Cannes Can’t Resist Titane

The big victor at the Cannes Film Festival turned out to be an anticlimactic announcement when jury president Spike Lee accidentally revealed it at the beginning of the evening. Julia Ducournau’s Titane, said to be one of the most shocking and viscerally thrilling entries coming out of the French Riviera, won the Palme d’Or (the fest’s equivalent of Best Picture).

This is a gift for distributor Neon as they will handle its domestic distribution. Sporting a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, could Titane enter the Oscar conversation in Best International Feature Film? The three previous Palme recipients from 2017-2019 managed to do so (The Square, Shoplifters, Parasite). Remember there was no competition in 2020. My feeling is that it’s a contender though I doubt it will cross over for Best Picture consideration (and a win) like Parasite did.

The Grand Prix award (basically runner-up) was split between Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama A Hero and Juho Kuosmanen’s Russian feature Compartment No. 6. Of those two, the latter has the best opportunity to break through with the Academy.

Leos Carax is best director for his opening night selection Annette. The musical drama starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard elicited strong reactions (mostly positive, some negative) from the French crowd and it is a major question mark heading into awards season.

Caleb Landry Jones, seen in numerous supporting roles recently like Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, was named Best Actor for the thriller Nitram. Winning over higher profile contenders like Driver and Simon Rex (Red Rocket), the eventual stateside distributor would need to mount quite a campaign for Jones to be in contention, but you never know.

Same goes for Best Actress Renate Reinsve in The World Person in the World, the Norwegian romantic comedic drama which had ardent admirers at the fest. This is a picture to keep an eye on as well that the international voters could pick up on.

Lastly, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch was perhaps the most notable premiere, but it came up empty-handed when all was settled. It could still certainly be a factor at the Oscars despite not getting a boost here.

For my blog readers, expect more Oscar Watch posts in the coming days as I sort out all the Cannes action and that will include Titane, The World Person in the World, and more. Stay tuned!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lakeith Stanfield

The performance of Lakeith Stanfield in Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah is last up in my Case Of posts for Supporting Actor hopefuls. For the previous four write-ups, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/07/oscars-2020-the-case-of-daniel-kaluuya/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/11/oscars-2020-the-case-of-leslie-odom-jr/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/17/oscars-2020-the-case-of-paul-raci/

The Case for Lakeith Stanfield:

The past couple of years has brought Stanfield exposure in acclaimed projects ranging from Sorry to Bother You to Knives Out and Uncut Gems. His work here brought career best reviews in his burgeoning career.

The Case Against Lakeith Stanfield:

His nomination came as a total surprise. For starters, Warner Bros campaigned for him in lead actor, but Academy voters went ahead and ignored that. Then there’s the matter of his costar Daniel Kaluuya (they were also in Get Out together). Kaluuya’s win seems assured next weekend as he’s had a clean sweep at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, SAG Awards, and BAFTA.

The Verdict

According to his own Twitter feed, Stanfield even seemed blindsided by his nod. Judas will probably only get one Oscar and it will be in this race. That will be for Stanfield’s costar.

My Case Of posts have concluded! Thanks to all who have perused all 33 of them. The next matter of business… final Oscar predictions and they’re coming your way very shortly!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Daniel Kaluuya

The second contest in the Supporting Actor field is up next in my Case Of posts for the Oscars and that’s Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah. If you missed my first post covering Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7, it can be read here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

The Case for Daniel Kaluuya

Ever since the trailer came out months ago for Judas, it was clear that Kaluuya’s performance as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton could be something special. When it was confirmed that he would compete in Supporting Actor, it was pretty much assumed he was an automatic hopeful. That buzz has only grown louder as Kaluuya (a previous nominee in Best Actor for 2017’s Get Out) has swept this race in the major precursors: Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice.

The Case Against Daniel Kaluuya

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Oscar nomination morning was Kaluuya’s costar Lakeith Stanfield garnering a nod here (especially since Warner Bros campaigned for him in the lead competition). So there’s always the chance that the two could cancel some of each other’s votes.

The Verdict

The vote splitting dilemma certainly didn’t hurt Sam Rockwell three years ago alongside Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s highly unlikely to hurt Kaluuya either as he feels like the safest pick in the four acting derbies.

