Cyrano Box Office Prediction

After premiering at Telluride nearly six months ago, Cyrano has experienced a bumpy ride to multiplexes. From Joe Wright, the latest version of Cyrano de Bergerac features Peter Dinklage in the title role and Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., and Ben Mendelsohn among the supporting cast.

Festival reviews indicated this could have been an Oscar player and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 87%. However, the musical romance was delayed by MGM from Christmas to the February 25th release. It still managed a brief qualifying run in 2021, but that resulted in a lone Costume Design nod with Dinklage (once thought to a sturdy contender) left out.

With zero awards buzz and a reported screen count of only 750, it seems like the studio is not confident in their product. A gross of approximately $1.5-$2.5 million could mean it won’t even translate to the top five.

Cyrano opening weekend prediction: $1.8 million

For my Studio 666 prediction, click here:

Studio 666 Box Office Prediction

2021 Golden Globes Nominations: Reaction

Under a cloud of controversy and uncertainty as to what their January 9th ceremony will even look like (it won’t be on NBC), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees this morning for the 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Per usual, there were some surprises though no Kate Hudson for Best Actress in Music level one like in 2020. Overall I went 49/70 in my picks for the 14 cinematic races – going perfect in just one derby while striking out 2/5 in two others.

Let’s break them down one by one with some commentary and my initial thoughts on who/what could win:

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Nominees: Belfast, CODA, Dune, King Richard, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: No shockers here as my runner-up CODA got in over Nightmare Alley. Guillermo del Toro’s noir thriller got zero love from the HFPA and it’ll need to rally with Oscar voters. Belfast and Dog led all nods with seven apiece. Both could vie for the victory with the former perhaps having a slight edge.

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Cyrano, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, Tick Tick… Boom!, West Side Story

How I Did: 5/5

Comments: The real mystery here was whether Cyrano or In the Heights would be the third musical of the bunch. I picked correctly. Seeing that Steven Spielberg is the only director in this race nominated, it’s hard to imagine West Side Story not emerging victorious here.

Best Director

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Gyllenhaal’s inclusion was not anticipated and she got in over my selection of Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley. Truth be told, I could see any of the other four hopefuls taking this prize.

Best Actress (Drama)

Nominees: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Lady Gaga (House of Gucci), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Colman in over Jennifer Hudson (Respect). This could absolutely be the Oscar five. Stewart is the soft frontrunner with any other of the performers viable.

Best Actor (Drama)

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Swan Song), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Will Smith (King Richard), Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: Bardem getting in is not all that unexpected but I didn’t see Ali coming. They make the cut over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley) and Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon). This one should boil down to Smith and Cumberbatch.

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Annette), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Jennifer Lawrence (Don’t Look Up), Emma Stone (Cruella), Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Cotillard over Haley Bennett for Cyrano. As for the favorite, expect West Side Story to carry Zegler.

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up), Peter Dinklage (Cyrano), Andrew Garfield (Tick Tick… Boom!), Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), Anthony Ramos (In the Heights)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: I went a little out there with my fifth pick of Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy. Hoffman is here instead. Garfield is out in front in this one.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), Ruth Negga (Passing)

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: Negga gets a needed boost (I had Meryl Streep for Don’t Look Up in her slot). If Jodie Foster could win an upset victory last year here for The Mauritanian, any of these performers could win.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Jamie Dornan (Belfast), Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: The Golden Globes often go for big names so the fact that Kotsur got in with HFPA bodes well for his Oscar chances. He and Affleck make it over my picks of Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci). Conversely I’d argue that if Leto can’t make it here, his Academy prospects look shaky. Smit-McPhee is picking up critics prizes but this race is wide open in my view.

Best Screenplay

Nominees: Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 4/5

Comments: The HFPA loves them some Aaron Sorkin and his Ricardos script triumphs over West Side Story. This could be Belfast, Pizza, or Power.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Encanto, Flee, Luca, My Sunny Maad, Raya and the Last Dragon

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: My Sunny Maad came out of nowhere. Not so much with Raya. They’re in instead of The Mitchells vs. the Machines (which I’m genuinely surprised missed) and Vivo (which I’m not). Don’t discount Flee, but Encanto is the likely winner.

