Oscar Predictions: Deep Water

Adrian Lyne’s erotic thriller Deep Water was supposed to surface in theaters way back in November 2020 before its COVID delays. It marks the director’s first feature in 20 years since Unfaithful. The multiplex release was scrapped and a year and a half later, it’s slated for a Hulu streaming debut on Friday. The cast includes former couple Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas along with Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Dash Mihok, Finn Wittrock, and Kristen Connolly.

The embargo is up. Some critics have called it a worthy throwback to 80s/90s era psychosexual dramas. Others aren’t as kind as evidenced by the 47% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Lyne’s previous efforts have yielded awards attention. 1983’s Flashdance garnered 4 down the line nominations with a win for that title song. 1987’s Fatal Attraction nabbed six including Picture, Actress (Glenn Close), and Supporting Actress (Anne Archer). Diane Lane received a Best Actress mention for the aforementioned Unfaithful two decades back.

So it’s not unreasonable to think of Lyne’s work as Oscar bait. It just won’t happen here as Water‘s critical reaction won’t give this any oxygen. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars 2021: The Case of Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman’s turn in Netflix’s The Lost Daughter is the second Case Of post for the five women competing for Best Actress. If you missed the first on Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, you can find it here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jessica Chastain

The Case for Olivia Colman:

It’s another hailed performance from the Oscar winner who surprisingly took to the podium three years back for The Favourite (upsetting frontrunner Glenn Close in The Wife). Colman gets her third nod in four years. In addition to the victory from 2018, she was nominated last year in supporting for The Father. She nabbed precursor attention at the Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice. Daughter performed decently with the Academy with Jessie Buckley receiving an unexpected spot in Supporting Actress and director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s being recognized for her adapted screenplay. Furthermore, Best Actress looks wide open and anything could happen.

The Case Against Olivia Colman:

Had Daughter managed a Best Picture slot, I might feel more confident in calling for a potential second trophy for Colman. That said, none of the five Actress’s films are in the big dance. Critics liked this better than general audiences judging from Rotten Tomatoes. In an unexpected twist, BAFTA did not include Colman. What gives me the most pause is that Colman is the most recent recipient – Jessica Chastain and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) have never won, Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) is a supporting winner from 13 years ago, and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) took Actress 19 years ago.

Previous Nominations: 2

The Favourite (2018 – Actress, WON); The Father (2020 – Supporting Actress)

The Verdict:

This is a tricky one and good luck figuring out Best Actress in 2021. The counterargument to the recency bias is that it didn’t hurt Frances McDormand (Nomadland) last year. However, that was a frontrunner for BP and that narrative doesn’t exist this time around. If Colman can get a win at SAG this weekend or Critics Choice later on, it increases her viability with the Academy. If not, I doubt she gets her second Oscar.

My Case Of posts will continue with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Swan Song Review

Benjamin Cleary’s Swan Song is told through the eyes of two characters in a near future setting. In years approaching, it seems that our contact lenses serve as cameras allowing remote bystanders to witness the interactions of others. This comes into play with a tale of clones and impending loss.

Cameron Turner (Mahershala Ali) is facing a quandary that’s slightly less believable than his disposable camcorders. Diagnosed with a terminal illness, he struggles with how to tell his wife Poppy (Ali’s Moonlight costar Naomie Harris in another fine performance). With a young child and another on the way, an alternative solution is presented. Kindly Dr. Scott (Glenn Close) can make an exact copy of him. Cameron would face his final days at a lush and remote medical facility. Poppy and the rest of the family would have no idea.

At Dr. Scott’s locale, he meets patient #2 Kate (Awkwafina). He would be third. Away from it, Cameron is introduced to her engineered doppelgänger. That interaction helps push him to the yes column. Yet when he meets the clone called Jack (also played by Ali, naturally) – doubts are cast.

Song features plenty of flashbacks showing Cameron’s existence in healthier days. This includes his meet cute with Poppy involving a candy bar. It gets more dramatic when his eventual spouse is dealt a devastating loss.

