Oscar Predictions: Last Night in Soho

A time travel thriller mixed with horror, Venice fest goers have been highly anticipating Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho. Hitting theaters in late October, this is the auteur’s follow-up to 2017’s Baby Driver. That sleeper hit managed three Oscar nominations in both sound races (when there were two) and Film Editing.

Thomasin McKenzie headlines a cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy (hot off The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith, Diana Rigg (in her final role), and Terence Stamp. Though the genre doesn’t lend itself often to awards attention, it seems like Wright could eventually break through with an Academy player.

Based on the early buzz, Soho doesn’t seem to be it. While some reviews are gushing, others are mixed to negative and the Rotten Tomatoes meter is currently 71%. I would say the only races where it could contend are Production Design, Costume Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling. It’s also entirely possible the Academy ignores it altogether. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Venice Film Festival: A Preview

The Venice Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday this week. For this blogger, it means my Oscar speculation will kick into overdrive. You can anticipate a flurry of Oscar Watch posts starting September 1st and continuing throughout the month as the Telluride fest transpires over Labor Day weekend. Toronto is right behind beginning September 9th.

To put it all in perspective, the eventual Best Picture winner has premiered at this trio of festivals more often than not lately. Nomadland (last year’s victor) started off in Venice and won the Golden Lion, which is the equivalent to BP. The same narrative holds true for 2017’s The Shape of Water. 2018’s Green Book debuted at Toronto. 2016’s Moonlight premiered at Telluride. 2015’s Spotlight rolled out at Venice and 2014’s Birdman opened that festival. You get the idea.

So what are the highest profile titles jockeying for position? What are the movies that could become instant hopefuls for the Academy’s attention? I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Power of the Dog

In 1993, director Jane Campion had her last major Oscar contender with The Piano. It won Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Supporting Actress for Anna Paquin, and Original Screenplay for Campion. She became the first female ever to be nominated for Best Director (losing that race and Picture to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List).

Her latest is The Power of the Dog and it will be a mainstay on the festival circuit before its theatrical release in November that’s followed by an early December Netflix bow. Dog is, on paper, the film that prognosticators like me are looking at as an early favorite.

In my previous weekly rankings, I have Dog listed at #1 in Picture, Director, Actor (Cumberbatch), and Adapted Screenplay. Dunst and Plemons are, respectively, ranked second in Supporting Actress and Actor.

We will know quite soon whether it lives up to the hype.

Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almodovar’s latest will open the proceedings on Tuesday. The Spanish language drama stars Penelope Cruz and she could be a factor in what appears to be a potentially crowded Best Actress derby. Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film could also be races where it contends. Just two years back, the auteur’s previous work Pain and Glory was nominated in the international competition and it nabbed Antonio Banderas a Best Actor nod.

Additionally, Cruz and Banderas star in the comedy Official Competition, which is also premiering here. It may also be one to keep an eye on.

Spencer

Speaking of that Best Actress race which features numerous players, that holds true with Spencer. Pablo Larrain’s biopic about Princess Diana may propel Kristen Stewart to her first nomination. Larrain directed Natalie Portman and she made the final five as Jackie from 2016. Will Stewart break through on the awards front after a series of post Twilight acclaimed roles? The answer is coming.

The Hand of God

Another Netflix property is this Italian drama from Paolo Sorrentino, whose 2013 effort The Great Beauty dominated the foreign language races at the Oscars and Globes. His latest could be another contender and I will be keeping an eye on whether it could branch out to Best Picture (like Roma and Parasite recently did).

The Card Counter

Paul Schrader’s last pic First Reformed received an Original Screenplay nod for its filmmaker. His latest crime drama features Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, and Willem Dafoe. I haven’t had this featured at all in my weekly predictions, but a splashy Venice rollout could alter that.

Dune

The Card Counter cannot claim the title of being Oscar Isaac’s most breathlessly awaited arrival. That would be Dune from Denis Villeneuve as the sci-fi epic is debuting out of competition. Originally slated for 2020, Dune could be a major awards threat in lots of categories (especially the technical ones). Whether it is Best Picture material will soon be established.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal directs Olivia Colman in the Netflix drama slated for late December. Colman has been nominated in two out of the three years at the big show. She won in 2018 for The Favourite in Best Actress and got a mention in supporting last year for The Father. 

