Ticket to Paradise Review

The end credit outtakes of Ticket to Paradise give us a glimpse of the fun George Clooney and Julia Roberts had making it. I have no doubt given the gorgeous setting of Bali (though it was made in Australia). They’ve also played exes before in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve and seemed to have a ball doing it. Ol Parker’s rom com intermittently succeeds at riding the wave of their star power. It’s got the right stars with the right chemistry and too often the wrong script.

David Cotton (Clooney) and Georgia Cotton (Julia Roberts) have, as far they’re concerned, been blissfully divorced for two decades. They rarely interact but will for the one subject they agree on. That’s their love for daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), who’s just finished college. The graduate is ready for some downtime with wild BFF Wren (Billie Lourd) in Bali-stralia. She soon meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a seaweed farmer who pulls her heartstrings. Within a month they’re engaged. Given David and Georgia’s history, breaking up the impending nuptials is on their mind and they jet to paradise to execute the plan.

Sitcom level attempts to do so transpire as our leads try to put some bad juju on romantic Balinese traditions. Dropping in to surprise Georgia is younger beau Paul (Lucas Bravo), a pilot who can’t seem to navigate his girlfriend’s signals. His character is an example of the screenplay’s mediocrity. I never bought the relationship they have as anything more than a plot device to reunite our megawatt headliners. I’m not expecting realism in a rom com, but everyone is underwritten or a caricature here (the talented Lourd’s treatment as the boozy travel companion is another case).

Your enjoyment may hinge on how content you are watching Clooney and Roberts do their thing. A drunken night out features 90s jams like “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and “Jump Around”. That’s the decade when audiences fell for them. In Paradise, they can only coast so far given the material. This is not an example of them saving their best stuff for later.

** (out of four)

October 28-30 Box Office Predictions

Studios usually don’t roll out movies that they think will scare up huge box office dollars on Halloween weekend and that holds true for 2022. We have the supernatural horror tale Prey for the Devil and the expansions of Till and Tár (both with likely Best Actress Oscar contenders in Danielle Deadwyler and Cate Blanchett, respectively). You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on that trio here:

Devil may round up the most business of the newcomers, but my mid single digits forecast would put it in fourth place behind a trio of holdovers. My take on Till could put it in fifth or sixth position based on how Halloween Ends holds after its massive sophomore frame plummet (more on that below). As for Tár, it’s slated for approximately 1000 venues and my $1.8 million projection leaves it outside of the top five or six.

The top 3 should remain the same with Black Adam having no trouble topping the charts for a second weekend. How far it falls is a better question. With a so-so B+ Cinemascore grade, I foresee a slightly higher dip than the 54% that Shazam! experienced in 2019. If it approaches closer to 60%, a gross in the upper 20s would be the result.

Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney and Julia Roberts slightly surpassed expectations and it should hold well with a 35-40% decrease. The runaway hit Smile should be the fright fest of choice in third place as it continues its meager declines.

And with that, my top 6 take for the spooky close out session of October:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $28.1 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

3. Smile

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million

4. Prey for the Devil

Predicted Gross: $5.9 million

5. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

6. Till

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

Box Office Results (October 21-23)

The DCEU’s Black Adam, with Dwayne Johnson seemingly everywhere promoting it, opened in line with most prognostications at $67 million. That’s a bit above my $64.7 million take and in line with the studio’s Aquaman from 2018. It’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of the character. As mentioned, this should easily repeat in 1st position this weekend (and the weekend after until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits).

Rom com Ticket to Paradise capitalized on its star power for $16.5 million, bettering my prediction of $13.7 million. That’s a needed boost for a genre that’s been struggling in recent years and an older crowd turned out to make the multiplex trek.

Smile continued to make Paramount happy with $8.4 million, a shade below my $9.5 million estimate. At $84 million after four weeks, the low budget pic is barreling toward $100 million domestically.

Halloween Ends went from 1st to 4th with a momentous 80% reduction. At $8 million, the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers didn’t match my $10.4 million projection. The two-week total is $54 million as it will fall quite a bit short of the $92 million that predecessor Halloween Kills made.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile rounded out the top five with $4.2 million (I said $5.2 million) and $28 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

October 21-23 Box Office Predictions

Dwayne Johnson lends his star power to the DC Extended Universe in Black Adam and there’s the megawatt combo of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the rom com Ticket to Paradise. They are the weekend’s new offerings and you can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Black Adam Box Office Prediction

Ticket to Paradise Box Office Prediction

While Adam is unlikely to approach the $100 million plus starts of other DCEU efforts, it should easily rock the charts with a gross in the mid 60s.