The new technology would prevent that from happening and Cleary’s screenplay mostly succeeds in navigating the sticky wicket ethical issues presented. A two-time Oscar winner given his first sole leading role, Ali is excellent. He has the assignment of playing two characters. They may be the same person, but they have different motivations at various times. That’s not an easy feat to pull off and Ali passes the test impressively with subtle grace.

Swan Song is indeed with a tearjerker that manages to earn them with much credit to its lead(s). Cleary is not overly clear about how this enterprise of Xeroxing yourself came to be. It actually works in the picture’s favor. I’m not sure those explorations could have been more revelatory from those we’ve seen in other sci-fi tales with similar themes. Instead we are presented with Cameron’s predicament in real time and with the understandable conflicts he undergoes as his decision clock winds down before our eyes.

***1/2 (out of four)

 

Oscar Predictions: Swan Song

Playing at AFI Fest ahead of its December 17th streaming premiere on Apple TV, early word is out for the futuristic drama Swan Song. Marking the feature length directorial debut for Benjamin Cleary (who won the Oscar for Live Action Short Film in 2015 for Stutterer), Mahershala Ali stars as a terminally ill man faced with decision of cloning himself. Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, and Awkwafina costar.

Based on a rather small sampling of critical reaction, the buzz seems mixed. Some reviewers are hailing it as an effective weepie while others are more soft in their praise. The bulk of write-ups are quick to point out the fine work from Ali and Harris. This isn’t their first collaboration. Five years ago, Ali knocked out all competitors to win Supporting Actor for Moonlight. Two years later, he would again be victorious in the same race for Green Book. Harris made the cut in Supporting Actress for Moonlight, but ultimately lost to Viola Davis for Fences. 

With two gold statues to his name, it’s hard to fathom this is Ali’s inaugural sole lead cinematic part. Apple will probably mount an awards push for him and Harris. However, I suspect it could be too late in the game for either to have a legit chance and the varied reaction to the quality of the pic itself won’t help. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

The 2021 derby for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars might have a bit more clarity than the currently wide open Supporting Actor race, but not much. I’m doing a deep dive on the four acting races as well as Picture and Director. If you missed the first post covering Supporting Actor, you can peruse it right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

At this point when I was projecting the race in 2019 and 2020, I correctly identified three out of the five eventual nominees. Two years ago, that included the winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie for Bombshell. Scarlett Johansson was mentioned in Other Possibilities while I didn’t have Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) listed. Last year, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were in my five. Eventual victor Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were in Other Possibilities.

Since 2010, there have been three instances where two actresses for the same picture made the cut here. In 2010, it was Melissa Leo (who won) and Amy Adams in The Fighter. A year later, Octavia Spencer took gold for The Help while costar Jessica Chastain also got in. In 2018, both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for The Favourite. 

The best chance of that happening in 2021 lies with Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench for Belfast. The former could be considered the frontrunner at press time. I’m confident that Balfe will be in the quintet of hopefuls. My Supporting Actor forecast has both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds in for Kenneth Branagh’s period drama. It might be foolish to bet against Dench and she could absolutely get her 8th nod. I do, however, feel the competition is steeper than Supporting Actor at the moment and she could miss out.

Other double nominee possibilities lie with Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter, but I could just as easily see lead Olivia Colman garnering all the attention. The as yet unscreened Nightmare Alley could see either Toni Collette or Rooney Mara competing.

Then there’s Mass. Ann Dowd looks to be a better bet than Martha Plimpton. If the acclaimed drama catches on with the Academy, there could be room for both. For now, I’m far more confident in Dowd receiving her first nod after her somewhat surprise omission for 2012’s Compliance. 

With Balfe and Dowd penciled in, Kirsten Dunst also appears headed for her inaugural inclusion at the dance for The Power of the Dog. She could even be a threat to win.