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Compartment No. 6, Drive My Car, The Hand of God, A Hero, Parallel Mothers

How I Did: 2/5

Comments: Ouch. Only got Drive My Car and A Hero correct (and they could duke it out for the prize). On the cutting room floor: Flee, Titane, and The Worst Person in the World. Mothers could contend here as well.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Dune, Encanto, The French Dispatch, Parallel Mothers, The Power of the Dog

How I Did: 2/5

Comments: The pain continues as I only called Dune and Power correctly. The others are in over Nightmare Alley, Spencer, and The Tragedy of Macbeth. This should be Dune, but Power is possible too.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Be Alive” from King Richard, “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto, “Down to Joy” from Belfast, “Here I Am” from Respect, “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

How I Did: 3/5

Comments: The Encanto and Respect cuts make it instead of “Every Letter” from Cyrano and “Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up. Like the Oscars, this could be a battle between Beyonce (“Be Alive”) and Billie Eilish (“No Time to Die”).

That means the following films garnered these numbers with their nominations:

7 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog

4 Nominations

Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, West Side Story

3 Nominations

Being the Ricardos, Dune, Encanto

2 Nominations

CODA, Cyrano, The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, Tick Tick… Boom!

1 Nomination

Annette, Compartment No. 6, Cruella, Drive My Car, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Flee, The French Dispatch, The Hand of God, A Hero, House of Gucci, In the Heights, Luca, My Sunny Maad, No Time to Die, Passing, Raya and the Last Dragon, Respect, Spencer, Swan Song, The Tender Bar, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2021 Golden Globe Predictions

Let’s begin with this blanket statement… I’m basically flying a bit blind with my predictions for the Golden Globe Awards, which will be revealed tomorrow morning. For those who don’t follow the awards derbies closely like I do, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been in some considerable hot water for the last couple of years. So much so that NBC has decided they won’t air the January 9th ceremony due to lack of diversity for its voting membership. There were genuine questions as to whether the HFPA would even hold an event for their 79th awards, but they are pushing forward amidst the controversy.

Then there’s the simply the matter of the Globes being quite unpredictable. We tend to see a shocker nomination at least once a year… remember Kate Hudson’s nod in Actress (Musical/Comedy) for the barely seen and critically reviled Sia directed Music in 2020? Then the voters went ahead and nominated the picture itself!

Last year in Supporting Actress, Jodie Foster scored a surprise nomination and win for The Mauritanian. The Academy didn’t even bother to nominate her. In Supporting Actor, both Jared Leto (The Little Things) and Bill Murray (On the Rocks) made the cut in Supporting Actor though not at the Oscars. This is why my general rule at the Globes is to fill in bigger names when I’ve got a spot or two left over in an acting race.

The HFPA’s method of dividing Drama and Musical/Comedy always creates category questions and that holds true in 2021. Where’s CODA? Or House of Gucci and C’Mon C’Mon? Or Being the Ricardos. We don’t know. For prediction purposes, I’m putting them in Drama. Obviously, if they’re not, that would alter my estimates and make some of my calls moot.

Let’s take go through the categories one by one and see how this guesswork turns out, shall we? I’ll do a runner-up and second alternate for each race as well.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

King Richard

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: CODA

Second Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary – At this point, Belfast, Dune, King Richard, and Power of the Dog seem like pretty safe bets. Any one of them missing out would be considered a significant snub. The fifth slot is wide open in my view. The surging CODA (if it’s placed in Drama) could certainly make the cut. Tragedy is a strong possibility and I wouldn’t count out Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon and House of Gucci (if they’re in Drama), The Last Duel, or Spencer. Despite some critical reservations, I’ll go with Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. It’s important to remember that foreign films are relegated to their own category at the Globes. That’s why Parasite didn’t show up here two years ago and it’s why A Hero or Drive My Car won’t contend in this competition.

Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy

Predicted Nominees:

Cyrano

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

Tick Tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Runner-Up: In the Heights

Second Alternate: Cruella

Commentary – The Musical/Comedy derby actually has a bunch of musicals to choose from in 2021 and West Side Story and Tick Tick… Boom! especially seem like surefire additions. Between In the Heights and Cyrano, I’m giving the latter a slight edge (though both could make it). Licorice Pizza should get in though I’m a tad more unsure about Don’t Look Up. I would generally say the top six listed here will be duking it out for five slots (Cruella is kind of a throwaway addition but if Music could get in…)

**Note that pics like CODA, Gucci, or Being the Ricardos could be campaigned for here and not Drama and that could change the dynamic.