The two spot could be more of a battle. However, I’m guessing the Clooney/Roberts team-up (while it would’ve been more potent 20 years ago) should nab the runner-up position.

With a C+ Cinemascore grade, Halloween Kills couldn’t keep up with its two predecessors Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021). Last October, Kills plummeted 70% in its sophomore outing. I expect Ends may even get slashed a tad more. There’s even a possibility its second weekend could place behind the fourth frame of Smile, but I doubt it.

Finally, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile should round out the top five and here’s how I see it looking:

1. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $64.7 million

2. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

3. Halloween Ends

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million

4. Smile

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million

5. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (October 14-16)

Coming in nearly $10 million below the last tussle of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers was Halloween Ends with $40 million (under my take of $47.6 million). The budget is low so profitability isn’t an issue. Yet it will take the current (and final?) trilogy out on a low note.

Smile continued its impressive holds in second place with $12.5 million, just ahead of my $11.8 million estimate. The horror hit (which is likely starting its own franchise) has amassed $71 million in three weeks.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile was third with $7.3 million (on target with my $7.2 million call). The family friendly musical stands at a middling $22 million after 10 days of release.

The Woman King was fourth with $3.7 million (I said $4.1 million) for $59 million overall.

Lastly, Amsterdam (as expected) fell a precipitous 57% in its sophomore weekend to $2.7 million. I was a bit more generous at $3 million. The big budget flop has taken in only $11 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Ticket to Paradise Box Office Prediction

There’s a good chance that Ticket to Paradise would’ve been the top grossing romantic comedy of about anywhere from 1998-2004. Its success in the fall of 2022 is less assured but achievable (though not in the range of its potential earnings years ago). George Clooney and Julia Roberts are a divorced couple on a mission to prevent their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from tying the knot. Ol Parker, director of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, is behind the camera. Costars include Billie Lourd, Maxime Bouttier, and Lucas Bravo.

In a somewhat rare release pattern, Ticket was made available to various other international markets in September. The results have been pleasing with $60 million around the globe. Reviews are mixed/positive with 71% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rom coms have been challenged at multiplexes lately and a little hard to come by. Many have gone the streaming route instead. Pics like The Lost City have featured an action dynamic that Paradise doesn’t have.

It does have two high wattage leads and a return to Julia’s most beloved genre after two decades. She’s been a stalwart of this material with gigantic blockbusters such as Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride. Having her Ocean’s Eleven ex-hubby along for the ride only helps.

The chance of this over performing its projection of low to highish teens is doable. Yet I suspect this won’t be a runaway huge premiere and instead do respectable business.

Ticket to Paradise opening weekend prediction: $13.9 million

For my Black Adam prediction, click here:

Black Adam Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Ticket to Paradise

These posts about the awards viability of many pictures might be called “Oscar Predictions”. Sometimes it’s more of a Golden Globe predictions centered type of thing. That’s the case with Ticket to Paradise. The rom com has heavy star wattage with George Clooney and Julia Roberts as a divorced couple trying to prevent the pending nuptials of their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever). Ol Parker, who last made Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, directs. Costars include Maxime Bouttier, Billie Lourd, and Lucas Bravo.

Paradise is out in many parts of Europe next week before its October 21st domestic booking. Many reviews are out and the Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 67%. Academy attention is a non-starter. However, I do wonder if The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) will take a look at Clooney or Roberts in the lead races in Musical/Comedy at the Globes. It remains to be seen how competitive those competitions are for 2022.

If the Globes want some big celebs in the mix as they return to the airwaves next year, you could do a lot worse. It’s just as possible that won’t happen, but I wouldn’t count it out. My Oscar (or Globe) Prediction posts will continue…

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

My third write-up in my Best Picture: Final Five series brings us to 2011. As a reminder, the concept is fairly simple. After 2008, the Academy wanted to broaden the amount of nominees in the big race beyond a set five. For 2009 and 2010, that number was a firm 10.