My Case Of posts will continue with David Fincher’s direction of Mank…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Judas and the Black Messiah

My Case Of posts for the eight Best Picture players arrives at alphabetical entry #2 and that’s Judas and the Black Messiah. If you missed my entry for The Father, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/16/oscars-2020-the-case-of-the-father/

The Case for Judas and the Black Messiah

Like The Father, this Warner Bros/HBO Max drama performed quite well on nomination morning with 6 mentions. In addition to the big race, Judas has two nods in Supporting Actor with Daniel Kaluuya (garnering his second nom after Get Out) and Lakeith Stanfield. Kaluuya is considered the frontrunner. It also got an Original Screenplay slot, which is usually key to serious BP contention. This was one of the later entries in the expanded Oscar calendar (arriving in mid February in theaters and streaming). Voters clearly like what they saw.

The Case Against Judas and the Black Messiah

Also like The Father, Judas missed in some races that usually coincide with a BP victory. Most notable is Best Director (where first timer Shaka King was left out) and Best Film Editing. It also failed to nab a Drama nomination at the Golden Globes.

The Verdict

Judas clearly came on strong late with the Academy, but its misses in significant races and previous precursors make Judas a long shot to win it all.

My Case Of posts will continue with Mank…

 

Oscar Watch: Judas and the Black Messiah

I continue with my Oscar Watch posts for pictures sending screeners late in the season and we arrive at one with real potential – Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah. The Warner Bros production hits theaters and HBO Max simultaneously on February 12. It stars Lakeith Stanfield as an undercover FBI informant tasked to take down Black Panther head Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).

While the review embargo is still intact, social media reactions are available today. They point to a feeling many had when the first trailer debuted months ago in that Judas could nab several nominations come Oscar morning. In particular, Kaluuya’s performance (being campaigned for in Supporting Actor) is being highly praised. This would be his second nomination behind his lead work in 2017’s Get Out. His inclusion in the supporting field appears not only likely, but he could win. I could foresee a narrative in which Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Kaluuya vie for the prize and this storyline could play out until April.

Stanfield is in the Best Actor mix, but his final five status is much more questionable. Like Best Actress in 2020, lead actor may already have four performances that are “in”. That would be Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), and Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods). The fifth slot could be a toss-up between several performers including Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Steven Yeun (Minari). Today’s buzz suggests adding Stanfield to that list is warranted.

Same goes for Supporting Actress with Dominique Fishback as several posts are highlighting her work. This year’s lineup appears in flux and there’s room for last minute surprises in that particular field. She will be one to keep an eye on.

As for Best Picture, Judas has been kept out of my predicted nine until word of mouth was available. When my estimates are updated on Thursday, it could well make its initial appearance. King’s direction is also on the table for final five status. Several down the line races are possible including Cinematography (also being mentioned a lot), Editing, Production Design, and Original Song (with a composition by H.E.R.). Warner Bros seems to know it has a real hopeful on its hands as this has been added to the Sundance schedule later this month.

Bottom line: the social media reaction indicates critics aren’t betrayed by Judas and it has officially announced its way into Academy consideration. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Gothams Have a Cow

2020’s first precursor to the big show arrived today with the Gotham Awards nominations. The group which honoring independent pictures with budgets of $35 million and under made a little history too. All five contenders for Best Feature are made by female directors: Kitty’s Green The Assistant, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, and Relic from Natalie Erika James.

The tight controls on eligibility (and some major studios didn’t submit their Oscar hopefuls) makes it tricky to prognosticate how these nods compare to what the Academy may do. This has always been the case. That said, in the previous decade, at least one Gotham Feature nominee almost always gets a Best Picture nod. In fact, from 2014 to 2016, the Feature winners (Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight) matched the Oscar winner. Last year, Marriage Story was the sole nominee at Gotham to make the Academy’s cut. In 2018, there were none. Three years ago, both Call Me by Your Name and Get Out got Oscar love.

First Cow led with the most nods and had itself a very good morning. However, its Oscar prospects are iffy while Nomadland looks to be the nominee that will almost certainly get recognition from the Academy (it could even win). The other three nominees are likely non-factors. We did not see another major picture from a female director with One Night in Miami make the final five, though Kingsley Ben-Adir did score a Breakthrough Performance nomination. Also left off: Minari, which seems to be rising in the Oscar chatter.