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Commentary – Feeling good about Branagh, Campion, Spielberg, and Villeneuve. The 5 spot is tougher but I’ll give del Toro the nod over Anderson (who, somehow, has never been nominated for a Globe).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Second Alternate: Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

Commentary – So here’s when it gets truly complicated as Gaga, Hudson, and Kidman could all theoretically wind up in Musical/Comedy. If not, both Gaga and Kidman seem like likely nominees in Drama. So do Chastain and Stewart. I’m picking Hudson over considerable competition that includes Colman, Comer, Emilia Jones in CODA (if placed here), Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth), and Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Drama (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Second Alternate: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Commentary – Cumberbatch, Smith, and Washington are obvious choices. The other two slots – not so much. Phoenix could be in Musical/Comedy, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and put him here. Same with runner-up Bardem. As much as I’d like to anoint Cage for Pig, I’ll hedge with Cooper in Alley. Super dark horse choice: Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey. 

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Haley Bennett, Cyrano

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

Emma Stone, Cruella

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Melissa Barrera, In the Heights

Second Alternate: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Once again – there’s some women I have in Drama that might shift over this way (Gaga, Hudson, Kidman, Jones). That would make this category more interesting as, right now, this is Zegler’s to lose based on my current composition. If serious hopefuls like Gaga and Kidman stay in Drama, this race could be ripe for an out of nowhere pick (I’m thinking either Annie Mumolo or Kristin Wiig in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar).

Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy (Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

Anthony Ramos, In the Heights

Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy

Runner-Up: Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Commentary – The first four seem probable and the safer choice for #5 would be Hoffman (that’s if Joaquin Phoenix or Javier Bardem don’t play here). I gotta pick at least one head scratcher though so let’s throw in Reynolds for the hit Free Guy!

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actress)

Predicted Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

Runner-Up: Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Commentary – Balfe, DeBose, Dunst, and Ellis are likely. If any of that quartet miss, it could be Dunst. I’m utilizing my aforementioned big name theory by picking Streep in the five spot. Could be Moreno or Blanchett and the star power could overshadow other possibilities like Ruth Negga (Passing) or Ann Dowd (Mass).

Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Supporting Actor)

Predicted Nominees:

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Mike Faist, West Side Story

Second Alternate: Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Commentary – No one can really make heads or tails of Supporting Actor in 2021 so there’s some winging it happening. I’ll say both Belfast boys get in while HFPA recognizes Cooper’s limited screen time in Pizza and Leto’s out there performance in Gucci. Smit-McPhee has been picking up critics awards and that could get him in. Truth be told… anything could happen in this one.

Best Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Runner-Up: King Richard

Second Alternate: Being the Ricardos

The one I’m uncertain about is Don’t Look Up with its many lackluster reviews, but I’ll go for it over Richard. I also wouldn’t completely dismiss Ricardos due to the Aaron Sorkin factor.

Best Animated Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Vivo

Runner-Up: Raya and the Last Dragon

Second Alternate: Belle

Best Foreign Language Film

Predicted Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

A Hero

Titane

The Worst Person in the World

Runner-Up: Parallel Mothers

Second Alternate: The Hand of God

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Runner-Up: The French Dispatch

Second Alternate: Don’t Look Up

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“Every Letter” from Cyrano

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Runner-Up: “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Second Alternate: “So May We Start” from Annette

My picks equate to the following scorecard in terms of total nominations:

7 Nominations

Belfast, The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

Don’t Look Up

5 Nominations

West Side Story

4 Nominations

Cyrano, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley

3 Nominations

Dune

2 Nominations

Flee, House of Gucci, Spencer, Tick Tick… Boom!, The Tragedy of Macbeth

1 Nomination

Being the Ricardos, C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Drive My Car, Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Free Guy, A Hero, In the Heights, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, No Time to Die, Respect, Titane, Vivo, The Worst Person in the World

I’ll have a post up later tomorrow with my results! Critics Choice predictions are next…

Oscar Predictions: Cyrano

The Telluride Film Festival unveiled Joe Wright’s musical version of the nearly 125-year-old play Cyrano de Bergerac with Games of Thrones Emmy winner Peter Dinklage in the title role. The director is no stranger to awards attention as both Atonement and Darkest Hour nabbed Best Picture nods.

Early critical reaction for Cyrano in Colorado has thus far yielded an 83% Rotten Tomatoes. Much of the praise is devoted to Dinklage, who has likely put himself in position for his first Best Actor recognition. I doubt the same holds true for his costars including Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Ben Mendelsohn. If Dinklage makes final cut, he will follow Jose Ferrer (who Cyrano take won lead in 1950) and Gerard Depardieu (whose 1990 version garnered him a nod).

Dinklage’s wife Erica Schmidt serves as screenwriter. Adapted Screenplay is a possibility, but initial reaction tells me this is probably the Dinklage show with Production Design and Cinematography possible as well. My Oscar Prediction posts for the film of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: Hillbilly Elegy

Junebug. Doubt. The Fighter. The Master. American Hustle. Vice. 

