven of the eight Potter pics reside in the top 100 domestic earners of all time and even the lowest grossing one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) made just under $250M.

So where does this first entry in a budding new franchise land? I don’t believe it’ll quite reach the $90 million that first Potter experience The Sorcerer’s Stone opened at 15 years ago. That said, a gross in low to mid $80s range out of the gate seems quite probable. I’ll predict it’ll do just that and we can expect to see plenty more wizards and muggles coming our way in the near future.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opening weekend prediction: $83.1 million

For my Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/09/billy-lynns-long-halftime-walk-box-office-prediction/

For my Bleed for This prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/10/bleed-for-this-box-office-prediction/

For my The Edge of Seventeen prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/09/the-edge-of-seventeen-box-office-prediction/

SAG Award Predictions 2015

This evening, the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards airs and it will likely provide further hints of the direction the Academy may go in with their acting races. As I did with the Globes and will with the Oscars, here are my predictions on what and who will win!

BEST CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

Nominees

Beasts of No Nation

The Big Short

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Trumbo

Prediction: It’s important to note that SAG is honoring best cast and NOT Best Picture. Therefore the Academy’s Best Picture and this category have only matched 10 out of 22 times. This really appears to be a horse race between Short and Spotlight and it truly go either way. I’ll pick Spotlight for the win which would solidify a true three movie race with Short and The Revenant for the Oscar.

BEST ACTOR

Nominees

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Johnny Depp, Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

PREDICTION: Oscar and SAG have matched 17 of 22 times here, which is the best margin of all. This race will further determine whether Leo is the true front runner and my suspicion is it will. Leo all the way.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back

Prediction: 15 for 22 match with Oscar here. Larson keeps racking up trophies and is the Academy front runner and I suspect she’ll win here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Jacob Tremblay, Room

Prediction: 14 for 22 Academy match. This is the most interesting category of the night. Only 2 of the nominees here (Bale, Rylance) are Oscar nominated and the potential Academy favorite (Creed’s Sylvester Stallone) is nowhere to be found. This race could certainly provide an upset, but it’s fair to say Bale and Rylance are the most likely winners. In a tough one, I’ll give the slight edge to Rylance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Helen Mirren, Trumbo

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Predicton: 13 of 22 Oscar match. Winslet was a surprise Globe winner and if she prevails here, we all may need to rethink our Oscar prognostications. Here’s another race where an upset is possible, but I’ll go with Miss Vikander for the win.

And that’ll do it for now, folks!

Todd’s 2015 Oscar Winner Predictions: Round 1

It’s been two days since the Oscar nominations came out, allowing some time to pass to digest what and who is being recognized. After numerous posts prognosticating the nominations, we now arrive at this question: What Will Win??

Today brings my initial round of guesses on the movies and performers that I believe will get their gold statues. I will definitely have a second and final round posted probably two to three days before the February ceremony.

Let’s get to it:

BEST PICTURE

First off, there are four selections that basically should be happy with the nomination: Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Martian, and Room. Mad Max: Fury Road is a major long shot. That leaves a three picture race and indeed it is. Between The Big Short, The Revenant, and Spotlight – this is truly a competitive category this time around. I’m currently giving the ever so slight edge to Spotlight, which has been considered the soft front runner for a while now. Be warned though: the other two are hot on its heels.

PREDICTED WINNER: Spotlight

BEST DIRECTOR

Tom McCarthy’s work in Spotlight could be honored with outside chances for Adam McKay (The Big Short) or George Miller (Mad Max). Lenny Abrahamson’s surprise nomination for Room succeeded in screwing up people’s predictions. He has no chance to win. Yet I’ll go with the Academy honoring Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s direction in The Revenant, just one year after he received the prize for Birdman.

PREDICTED WINNER: Inarritu

BEST ACTOR

We will make this simple: it appears that Leonardo DiCaprio is finally going to win a statue for The Revenant. He is the very heavy favorite and if he doesn’t emerge victorious, it would probably constitute the largest upset of the evening.

PREDICTED WINNER: DiCaprio

BEST ACTRESS

Like lead Actor, there is a front runner here with Brie Larson in Room. Unlike Actor, the possibility for an upset is real with both Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) and Saoirse Ronan. I’ll stick with Larson though. Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) seem like non factors.

PREDICTED WINNER: Larson

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This was an incredibly difficult category to predict with about 12 performances in the running. Now that we know the nominees, this is a race ripe for an upset. Any of the five – Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed) – are feasible recipients. Rylance has won some precursors, but like the Golden Globes, I’ll project that sentimentality wins out with Stallone standing center stage.

PREDICTED WINNER: Stallone

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

No major front runner here but Alicia Vikander had a great year with another heralded role in Ex Machina. I’ll predict her work in The Danish Girl eeks out a win over Rooney Mara (Carol), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Globes winner Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), and Rachel McAdams (Spotlight).

PREDICTED WINNER: Vikander

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Short and sweet here – Spotlight is the heavy front runner here and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win here. I’m much more confident in predicting a victory for it here than in Picture.

PREDICTED WINNER: Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Martian or Room have outside shots, but this looks like a win for The Big Short.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Big Short

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Anomalisa has its hardcore fans, but Pixar’s Inside Out is the big favorite.

PREDICTED WINNER: Inside Out

BEST FOREIGN FILM

Easy pick. Son of Saul is a huge front runner. Mustang is the only completion.

PREDICTED WINNER: Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Amy, chronicling the career of the late singer Amy Winehouse, is the favorite. For now, however, I’m going with an upset pick in the form of Cartel Land.

PREDICTED WINNER: Cartel Land

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The legendary John Williams could be in the running for his latest Star Wars score, but I’ll predict the Academy honors another legend: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Hateful Eight

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Was very surprised to see “See You Again” from Furious 7 snubbed. To me, that would have been the main competition for “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, performed by Lady Gaga.

PREDICTED WINNER: “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground

BEST SOUND EDITING

I believe these sound categories will come down to a battle between Mad Max and Star Wars, with The Revenant as a spoiler. For now, I’m splitting the difference.

PREDICTED WINNER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST SOUND MIXING

See above.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Once again, I see this as a contest between Chewbacca and Max. I’ll give Max the slight edge.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

This is another tough one with Mad Max maintaining a small edge over The Revenant and The Martian.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Hateful Eight stands a chance here, as does Mad Max. However, I believe Emmanuel Lubezki will take home his third Oscar in a row for The Revenant.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Revenant

BEST EDITING

This race often matches Picture and could here with Spotlight. The Big Short, Mad Max, and The Revenant are in the mix. This is practically a coin flip for me right now so don’t be shocked if this changes.

PREDICTED WINNER: The Big Short

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Only three nominees here and Mad Max and The Revenant are likely the only two winner possibilities.

PREDICTED WINNER: Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Sandy Powell could split her own vote between Carol and Cinderella. Mad Max and The Danish Girl are in the running, but I’ll go with Powell and her work in Carol.

PREDICTED WINNER: Carol

And there you have it! My first Oscar winner predictions.