In the acting races, there were some high profile snubs particularly with Best Actress. Since this category’s inception in 2013, only one winner has matched up with Academy’s selection (Julianne Moore in Still Alice in 2014). In the previous year, none of the five women got Oscar recognition. In every other year, there’s been at least one.

The Gotham Actress hopefuls this year are Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth), Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things), Carrie Coon (The Nest), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). Only McDormand seems destined for the Oscars in lead actress while Youn could show up in Supporting Actress. What is a bit surprising is the number of Gotham eligible performers who appear to be likely Oscar contenders who missed out here. That list includes Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), and Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit). I wouldn’t read too much into it, but it’s worthy of mention.

In Best Actor, Chadwick Boseman picked up his first posthumous mention for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He is joined by Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Jude Law (The Nest), John Magaro (First Cow), and Jesse Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things). Some eligible actors with Oscar hopes that missed out include Winston Duke (Nine Days) and Steven Yeun (Minari). The same could be said for Bill Murray in On the Rocks, though he would compete in supporting with the Academy.

Bottom line: while the Gothams aren’t a reliable barometer for what happens months from now, it does give a fun glimpse at what could follow. Today’s actions unsurprisingly solidify Nomadland and could give a slight boost to Cow. My weekly Oscar predictions will be updated tomorrow so stay tuned!

A Marvel Cinematic Oscar History: Best Actor

I was rewatching Avengers: Endgame over the weekend and it once again struck me how many famous actors are in that thing. I mean… seriously. It’s rather amazing. This got me thinking and yes, current world events may have given me an opportunity to do so:

Just how many performers that have been in Marvel Cinematic Universe entries have won Oscars or been nominated for Oscars? I knew the number would be high, but the answer still astonished me. In fact, you have to back to 1981 for a year where no actor that eventually appeared in the MCU didn’t receive a nomination.

If you count Marvel’s next two pictures (Black Widow, The Eternals) and then count the 23 movies prior that started in 2008 with Iron Man, it encapsulates 110 acting nominations and 20 wins! I am not yet putting Christian Bale in there though he’s rumored to be playing the villain in the fourth Thor flick. I’ll wait for confirmation on that. If you did count Bale, the numbers go to 114 nods and 21 Academy victories.

Due to this research, I’m writing 4 blog posts dedicated to each acting race and we begin with Best Actor:

The leading man category makes up 33 out of the 110 nominations with 6 wins. The victorious gentlemen are as follows:

Jeff Bridges, the main baddie in Iron Man, won in 2009 for Crazy Heart

William Hurt, who appeared in The Incredible Hulk and other MCU titles, took Best Actor in 1985 for Kiss of the Spider Woman

Anthony Hopkins, aka Thor’s Dad, was stage bound in 1991 for his iconic role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs

Ben Kingsley, who sparred with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, is a 1982 recipient in the title role of Gandhi

Michael Douglas, who appeared in both Ant-Man pics, was Best Actor in 1987 for Wall Street

Forest Whitaker, who costarred in Black Panther, took gold in 2006 for The Last King of Scotland

Aside from the winners, here are the other 27 Actor nods:

Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., for 1992’s Chaplin

Terrence Howard, who was in the first Iron Man, for 2005’s Hustle & Flow

Jeff Bridges scored two additional nominations for 1984’s Starman and 2010’s True Grit

Edward Norton, who was Hulk before Mark Ruffalo, for 1998’s American History X

William Hurt, like fellow winner Bridges, also landed two other nods for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News

Don Cheadle, who replaced Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2 and more, for 2004’s Hotel Rwanda

Mickey Rourke, the villain in Iron Man 2, for 2008’s The Wrestler

Anthony Hopkins, following his Lambs victory, was nominated twice more for 1993’s The Remains of the Day and 1995’s Nixon

Tommy Lee Jones, from Captain America: First Avenger, for 2007’s In the Valley of Elah

Jeremy Renner, aka Hawkeye, for his breakthrough role in 2009’s The Hurt Locker

Robert Redford, who was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, surprisingly only has one acting nod for 1973’s The Sting. He is, however, a twice nominated director and won in 1980 for Ordinary People 

Bradley Cooper, Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy, has been nominated thrice with no wins: 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2014’s American Sniper, and 2018’s A Star Is Born

