Oscars 2019: The Case of Little Women

My Case of posts discussing the pros and cons of Oscar nominees in the major categories continues with Best Picture hopeful Little Women from director Greta Gerwig. If you missed my first four write-ups in the biggest race of all, you can read them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/18/oscars-2019-the-case-of-joker/

The Case for Little Women

Based on the beloved 1868 Louisa May Alcott novel, Gerwig’s version of Little Women drew raves from the critical community. The 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating stands among the highest of the nine pictures. Previous adaptations have garnered Academy attention as well. The 1994 rendering saw Winona Ryder nominated for Actress in addition to Costume Design and Score. Back in 1949, that version took home Art Direction and got a Cinematography nod. Yet this is the first adaptation since 1933’s classic to be named in Best Picture. The box office is strong at $80 million as it looks to top the century mark before the ceremony airs.

The Case Against Little Women

It has missed numerous nominations in key precursors. The pic was ignored by SAG and didn’t get named in Picture at the Golden Globes. Gerwig didn’t make the final cut in Best Director from the Academy. As discussed before, it’s rare for the Picture recipient to win without attention there. Many prognosticators even questioned whether it would make it in this race and the same can be said for Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh in their acting categories (though they did get in). The six nominations are certainly under the total count of the heavy hitters.

The Verdict

It is a remote possibility that Gerwig could win Adapted Screenplay since she was snubbed for Director. As far as this taking Best Picture, I wouldn’t look for the fourth time to be the charm among Alcott adaptations. This appears to be heading the route of Gerwig’s previous acclaimed effort Lady Bird which had five nominations and zero victories.

Up next in my Case of posts… Marriage Story!

Little Women Box Office Prediction

It’s certainly not the first adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s period drama novel released over 150 years ago, but the latest version of Little Women is the first for this generation. Greta Gerwig (coming off her Oscar nominated Lady Bird) directs and reunites with her star Saoirse Ronan. Other costars include Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep.

The reported $40 million production is garnering Oscar buzz and the Rotten Tomatoes meter sits at 97%. As mentioned, this is the first adaptation of the famed novel since 1994. Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon headlined that iteration, which took in $50 million at the time domestically.

Little Women should prove to be a strong option for the female audience over the long holiday weekend. It opens Christmas Day and if history is any guide, its Wednesday and Thursday earnings might be about equal to the traditional weekend Friday to Sunday haul.

I’ll say the March sisters begin in the low to mid teens range for the final 2019 weekend and that means mid to high 20s for the five-day rollout.

Little Women opening weekend prediction: $14.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $28.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Spies in Disguise prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/17/spies-in-disguise-box-office-prediction/

For my Uncut Gems prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/22/uncut-gems-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Little Women

It’s been just over 150 years since Louisa May Alcott’s novel was published and 25 years since the last cinematic version to garner awards attention has been released. Now Greta Gerwig takes her turn adapting the classic Little Women for the big screen. Somewhat surprisingly, the pic skipped this fall’s festival circuit, but its first industry screenings were held this week.

The verdict? Advance word of mouth indicate it’s a winner, but its inclusion in Best Picture remains on the bubble. Same can be said for Director. Women comes two years after Gerwig broke out with Oscar voters for Lady Bird. She was nominated for her work behind the camera and for Original Screenplay. This time around, her inclusion in Adapted Screenplay seems feasible in a field that is a tad less crowded than Original.

A big question mark has been which actors from the ensemble cast will emerge as contenders. Saoirse Ronan (Gerwig’s Best Actress nominated Bird star) appears likely to get a nod for lead here. For Supporting Actress, voters have Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, and Emma Watson to choose from. Buzz strongly suggests Pugh is the most probable and deserving of the quartet. As for Dern, she’s already headed for a nomination for Marriage Story. Streep, who can never be totally counted out, appears destined to come up short (as is the case with her work in The Laundromat). The legend may have to be content with her 21 previous nominations and three victories. Timothee Chalamet is said to be a standout here, but Supporting Actor is extremely packed already and he’ll probably find himself on the outside looking in.

Down ballot nods for Production and Costume Design are near certainties and Alexandre Desplat’s score is a strong contender as well. Bottom line: Little Women could find itself in the awards mix in a major way. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

And away we go with my very early initial Oscar predictions for the films of 2019! As has become tradition on this here blog, I make my first projections in the six top races (the acting categories, Director, Picture) in late August. This is right on the cusp of festival season (Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York) when dozens of hopefuls will screen beginning Thursday and into the next several weeks. Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts coming your way!

At that time, the outlook will become considerably clearer when it comes to real deal contenders and pretenders. Beginning Thursday and through October, I will have a weekly column estimating my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 entries in the five other races. They will be ranked unlike these first posts. Starting in November, that will dwindle down to 15 Pictures and top 10 predictions in all other categories weekly.