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright psychological horror experience features Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy (coming off her heralded role on The Queen’s Gambit). The genre is not one usually geared to Oscar love, but you never know.

The Last Duel

Ridley Scott has not one, but two competitors seeking awards attention in 2021. The most obvious is House of Gucci. The other is this historical drama with Jodie Comer (another possibility in Actress), Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Ben Affleck. We will soon know whether Scott has two pics in the mix.

And that’s just some of what I’m watching out for, folks! Get ready as the Oscar picture should become clearer in the coming days and I’ll be here to cover it…

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 26th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions as we close out August have a bit of a Christmas Eve feel to them. Better yet, Film Festival Eve as Venice kicks off next week where cinematic presents will be laid out for consideration. The first 2021 Oscar predictions of September will come with reviews out for major contenders, most notably Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog which currently stands at #1 in Picture and Director.

That’s not all. When I post next Thursday, there should be buzz for Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will follow shortly after that.

Same goes for Pablo Larrain’s Spencer. That could make Best Actress a little clearer due to Kristen Stewart’s work as Princess Diana. Miss Stewart makes her first appearance in my five hopefuls in that race. This is partly due to taking Kirsten Dunst from lead to supporting. It remains to be seen where Dunst ends up. That move and her inclusion in Supporting Actress knocks out Toni Collette in Nightmare Alley.

There are other changes:

    • In Best Picture, I continue to tinker with the 10 spot. This week, I have vaulted Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God up 12 spots to get in the mix. Falling out is Stephen Karam’s The Humans. The switch-up also puts God in Original Screenplay over A Hero.
    • We have changes at #1 in both Actor and Supporting Actor. Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog tops lead and that slides Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) to 2nd. Bradley Cooper returns to first position in supporting for Soggy Bottom over Dog’s Jesse Plemons.

You can peruse all the activity below as Venice looms!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

7. Dune (PR: 6)

8. West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. CODA (PR: 8)

10. The Hand of God (PR: 22)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10)

12. The French Dispatch (PR: 13)

13. Mass (PR: 11)

14. Belfast (PR: 14)

15. A Hero (PR: 12)

16. Flee (PR: 15)

17. Spencer (PR: 17)

18. Last Night in Soho (PR: 19)

19. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 16)

20. The Last Duel (PR: 25)

21. King Richard (PR: 18)

22. Parallel Mothers (PR: 21)

23. Passing (PR: 20)

24. Being the Ricardos (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 8)

11. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 13)

12. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 11)

13. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 12)

14. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 10)

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Stephen Karam, The Humans

Fran Kranz, Mass

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

7. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 12)

8. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 9)

9. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 11)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 8)

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 10)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 13)

13. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 14)

14. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15)

15. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 1)

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 11)

7. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

8. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 7)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10)

10. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 8)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 12)

12. Steven Yeun, The Humans (PR: 9)

13. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 14)

14. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead Actress)

3. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 3)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

7. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

8. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

10. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8)

11. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 12)

12. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 11)

13. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

14. Rebecca Ferguson, Dune (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

Salma Hayek, House of Gucci

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 3)

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

3. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2)

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 7)

7. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

8. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

9. Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 9)

11. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 13)

12. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall (PR: 10)

13. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 12)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Bradley Whitford, Tick, Tick… Boom!

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

3. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

4. Mass (PR: 3)

5. The Hand of God (PR: 13)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Belfast (PR: 7)

8. A Hero (PR: 5)

9. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

10. Being the Ricardos (PR: 8)

11. Spencer (PR: 12)

12. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 11)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. King Richard (PR: 15)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

5. The Humans (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA (PR: 6)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. The Last Duel (PR: 10)

9. Passing (PR: 9)

10. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8)

11. West Side Story (PR: 12)

12. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

13. Cyrano (PR: 11)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 15)

15. Dear Evan Hansen (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

In the Heights

Oscar Watch: Annette

Vive la France!

