Jojo Takes Toronto

Buckle up Oscar prognosticators because we are in for a heckuva awards season over the next few months!

One week after Joker took the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and increased its Oscar chances for Best Picture, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit has emerged victorious in the People’s Choice Award in Toronto.

A very solid argument can be made that this particular designation is even more key in determining an eventual BP nod. Why? The odds are certainly in its favor. 10 out of the last 11 winners have received a nod in the big race come Oscar time. Four of them – 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave and last year’s Green Book – ended up winning BP.

What makes the Jojo victory surprising is the mixed critical reaction it’s garnered. The buzz for this award was centered on titles like Parasite (which was a runner-up), Marriage Story (another runner-up), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Conventional wisdom in the last few days has been that Jojo is an on the bubble BP contender at best. The Toronto audience love shows that its admirers are passionate. And that might be enough to overcome the naysayers.

There is no doubt that this is exactly the kind of prize Jojo needed to keep its Oscar viability alive. And now Jojo and Joker have more in common than their alphabetical proximity. They’re contenders.

My Jojo Rabbit review can be found here:

2019 Oscar Predictions: August 29th Edition

Welcome to my first edition of my weekly Oscar predictions where I’ll be ranking my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 contenders in the directing, acting, and screenplay categories!

The dawn of my rankings coincides with the start of film festival season as Venice is in full swing with Telluride and Toronto on deck. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has already screened in Italy and solidified its status as a serious contender in numerous races. There’s a whole bunch of movies premiering in the coming days so expect the picture to become a wee bit clearer. That said, I’ve learned a lot of things from years of past predicting when it comes to this time of the year:

  • Movies thought to be contenders will fail to live up to their buzz
  • Movies will be pushed back to 2020 and render them ineligible
  • Leading actor and actress candidates will be moved to supporting and vice versa
  • Screenplays considered Adapted will become Original and vice versa
  • Sleepers not currently on the radar will rise up… think last year’s Best Picture winner Green Book

With all those caveats, let’s get to it! And expect updates every Thursday on the blog…


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. Marriage Story

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. 1917

5. Little Women

6. The Farewell

7. Parasite

8. The Laundromat

9. The Report

Other Possibilities:

10. Jojo Rabbit

11. Ford v Ferrari

12. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Bombshell

14. Harriet

15. Joker

16. Pain and Glory

17. Dark Waters

18. Booksmart

19. A Hidden Life

20. Just Mercy

21. The Lighthouse

22. Rocketman

23. Ad Astra

24. Avengers: Endgame

25. The Goldfinch


Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Sam Mendes, 1917

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

5. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Greta Gerwig, Little Women

7. Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

9. Lulu Wang, The Farewell

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

12. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

15. Kasi Lemmons, Harriet


Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

4. Robert DeNiro, The Irishman

5. Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

8. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

9. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

10. Adam Driver, The Report

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar

14. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim


Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

2. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

4. Awkwafina, The Farewell

5. Renee Zellweger, Judy

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

7. Alfre Woodard, Clemency

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim

11. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

12. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

13. Felicity Jones, Aeronauts

14. Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg


Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

3. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

4. Al Pacino, The Irishman

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman

11. Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

12. Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

14. Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

15. Timothee Chalamet, Little Women


Predicted Nominees:

1. Annette Bening, The Report

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

3. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

5. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Other Possibilities:

6. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

10. Janelle Monae, Harriet

11. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

12. Anna Paquin, The Irishman

13. Jennifer Hudson, Cats

14. Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

15. Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. The Laundromat

3. Little Women

4. Jojo Rabbit

5. Dark Waters

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joker

8. Toy Story 4

9. Just Mercy

10. Ford v Ferrari

11. The Goldfinch

12. The Good Liar

13. Judy

14. Motherless Brooklyn

15. Avengers: Endgame


Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. The Farewell

4. The Report

5. Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Booksmart

7. Pain and Glory

8. 1917

9. Bombshell

10. Dolemite Is My Name

11. Harriet

12.  The Lighthouse

13. Ad Astra

14. Us

15. Queen and Slim

And that does it for my inaugural ranked predictions! Keep an eye on the blog daily for ongoing developments…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We’ve arrived at the biggest contest of all in my inaugural Oscar predictions for 2019 – Best Picture! If you missed my first takes on director and the acting categories, you can read them right here:

As a reminder, Picture is the only race where the number of nominees can fluctuate anywhere from 5 to 10. In recent years, the magic number is normally 9. However, there were 8 movies up in 2018. My initial late August projections last year yielded three of the eventual 8: BlacKkKlansman, A Star Is Born, and Roma. Three other flicks nominated were mentioned in my other possibilities: Black Panther, The Favourite, and Vice. Interestingly, eventual winner Green Book wasn’t quite on my radar screen at that time.

I’ll go with nine for the time being. The multitude of film festivals starting Thursday and over the coming weeks will shape all races tremendously. My first ranked predictions in the top 6 categories will start this Thursday and be updated weekly.

Let’s get to it!