There is no doubt that these lists will fluctuate significantly as the year progresses. We begin with Supporting Actress. Last year, only one of my initial 5 predictions for this race ended up being nominated. It happened to be the winner… Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. Of the 10 performers below the estimated five, two scored nods (Amy Adams in Vice and Rachel Weisz in The Favourite).

So without further adieu, Todd’s first Oscar calls for 2019!

EARLY PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Annette Bening, The Report

Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

Other Possibilities:

Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters 

Jennifer Hudson, Cats

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Meryl Streep, Little Women

Emma Watson, Little Women

Best Supporting Actor is next!

The Circle Box Office Prediction

Next weekend brings the techno thriller The Circle, based on a 2013 bestseller by Dave Eggers. The pic casts Emma Watson as an employee at a powerful Internet corporation where everything is not as it seems. There’s some other heavy hitters among the cast: Tom Hanks, John Boyega of the new Star Wars trilogy, Patton Oswalt and Bill Paxton in his final film appearance.

The source material in which it’s based has its fans. It also doesn’t hurt that Watson is fresh off the mega blockbuster Beauty and the Beast (and Hanks never hurts either). The Fate of the Furious should still manage a three-peat in this final April weekend, but I have a feeling The Circle has a better chance of over performing than underperforming.

I’ll predict a mid teens to high teens debut is likely.

The Circle opening weekend prediction: $16.3 million

For my How to Be a Latin Lover prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/21/how-to-be-a-latin-lover-box-office-prediction/

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Any challenges of adapting one of Disney’s classics that happens to be one of their best mostly fall by the wayside in Beauty and the Beast. Over a quarter century ago, the 1991 Mouse Factory version earned the status of being the first animated feature to receive a Best Picture nomination. It was deserved and Beauty helped usher in a renaissance for the studio with Broadway level music coupled with its tale as old as time storylines.

Our new Beauty doesn’t rock the boat by any means. Is it a factory made production meant to fog up our nostalgia goggles? Sure. Yet it’s crafted with reverence, the music still holds up, and it looks lovely.

It seems silly to recount the plot that’s been around for our collective childhoods in one form or another, but let’s get through it. We have Belle (a strong Emma Watson) living a rather boring existence in 18th century France with her doting dad (Kevin Kline). She’s being pursued by the chauvinistic Gaston (Luke Evans) who wishes to marry her. Her ho hum existence takes a turn when Dad is captured by the Beast (Dan Stevens), who lives in a dilapidated castle that the other French villagers have long forgotten. He was cursed many moons ago for his inability to love. When Belle travels there and trades her father’s freedom for her own, the strange relationship between the title characters commences.

There really isn’t too much new from this reboot compared to 1991. We have a couple more musical numbers, lest you forget the animated version was a mere 85 minutes. Alan Menken returns to do the music and those magnificent staples like the title track and “Be Our Guest” are happily intact. Bill Condon (whose varied filmography includes Twilight pics and more adult fare like Gods and Monsters and Mr. Holmes) directs with an eye on preserving what we appreciated about what came before.

Like the drawn Beauty, the Beast’s castle is filled with inanimate objects who are quite animated. Ian McKellen is clock Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor voices candelabra Lumiere, and Emma Thompson is Mrs. Potts. She acquits herself just fine in the part, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Angela Lansbury singing that iconic dancing tune toward the finale. Speaking of animated, Josh Gad has his proper comic relief moments in the role of LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick.

Disney has unleashed a gold mine with this recent strategy of updating their canon with live-action. Some have worked better than others and Beauty falls on the better side because it had incredibly strong material adapt from. The team behind this recognize it and are content knowing they had something there to begin with.

*** (out of four)

Beauty and the Beast Box Office Prediction

Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast arrives in theaters next weekend and it looks poised for quite a fantastic opening. Bill Condon serves behind the camera (he directed the last two Twilight installments recently) with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Costars include Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Emma Thompson.

The Mouse Factory has had tremendous success with their reboots of their classic animated tales. 2014’s Maleficent took in $241 million stateside. The following year, Cinderella cleared $200 million. Last year’s The Jungle Book scored even more impressively with $364 million.

Beauty stands a great shot at outdoing them all. For starters, the 1991 original is beloved (it was the first animated feature to nab a Best Picture nomination). The Disney marketing machine has been in high gear and turnout among youngsters and females in particular should be substantial. Reviews (while not gushing) have been solid and it stands at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

There is little doubt that this will post 2017’s largest opening so far. Just how high can it go? I am predicting it will achieve one of the top ten domestic premieres of all time. My estimate puts it at #10, right in between The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight for a truly beast mode roll out.

Beauty and the Beast opening weekend prediction: $158.8 million

For my The Belko Experiment prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/10/the-belko-experiment-box-office-prediction/