Oscar Watch: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen’s most famous and profitable alter ego returns this Friday via Amazon Prime with the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Or more specifically… Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (you can see why I abbreviated). The sequel to the surprise 2006 blockbuster was a surprise in itself as it was shot secretly this year.

If you’re asking whether the pic warrants an Oscar Watch post, I’ll remind you what happened 14 years ago. The original Borat scored a nod at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay (losing to The Departed). At the Golden Globes, the film itself made final cut in Best Musical/Comedy (losing to Dreamgirls) and Baron Cohen was victorious in Best Actor in that Musical/Comedy race.

The review embargo ended today and the results are mostly, well, very nice. With a current ranking of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, the general consensus is that it doesn’t quite the match the original but that it’s quite funny and often shocking and unexpectedly sweet. The latter description probably won’t be shared by Rudy Giuliani as headlines are suggesting he won’t like what ends up onscreen.

So could the sequel generate awards buzz? I have a hard time seeing part 2 contending in Adapted Screenplay. Yet the Globes could be a different story. Depending on how competitive the Musical/Comedy field is for Actor, Baron Cohen could find himself among the possibilities. It’s also worth mentioning that his costar Maria Bakalova (as the title character’s daughter) is getting some raves. Unfortunately for her, the Globes do not separate Drama and Musical/Comedy in the supporting races. I do think there’s an outside chance she gets some Oscar attention, but I wouldn’t count on it.

While the second Borat pic… or movie… or Moviefilm… may not garner Oscar love, its star still could. He is expected to be in the mix for Supporting Actor in The Trial of the Chicago 7 alongside his costars Mark Rylance and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (how many get in remains to be seen). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: I’m Your Woman

Rachel Brosnahan has collected an Emmy and two Golden Globes for her small screen work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Julia Hart’s 1970s set crime drama I’m Your Woman marks her first starring role in a feature. Prior to its December streaming release from Amazon Studios, the pic screened yesterday at the AFI Fest.

Reviews thus far are of a mixed nature. Some critics are comparing it to the work of John Cassavates while others aren’t near as kind. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 60%. As has been discussed before on the blog, Best Actress appears to be a crowded field in 2020. While I imagine Amazon will push Brosnahan for attention, I have yet to list her in the top ten possibilities for the race. Based on the varied reaction, I don’t expect that to change and I especially don’t envision a scenario where she approaches the final five. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 24th Edition

It’s a new week for Oscar predicting and there’s been some significant developments over the past seven days!

Of particular note is the news that Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has been pushed back to December 2021. You will see it drop off all the categories where I had it as a possibility and that includes Picture (where I had it the final 9), Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.

I am also jumping off the Dune train for now. Part of this is uncertainty as to whether it will be released by the February deadline. The other part is general uncertainty if it’s Oscar material. Hopefully we will find out sooner than later. I still have it listed as a possibility in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I’m holding judgment on having it make the final cut.

Now to the pictures that look like they will be released and we begin with The Trial of the Chicago 7. The Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama held industry screenings this week and the verdict is quite positive. It appears to be a shoo-in for a Picture nomination. I’m still listing it at #3 behind the unscreened Mank and Nomadland, but Trial is a threat to win the whole thing as I see it. Sorkin moves into the top five in directing. He replaces Dune maker Denis Villeneuve.

As for the actors in Trial, early reaction appears focused on four of them in the sprawling cast: Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, and Mark Rylance. I’m currently assuming everyone will be campaigned for in Supporting Actor, but that could always change. For the moment, I have Cohen and Rylance getting in (I struggled with this). In my Oscar Watch post, I even mentioned that three actors could make it. If that were to occur, we would see the first Supporting Actor competition with three performers from the same feature since The Godfather Part II in 1974. My shift to thinking it’s all a supporting play by Netflix takes Eddie Redmayne out of contention in the lead derby.

My Dune drop and the West Side delay means there are two new pics in my estimated nine Best Picture nominees. The risers are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pixar’s Soul.

In other developments:

  • Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, which reunites the director with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray, opened the New York Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive. If Supporting Actor weren’t so potentially crowded, I may have put Murray in my five (he sits in 8th). He could get in, but I also posited the theory that Apple TV might be wise to compete for him in lead actor because the Golden Globes would likely take notice in their Musical/Comedy race.
  • I wrote an Oscar Watch post for the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, which could absolutely be a factor in Documentary Feature. You can find my Watch write-ups for Trial, Rocks, and Trouble all linked below.
  • My Best Actress and Actor five remain the same from last week. Same with Supporting Actress.
  • In Supporting Actor, the aforementioned Rylance rises and that takes out his costar Mateen II for Trial.
  • In Original Screenplay, it’s Minari in and Judas and the Black Messiah out. The Adapted Screenplay five stays intact.

Finally, you will see big changes next Thursday with my predictions! First off – all categories covering feature films will be added from Animated Feature to Documentary Feature and International Feature to the tech races.

