The Card Counter Review

For a filmmaker who always focuses on loners, it stands to reason that Paul Schrader’s newest picture is about playing cards. That’s not really what The Card Counter is ultimately about as the emotional damage inflicted upon the man at the poker and blackjack table is the real story.

William Tell (Oscar Isaac) follows the archetype of many a Schrader creation. Emotionally distant and more comfortable on his own, he spends considerable time in casinos across the nation. Tell, as the title suggests, knows how to count them. He also knows when to fold them. Tell could cash in big, but prefers modest winnings and even more modest motels (where he covers all the room’s decor in plain white sheets that he provides). His existence seems to suggest not wanting to be noticed at all.

William’s orbit expands when he happens on a global security convention during a gambling spree and meets Cirk (Tye Sheridan). They share a connection. Cirk’s father is deceased ex-military who was present at Abu Ghraib. So was Tell. The speaker at the conference is Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe), who’s now a private contractor. He escaped any blame for the horrific actions overseas. Tell did not and flashbacks show us the subhuman conditions he witnessed, participated in, and was incarcerated for. In Cirk, our card counter attempts to help a troubled soul by winning him some some cash and paying off debts. Tell enlists La Linda (Tiffany Haddish, going for no laughs), a players manager on the mission.

From Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to Ethan Hawke’s pastor in First Reformed, Isaac’s Tell fits the mold of the auteur’s central figures. These are damaged figures tired of what the world have to offer while making last ditch attempts to help another troubled soul. The problem with The Card Counter is that there’s not much in this example that we haven’t witnessed before from the same author. Most distressing is that the players around Tell simply aren’t compelling. In Schrader’s Light Sleeper (see that one), Susan Sarandon provided a captivating counterpart to Willem Dafoe’s lonesome drug dealer. Haddish’s character is barely written and her late inclusion as a love interest seems forced. So too is the case with Sheridan’s mopey apprentice. Dafoe’s character here hints at a fascinating backstory that’s unexplored.

Isaac’s performance, as we’ve come to anticipate, is quite good. Yet his tale isn’t nearly as gripping as others in the director’s previous works. We catch a glimpse of Tell’s training as a torturer and it is riveting and brief. With First Reformed, Schrader is righteously angry at political events. In that predecessor, it involved the Earth’s destruction via environmental means. In The Card Counter, it’s the hell on Earth that Tell witnessed in an Iraqi prison.

The screenplay offers not enough exploration of its universe. Had Schrader delved into the redundant and seedy world of casino dwellers more deeply, perhaps it could have paid off. After all, few writers have succeeded better in their other scripts penning depraved figures. The plot just never seems to properly call its ideas to fruition and the result feels unfinished. That’s rare when Schrader is at the table and it makes The Card Counter all the more disappointing.

** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: The Guilty

Despite numerous critically acclaimed performances, Jake Gyllenhaal has but one Oscar nomination to his credit in Supporting Actor for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. On October 1, his crime thriller The Guilty streams on Netflix. Based on a heralded 2018 Danish pic, it has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend.

Early reviews are decent at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Interestingly enough, some claim viewers may like it more if they haven’t seen the superior original. The Guilty is helmed by Antoine Fuqua, who directed Denzel Washington to a Best Actor win and Ethan Hawke to a Supporting Actor nod in 2001’s Training Day. Hawke costars here along with Riley Keough, Christina Vidal, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, and Peter Sarsgaard.

In 2014, Gyllenhaal was snubbed (in the opinion of many, including this blogger) for Nightcrawler. More recently, the Academy bypassed his leading roles in Nocturnal Animals and Stronger. The Toronto verdict indicates that nomination #2 probably isn’t coming with The Guilty. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Card Counter

Writer/director Paul Schrader experienced a career resurgence three years ago with First Reformed. The critically acclaimed work nabbed the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull a Best Original Screenplay nod. However, the Academy ignored the heralded lead performance from Ethan Hawke and it didn’t grab any other nominations.