However, in 2011, the rules changed so that there could be anywhere from 5-10 BP contenders. Until the Academy reverted back to 10 definite hopefuls last year, that number fluctuated between 8-9. For the inaugural year with the changeup, it was 9.

This post series engages in revisionist and speculative history. What if the rule of five BP nominees had never been altered? What would’ve made the cut? What would wind up on the cutting room floor? In 2011, we know it would’ve included the winner – Michel Havanavicius’s French black and white silent dramedy The Artist. 

What else? Let’s consider the other eight one by one…

The Descendants 

Alexander Payne’s works had received Academy attention before with 2002’s About Schmidt and 2004’s Sideways. This George Clooney led dramedy nabbed four additional mentions for its star, director, editing, and adapted screenplay – where it won.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay victory and inclusion in key races such as directing and editing seal the deal.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The rare BP nominee that received only one other nod – Max Von Sydow in Supporting Actor. This was, to be kind, a unique and unexpected nod as Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 themed drama with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock managed just a 45% Rotten Tomatoes rating as well as subpar box office.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. The fact that it made the final 9 is still pretty shocking and is widely considered an underserving inclusion.

The Help

Based on a huge bestseller, Tate Taylor’s The Help was beloved by audiences to the tune of $169 million at the box office. Beyond Picture, it received three other nods: Actress (Viola Davis), Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain), and another Supporting Actress nod and win for Octavia Spencer.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s awfully tempting to say yes given its popularity, but no. I’d feel more comfortable putting it in the final five had it nabbed a screenplay or editing or directing nod (even just one of them).

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s family adventure garnered the most nominations on Oscar night (11), one more than The Artist. That includes Director, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Costume Design, Editing, and wins for its Sound Editing and Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and quite easily with that impressive haul.

Midnight in Paris

This was a critical and commercial comeback for Woody Allen and it won Original Screenplay with additional nods for Allen’s direction and the art direction.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While he’s basically blackballed from Hollywood in 2022, it was a different story 11 years ago for Allen and the Academy would’ve rewarded him for this return to form.

Moneyball

Bennett Miller followed up Capote with this acclaimed baseball drama that received five additional nominations – Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Editing. It ended up going 0 for 6.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. As I’ve explained before, Picture and Director rarely matched 5/5 before 2009. This is my pick for the BP nominee where the filmmaker didn’t make the cut.

The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s arty and ambitious saga served as a comeback for the legendary auteur. In addition to BP, Malick was in the quintet for his direction as was the cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. It’s not out of the question that it might’ve, but its minimal two other nods cause doubt.

War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s equine related battle flick is one of his least discussed BP contenders, but it did gallop into contention with five other mentions for Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Even with the pedigree, missing Editing and Screenplay is a typically dependable telltale sign.

So that means my final five from 2011 consists of:

The Artist

The Descendants

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball 

My take on 2012 will be available in short order!

My entries for 2009 and 2010 can be found here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

And now for a new category on my blog that will update itself yearly after 13 initial posts covering 2009-21. It’s a simple concept. In 2009 – the Academy shifted their rules from a set amount of five Best Picture nominees to 10. That lasted for 2 years. In 2011, the number could fluctuate anywhere from 5-10. In most years, the magic number was 8 or 9 (it was never less than 8). Last year, the big race reverted back to a definite 10.

So… what if it hadn’t? What if 5 nominees was never altered? Well, Oscar speculators like yours truly would have to write posts predicting what would’ve been the final five. So that’s what this is all about.

Naturally it begins with 2009. Before that, something from 2008 might’ve contributed to the shift when The Dark Knight famously missed BP even though it was a critical darling and box office smash. A shift to 10 allowed popcorn favorites and smaller titles to make the cut. And they did.

When it comes to whittling down from 10 (or later 8 or 9) to five, there’s plenty of factors in play. What else did the movie get nominated for or win? Some races are more important than others like Director and Editing or the Screenplay derbies.

Yet it’s far from an exact science. This is educated guesswork based on Oscar history. I’ll walk through each title and give an ultimate Yes or No on whether it makes the five. The first is automatic and that’s whatever won. In 2009 that honor belonged to…

The Hurt Locker

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes because it won Best Picture.

The other 9? That’s where it gets interesting. Let’s take them alphabetically, shall we?