The Farewell

The Irishman

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


The Report

Other Possibilities:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Ad Astra

A Hidden Life

Avengers: Endgame

Dark Waters

Ford v Ferrari

The Goldfinch


Jojo Rabbit


Just Mercy

The Laundromat

The Lighthouse

Pain and Glory


The Two Popes

And there you have it! Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts stemming from Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and New York in the near future…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing with my initial Oscar predictions for the 2019 season, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you happened to miss Supporting Actress, you can find it here:

As mentioned in the previous posts, these are the pre-festival projections where there’s a whole lot of guesswork involved. However, my five performers that I called out in my initial 2018 predictions yielded a strong three of the eventual five nominees: Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman, Sam Elliot in A Star Is Born, and Sam Rockwell in Vice. In the ten other possibilities, I did name nominee Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? The only actor I didn’t list was eventual winner Mahershala Ali for Green Book.

A couple of quick notes: Brad Pitt is likely a shoo-in for a nod. There seems to be a question as to whether Tom Hanks will be classified as lead or supporting for his role as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’m listing him as a possibility for both categories until it’s official.

Let’s get to it!


Alan Alda, Marriage Story

Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

John Lithgow, Bombshell

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Other Possibilities:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

Jamie Bell, Rocketman

Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Al Pacino, The Irishman

Joe Pesci, The Irishman

Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Best Actress is next!

Green Book Movie Review

Green Book does represent Driving Miss Daisy in reverse with its story. Like that 1989 film, it also has a Best Picture Oscar and an unexpected one at that. This isn’t in the top-tier of movies to receive that honor, but it is an often effective and very well-acted tale of an unlikely friendship.

Viggo Mortensen is Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, a bouncer at the famed Copacabana in New York City circa 1962. The club is closing for renovations over the holidays. Hungry for work (and literally hungry all the time), he accepts a job as chauffeur for notable concert pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali). Doctor Shirley lives above another Big Apple landmark – Carnegie Hall.

This union of an unrefined Italian-American and erudite African-American brings them to the Deep South. The era often puts the boss in Colored Only hotels and the employee in nicer ones. The title refers to an actual book which instructed black travelers where they could stay.

Tony and Shirley are real life figures as well. As portrayed by Mortensen and Ali, the actors form a genuine chemistry. The eight week tour is scheduled to end just before Christmas and Tony is determined to make it home for the holiday with his wife (Linda Cardellini) and large brood. Shirley is a loner with loose connections to family. In this sense, the plot actually resembles Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – albeit with less comedic overtones.

Green Book is directed by Peter Farrelly, who’s only known for material meant to make you laugh (Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary are the best of them). There are light moments, especially in the first half. The screenplay grows gradually more serious as the duo’s trek takes them to Alabama for the finale and the racist traditions become more pronounced.

This picture doesn’t break any new ground with its subject matter. It’s more of an amiable concentration on this alliance with two fine performers playing them. Those looking for something more weighty might be disappointed, but I felt the leads cause this to be a ride worth taking.

*** (out of four)

The Best of Enemies Box Office Prediction

Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell headline true life drama The Best of Enemies, out this Friday. Set in 1971, the film casts Henson as a civil rights activist tasked with co-chairing a community meeting with Rockwell’s KKK leader. Robin Bissell directs with a supporting cast including Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, and Bruce McGill.

Enemies hopes to bring in a similar audience that caused Green Book to nearly make $90 million domestically. However, this doesn’t have Oscar buzz and while its two leads are certainly highly respected, neither can open a movie.

Considering that, I see $10 million as too high a bar for this. Mid single digits is more likely.

The Best of Enemies opening weekend prediction: $5.9 million

For my Shazam! prediction, click here:

For my Pet Sematary prediction, click here:

Oscars Spread The Love: A Recap

It was an evening in which the Academy was generous with their selections – so much so that all eight Best Picture nominees took at least one gold statue. It was also a night where many of the viewers (including me) may have pondered, “Maybe we don’t need a host after all…”

As far as the Oscars go, the ceremony moved rather briskly with a focus on the categories and minimal filler. The telecast saved the surprises for the end portion and they were fairly significant.

I went 14 for 21 in my picks. The big winner would have to be Green Book, which took Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Original Screenplay. Its win in the top race was a bit unexpected as Roma had front-runner status. Alfonso Cuaron did win for his direction and the Mexican drama emerged victorious as Foreign Language Film and for its Cinematography.

The acting races went as planned until the last one. Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Ali won. Actress was another story as Glenn Close (The Wife), after taking multiple precursors, lost to Olivia Colman’s work in The Favourite. Her speech was probably the funniest and most genuine of the evening.

It was a good night all around for Rhapsody, which also took Editing and both Sound races. Same for Black Panther, which was honored for Production Design, Costume Design, and Score.

Other winners:

Adapted Screenplay – BlacKkKlansman, marking Spike Lee’s first competitive Oscar victory

Animated Feature – SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse

Documentary Feature – Free Solo

Makeup and Hairstyling – Vice

Visual Effects – First Man

Song – “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Some other observations:

  • As mentioned, I didn’t miss having a host one bit, but Melissa McCarthy would be fine by me if she accepted next year.
  • In an awards show where musical performances can often be forgettable, the duet between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was fantastic. The Queen opening was a pleasure to witness as well.
  • 2018 definitely proved itself to be a year where voters had no clear favorite to sweep anything. The wealth was spread.

And that’s my take! Keep an eye on this here blog for many posts to come guesstimating on the next Oscars!