The World According to Garp. The Big Chill. The Natural. Fatal Attraction. Dangerous Liaisons. Albert Nobbs. The Wife. 

These 13 pictures represent, respectively, the number of Oscar nominations received by Amy Adams and Glenn Close. And there’s not a podium trip for either performer in the whole batch. It’s certainly fair to say that these actresses are both considered overdue for Academy gold. So it is no surprise that their headlining roles in Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy have been circled for consideration of Oscar prognosticators for many months.

Based on J.D. Vance’s hugely popular 2016 bestseller, the adaptation hits Netflix on November 24th. The review embargo ended today. The critics have spoken and done so rather sharply. At press time, the Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a troubling 19%. However, before you write off the pic’s chances for any awards attention, you have to dig a bit deeper.

The trailer released weeks ago was met with some derision, but also some chatter that Close in particular has a very baity part for voters. The reviews today solidify that. I have had Close perched at #1 for some time in my weekly estimates in Supporting Actress. It is certainly possible that she stays right there when I update my projections on Friday. Ironically, her biggest competition may come from Olivia Colman in The Father. For those with short memories, it was Colman in The Favourite who scored an upset win over Close for The Wife in Best Actress just two years ago. There’s also Amanda Seyfried (Mank) generating solid buzz. That said, the 8th time may just finally be the charm for Close. Whether she can overcome the otherwise poor reaction from the critical community will be the question moving forward.

As for Adams, it’s more murky. Best Actress in 2020 is already shaping up as a crowded field. I’ve had Adams listed in third position for about a month, but now I’m questioning whether she even makes the final cut. Look for her to be in the 5-7 range when my Friday post is up and running.

Elegy could follow the example of 2013’s August: Osage County where its only nominations come for its two high-profile actresses (in that case it was Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts). The mostly weak reviews probably take it out of contention for Picture and Director. Same goes for the Adapted Screenplay by Vanessa Taylor (who was nominated in 2017 for her Original Screenplay in The Shape of Water). Lucky for Netflix, it has plenty of product that does appear headed for Best Picture inclusion (from The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Mank to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). There are two more nods that are feasible: Hans Zimmer’s score and its Makeup and Hairstyling.

Bottom line: Close is still a contender, but that’s the only category where I believe a victory is even imaginable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Devil All the Time

The Gothic thriller The Devil All the Time, based on the 2011 bestseller by Donald Ray Pollock, is in theater this weekend in limited fashion before a Netflix release this coming Wednesday. Directed by Antonio Campos, the pic boasts an impressive cast that includes Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson (who’s everywhere at the moment with Tenet and The Batman trailer out).

Reviews out are of the mixed variety as Devil holds a 64% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Some critics have gone out of their way to praise the performances of Holland and Pattinson. The latter, in particular, seems likely to find an awards friendly role sooner than later with his impressive post Twilight output.

However, this is highly unlikely to be it. In addition to the several negative reviews, Netflix is simply too busy this season to make this film a priority. The streamer looks to have several legitimate contenders on their hands in the near future with Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Hillbilly Elegy – all of which have actors that they’ll campaign for. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Thank You for Your Service

This Friday, Thank You for Your Service hits theaters and reviews out today have been quite positive. It marks the directorial debut of Jason Hall, who received an Oscar nod in Adapted Screenplay in 2014 for American Sniper. The film concentrates on Iraqi soldiers dealing with PTSD upon their return home. Miles Teller heads the cast alongside Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, and Amy Schumer.

The subject matter here is certainly timely and critical reaction suggests another strong performance from Teller, who many feel should have been nominated for his work in 2014’s Whiplash. That said, I don’t see Thank You being much a player in this year’s awards scene. Box office grosses aren’t expected to be strong like in the case of Sniper, which grossed $350 million domestically and scored six nominations.

Adapted Screenplay (from Hall) could be its sole shot at recognition. On paper currently, that category seems a bit thin. However, the likely scenario is that Service won’t be in the mix come announcement time.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Thank You for Your Service Box Office Prediction

Based on a true story detailed in David Finkel’s 2013 novel, war drama Thank You for Your Service is in theaters next weekend. Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, and Amy Schumer (in a change of pace role) Amy Schumer are among the cast.

The debut of TV director Jason Hall, Thank You could face an uphill battle at the box office. The late October release doesn’t inspire much confidence. While this genre has certainly had breakout hits like American Sniper and Lone Survivor, this tale of three soldiers returning from Iraq probably won’t even reach double digits.