Schrader’s latest is The Card Counter and it has premiered in Venice. Out September 10, the crime drama mixes political intrigue with the game of poker. The title character is portrayed by Oscar Isaac, who’s seeking his first nod despite lauded roles in Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year, and Ex Machina. 

Early word-of-mouth from Italy suggests Schrader has another winning hand, though not all reviews are totally flush with praise. The lead is unsurprisingly being singled out, but if Hawke couldn’t get in for Reformed, I really question whether Isaac could. Whether he may contend in supporting for Dune is a question that will be answered in the next 24 hours. As far as all actors involved, he’s the only one that stands a remote chance and not costars Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, or Willem Dafoe.

I feel the same for its Picture and Director prospects. Original Screenplay is not out of the question though this doesn’t seem quite as highly regarded as Schrader’s predecessor. Bottom line: I wouldn’t count Card as much of an awards player. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar History: 2014

Six years ago in Oscar history began an impressive two year run for filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Birdman emerging as the big winner of the evening. The film took Best Picture and Director over its major competitor – Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. This was a ceremony in which the largest category did have some suspense. Birdman took the prize over the aforementioned Boyhood and six other pics: American Sniper (the year’s top grosser), The Grand Budapest Hotel (marking Wes Anderson’s first and only Picture nominee), The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. 

In this blogger’s perfect world, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler would have been recognized. It was my favorite movie of that year so get used to seeing it pop up in this post. Other notable selections from 2014 left on the cutting room floor: David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. 

Mr. Miller did have the notable distinction of being nominated for Best Director despite his work not showing up in Best Picture (very rare these days). As mentioned, Inarritu took the gold over Miller as well as Linklater, Anderson, and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Gilroy, Fincher, and Joon-ho might have warranted consideration in my view as well as Chazelle’s bravura debut in Whiplash. 

One could argue that Nightcrawler isn’t your prototypical Picture contender. However, Jake Gyllenhaal being left out of the five Actor contenders stands as one of the noteworthy snubs in recent history. It was Eddie Redmayne emerging victorious for The Theory of Everything over his closest competitor Michael Keaton (Birdman). Other nominees: the three C’s of Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, picking up his third nomination in a row), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game).

There is a voluminous list of solid performances beyond just Gyllenhaal’s that were left wanting. It includes Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), David Oyelowo (Selma), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).

In Best Actress, Julianne Moore triumphed for Still Alice after four previous nominations without a win. She took the honor over Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Moore’s selection was one of the easiest to project as she’d been a sturdy frontrunner all season.

Looking back, how about Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow? Its action genre trappings probably prevented consideration, but she might have made my quintet. Amy Adams won the Golden Globe for Actress in Musical/Comedy, but missed here.

Another easy (and absolutely deserved) winner was J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash over Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).

I will yet again mention Nightcrawler as I might have considered Riz Ahmed. There’s also Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice.

Boyhood nabbed its major race victory in Supporting Actress with Patricia Arquette. Other nominees were Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and the always in contention Meryl Streep for Into the Woods.

As for others, I’ll start with (surprise) Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Others include both Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent in addition to Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice).

My Oscar History will continue soon with 2015 as Mr. Inarritu will dominate the director race yet again while the Academy chose to spotlight something in Best Picture!

Oscar Watch: Tesla

My second Oscar Watch post over the weekend for a film that has five letters and begins with the letter T is definitely not as high profile as Tenet, but Tesla is worth discussing as it has hit streaming services.

The film casts Ethan Hawke as pioneering inventor Nikola Tesla with a supporting cast featuring Kyle MacLachlan, Eve Hewson, and Jim Gaffigan. It reunites its lead with his Hamlet director Michael Almereyda from that 2000 adaptation. Critics first screened the biographical drama at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January and it is available for viewing at home as of this weekend.

Reviews are decidedly mixed and the Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 58%. That’s right in range with Hawke and Almereyda’s Shakesperean collaboration at 59%. Reviewers do seem to be appreciating Hawke’s performance. He’s a double nominee in the Supporting Actor field for Training Day in 2001 and Boyhood in 2014. For his contributions to the screenplays of Before Sunset and Before Midnight, he received a pair of Adapted Screenplay nominations. Despite some lauded lead roles in 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and 2018’s First Reformed, Hawke has never managed a Best Actor nod.

