Best Actor: A Look Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

1990 – Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

1991 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

1993 – Tom Hanks, Philadelphia

1994 – Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

1995 – Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

1996 – Geoffrey Rush, Shine

1997 – Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

1999 – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

2000 – Russell Crowe, Gladiator

2001 – Denzel Washington, Training Day

2002 – Adrien Brody, The Pianist

2003 – Sean Penn, Mystic River

2004 – Jamie Foxx, Ray

2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

2006 – Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

2008 – Sean Penn, Milk

2009 – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

2010 – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

2011 – Jean Dujardin, The Artist

2012 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

2013 – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

2016 – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2017 – Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

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

3. Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

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

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

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

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

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

Now – my selections for the upsets:

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

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

2. Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

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

1. Adrien Brody, The Pianist

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

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

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

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

Best Supporting Actor: A Look Back

Continuing on with my look back at the major categories from 1990 to the present at the Oscars, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you missed my post regarding Supporting Actress, you can find it right here:

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

As I did with that blog entry, I’m picking the top 3 least surprising winners (performers who essentially sailed right through awards season) and the 3 biggest upsets in each race. I am also selecting the strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the 28 actors whose support earned them a golden statue:

1990 – Joe Pesci, GoodFellas

1991 – Jack Palance, City Slickers

1992 – Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

1993 – Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

1994 – Martin Landau, Ed Wood

1995 – Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire

1997 – Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

1998 – James Coburn, Affliction

1999 – Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules

2000 – Benicio del Toro, Traffic

2001 – Jim Broadbent, Iris

2002 – Chris Cooper, Adaptation

2003 – Tim Robbins, Mystic River

2004 – Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – George Clooney, Syriana

2006 – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

2007 – Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

2008 – Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2009 – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

2010 – Christian Bale, The Fighter

2011 – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

2012 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

2013 – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

2015 – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

2016 – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2017 – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

There are plenty to choose from as far least surprising winners, but here’s my top ones:

3. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s Western picked up a slew of awards on Oscar night and Hackman’s inclusion in that race was never really in doubt. It was his second statue after winning Best Actor 21 years previously for The French Connection.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It was director Christopher Nolan giving numerous awards speeches on behalf of the late Ledger, as his work playing the iconic villain swept all precursors as well. This remains not only the only win in the omnipresent superhero genre in the 21st century, but the only nomination.

1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Like Ledger, Bardem created a bad guy for the ages in the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning picture. He picked up all the precursors as well for his role.

And now the upsets!

3. James Coburn, Affliction

There was clearly no front-runner in 1998 as a different actor was honored in each preceding awards show. Ed Harris took the Golden Globe for The Truman Show, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) was victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Robert Duvall’s role in A Civil Action was honored at SAG, and Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth) was the BAFTA recipient. Surely one of them would win the Oscar, but it instead went to Mr. Coburn.

2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

In 2015, the general consensus was that Sylvester Stallone would punch out the competition in his signature role for Creed. That would have been quite a feat after Rocky took Best Picture in 1976 – nearly four decades prior. Yet it didn’t materialize when Rylance made the trip to the podium.

1. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Along the same lines, Eddie Murphy was the strong favorite for his rare dramatic work in Dreamgirls. With Jennifer Hudson as a sure thing for Supporting Actress (which did happen), the musical looked safe for a supporting sweep. The Academy surprisingly went another route by honoring Arkin.

And now to the fields overall and choosing a strongest and weakest. For the least impressive of the bunch, I’m going with 2011. Here were the nominees:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners (winner)

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When it comes to best overall field, I chose 1993. This is the year that Tommy Lee Jones got the gold in The Fugitive. That’s a rare acting win for an action flick. It was deserved in my view and the other four nominees were very strong as well. They were:

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Furthermore, I could keep going with other deserving actors that year, including Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Sean Penn for Carlito’s Way. 

The next trip down memory lane will be Best Actress and it will be up soon!

Oscar Watch: Final Portrait

Premiering across the pond at the Berlin Film Festival in February and debuting stateside at the South by Southwest shindig days ago, Stanley Tucci’s fifth directorial effort Final Portrait comes out in limited release this Friday. The film centers on the relationship of famed Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) and American writer James Lord (Armie Hammer).

It’s been a decade since actor Tucci has been behind the camera. His debut effort Big Night from 1996 was his biggest critical and commercial success. Portrait has been met with solid reviews and it currently holds a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That said, any potential Oscar attention would likely focus on its performers. Rush had a big 1996 as well, winning Best Actor for Shine. He’s been nominated three times since. This is said to be one of his most impressive performances in recent years. Hammer probably just missed out on a nod for last year’s Call Me by Your Name and would be vying for his first recognition.

My take right now is that Portrait could be forgotten come nomination time. The early date and good but now fawning critical reaction could serve as roadblocks for Rush’s fifth go round and Hammer’s first.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Box Office Prediction

After a six-year hiatus, Jack Sparrow and company return Memorial Day weekend in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The Disney property represents the fifth pic in the 14 year-old franchise with Johnny Depp returning in the role that made him a global box office superpower (at least for a while). Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg are new directors to the series. Costars include Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, and apparently Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley reprising their roles (they sat out the fourth edition). Even Paul McCartney is said to have a cameo!