The film community (and Oscar prognosticators like yours truly) are experiencing another return to normalcy today as the Cannes Film Festival kicked off today. The French fest is starting two months later than we are accustomed to, but it’s in-person and showcasing at least a handful of potential awards contenders.

The 2020 Cannes experience, before its cancellation, was supposed to feature Leos Carax’s Annette. The acclaimed auteur makes his English language debut in this musical headlined by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Early reviews are up and they indicate this will be a polarizing picture. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 85% for the moment.

Driver stars as a comedian (nearly all critics compare his character to Andy Kaufman) in a bad romance with Cotillard’s opera singer. This sounds like a meaty and memorable role for Driver. I’ll let you read about what he’s doing during a particular number called “We Love Each Other So Much”. Buzz indicates Cotillard (a Best Actress winner in 2007 for La Vie en Rose and nominee in 2014 for Two Days, One Night) may not have enough of a role to compete for a third recognition. If so, it would probably come in Supporting Actress. Some reviews have praised Simon Helberg’s supporting role. The Big Bang Theory costar likely came close to a nod for 2016’s Florence Foster Jenkins. This would have to generate a lot of love for him to be a factor.

That leaves Driver and his biggest 2021 competition could be himself. He will appear this autumn in not one, but two eagerly awaited Ridley Scott directed hopefuls. This includes a possibility at Supporting Actor in The Last Duel and especially in the lead derby for House of Gucci. If the latter doesn’t become a serious contender, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him gather his third try at gold in the past four years. Driver nabbed a supporting mention for 2018’s BlacKkKlansman and the following year in the lead with Marriage Story. 

There could be numerous potential slots for its original songs which were composed by rock band Sparks (they’re subject to an appreciated documentary out now made by Edgar Wright). Initial attention includes numerous shoutouts to opening tune “So May We Start”.

Some of the raves indicate that the Cannes crowd may eat this up more than the Academy. Expect the chatter to include some pining for its inclusion in the ten Best Pic finalists and others saying it has no place there. Amazon Studios, which will put this in theaters August 6 and on their streaming service two weeks later, will need to mount quite a campaign for it to make the cut.

Bottom line: hey, festivals are back and I’m loving it! Not everyone is loving Annette, but there’s enough admirers early on to keep it on the radar. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Summer 2010: The Top 10 Hits and More

Today on the blog, we come to the third and final replay of the cinematic summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my posts covering 1990 and 2000, you may find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/18/summer-1990-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/25/summer-2000-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

This brings us to 2010 where sequels ruled the top 3 slots and a couple of other significant franchises were born. We also all had our collective minds blown by Christopher Nolan’s brand of time shifting sci-fi action.

As I have with previous entries, I’ll recount the top ten hits, some other notable titles, and the flops of the season. Let’s get at it!

10. The Other Guys

Domestic Gross: $119 million

The buddy cop comedy marked the fourth collaboration in six years between director Adam McKay and his lead Will Ferrell after Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Step Brothers. It also marks Ferrell’s first teaming with Mark Wahlberg and the pair would go on to make two successful and family friendlier Daddy’s Home pics.

9. The Last Airbender

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Based on the Nickelodeon animated series, the fantasy adventure marked a departure from M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty suspense thrillers. It did, however, maintain the filmmaker’s recent trend of critically savaged titles (arriving two years behind the lambasted The Happening). It couldn’t match its reported $150 million budget stateside.

8. Grown Ups

Domestic Gross: $162 million

Adam Sandler continued to prove himself review proof with this comedy where he recruited buddies Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider for another sizable hit. A sequel followed three years later.

7. The Karate Kid

Domestic Gross: $176 million

Produced by his parents Will and Jada, this retooling of the 1984 blockbuster starred Jaden Smith with Jackie Chan as his mentor. Shot for just about $40 million, it grossed over $300 million worldwide. Surprisingly, a planned sequel never materialized.

6. Shrek Forever After

Domestic Gross: $238 million

Typically a gross of $238 million is quite an achievement, but not necessarily in this case for the Dreamworks animated franchise. Forever grossed less than its three predecessors and generated mixed critical reaction.

