Oscar Predictions: Aftersun

Irish thespian Paul Mescal has received an Emmy nod and plenty of critical praise for his role on Hulu’s Normal People and he recently made his cinematic debut in Netflix’s The Lost Daughter. 

More kudos are coming his way via Cannes for Aftersun, a family drama currently holding at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first feature from Charlotte Wells and produced by Moonlight auteur Barry Jenkins, the A24 acquisition is potentially the type of project that could generate awards chatter with the right campaign.

The issue could be that A24 will have other pics to focus on and there’s only so much promotion to go around. Time will tell, but there’s no doubt Mescal is an actor on the upswing. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Top Gun: Maverick isn’t the only Memorial Day weekend release currently holding at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The other is The Bob’s Burgers Movie, the cinematic version of the long running animated series. The Emmy winning series hopes that the big screen rendering serves up meaty box office numbers over the holiday.

Will Oscar voters take notice? Even with the impressive score, most reviews indicate it’s a generally pleasing Burgers episode with a longer runtime. If 2007’s The Simpsons Movie (which was a massive hit) couldn’t manage a Best Animated Feature nod, I doubt this will. However, if future animated titles for 2022 don’t meet expectations, that narrative could shift. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions – Downton Abbey: A New Era

After the original grossed nearly $200 million worldwide in 2019, the sequel to Downton Abbey subtitled A New Era arrives in theaters on May 20. It’s in UK cinemas this Friday with the majority of the cast from the series it’s based on (which ran domestically on PBS) returning.

With Simon Curtis (maker of My Week with Marilyn and Woman in Gold) taking over directorial duties from Michael Engler, early reviews for part II are in line with its predecessor. 2019’s Abbey has an 84% Rotten Tomatoes rating while Era‘s currently sits at 78%.

The TV show scored a heaping on Emmy nods with costar Maggie Smith winning Supporting Actress. However, despite Critics Choice nominations for Costume and Production Design, the cinematic rendering didn’t catch the attention of Academy voters. If it couldn’t do so, I’m doubtful its follow-up will manage to either. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Sharp Stick

Lena Dunham gained notoriety through her HBO series Girls and five years after its conclusion, she’s brought her directorial effort Sharp Stick to Sundance. The comedy stars Kristine Froseth, Taylour Paige, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jon Bernthal, Scott Speedman, Tommy Dorfman, and Dunham herself.

Stick is measured at just 45% on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of the festival titles that drew a truly mixed to negative reaction. While Girls received plenty of Emmy nominations during its run, awards chatter is highly unlikely to materialize for Dunham’s cinematic project. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2021: The Year of Jodie Comer

My fourth and final post regarding actors who had a memorable 2021 on the big screen brings us to the only performer that wasn’t in Spider-Man: No Way Home and that’s Jodie Comer.

Prior to this year, the English actress was primarily known for her small screen leading role on the BBC’s Killing Eve (for which she’s won an Emmy). While that work continues, she made waves with audiences and critics alike in the multiplexes.

While box office success did not greet Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, Comer earned raves as Marguerite de Carrouges in the historical yet timely drama. In a cast that included Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Ben Affleck, Comer garnered the lion’s share of awards buzz and deservedly so.

A couple of months before Duel, she was widely seen alongside Ryan Reynolds in the family friendly action comedy Free Guy (which took in over $300 million worldwide). A sequel is already being planned.

For Comer, 2021 succeeded in transitioning her success from TV to film. This concludes my Year Of write-ups and here’s to 2022!

2021: The Year of Zendaya

Going into 2021, Zendaya had already collected an Emmy for her leading role on HBO’s Euphoria and was known to moviegoers for her parts in the Spider-Man franchise and The Greatest Showman. She is the subject of my second write-up for performers who had a meaningful 2021 and it’s no coincidence that she’s the second that appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home (currently breaking all pandemic era box office records). The first was Benedict Cumberbatch… and we might not be done yet with Home costars.

Her inclusion isn’t just due to her onscreen (and apparently offscreen) pairing with Spidey himself, Tom Holland. The actress/singer began the year garnering Oscar chatter for the Netflix drama Malcolm & Marie with John David Washington. While she didn’t ultimately nab an Academy mention, she was on the Critics Choice Awards radar for her acclaimed performance.

By summertime, she lent her voice to Space Jam: A New Legacy (voicing Lola Bunny). Her involvement with Warner Bros/HBO Max continued in the fall with the long awaited sci-fi epic Dune. It looks to be her first picture that will achieve plenty of award nominations and the sequel is already lined up for 2023.

And, of course, she capped it all off with her third appearance as MJ in the massive MCU series. Zendaya expanded her reach in 2021 as her films reached plenty of homes this year. My Year of posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Encanto

The Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars was established in 2001 and since then, Disney has won the race 14 out of 20 times (including 8 out of the past 9). It’s safe to say they have a distinct advantage in the competition and that’s why Encanto has long been seen as a frontrunner. From 2016 winner Zootopia makers Byron Howard and Jared Bush, it features the voices of Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama.

With songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical fantasy opens over Thanksgiving and the review embargo lifted today. The current 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating is encouraging. The track “Dos Oruguitas” could put Miranda in the running for an EGOT. For the unfamiliar, that’s winning an Emmy, Tony, Oscar, and Grammy and only 16 people have done it. My guess is that Beyonce and her King Richard song “Be Alive” could prevent that from occurring.

I do believe Encanto stands the best chance of the 2021 Mouse Factory offerings to take the prize over Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon (which may miss the top five altogether). Yet there is a sturdy competitor with Flee, the Danish critically lauded effort that could make history with nods in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film, and maybe even Best Picture. It’s a guessing game at the moment as to which of the first three it wins (if any). My best guess is that the animated competition is where it could do so and that could leave Encanto as runner-up.

That said, betting against Disney has been the correct call just 30% of the time. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Tick, Tick… Boom!

Out in limited release tomorrow before its Netflix premiere on November 19, Tick, Tick… Boom! marks the long awaited big screen directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Hamilton sensation already has the EGT (Emmy, Grammy, Tony) in the EGOT (the O is for Oscar obviously) and he has multiple projects in 2021 to contend for it.

Tick is an adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s own autobiographical Off Broadway musical and features Andrew Garfield portraying the late creator of Rent. Having screened at the AFI Fest, reviews are trickling in. Some of the critical reaction is not overly gushing, but there’s enough praise that it could contend in multiple races. First and foremost is Best Actor with Garfield and I’m feeling more confident that he could snag one of the five spots. If so, it would mark his second nod five years after Hacksaw Ridge. His chances in lead, in my view, are greater than in supporting with The Eyes of Tammy Faye. 

Garfield’s inclusion is the only competition where I’m relatively confident. That said, the Academy could fall for Miranda’s first foray behind the camera and that could open up Picture and maybe even Supporting Actor (where Robin de Jesus is generating some solid ink). I don’t look for much chatter for remaining supporting cast which includes Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, and Bradley Whitford. I’m also skeptical Adapted Screenplay comes into the mix, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Miranda’s strongest shot at his own nomination could come with another project: Disney’s upcoming animated Encanto in the Original Song derby. In the Heights, the reworking of his acclaimed play that faltered at the box office over the summer, has seen its prospects dim.

Bottom line: Garfield has likely played his way into Best Actor while attention elsewhere seems questionable. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Harder They Fall

Prior to its limited theatrical output on October 22 and Netflix bow on November 3, The Harder They Fall has dropped at the London Film Festival. The late 19th century set Western revenge tale comes from Jeymes Samuel, who wears many hats here as director, writer, producer, and composer. This is a fictional tale consisting of many actual African-American figures from the era. The cast includes Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, and Lakeith Stanfield.

Early reviews are quite positive and Fall stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with the handful of write-ups available thus far. Some critics have compared the violent, funny, and period piece elements to Quentin Tarantino. Of the impressive cast, Elba seems to be garnering lots of ink. Despite Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG nods in his filmography, he’s yet to make the cut with the Academy (his snub in 2015 for Beasts of No Nation was a surprising one).  At the moment, Supporting Actor has very few surefire hopefuls (one could argue there’s none). If Fall is able to land with awards voters, here is an obvious category where it could play.

Regina King could factor in as well though Supporting Actress may already have at least a slot or two filled. She did also win just three years ago for 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk. 

As for the movie itself, I could see a scenario where it gains popularity once it streams and has its pushers for inclusion. I wouldn’t bank on it happening, but I wouldn’t totally discount it.

Finally, there’s the soundtrack which includes original tracks from Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, and Kid Cudi. Mr. Z (who also produces) could find himself in a slot for the Original Song five. If he manages to do so, he’d almost certainly be competing against Mrs. Z (aka Beyonce, who’s got a close to assured nod for “Be Alive” from King Richard).

Bottom line: we need to see what kind of reaction The Harder They Fall garners when it steams, but the buzz is sturdy enough now to indicate a potential contender. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Many Saints of Newark

During its acclaimed eight year run on HBO, The Sopranos picked up 21 Emmys, 5 Golden Globe honors, and was named by Rolling Stone in 2016 as the greatest TV series of all time (a designation I wouldn’t argue with).

It has been 14 years since the show abruptly faded to black, but The Many Saints of Newark (out October 1 in theaters and HBO Max) serves as a prequel to the action. Set three decades before the New Jersey crime family made their way to the airwaves, Newark casts the late James Gandolini’s son Michael as Tony Soprano. Alan Taylor (a series vet) directs with creator David Chase cowriting. Costars include Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga as Tony’s complicated mother Livia.

The film has screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and the review embargo is lifted. Based on its small number of write-ups, Newark stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are highlighting the performances of Nivola (as Tony’s mentor Dickie Moltisanti) and Gandolfini. However, I don’t believe what I’ve seen reaction wise indicates this will be an Oscar player in any category.

Bottom line: The Sopranos awards love will continue to rest with the TV branches of the Emmys and Globes. Don’t expect the Academy to make Newark a factor. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…