I’ll say this could go as low as $4 million, but I’ll predict it manages a bit above that.

Thank You for Your Service opening weekend prediction: $5.2 million

For my Jigsaw prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/18/jigsaw-box-office-prediction/

For my Suburbicon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/18/suburbicon-box-office-prediction/

Rules Don’t Apply Movie Review

A film focusing on a meticulous and eccentric legend who’s bedded scores of women would seem to be right up Warren Beatty’s alley, but Rules Don’t Apply is a rather big letdown for the director’s first effort in nearly two decades. It’s a passion project for Mr. Beatty that partially focuses on the life of reclusive aviation and movie making billionaire Howard Hughes. Unlike the Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio biopic The Aviator, however, Rules isn’t nearly as concerned with historical accuracy and is as much an old-fashioned Hollywood romance.

Beatty plays Hughes circa 1958-1964, a time where his OCD and reliance on pharmaceutical relief had reached massive levels. He’s still running RKO Pictures and flying girls in from all over the country for screen tests. One such prospect is Marla (Lily Collins), a devout Baptist from Virginia who flies into La La Land with her equally proper mother (Beatty’s spouse Annette Bening). She’s never had a drink, never “gone all the way” (as is the common term in this screenplay), and certainly never met a character like Mr. Hughes. Frank (Alden Ehrenreich) is one of Hughes’s many chauffeurs who’s actually yet to meet the man himself. He’s tasked with driving Marla around and they soon begin a courtship, even though Frank is engaged to his childhood sweetheart.

Further complications arise when Hughes (who strictly forbids such interaction between his many employees) gets to know Marla better. The screenplay (by Beatty and his longtime collaborator Bo Goldman) juggles the romance with some of Howard’s business and government dealings as his abnormal behavior continues to increase. We do not see the grotesque and totally shut off character that DiCaprio showed us a dozen years ago in his Oscar nominated role. Rules is much lighter stuff and feels considerably less consequential.

Some welcome comedic hey is made of the many people who wait on Hughes hand and foot, including Matthew Broderick’s assistant and Candice Bergen’s secretary. There’s many familiar faces who pop up in smaller roles (most of them likely just wanted to work with Beatty) and they include Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Platt.

Part of the problem is that while Collins and Ehrenreich are perfectly fine in their performances, their chemistry is adequate at best. A bigger issue is that Rules feels a bit all over the map in plot and tone. The arc of Howard’s disintegration into madness is an odd mix of humor and drama that never gels despite Beatty’s best efforts. It’s also hard to ignore that he’s about 20 years older than Hughes at this particular point in his life, but if anyone can pull that off…

For a director who’s known to be incredibly particular, this one contains only fleeting moments that you’ll remember. The rest, sadly, don’t apply.

** (out of four)

The Girl on the Train Movie Review

The Girl on the Train isn’t skillfully made enough to realize its own trashiness. This differs greatly from David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which embraced its pulpy source material and had lots of fun with it. Based on a huge bestseller by Paula Hawkins, Train takes itself too seriously to be the guilty pleasure it ought to be. That’s a shame because Emily Blunt’s central performance continues her fine work rolling along.

She plays Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who spends the bulk of her time on the titled mode of transportation. Her boozy travels send her past her old home, where her ex (Justin Theroux) lives with his new wife and old mistress (Rebecca Ferguson) and baby. It is two houses down, however, where Rachel’s chemically imbalanced imagination is running wild. This is where Megan (Haley Bennett) and her husband Scott (Luke Evans) reside and the passenger watching them envisions their relationship to be the one she pines for. Of course, there’s far more beneath the surface and that goes for all the characters involved.

When Rachel realizes there’s more to the facade she’s conjured for the couple, it leads to a mystery and a disappearance that involves Allison Janney’s detective. It leads to questioning Rachel’s whereabouts on a typical blackout drunken evening. I suppose, too, it eventually leads to a twist that is one you’re likely to pick up on earlier than you should. Whether this is designed that way is something I don’t know, but it’s a flaw nonetheless.

Our title character’s abuse of her own body and mind and other abuses I won’t reveal gives Blunt a chance to shine. Her performance is really the only one worthy of note, though Bennett does have a couple moments of her own. The story is told in a flashback style that gives all the women some backlog, but it’s Rachel who merits our attention. If only director Tate Taylor didn’t seem intent on pushing a dour vibe instead of recognizing this is vacation paperback material, this could’ve worked better. Blunt almost makes it worth the trip, but not quite.

**1/2 (out of four)