5. Despicable Me

Domestic Gross: $251 million

At the start of summer 2010, not many would have have projected this original Illumination Entertainment animated tale would outdo Shrek. Yet that’s exactly what occurred and two sequels and the Minions spin-off franchise have followed.

4. Inception

Domestic Gross: $292 million

Coming hot off the heels of 2008’s The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan had another huge earner in his collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. It might have been a challenge to follow the plot, but audiences gave it their best and a worldwide take over $800 million occurred. Multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture (though not Nolan’s direction), resulted.

3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Domestic Gross: $300 million

2010 found audiences still enraptured by the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner vampire romance. The third entry in the series set a midnight earnings ($30 million) opening record that stood for a year before Harry Potter swept it away.

2. Iron Man 2

Domestic Gross: $312 million

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still in its infancy a decade ago as this was the third pic of the bunch. Part 2 posted fine numbers, but was considered a bit of a letdown compared to the first edition. It did mark the first appearance of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and a buff and whip cracking Mickey Rourke as the main villain.

1. Toy Story 3

Domestic Gross: $415 million

Pixar easily ruled the season with the third flick in the studio’s startup series. Arriving 15 years after the original, the return of Woody and Buzz was a critical darling that earned a Best Picture nomination and lots of love from all ages. Part 4 would follow in 2019.

And now for some other noteworthy pictures from the time frame:

Salt

Domestic Gross: $118 million

Arriving two years after her action hit Wanted, this spy thriller hovered just outside the top 10 and managed to just outgross its $110 million budget in North America.

The Expendables

Domestic Gross: $105 million

Sylvester Stallone led a band of action heroes in this early August title that tapped the nostalgia of moviegoers. A pair of sequels followed that would bring in more genre heavy hitters like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Chuck Norris, and Harrison Ford.

Eat Pray Love

Domestic Gross: $80 million

This adaptation of a 2006 bestseller starring Julia Roberts brought in a sizable female audience and hit just over $200 million worldwide against a $60 million budget.

Dinner for Schmucks

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd headlined this midsize hit that got mixed reviews. It has since turned into a bit of a cult favorite in subsequent years.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Domestic Gross: $31 million

There’s no question that I could have put this teen action romance in the misfires column as it made just a fraction of its $85 million price tag. However, the Edgar Wright title has since achieved significant status as an impressive original work with a major following.

The Kids Are All Right

Domestic Gross: $20 million

This domestic dramedy became a major awards player and was nominated for Best Picture with acting nods going to Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.

MacGruber

Domestic Gross: $8 million

Just as with Pilgrim, this SNL spin-off with Will Forte was a financial bomb. Yet it has also turned into a cult classic and there’s a rumored sequel or TV spin-off in the making.

Winter’s Bone

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This indie mystery is notable for introducing Jennifer Lawrence to critics, if not a wide audience. Bone would earn the star her first Oscar nomination in addition to a Best Picture nod. Of course, Ms. Lawrence would break out in the next two years with the X-Men and Hunger Games series and her Oscar victory happened in 2012 with Silver Linings Playbook. 

And now for some movies that didn’t match their expectations:

Robin Hood

Domestic Gross: $105 million

With a budget that may have been as high as $200 million, Robin Hood reunited Russell Crowe with Ridley Scott. A decade earlier, they made Gladiator which was a giant hit that won Best Picture. As for this version of the oft told saga, it’s largely forgotten.

Sex and the City 2

Domestic Gross: $95 million

The second installment cinematically of the beloved HBO series, part 2 made more than $50 million below its predecessor from 2008. Critics also savaged it.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Domestic Gross: $90 million

A hoped for franchise for Disney, the $150 million fantasy pic couldn’t hit the century mark in North America. Lead Jake Gyllenhaal has since expressed his regret for doing it.

The A-Team

Domestic Gross: $77 million

A year after his breakthrough in The Hangover, this action pic based on the 1980s TV series didn’t quite turn Bradley Cooper (alongside Liam Neeson) into an action star. Audience mostly found it, well, expendable.

Knight and Day

Domestic Gross: $76 million

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz couldn’t provide enough star power for this action comedy to get near its budget north of $100 million.