There will also be a dwindling of the numbers. My 25 Picture estimates will drop to 15 with all other races shrinking to ten predictions. It’s gettin’ serious, folks!

Here are the links to this week’s individualized Oscar Watch posts:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-on-the-rocks/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/21/oscar-watch-john-lewis-good-trouble/

Give me a follow on Twitter @tthizz as I’m posting Oscar related polls. For example, 90% of respondents agree with me that Trial will nab a Best Picture nod. 59% believe Bill Murray will not be nominated for Supporting Actor.

And here we go with this Thursday’s estimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

6. The Father (PR: 9)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Soul (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

10. Dune (PR: 4)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

12. Minari (PR: 16)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)

14. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Ammonite (PR: 13)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

18. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

19. Respect (PR: 20)

20. The Midnight Sky (PR: 23)

21. Annette (PR: 18)

22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 21)

23. Red, White and Water (PR: 22)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

5. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 7)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

14. Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story 

Francis Lee, Ammonite

Best Actress 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 11)

10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

11. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 13)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zeller, West Side Story 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

9. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: 12)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

12. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 15)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 10)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 11)

11. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 12)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 13)

14. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Ariana Debose, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 14)

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 13)

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

11. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

12. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 11)

13. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

14. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 9)

15. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Soul (PR: 4)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

8. Stillwater (PR: 8)

9. Ammonite (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

11. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

12. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Promising Young Woman

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

8. Dune (PR: 6)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

10. French Exit (PR: 12)

11. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 11)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

The Prom 

Oscar Watch: On the Rocks

Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks has premiered at the New York Film Festival and it marks a reunion with Oscar history in tow. The comedy reunites the filmmaker with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray. That 2003 pic earned 4 Oscar nods including Picture, Director, and the sole acting nomination for the iconic Murray. In fact, Murray may well have come in second in lead Actor to Sean Penn in Mystic River. It won Best Original Screenplay.

Ahead of its October Apple TV streaming premiere, it’s natural that Rocks would be looked at as a potential contender. While early buzz is mostly solid (82% on Rotten Tomatoes), I don’t think the reviews are strong enough that this will make any play for Picture, Director, or Screenplay.

This leaves the legendary comic performer as I don’t see costars Rashida Jones or Marlon Wayans garnering any attention. Supporting Actor has been seen as the likely placement and that race is already looking super crowded (you’ll hear about a number of contenders from The Trial of the Chicago 7 shortly on this blog). Murray appears iffy to make the cut and I have the same feeling for Best Actor if Apple goes that route with their campaign. However – they might be smart to do the latter as the Golden Globes could certainly nominate him for lead in the Musical/Comedy category.

Bottom line: don’t look for this to be an Academy player save for possibly Murray. The Globes could be another story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Kajillionaire

Writer/director Miranda July unveiled her comedic heist drama Kajillionaire back in January at the Sundance Film Festival. The pic is headlined by Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood with a supporting cast that includes Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, and Gina Rodriguez.

Slated for a limited theatrical opening in late September with a VOD debut on October 16th, it received positive notices from critics and stands at 92% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. As to whether this receives much attention from awards voters, it could potentially be more of a factor at the Golden Globes if Focus Features places it in the Musical/Comedy competitions.

Even that could be a reach as its studio will need to mount a spirited campaign. Best Picture and Original Screenplay at the Oscars seems highly unlikely. It will, however, be worth watching if any of the actors gain any traction. My suspicion is that it would be Jenkins and Winger. The former could be competing against himself with the upcoming drama The Humans. Winger is a thrice nominated performer who hasn’t been in the mix since Shadowlands back in 1993. In my first round of ranked predictions two weeks ago, I placed her 8th in Supporting Actress, but she fell to 13th last week.

Bottom line: Kajillionaire has a limited path to any legitimate attention at the big show. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Duke

The Venice Film Festival is underway and something very British has premiered in the form of The Duke. The 1960s set true life heist dramedy comes from Notting Hill director Roger Michell, who also steered Peter O’Toole to his final Oscar nod in 2006’s Venus. The pic is headlined by two gold statue recipients with Jim Broadbent (Supporting Actor for 2001’s Iris) and Helen Mirren (Actress for 2006’s The Queen).

Initial word of mouth is strong. Based on a handful of reviews, the Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 100% with critics calling this heartfelt… and very British. The Duke is slated to open in the UK in November and it’s likely to hit stateside prior to the Academy’s February deadline.

Distributor Neon will need to work its marketing mojo to get this on the radar of awards voters, but it’s feasible. The best hope could be with Broadbent’s performance and that could play out more with the Golden Globes if the film is submitted in the Musical/Comedy section. The Oscars could be a taller order. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: An American Pickle

In another case of a comedic release going the streaming route due to the COVID-19 pandemic, An American Pickle starring Seth Rogen hits HBO Max tomorrow. The pic finds its lead as immigrant Herschel Greenbaum in 1920, who falls into a vat of pickle juice that perfectly preserves him until he snaps out of his slumber in 2020. Rogen also plays the dual role of Greenbaum’s great grandson in the fish out of water flick.