I would say that Tesla simply won’t get enough visibility for the actor to make a play in 2020 and the so-so reaction thus far doesn’t help. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Truth

Film festival season is upon us! And that means you can expect a ton of Oscar Watch posts over the coming days emanating from Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. We begin with The Truth, which opened Venice just hours ago. It comes from director Hirokazu Kore’eda, fresh off his predecessor Shoplifters nabbing a Foreign Language Film nod last year.

The pic casts legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve as an aging screen diva. Early reviews are solid, but it’s likely any awards chatter will center around its lead and not the director or the supporting cast that includes Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke.

Deneuve’s sole Oscar nomination was 27 years ago for Indochine. Her latest scored a splashy festival premiere, but it needs to pick up distribution and a 2019 release date to be viable. It probably will and while it could be somewhat of a long shot, I wouldn’t count out the chances for her inclusion.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2018 FINAL Oscar Predictions

Well, folks, this is it. After months of weekly predictions and dozens of Oscar Watch posts, it’s time for my final Oscar picks in each feature film category (with an alternate listed as well). Nominations will be out Tuesday morning. I’ve used thousands of words to analyze the 2018 race and here’s the ones that count.

I’ll have analysis up Tuesday evening with how I did. Here we go!

Picture

A Star Is Born

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

Vice

AlternateFirst Man

Director

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Peter Farrelly, Green Book

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Alternate – Adam McKay, Vice

Actor

Christian Bale, Vice

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Alternate – John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Glenn Close, The Wife

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Sam Rockwell, Vice

Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, Vice

Claire Foy, First Man

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Alternate – Marina de Tavira, Roma

Adapted Screenplay

A Star Is Born

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If Beale Street Could Talk

AlternateFirst Man

Original Screenplay

The Favourite

First Reformed

Green Book

Roma

Vice

AlternateEighth Grade

Foreign Language Film

Burning

Capernaum

Cold War

Roma

Shoplifters

AlternateNever Look Away

Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Mirai

Ralph Breaks the Internet

SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

AlternateEarly Man

Documentary Feature

Free Solo

Minding the Gap

RBG

Three Identical Strangers

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

AlternateShirkers

Film Editing

A Star Is Born

The Favourite

First Man

Roma

Vice

AlternateBlack Panther

Cinematography

Cold War

The Favourite

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

AlternateA Star Is Born

Production Design

Black Panther

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Roma

AlternateFirst Man

Costume Design

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

AlternateCrazy Rich Asians

Makeup and Hairstyling

Black Panther

Border

Vice

AlternateMary Queen of Scots

Sound Editing

A Quiet Place

A Star Is Born

Black Panther

First Man

Roma

AlternateBohemian Rhapsody

Sound Mixing

A Quiet Place

A Star Is Born

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

Roma

AlternateMary Poppins Returns

Visual Effects

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

First Man

Mary Poppins Returns

Ready Player One

AlternateSolo: A Star Wars Story

Score

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary Poppins Returns

AlternateIsle of Dogs

Song

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin

“I’ll Fight” from RBG

”Shallow” from A Star Is Born

“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns

Alternate – “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

And my picks equate to the following movies getting these numbers in terms of nods:

10 Nominations

A Star Is Born, The Favourite, Roma

9 Nominations

Black Panther

7 Nominations

First Man

6 Nominations

Vice

5 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns

4 Nominations

Bohemian Rhapsody

3 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2 Nominations

A Quiet Place, Cold War, First Reformed, RBG

1 Nomination

Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Border, Burning, Capernaum, Crazy Rich Asians, Dumplin, Free Solo, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mary Queen of Scots, Minding the Gap, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ready Player One, Shoplifters, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, Three Identical Strangers, The Wife, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: January 17th Edition

It’s been two weeks since I’ve made Oscar predictions and it’s fair to say a lot has happened since then. The show never did find a host, but a host of significant precursors happened. There were the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. The Directors Guild named their five nominees and they typically nail four of the five eventual nominees in that race. The last 14 days of action have changed my #1 rankings in some very big categories:

  • After consistently being ranked at #1, A Star Is Born now falls to second behind Roma.
  • Keeping with the theme, Christian Bale’s work in Vice vaults to first in Actor ahead of Bradley Cooper in Star.
  • Once again, a Star dips from the top spot as Glenn Close (The Wife) is first in Actress above Lady Gaga.
  • After Globe and Critics victories, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse is #1 in Animated Feature instead of Pixar’s Incredibles 2.