While Disney has been printing money with their Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar, and live-action animated reboots, Pirates is more of a risk. First, there’s the massive reported $320 million price tag. Then there’s the matter of Depp not being the draw he once was (tabloid fodder hasn’t helped much). It was just during the last Memorial Day weekend that the Depp/Disney combo resulted in the flop of Alice Through the Looking Glass. 

And there’s genuine curiosity as to whether the franchise has run low on steam. Let’s take a trip down Sparrow’s box office memory lane, shall we?

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Opening Weekend: $46.6 million; Overall Domestic Gross: $305.4 million

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Opening Weekend: $135.6 million; Overall Domestic Gross: $423.3 million

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Opening Weekend: $114.7 million; Overall Domestic Gross: $309.4 million

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Opening Weekend: $90.1 million; Overall Domestic Gross: $241 million

As you can see, the Pirates saga hit its high mark over a decade ago and the last entry in 2011 posted the lowest total domestic earnings. I believe the days of Pirates making $100 million in a weekend are over. Even though it shouldn’t have much trouble at all placing first over the holiday weekend, I’ll predict a four-day gross in the high 70s to low 80s is most likely.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opening weekend prediction: $78.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Baywatch prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/18/baywatch-box-office-prediction/

Gods of Egypt Box Office Prediction

Saddled with a rather inexplicable reported $140 million price tag, action fantasy saga Gods of Egypt hits screens next weekend. It may be lucky to capture a third of its massive budget domestically and be one of the costliest flops of 2016’s first quarter.

Directed by Alex Proyas, who gave us Dark City and I, Robot, Gods features some recognizable faces including Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell, and Chadwick Boseman. The Lionsgate release comes just a week after Risen and the week before London Has Fallen and with Deadpool still making a killing. In other words, there’s a lot of competition for the genre crowd.

I just don’t see Gods doing any significant business. Anything over $20 million would surprise me and I believe this will struggle to even reach $15M for a majorly disappointing start.

Gods of Egypt opening weekend prediction: $13.9 million

For my Eddie the Eagle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/18/eddie-the-eagle-box-office-prediction/

For my Triple 9 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/18/triple-9-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2010

In my ongoing series of Oscar History posts, we arrive at what happened during the year 2010. This was quite a strong year for movies and, unlike other years, I can’t really quibble with the ten pictures that were nominated.

I can, however, differ with what won: Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. While this was a very solid and entertaining picture, I would have definitely put at least three of the other nominees above it: Black Swan, Inception, and my favorite of the year, The Social Network. Other nominees were 127 Hours, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone. 

Picture/Director matched up as Tom Hooper’s work in King’s Speech would win over Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), and David O. Russell (The Fighter). I may have found a spot for Christopher Nolan’s visually striking work in Inception. 

The love for The King’s Speech continued in Best Actor as Colin Firth was honored for his portrayal as King George VI. He triumphed over Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), and James Franco (127 Hours). It’s worth noting that Franco co-hosted the Oscars that year with Anne Hathaway. It wasn’t too memorable.

While his supporting players were showered with love, Mark Wahlberg was snubbed for his anchoring performance in The Fighter. Others worthy of mention: Leonardo DiCaprio in either Inception or Shutter Island and Robert Duvall for Get Low.

Natalie Portman was a bit of a no-brainer pick for her tour de force work in Black Swan in the Actress race, beating out Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

I was a little surprised to see Bening’s Kids lead costar Julianne Moore left out. Franco’s co-host Anne Hathaway would’ve been a solid choice for her fine work in Love and Other Drugs. The Oscar voters rarely honor comedy, but they could have here with Emma Stone in her hit Easy A, as well.

Supporting Actor honored Christian Bale as Mark Wahlberg’s drug addicted brother in The Fighter. The other nominees were John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech).

I might have found room for either Andrew Garfield or Justin Timberlake in The Social Network. And keeping the snubbed comedy theme going, here’s an outside the box mention: Rob Corddry for his hilarious work in Hot Tub Time Machine.

The Fighter also won in Supporting Actress with Melissa Leo, who edged out her co-star Amy Adams. The other nominees: Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. The voters could have certainly nominated either Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey for their roles in Black Swan.

And that’s your Oscar History of 2010, my friends. We’ll get to 2011 soon…

Minions Box Office Prediction

Two summers ago, Despicable Me 2 rocketed out of the gate over the July 4th weekend with a better than expected $83.5 million over the three day traditional weekend and $143 million over the holiday frame. Its eventual domestic gross of $368 million would be good for fourth on the list of 2013 earners.

With that glorious performance fresh in mind, it’s anticipated that Minions, out Friday, should have a stealthy opening. The 3D animated pic is a spinoff of Universal’s venerable franchise that should easily tide fans over until Despicable Me 3 hits screens in the summer of 2017.

Lots of familiar faces populate the voices behind the characters, including Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Geoffrey Rush. Reviews have been mostly positive as it stands at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, which exactly matches the number posted by DM2. There will be competition as Pixar’s Inside Out continues to post robust numbers, but family audiences should have no trouble fitting these cute little Minions in their schedule.

I would anticipate the film debuting to just under the $100 million mark and the possibility certainly exists that it could top that magic century mark. Whether or not it reaches the eventual gross of its franchise predecessor remains to be seen.

Minions opening weekend prediction: $96.4 million

For my Self/less prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/07/04/selfless-box-office-prediction/

For my The Gallows prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/07/04/the-gallows-box-office-prediction/