After that, it gets murky. There’s plenty of hopefuls. 50 years ago, Rita Moreno took gold as Anita for West Side Story. The forthcoming remake could see Ariana DeBose nominated for the same role in Steven Spielberg’s remake. Marlee Matlin (35 years after taking Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God) got fine reviews for CODA. If the film registers with voters, she could be swept in. King Richard is anticipated to give Will Smith a solid chance at his first Oscar crowning and Aunjanue Ellis (as the mother of Venus and Serena Williams) could share in the wealth. Salma Hayek is part of the House of Gucci ensemble. She hasn’t been visible in the trailers and that gives me pause. Online chatter will be heavy for Rebecca Ferguson in Dune, though I question whether any of its cast makes its way in. Also worthy of mention: Olga Merediz (In the Heights), Gaby Hoffman (C’Mon C’Mon), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sally Hawkins (Spencer), and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans). All are feasible but will need lot some critics prizes to elevate their chances.

Meryl Streep is gunning for her 22nd (!) nomination for Don’t Look Up. Playing the President of the United States in the political satire, it feels strange to leave her out of the top 5 for such a high profile role. Let’s see what the critics think before I more carefully consider her.

One performer who seems to catching on is Ruth Negga for Passing. Nominated for Actress five years back for Loving, I was basically down to a coin flip between her and Aunjanue Ellis for a current slot. I’m leaning toward Negga in what would probably be the film’s sole nod.

Bottom line: right now I have Balfe, Dunst, and Dowd as (fairly) safe bets with the other two spots up for grabs. Here’s where it shakes out as October closes:

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 3)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

5. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 4)

7. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 7)

8. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Next up: Best Actor!

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

My earliest 2021 Oscar predictions continues with Best Supporting Actress! If you missed my first post covering the supporting gentlemen, you can find it here:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

In that post, you can find all the caveats about how early we are in the season and so forth. We will have the Venice and Toronto in weeks and that will certainly shape the race.

One season ago, amidst all the pandemic uncertainty, I correctly called 2 of the 5 eventual nominees here (Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy and Olivia Colman for The Father). Amanda Seyfried (Mank) was listed in the possibilities section. Eventual winner Youn Yuh-Jung (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were not mentioned.

Next week I’ll begin the official rankings, but here’s where I have the competition at this early moment:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Ruth Negga, Passing

Other Possibilities:

Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Salma Hayek, House of Gucci

Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

Marlee Matlin, CODA

Audra McDonald, Respect

Olga Merediz, In the Heights

Martha Plimpton, Mass

Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

Anya Tayl0r-Joy, Last Night in Soho

Best Actor is up next!

Summer 1991: The Top 10 Hits and More

It is officially summertime 2021 and that brings my annual seasonal three-part series where I take a look back at the top ten pics, flops, and other notable selections from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. That means I’ll begin with 1991 at a time where Arnold Schwarzenegger said hasta la vista to all competitors.

Let’s count down from #10 to numero Ah-nuld along with other entries worthy of discussion (both good and bad).

10. Doc Hollywood

Domestic Gross: $54 million

Michael J. Fox had a midsize hit with this fish out of water comedy about an uppity surgeon stuck in the rural south. It marks the star’s last solid performer that he headlined.

9. Boyz n the Hood

Domestic Gross: $57 million

John Singleton had one of cinema’s most memorable directorial debuts with this coming-of-age drama set in South Central. He would become the youngest filmmaker ever to be nominated at the Oscars and the critically hailed pic kickstarted the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube.

8. One Hundred and One Dalmatians 

Domestic Gross: $60 million

Disney re-released their 1961 classic three decades after its release and picked up a cool $60 million for it. Later in 1991, the studio would begin another renaissance with Beauty and the Beast becoming the first animated film to nab a Best Picture nomination. Five years later, Glenn Close would headline the live-action version and another reboot, Cruella with Emma Stone, is currently in the top five.

7. What About Bob?

Domestic Gross: $63 million

Bill Murray had one of his signature roles as the multi-phobic patient tormenting shrink Richard Dreyfuss on his vacation. Apparently this comedy was a bit dramatic behind the scenes with the two leads having an actual antagonistic relationship.