You can can read all the rankings below and on Sunday, I will reveal my final picks for nominees ahead of Tuesday morning’s announcements!

Best Picture

1. Roma (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Green Book (PR: 4)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

5. Black Panther (PR: 6)

6. The Favourite (PR: 3)

7. Vice (PR: 8)

8. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 10)

9. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

10. First Man (PR: 9)

11. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 11)

12. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

13. First Reformed (PR: 15)

14. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Eighth Grade

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 3)

4. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 6)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 9)

7. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 5)

8. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

9. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 8)

10. Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Actor

1. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 4)

4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 3)

5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

8. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 8)

9. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 10)

10. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

Best Actress

1. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

2. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 2)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

7. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 8)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

10. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 7)

7. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 6)

8. Steven Yeun, Burning (PR: 10)

9. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 8)

10. Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

5. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

7. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

8. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Marina De Tavira, Roma (PR: 10)

10. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

3. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leave No Trace (PR: 7)

7. Black Panther (PR: 5)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Widows (PR: 9)

10. The Death of Stalin (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Hate U Give

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Green Book (PR: 3)

3. Roma (PR: 2)

4. First Reformed (PR: 4)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Cold War (PR: 10)

9. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 9)

10. Private Life (PR: 8)

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. Cold War (PR: 2)

3. Shoplifters (PR: 3)

4. Burning (PR: 4)

5. Never Look Away (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Capernaum (PR: 5)

7. The Guilty (PR: 6)

8. Birds of Passage (PR: 8)

9. Ayka (PR: 9)

Best Animated Feature

1. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse (PR: 2)

2. Incredibles 2 (PR: 1)

3. Isle of Dogs (PR: 3)

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (PR: 4)

5. Mirai (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Early Man (PR: 6)

7. Smallfoot (PR: 8)

8. The Grinch (PR: 7)

9. Ruben Brandt, Collector (PR: 10)

10. Lu Over the Wall (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PR: 1)

2. Free Solo (PR: 2)

3. RBG (PR: 6)

4. Three Identical Strangers (PR: 4)

5. Shirkers (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Minding the Gap (PR: 3)

7. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PR: 7)

8. On Her Shoulders (PR: 10)

9. Crime + Punishment (PR: 8)

10. Of Fathers and Sons (PR: 9)

Best Film Editing

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

4. Vice (PR: 6)

5. The Favourite (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther (PR: 4)

7. Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

8. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

10. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Widows

Mary Poppins Returns

Best Cinematography

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 5)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

5. Cold War (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

7. Black Panther (PR: 7)

8. The Rider (PR: 9)

9. Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Mary Poppins Returns

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 5)

4. First Man (PR: 4)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 9)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 8)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 7)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

10. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 3)

3. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 2)

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

5. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 5)

7. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

8. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PR: 10)

9. A Star Is Born (PR: 7)

10. Colette (PR: 9)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Vice (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

4. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

5. Border (PR: 3)

6. Suspiria (PR: 7)

7. Stan & Ollie (PR: 5)

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 3)

3. A Quiet Place (PR: 2)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

5. Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mission: ImpossibleFallout (PR: 6)

7. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 8)

8. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 7)

9. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

Best Sound Mixing

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Black Panther (PR: 3)

4. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

5. A Quiet Place (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

7. Roma (PR: 8)

8. Mission: ImpossibleFallout (PR: 7)

9. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

Best Visual Effects

1. Black Panther (PR: 3)

2. Avengers: Infinity War (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 1)

4. Ready Player One (PR: 4)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 6)

7. Welcome to Marwen (PR: 8)

8. Christopher Robin (PR: 10)

9. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PR: 7)

