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)

Rules Don’t Apply Box Office Prediction

There’s directors and actors who take time between projects and then there’s those that really do. Warren Beatty belongs in that category and Rules Don’t Apply (out Thanksgiving weekend) marks his first turn behind the camera in 18 years and first time in front of the camera in over 15 years.

The legendary star is notoriously slow-paced when it comes to perfecting his works and Apply was actually wrapped for the most part about two and a half years ago. The old school Hollywood tale set in the 1950s casts Beatty as famed reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes with a romantic plot between costars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich (soon to be the next Han Solo in that Star Wars spin-off). The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces that include Warren’s wife Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Steve Coogan, and Dabney Coleman.

As mentioned, the last pic Beatty directed was 1998’s Bulworth, which made $26 million. His last appearance in any film was 2001’s Town & Country, which faltered with just $6.7 million. Reviews have been mixed and it sits at 62% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rules Don’t Apply could face a tough time breaking out in any way. The critical notices have taken it out of the running as a true Oscar contender. Adult moviegoers may be preoccupied with Allied, which opens against it. That leads me to a belief that this could only manage mid single digits for both the three-day and five-day weekend.

Rules Don’t Apply opening weekend prediction: $4.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $6.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Moana prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/moana-box-office-prediction/

For my Allied prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/allied-box-office-prediction/

For my Bad Santa 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/bad-santa-2-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Rules Don’t Apply

The AFI Film Festival is happening in Los Angeles and that gives us an opportunity to hear about more 2016 Oscar hopefuls. This includes the fest’s premiere and it’s an eagerly awaited one – Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply.

This is the Hollywood legend’s first directorial effort in 18 years (since 1998’s well-regarded Bulworth) and first appearance on screen at all in 15 years (since 2001’s less regarded Town & Country). Anything involving Beatty is going to quickly raise questions as to its awards possibilities and this long gestating project where he portrays Howard Hughes is no exception.

It was thought for months that Mr. Beatty would compete in the Supporting Actor race until recently where a switch to Actor was announced. Reviews for Rules have been a bit mixed and even the most positive haven’t been raves. It’s at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and chances of a Picture or Director nod seem highly unlikely. Same goes for anyone in the supporting cast that includes Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Annette Bening (she’ll get recognized anyway this year for 20th Century Women), Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, and others.

As for Beatty in the Best Actor category, it’s certainly no guarantee he will get nominated, but that particular race is a bit weak this year (once you get past Denzel Washington for Fences and Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea). I would anticipate Beatty will be in the mix over the next several weeks, but whether he makes my final cut for the final five is a question mark.

Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 6th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means I’m back at it with my weekly Oscar predictions in the eight major categories. So what’s transpired over the past seven days? Quite a bit! The Girl on the Train, which opens tomorrow, was screened with very mixed critical reaction. It had been at the lower end (#24 last week) of possible Best Picture nominees, but it now appears its chances have been completely derailed. Don’t expect it to appear on the list again. I do still have Emily Blunt as a long-shot Actress possibility, but Haley Bennett’s work in Supporting Actress and an Adapted Screenplay nomination have also fallen off.

We also got a trailer for Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, which could be a contender in several races. And we received official word that Ben Affleck’s Prohibition era crime pic Live by Night will be released in limited fashion in late December, qualifying it for the Academy’s consideration.

And there was the debut at the New York Film Festival of Ana DuVernay’s race relations documentary 13th. It’s important to note that no doc has been nominated for Best Picture, so it’s got a steep hill to climb. Yet it’s possible and joins the contenders of hopefuls this week.

*A final note before we get to predictions. It is my plan throughout October to keep with listing 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 in the other races. By the first week of November, this will shift to 20 for Best Picture and ten in the others.

And with that, this week’s predictions:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Fences (PR: 2)

3. Silence (PR: 3)

4. Lion (PR: 5)

5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 4)

6. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)

7. Moonlight (PR: 7)

8. Loving (PR: 8)

9. Jackie (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities

10. Hidden Figures (PR: 9)

11. Arrival (PR: 11)

12. Sully (PR: 12)

13. Live by Night (PR: 15)

14. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 13)

15. Hell or High Water (PR: 14)

16. 13th (PR: Not Ranked)

17. The Birth of a Nation (PR: 16)

18. The Jungle Book (PR: 19)

19. 20th Century Women (PR: 18)

20. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 17)

21. The Founder (PR: 22)

22. Gold (PR: 21)

23. Allied (PR: 23)

24. Miss Sloane (PR: Not Ranked)

25. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Passengers

The Girl on the Train

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 3)

3. Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 2)

4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 4)

5. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 9)

7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 6)

8. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 7)

9. Denis Villenueve, Arrival (PR: 10)

10. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 8)

11. Ana DuVernay, 13th (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Clint Eastwood, Sully (PR: 13)

13. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 15)

14. Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 12)

15. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)

2. Casey Affleck, Manchster by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 3)

4. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 4)

5. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 6)

7. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 7)

8. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 8)

9. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 11)

10. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 9)

11. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 12)

12. Miles Teller, Bleed for This (PR: 10)

13. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 15)

14. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty (PR: 13)

15. Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation (PR: 14)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)

3. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)

5. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)

7. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)

8. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 12)

9. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)

10. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 9)

11. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 10)

12. Marion Cotillard, Allied (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train (PR: 11)

14. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Weisz, Denial

Sally Field, My Name is Doris

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 1)

2. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 2)

3. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 4)

5. Aaron Eckhart, Sully (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 5)

7. Sunny Pawar, Lion (PR: 6)

8. Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 10)

9. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: 14)

10. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 8)

12. Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This (PR: 7)

13. Lucas Hedges, Manchster by the Sea (PR: 11)

14. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 13)

15. Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Timothy Spall, Denial

Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 1)

2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 3)

4. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 11)

5. Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 5)

7. Margo Martindale, The Hollars (PR: 7)

8. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 10)

9. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 6)

10. Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women (PR: 8)

11. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 9)

12. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: 13)

13. Janelle Monae, Moonlight (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miss Sloane (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Haley Bennett, The Girl on the Train

Sienna Miller, Live by Night

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. La Land Land (PR: 1)

2. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Moonlight (PR: 3)

4. Jackie (PR: 4)

5. Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Hell or High Water (PR: 6)

7. 20th Century Women (PR: 8)

8. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 9)

9. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)

10. The Lobster (PR: 10)

11. Miss Sloane (PR: 14)

12. Zootopia (PR: 11)

13. Gold (PR: 13)

14. Allied (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Toni Erdmann (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Birth of a Nation

Passengers

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Fences (PR: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Lion (PR: 4)

4. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)

5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities

6. Sully (PR: 9)

7. Hidden Figures (PR: 6)

8. Arrival (PR: 7)

9. Live by Night (PR: 13)

10. Indignation (PR: 11)

11. Elle (PR: 8)

12. Love & Friendship (PR: 10)

13. The Jungle Book (PR: 14)

14. A Monster Calls (PR: 15)

15. Denial (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Girl on the Train

And there you have it, folks! Until next time…