Some of these Oscar Watch posts over the summer could better be termed as Golden Globe Watch. Pickle currently sports a 72% Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s not bad, but a number of the reviews are lukewarm with others downright non-complimentary. In other words, any Oscar consideration for this is wishful thinking. Yet the 2020 experience could open up the door for unexpected comedies to contend at the Globes in their separate Musical/Comedy categorization.

The odds are long for that as well. Based on the critical reaction, I would list the film and Rogen’s performance as behind that of two other streaming comedies released this year: The King of Staten Island with Pete Davidson and Palm Springs starring Andy Samberg.

Bottom line: it would be quite a jarring development to see An American Pickle in any sort of awards contention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Palm Springs

Hulu gave us a nice surprise this weekend with the release of Palm Springs, a refreshingly clever take on the Groundhog Day concept from director Max Barbakow and screenwriter Andy Saria. I wrote my review of it yesterday and you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/10/palm-springs-movie-review/

The sci-fi comedy originally debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and reviews have been impressive (to the tune of a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating). Starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, the RT score for Springs easily eclipses that of The King of Staten Island at 72%. The latter has been mentioned for potential awards attention – albeit in a long shot fashion.

So could this even more acclaimed pic be a contender? Unlikely, but you never know in this highly unusual 2020. If Springs were to vie for any prize, I feel Original Screenplay would be its best hope. The story could be different when it comes to the Golden Globes. That’s where the genres of Drama and Musical/Comedy are divided. Depending on the competition coming in the last half of this long year, both Samberg and especially Milioti (in a breakout role) could at least be on the minds of Globes voters.

I know one thing. Based on my very positive reaction to it, I think it should at least be considered. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Hamilton

Blogger’s Update (07/06): There seem to be a lot of folks wondering if indeed Hamilton is eligible for Oscar consideration. Three days after my post, this article from Variety appears to indicate that it won’t be. Yet in the topsy-turvy and unpredictable 2020, let’s see if that holds true as the weeks and months roll along…

https://variety.com/2020/film/news/hamilton-oscars-disney-plus-1234699198/

In 2015, Hamilton became a Broadway sensation and a cultural phenomenon. In addition to turning its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda into a household name, it went onto pretty much win all the Tonys the following year with its hip hop infused telling of founding father Alexander Hamilton.

A filmed version of the play has made its way to Disney+ today after the originally planned October theatrical release was scrapped to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, critical reaction has matched the raves it experienced a half decade ago and the Rotten Tomatoes score is a clean 100%.

This begs the question: could this unconventional movie garner the attention of Oscar voters? In my view, if there’s a year where it could happen, it’s this one. This heralded take on American history could resonate with the Academy in this 2020 that’s been anything but conventional.

On the other hand, there isn’t much precedent for a picture like this to get awards love. You have to go back to 1975 where a filmed stage production landed a major nomination – James Whitmore for Best Actor in Give ’em Hell Harry!. If the Academy were to honor one of the Hamilton performers, the smart money would be Leslie Odom, Jr. (who won the lead Tony for his work as Aaron Burr). Whether or not he would be campaigned for in lead or supporting is unknown. Also worth noting is the Golden Globes where Hamilton could stand a better chance at nominations in the Musical/Comedy races.

Technical nods are a different story and certainly Costume Design or the Sound races are viable possibilities. This will all boil down to whether the Oscar deciders consider Hamilton to be a legitimately eligible contender. If they do, the Disney property could make some noise in the room where the ceremony happens. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The King of Staten Island

The latest dramedy from director Judd Apatow is receiving a lot of similar praise and a bit of the same criticism as other titles in his filmography. The King of Staten Island hits the VOD circuit this Friday after foregoing a theatrical release due to COVID-19. The pic is a showcase for Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, who’s received as much press for his personal life as his SNL antics. This is a semi-autobiographical vehicle for him and reviews out today give high marks to his work.

Overall Island currently stands at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Several critics are calling it Apatow’s most mature work. There are kudos for the supporting cast that includes Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, and Bel Pawley. On the flip side, there are some complaints about its 136 minute runtime. This is a common gripe for the director’s efforts.

While Oscar attention is unlikely, the pic could garner the attention of Golden Globes voters since it splits acting races between Drama and Musical/Comedy. In the latter, Davidson could be a contender for Actor. Yet the Apatow track record at the Globes is shaky. Neither Steve Carell (The 40 Yr. Old Virgin) or Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) made the final five. I would especially say that Carell was robbed in 2005. On the other hand, 2015’s Trainwreck nabbed Amy Schumer an Actress mention.

Bottom line: some awards chatter for Apatow’s latest stand-up star could happen, but I don’t think it would be at the biggest show of all. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…