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Domestic Gross: $43 million

Perhaps nine years was too long a break between sequels. The original family tale was an unexpected hit at $93 million in 2001, but the long gestating sequel didn’t gross half that number.

Jonah Hex

Domestic Gross: $10 million

This DC Comics based title with Josh Brolin in the title role and Megan Fox was an instant flop, barely making eight figures against a $47 million budget. It also held a sad 12% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

And that wraps up my looks at the summers of decades past, folks! I’ll have 1991, 2001, and 2011 recaps up in a year’s time…

Baby Driver Movie Review

In his filmography which includes Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright has shown a flair for infusing a vast music catalogue to mix with inventive action. It’s on display at the highest gear in Baby Driver. Only Quentin Tarantino rivals and probably tops this director at it. For the majority of its running time, Driver merrily coasts in its own reality (like Quentin’s projects do) and it’s often a thrill.

Despite sounding like a Dreamworks animated project where a precocious infant gets an Uber license, the title refers to Ansel Elgort’s name and profession. His job is to ferry bank robbers around and make grand escapes upon completion. This is done at the direction of criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey, oozing sarcasm and smarminess as only he can do). Baby is rarely disconnected from his ear buds. A childhood tragedy that took the life of his musician mom has left him with tinnitus or a “hum in the drum” as Doc calls it. This means he is constantly blaring a seriously cool playlist that permeates the car chases that are his occupational hazard.

It turns out Baby is not involved in his line of work on a voluntary basis. He’s ready to move on, especially after meeting lovely waitress Debora (Lily James) who’s ready to ride off into the sunset with him. Yet there’s always that last job and it involves working with thieves Bats (Jamie Foxx, who’s having a grand time) and hot and heavy and psychotic couple Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). Baby has a moral compass when it comes to his work. His coworkers don’t always share that view.

Baby Driver takes little time getting the audience accustomed to its style. Between the chases (of which are expertly handled), we get plenty of tuneful fun. Some of the tracks are meant to get Baby motivated to do his assignments. Others are meant to further the courtship of him and Debora. Elgort and James have a winning chemistry here. You want them to hit that open road into happily ever after.

Only in the last few minutes does Driver somewhat stall when it becomes less enamored with its own hyper universe and becomes a more traditional action thriller. Thankfully there’s plenty of joyful noise that precedes it.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Baby Driver

Over this holiday weekend, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver has become quite the little engine that could box office success story. The critically lauded mash-up action thriller musical comedy has taken in $30 million since its Wednesday debut, standing out as original programming in a season filled with sequels and reboots.

So the question is: could Oscar notice? While Driver is not normally the type of flick that Academy voters celebrate, there is bound to be a significant contingent of admirers that will push for its inclusion in Best Picture and Director.

It probably won’t happen, but it’s feasible. I’ll also throw out the possibility that it could contend in both Sound races: Mixing and Editing, as well as maybe Editing itself. Of course, the sound races will likely feature heavyweights such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Greatest Showman, Transformers: The Last Knight, Blade Runner 2049 and others. However, much of Driver’s praise has focused on its pulsating soundtrack throughout.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Baby Driver Box Office Prediction

A mashup of all kinds of genres which has already garnered significant critical praise, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver cruises into multiplexes a week from today. The musical action crime comedy stars Ansel Elgort (most known for The Fault in Our Stars) as the title character with a supporting cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Elza Gonzalez.

When Baby was birthed at the South by Southwest Festival this spring, it did so to great acclaim. The pic stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and marks another well-regarded flick from the maker of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. 

The question is how will this hot buzz translate to box office dollars? There’s plenty of competition around, but audiences could be ready for something original (especially in the midst of many sequels and reboots).

That said, Baby Driver also could perform just decently out of the gate before maintaining a seemingly inevitable cult status. Taking its Wednesday premiere into account, I’ll say a low double digits three-day roll out with a five-day in the mid teens is most likely.

Baby Driver opening weekend prediction: $10.9 million (Friday to Sunday), $15.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Despicable Me 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/21/despicable-me-3-box-office-prediction/

For my The House prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/21/the-house-box-office-prediction/

For my The Beguiled prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/26/the-beguiled-box-office-prediction/