Avatar

When Oscar nominations rolled out near the beginning of 2010, James Cameron’s 3D sensation was basking in the glow of becoming the biggest movie ever. That meant he was breaking his own record from 13 years earlier with Titanic. Cameron was nominated for Director – losing to ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for Locker. The film also didn’t manage a Screenplay nod though Cameron is known more for his technical prowess than writing skills. On the tech side it managed 7 nods and won three (Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects). So…

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Though it lost a number of its nods to Locker, the gargantuan grosses would’ve been enough for it to advance.

The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock’s crowd pleasing football drama made her an Oscar winner. Yet those are the only two nominations it received as it couldn’t make the Adapted Screenplay shortlist. In fact, Avatar and this are the only two BP nominees not to see their scripts mentioned.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. This is a perfect example of a blockbuster getting in due to the expansion that wouldn’t have with just five.

District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s acclaimed sci-fi tale was a surprise summer hit and he’s yet to replicate its mix of audience and critical appreciation. It was nominated in three other races – Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, and Film Editing. No wins.

Does It Make the Final Five?

This one is actually close for me. The screenplay and editing nods certainly make it doable. If it had landed Director, I’d probably say yes. A bit of a coin flip, but I’ll land on No.

An Education

The coming-of-age pic scored Carey Mulligan an Actress nod as well as Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that it could’ve snuck in, but gotta go No. It missed a Golden Globe nod for example and a lot of the focus was on Mulligan’s work.

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s WWII opus was his return to significant awards attention 15 years following Pulp Fiction. In addition to the Pic nod, he was nominated for his direction and screenplay (losing both to Locker). Other nominations: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing, and a Supporting Actor victory for Christoph Waltz.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The 8 nominations are enough to indicate as much.

Precious

The breakthrough drama from Lee Daniels scored five other mentions for Directing, Gabourey Sidibe in Actress, Mo’Nique in Supporting Actress (a victory), Adapted Screenplay (another win), and Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay win puts it over the top.

A Serious Man

The Coen Brothers dark comedy received just one other nod for their screenplay with acclaimed lead Michael Stuhlbarg missing the Best Actor cut.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Even with the love for its brotherly makers – No.

Up

As far as I’m concerned, the Pixar masterpiece’s first few minutes should win Best Picture every year. The tearjerker was a rare animated Best Picture contender and it contended for four others. It obviously won Animated Feature as well as Original Score in addition to mentions in Original Screenplay and Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

I’m saying No, but I’m not sure of that. I’d probably put it sixth.

Up in the Air

Our other Up contender is Jason Reitman’s workplace dramedy which received six nods. The others were Director, Actor (George Clooney), Supporting Actress (both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick), and Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. While it retrieved no statues, I think it would’ve just edged other hopefuls such as Up or District 9.

So that means if 2009 had just five Best Picture nominees, I believe they would’ve been:

The Hurt Locker (winner)

Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

Up in the Air 

An important note – the movies here match the five Best Director nominees. That’s rare and that will be rare in subsequent postings on years that follow. From 2000-2008 that only occurred twice (2005 and 2008). So don’t get used to it.

I shall return soon with my rumblings and final five for 2010!

Oscar Predictions: The Tender Bar

George Clooney’s The Tender Bar opens in limited release this December before its premiere on Amazon Prime in early January. The coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s and 80s screened at the London Film Festival over the weekend. Early reviews indicate a warm hearted tale that is unlikely to play in the highest profile races like Picture and Director.

Its famous director wooed Oscar voters 16 years ago with his second effort Good Night, and Good Luck. Scoring six nods (including Picture and Director) and winning none, it’s been slim pickings for Clooney’s behind the camera efforts ever since. 2011’s The Ides of March nabbed a sole Adapted Screenplay mention while last year’s The Midnight Sky made the cut in Visual Effects.

As I see it, The Tender Bar could play in two categories. The first is the screenplay adapted by William Monahan. He’s no stranger to Academy attention as he won in 2006 for his penmanship of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Inclusion there is less likely than for one of its performers.

That would be Ben Affleck. Another leading man turned writer/director, Affleck has a deep history with Oscar voters that has nothing to do with his acting. In 1997, his Good Will Hunting script with Matt Damon won. Fifteen years later, he directed and produced (hence a second trophy) Best Picture winner Argo. Surprisingly, he didn’t get a spot for his direction.