6. Hot Shots!

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Spoofs were a hot commodity in the early 90s following the success of 1988’s The Naked Gun. Jim Abrahams, one of that film’s writers, created this sendup of Top Gun and many others that starred Charlie Sheen. A sequel would follow two years later.

5. Backdraft

Domestic Gross: $77 million

Ron Howard directed this firefighting drama that heated up the box office with Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and a creepy Donald Sutherland as a pyromaniac. There was even a sequel released in 2019 with Baldwin and Sutherland that went direct to streaming and that I frankly forgot existed.

4. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

Domestic Gross: $86 million

The spoofing love continued as Leslie Nielsen reprised his role as doofus detective Frank Drebin in this sequel to the 1988 classic. It couldn’t hold up the original, but it was better than part 3 which followed in 1994. And, needless to say, this was a simpler time for costar O.J. Simpson.

3. City Slickers

Domestic Gross: $124 million

As New Yorkers learning life lessons on a cattle drive, Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby starred in the comedy smash of the summer and costar Jack Palance even ended up with a Best Supporting Actor victory. A less regarded follow-up would come in 1994.

2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Domestic Gross: $165 million

While his accent was spotty at best, Kevin Costner parlayed his Oscar success from the previous year’s Dances with Wolves into this blockbuster about the robbing from the rich and giving to the poor hero. The highlight was Alan Rickman’s sublime work as the Sheriff of Nottingham while critics mostly turned up their noses.

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Domestic Gross: $204 million

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s android went from being the bad guy in the 1984 original to the good robot in James Cameron’s sequel that gave us eye popping and revolutionary special effects and a dynamite Linda Hamilton returning as a buffed up Sarah Connor. There’s been four more entries in the franchise and none have matched the potency of this one.

Now let’s turn the focus to some other notable releases:

Thelma & Louise

Domestic Gross: $45 million

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis both scored lead actress Academy nods for Ridley Scott’s now iconic tale of feminism and revenge with an unforgettable ending. This also marked audiences falling in love with a then unknown actor by the name of Brad Pitt.

Point Break

Domestic Gross: $43 million

Patrick Swayze starred in the previous summer’s high earner with Ghost. This surfing action pic from director Kathryn Bigelow paired the actor with Keanu Reeves and has amassed a deserved cult following. An unnecessary remake wiped out in 2015.

Dead Again

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Kenneth Branagh’s sophomore effort after the acclaim of his Shakespearian Henry V was this Hitchcock homage costarring his then wife Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, and Robin Williams. As tributes to the Master of Suspense go, this is one of the best.

Soapdish

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr., and Whoopi Goldberg are part of the ensemble in this comedy set in the world of the afternoon melodramas that populate the airwaves. Not a big hit at the time, its reception has since grown.

Jungle Fever

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Spike Lee’s tale of an interracial couple played by Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra received critical kudos. The two most memorable performances come from Samuel L. Jackson as a crack addict and Halle Berry (in her feature debut) as his girlfriend.

Madonna: Truth or Dare

Domestic Gross: $15 million

As she often is, Madonna was ahead of the cultural curve with this documentary set during her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. This was reality programming before it exploded.

Barton Fink

Domestic Gross: $6 million

The Coen Brothers pitch black comedy was the darling of the Cannes Film Festival, winning Picture, Director, and Actor for John Turturro. It would land three Academy nominations including Michael Lerner in Supporting Actor.

Now it’s time for the pictures that either didn’t land with audiences or critics (or both):

The Rocketeer

Domestic Gross: $46 million

Disney was hoping for a new franchise with this comic book based property. Yet the period adventure underwhelmed at the box office. This was a different era for the genre before the MCU changed everything. Director Joe Johnston, coincidentally, would go on to make Captain America: The First Avenger 20 years later.

Dying Young

Domestic Gross: $33 million

This seems hard to believe now, but Premiere magazine predicted this romance would be the largest grossing feature of the summer. Not so much. However, Julia Roberts was just coming off her smash breakthrough Pretty Woman. This didn’t land with audiences in the same way.