10. AntMan and the Wasp (PR: 9)

Best Original Score

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

3. Black Panther (PR: 4)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 2)

5. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Isle of Dogs (PR: 5)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

9. Annihilation (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Vice (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ready Player One

Best Original Song

1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther

3. “I’ll Fight” from RBG (PR: 4)

4. “Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin (PR: 5)

5. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

7. “Revelation” from Boy Erased (PR: 7)

8. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 9)

9. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give (PR: 10)

10. “OYAHYTT” from Sorry to Bother You (PR: 8)

And that equates to the following movies getting these numbers when it comes to nominations:

10 Nominations

A Star Is Born, The Favourite

9 Nominations

Black Panther, First Man, Roma

5 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Vice

3 Nominations

Bohemian Rhapsody, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2 Nominations

Cold War, First Reformed, Mary Queen of Scots, A Quiet Place, RBG

1 Nomination

Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Burning, Crazy Rich Asians, Dumplin, Eighth Grade, Free Solo, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Never Look Away, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ready Player One, Shirkers, Shoplifters, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, Three Identical Strangers, The Wife, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The Rider Takes The Film Critics Cup

The National Society of Film Critics bestowed their best of 2018 awards today and it showcases another victory for Chloe Zhao’s western drama The Rider. The indie pic already won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards over some higher profile competition. With two top prize victories, is there any chance The Rider could gallop into Oscar contention?

That seems doubtful, but you never know. This particular critics branch has previously honored movies that the Academy ignored. Recent examples include 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers and 2014’s Goodbye to Language from legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. It is worth noting that the winners in 2015 and 2016 (Spotlight, Moonlight) won the Oscar and last year’s Lady Bird was nominated.

In the Director race, it was another trophy for Alfonso Cuaron’s work in Roma. He already has achieved status as the Academy favorite. He also won for his cinematography.

Ethan Hawke received yet another critics prize here for Actor in First Reformed, as did Olivia Colman in Actress for The Favourite. The latter’s Oscar chances seem assured while Hawke is more of a mystery (I’ve got him in currently). Regina King’s SAG snub is seeming less and less important as she got another honor in Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk. And Steven Yeun added to his reviewer group awards here with his Supporting Actor role in Burning. He’s racked several up, but still appears to be a long shot for Academy inclusion. Same goes for Screenplay as the Society went with The Death of Stalin. I’ve yet to include it in my Adapted Screenplay projections. It’s possible, but it probably won’t get in.

So while it was another good day for The Rider, I’m still skeptical that will equate to Oscar attention.

 

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: January 3rd Edition

We are now 19 days away from Oscar nominations as the major precursors are set to air in short order. It begins with the Golden Globes on Sunday (look for my winner predictions for that ceremony on the blog tomorrow). My updated rankings this week reflect the following changes:

  • Emily Blunt’s starring role in Mary Poppins Returns is back in my predicted top five, ousting Yalitza Aparicio from Roma
  • In Documentary Feature, RBG falls out of my nominees for the first time and makes way for Shirkers
  • In Editing, it’s Black Panther in for BlacKkKlansman. This contributes to my tally of Panther getting the most nominations of any picture for the first time (over A Star Is Born)
  • In Makeup and Hairstyling, Border crosses the top 3 with Mary Queen of Scots on the outside looking in

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 4)

5. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

6. Black Panther (PR: 6)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Vice (PR: 8)

9. First Man (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 10)

11. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 11)

12. Eighth Grade (PR: 14)

13. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

14. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 12)

15. First Reformed (PR: 15)

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 3)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 6)

7. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 9)

9. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

10. Paul Schrader, First Reformed (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 4)

4. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 3)

5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 8)

8. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 7)

9. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 10)

10. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 9)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 2)

3. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 8)

9. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Viola Davis, Widows

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 6)

7. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 7)

8. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 8)

9. Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give (PR: 9)

10. Steven Yeun, Burning (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

7. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

9. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: 9)

10. Marina De Tavira, Roma (PR: 10)

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Black Panther (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man (PR: 7)

7. Leave No Trace (PR: 6)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Widows (PR: 10)

10. The Hate U Give (PR: 9)

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 3)

4. First Reformed (PR: 5)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Private Life (PR: 9)

9. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 8)

10. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. Cold War (PR: 2)

3. Shoplifters (PR: 3)

4. Burning (PR: 4)

5. Capernaum (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Guilty (PR: 6)

7. Never Look Away (PR: 7)

8. Birds of Passage (PR: 8)

9. Ayka (PR: 9)

Best Animated Feature

1. Incredibles 2 (PR: 1)

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PR: 2)

3. Isle of Dogs (PR: 4)

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (PR: 3)

5. Mirai (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Early Man (PR: 6)

7. The Grinch (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Smallfoot (PR: 7)

9. Lu Over the Wall (PR: 8)

10. Ruben Brandt, Collector (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Best Documentary Feature

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PR: 1)

2. Free Solo (PR: 2)

3. Minding the Gap (PR: 4)

4. Three Identical Strangers (PR: 3)

5. Shirkers (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. RBG (PR: 5)

7. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PR: 6)

8. Crime + Punishment (PR: 8)

9. Of Fathers and Sons (PR: 9)

10. On Her Shoulders (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dark Money 

Best Film Editing

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 3)

3. Roma (PR: 2)

4. Black Panther (PR: 7)

5. The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

8. Widows (PR: 10)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

10. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Green Book

Best Cinematography

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

5. The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Cold War (PR: 6)

7. Black Panther (PR: 7)

8. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 10)

9. The Rider (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

BlacKkKlansman

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

4. First Man (PR: 4)

5. Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

7. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

8. A Star Is Born (PR: 6)

9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 9)

10. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

3. Black Panther (PR: 2)

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 7)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 9)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 6)

9. Colette (PR: 10)

10. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Vice (PR: 2)

2. Black Panther (PR: 1)

3. Border (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 3)

5. Stan & Ollie (PR: 5)

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

7. Suspiria (PR: 7)

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. A Quiet Place (PR: 2)

3. Black Panther (PR: 3)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 5)

5. Roma (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (PR: 6)

7. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

8. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 9)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 7)

10. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

Best Sound Mixing

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. Black Panther (PR: 5)

4. A Quiet Place (PR: 3)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 7)

7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (PR: 10)

8. Roma (PR: 6)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

10. Incredibles 2 (PR: 8)

Best Visual Effects

1. First Man (PR: 4)

2. Avengers: Infinity War (PR: 1)

3. Black Panther (PR: 2)

4. Ready Player One (PR: 3)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 6)

7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PR: 8)

8. Welcome to Marwen (PR: 7)

9. Ant-Man and the Wasp (PR: 9)

10. Christopher Robin (PR: 10)

Best Original Score

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

4. Black Panther (PR: 3)

5. Isle of Dogs (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 10)

10. Vice (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

4. “I’ll Fight” from RBG (PR: 3)

5. “Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

7. “Revelation” from Boy Erased (PR: 7)

8. “OYAHTT” from Sorry to Bother You (PR: 10)

9. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

10. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give (PR: 10)

And that breaks down to these movies getting the following number of nods:

12 Nominations

Black Panther

11 Nominations

A Star Is Born

10 Nominations

The Favourite

9 Nominations

First Man

8 Nominations

Roma

7 Nominations

Mary Poppins Returns

5 Nominations

If Beale Street Could Talk

4 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Vice

3 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2 Nominations

A Quiet Place, First Reformed, Isle of Dogs

1 Nomination

Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Bohemian Rhapsody, Border, Burning, Capernaum, Cold War, Dumplin, Eighth Grade, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Free Solo, Incredibles 2, Mary Queen of Scots, Minding the Gap, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, RBG, Ready Player One, Shirkers, Shoplifters, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Three Identical Strangers, The Wife, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?