With a cast featuring Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, and Christopher Lloyd, the initial critical praise is being heaped upon Affleck. That’s in addition to some kudos for his supporting work in The Last Duel (out this weekend). Mr. Affleck has been on the radar screen before for his performances – think Hollywoodland, Argo, and last year’s The Way Back. Yet he’s never made the dance. As of now, the Supporting Actor derby for 2021 looks wide open. I’d go as far to say there’s no guaranteed nominees (though Jamie Dornan in Belfast and Richard Jenkins in The Humans look probable). I’ve had Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) listed at #1 for two months, but we still don’t know if his role is meaty enough to truly contend.

This could all contribute to Affleck finally getting some Academy TLC. That said, he’s been in the mix before and come up shy. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

The NBR Likes Spike

The National Board of Review bestowed their end of year honors today and the unpredictable group showed some love for Netflix… just not in the expected way. The NBR named Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods as Best Film along with Lee taking their top filmmaking prize. Bloods, which premiered on Netflix this summer, has been seen as a prospect whose Best Picture chances are questionable. In my rankings, it has risen over recent weeks all the way up to #5.

As for its chances to win, one could legitimately argue the NBR win means it probably won’t (and it probably won’t). In the 21st century, only 4 of the 20 NBR victors took Best Picture at the big show and only one in the past decade (2003’s Mystic River, 2007’s No Country for Old Men, 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2018’s Green Book).

The NBR also names 10 of their other favorite pics and they are: First Cow, The Forty-Year-Old Version, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Midnight Sky, Minari, News of the World, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Soul, and Sound of Metal. The major surprise here is easily Netflix’s The Midnight Sky from George Clooney. It received very mixed reviews and is not anticipated to play with the Academy except for tech races. The other story here is the omission of three legit Netflix contenders at the Oscars: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. In particular, Chicago is seen as the main competitor to Nomadland for BP winner. That said, only 6 of the 11 NBR pics last year nabbed Oscar attention. Two other notable exclusions from the Board are The Father and One Night in Miami. 

In the acting races, Riz Ahmed took Best Actor for Sound of Metal. He’s looked at as a likely Academy contender. Similar to the Picture discussion, only 1 NBR recipient here (Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea) achieved Oscar glory. Carey Mulligan named Best Actress for Promising Young Woman. The Oscar/NBR connection is slightly better as three of the past 10 trophy takers had good fortune with the Academy. The Sound of Metal love continued in Supporting Actor with Paul Raci winning. Like Actress, it’s a 3 out of 10 match in the 2010s. Youn Yuh-jung is NBR’s Supporting Actress choice for Minari. Only 1 of the last 10 victors for the Board won the Oscar (Regina King in 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk). Minari also took Original Screenplay with News of the World winning Adapted. Soul, the front runner for the Oscar, was named Best Animated Feature.

Bottom line: the NBR can certainly increase exposure for hopefuls, but it’s certainly not a barometer for who wins at the Oscars. Nevertheless it’s a nice day for a Netflix feature that I currently have behind three others from the streamer that weren’t named here.

Oscar Watch: The Midnight Sky

Netflix’s slew of December releases that are potential Oscar contenders continues with George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky. The sci-fi drama stars its director as an Arctic scientist attempting to prevent a group of astronauts from their return to Earth due to environmental hazards. The roughly $100 million budgeted pic hits theaters in a limited fashion this Friday though most viewers will see it when it materializes on the streaming service on December 23rd. Costars include Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, and Caoilinn Springall.

The review embargo lifted today and it is most certainly a mixed bag. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at only 54%. Numerous critics have brought up recent and similar genre fare in comparison, including Gravity (which also featured Clooney), Interstellar, The Martian, and Ad Astra. Several of them say that Sky doesn’t measure up.

It has been 15 years since Clooney’s work behind the camera has significantly attracted Oscar attention with Good Night, and Good Luck. His last two directorial efforts, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon, were both critical and commercial disappointments. With a number of write-ups skewing so-so or even negative, it’s hard to envision Sky aiming for a Picture nod or for any of the actors involved to contend.

On the other hand, reviews do suggest this could be a factor in some technical races. Most notable of them is Visual Effects, Production Design, and Sound. There is also plenty of praise for the Original Score by Alexandre Desplat, a two-time winner for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water. 

Bottom line: it will be a struggle for The Midnight Sky to reach the attention of voters in the major races, but it could still end up with close to a handful of nominations. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…