Benedict Cumberbatch, aka Doctor Strange, for 2014’s The Imitation Game

Chiwetel Ejiofor, also in Doctor Strange, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave

Sylvester Stallone, who popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for his signature role in 1976’s Rocky

Michael Keaton, the villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming, for 2014’s Birdman

Matt Damon, who had a memorable cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, is twice nominated for 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2015’s The Martian

Daniel Kaluuya, Black Panther costar, for 2017’s Get Out

Laurence Fishburne, supporting player in Ant-Man and the Wasp, as Ike Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It

Jude Law, from Captain Marvel, for 2003’s Cold Mountain 

Whew. And there you have it. I’ll be back at it shortly with the Best Actress nominees who got their Marvel on!

Oscar Watch: Falling

As the Oscars honoring the best of 2019 are set to air in two weeks, today brings the first of many Oscar Watch posts for 2020. Does that seem impossibly early? Not when the Sundance Film Festival is in full effect this weekend in Utah. For decades, the fest has served as a launching pad for Oscar contenders such as Little Miss Sunshine, Precious, Boyhood, Whiplash, Manchester by the Sea and Get Out, to name a few. It is worth noting that last year’s selections (with the exception of some documentaries) failed to get Academy attention. This included such high profile titles as The Farewell, Luce, and The Report. 

We begin with Falling, a family drama that marks the directorial debut of Viggo Mortensen (who also cowrote the screenplay). The actor has been nominated for three acting Oscars in the past for Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic (which also debuted at Sundance), and Green Book. Early reviews suggest he’s got a winner on his hands. With the right distribution and campaign, Mortensen could find himself in the awards mix again.

Interestingly, critical reaction seems more focused on Mortensen’s costar Lance Henriksen. The 80-year-old character actor has appeared in hundreds of films. Some of those notables include The Terminator and Aliens. Perhaps a spirited campaign could materialize to nab Henriksen a Best Actor nomination.

Bottom line: it’s too early to know for sure, but Falling looks like a potential player a year for now with Henriksen’s work in particular. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen appear in Falling by Viggo Mortensen, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Brendan Adam-Zwelling.nnAll photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

 

Queen & Slim Box Office Prediction

In what’s being called a current take on Bonnie and Clyde, Universal is hoping that moviegoers take a trip with Queen & Slim over the long Thanksgiving weekend. The romantic thriller stars Daniel Kaluuya (of Get Out and Black Panther fame) and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith as a new couple on the run after a minor traffic stop goes wrong. Melina Matsoukas, who’s won Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards for her work with Beyonce and Rihanna, makes her feature film debut. Costars include Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Sevigny, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The pic debuted last week at the AFI Fest to very positive reviews. Yet despite the current 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, this has yet to achieve any significant awards chatter. That could hinder its box office potential. Queen is already being called a potential cult hit. However, cult hits often take some time to achieve that status.

Opening on Wednesday, I believe this will have a five-day take in the high single digits to low double digits as it hopes for word of mouth to carry it along.

Queen & Slim opening weekend prediction: $6.9 million (Friday to Sunday); $10.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Knives Out prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/11/20/knives-out-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Queen & Slim

The Los Angeles based AFI Fest is the last major calendar year opportunity for Oscar hopefuls to strut their stuff and there’s always a few premieres to go along with it. In 2019, that includes Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and The Banker with Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie. The opener is Queen & Slim from director Melina Matsoukas, who’s been known for her visionary music videos for Beyonce and Rihanna.

Slim centers on a couple (Daniel Kaluuya of Get Out fame and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith) whose first date becomes intertwined with a police brutality incident. Early critical reaction is strong and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Indications are that this could turn into a cult hit and perhaps even a real one, with an insightful and politically charged screenplay from Lena Waithe. She’s known primarily for acclaimed TV projects Master of None and The Chi.

Despite the praise, Oscar attention could be… well, slim. Anything arriving this late in the game would need to be a game changer for Picture visibility and some reviews are positive but with some reservation. Turner-Smith is garnering a lot of chatter, but it could be a leap to think she’ll factor into an already crowded Best Actress race.

Bottom line: look for Queen to become a conversation piece upon its November 27th release. I’m just not confident that will include talk about Academy nods. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…