Only the Lonely

Domestic Gross: $25 million

Chris Columbus was basking in the box office bonanza that was Home Alone. This rom com with John Candy and Ally Sheedy that followed six months later didn’t cause many filmgoers to leave their homes.

Mobsters

Domestic Gross: $20 million

1990 was gave us lots of mobster fare such as GoodFellas, The Godfather Part III, and Miller’s Crossing. Crowds and critics didn’t take to the Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey versions of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, respectively.

Hudson Hawk

Domestic Gross: $17 million

Bruce Willis’s vanity project is considered one of the gargantuan flops in history. Grossing only about a fourth of its $65 million budget, it was awarded the Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture of the year.

V.I. Warshawski

Domestic Gross: $11 million

Based on a series of successful novels, audiences didn’t take to Kathleen Turner in the title role for this detective action comedy. It made less than half its budget.

Delirious

Domestic Gross: $5 million

Also set in the world of soap operas, this marked another dud for John Candy in the same season.

Another You

Domestic Gross: $2 million

Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder are a classic combo with well-regarded comedies like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. Even See No Evil, Hear No Evil in 1989, despite critical scorn, performed well. That’s not the case with their last collaboration (which reviewers also drubbed).

And that concludes my look back at summer 1991. Next up is the sweltering season of 2001!

Oscar Watch: Cruella

More often than not, the Disney live-action remakes related to their animated classics have managed to score Oscar nominations in various technical races. Two days ahead of its Memorial Day weekend domestic bow, the studio’s Cruella (a reboot of their 1961 animated tale and the Glenn Close live-action features) has seen its review embargo lifted. It is widely expected that the Academy will reward it in some of the races that their previous features have been mentioned in.

The Rotten Tomatoes meter currently stands at a decent 72% with many critics praising Emma Stone (Best Actress winner in 2016 for La La Land) in the title role of the dog despising villainess. She’s unlikely to get much attention in the lead race, but should certainly find herself in the mix in the Musical/Comedy competition at next year’s Golden Globes… if there is a Golden Globes next year.

As mentioned, the Academy has been kind to the remakes over the last decade plus. Alice in Wonderland won Art Direction (now Production Design) and Costume Design and was nominated for Visual Effects. Nods for the costumes were also received by Maleficent (2014) and Cinderella (2015). In 2017, Beauty and the Beast made the shortlist for Production and Costume Design. The Jungle Book (2016) was victorious in Visual Effects with Christopher Robin (2018) and The Lion King (2019) as nominees. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) nabbed a mention for its Makeup and Hairstyling. Last year’s Mulan got in for Costume Design and Visual Effects, winning neither.

All four categories mentioned are on the table for Cruella to varying degrees. Based on the buzz, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are highly probable and could even be wins. Production Design is also feasible while Visual Effects could be more of a stretch due to expected competition.

Additionally, Florence and the Machine have contributed the original song “Call Me Cruella”. I wouldn’t bank on it making the final five in that race, but you never know (sometimes there’s surprises in that category).

Bottom line: Cruella is looking good for at least two Academy mentions and possibly more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids

As SNL just wrapped its 46th season last night, today seemed like a good opportunity to showcase an alumni deserving of awards consideration from a decade ago. In the summer of 2011, Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids became the comedy smash of the season. It was noticed by the Academy. Melissa McCarthy landed a nod in Supporting Actress while Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo were nominated for their Original Screenplay.

I would contend that Wiig should have been a double nominee in lead actress, especially considering that 2011 was a rather weak year in that race. Meryl Streep took the gold for The Iron Lady in what’s widely thought of as one of her least impressive victories. She triumphed over Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).

Bridesmaids is perhaps the most impressive SNL cast member starring debut in history (an argument could also be made for Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.). Wiig’s drunken scene on an airplane headed to Vegas alone is worthy of awards attention and her work would have marked a fine occasion for the Academy to throw a rare bone to the comedic genre.