Oscar Watch: Outlaw King

The historical action drama Outlaw King might not immediately strike one as an Oscar hopeful. Yet it’s considered a bit of a thematic sequel to Braveheart, the Mel Gibson epic that also focused on the Scottish battle for independence. That film won Best Picture in 1995. This is also director David Mackenzie’s follow-up to Hell or High Water, which earned a Best Picture nod two years ago. And it was selected to open the Toronto Film Festival, which has kicked off today.

Even with that considerable pedigree, critical reaction suggests this won’t be a major player on the Oscar scene. Mackenzie reunites with Hell star Chris Pine with a supporting cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, and Stephen Dillane. Early reviews haven’t been too kind thus far, though they have praised its epic scope. Perhaps some down the line tech recognition is possible, but even that could be a reach.

Bottom line: don’t expect Academy voters to crown King with love.

The pic is slated to debut on Netflix on November 9. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Box Office Prediction

Not your traditional summer sequel involving superheroes, dinosaurs or animated characters, Sicario: Day of the Soldado arrives in theaters next weekend and hopes to serve as counter programming to said seasonal blockbusters. The pic is a follow-up to 2015’s Sicario, Denis Villeneuve’s critically acclaimed crime thriller that garnered three Oscar nominations. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin (this summer’s reigning sequel king) reprise their roles from the original, though Emily Blunt does not appear (she’s been busy with A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns). New costars include Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, and Matthew Modine. As for Villeneuve, he’s moved onto Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 and Italian director Stefano Sollima is now on board. The original’s screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan (who also is responsible for Hell or High Water and Wind River), is back penning this sequel.

Sicario opened in the fall of 2015 and its first wide release weekend brought in $12.1 million with an eventual gross of over $46 million domestically (it earned $85 million total worldwide against a reported budget of $30 million). Soldado may manage to slightly outpace that debut number of part 1 and a sequel is apparently already in the works. That premiere could put it in a battle for third place with the weekend’s other newcomers (Uncle Drew) and behind Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado opening weekend prediction: $13.8 million

For my Uncle Drew prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/19/uncle-drew-box-office-prediction/

Wind River Movie Review

For his first directorial effort, Taylor Sheridan has taken cues based on his past acclaimed screenplays to effective order in Wind River. Like his written work the year prior in Hell or High Water, this picture concerns a group of citizens who feel invisible and cut off from society in many aspects. In High Water, it was West Texas dwellers in the hot desert sun who saw the American dream pass them by. In River, it’s the inhabitants residing in sub zero temperatures on an Indian reservation in Wyoming that bears the film’s title.

As Sheridan has brought the issue of crime into both Sicario and High Water, it’s a homicide that awakens the characters sense of injustice. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a fish and wildlife officer who discovers the body of an 18-year-old girl in the frozen tundra. His job typically consists of hunting predators eating the livestock. This new discovery means he’ll assist in hunting a different form of predator. It’s young FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) who gets the call to provide federal assistance and she finds herself out of her element in the seemingly constant snowstorm elements.

Much like High Water, there are genre aspects that are familiar. What sets that movie apart and the same holds true here is a fascinating landscape to watch it in. Not every character that Lambert and Banner investigate is involved in the grisly crime, but they all seem bonded by the consequences of their far-off existence in this remote world.

It’s a pleasure to watch the talented Renner in a role that doesn’t involve assisting The Avengers or Ethan Hunt. His backstory is the emotionally charged one as his own young daughter suffered a similar fate to the victim here. There are moments where Renner reminds us of his significant dramatic abilities. Most of the other players exist to advance the plot (Olsen’s role is rather underwritten), but solid support is provided by Graham Greene as the sheriff and Gil Birmingham as the grieving father. Jon Bernthal turns up briefly as the victim’s boyfriend in a sequence that goes from sweet to horrific in a matter of seconds.

Wind River is a visually striking experience that easily proves Sheridan’s abilities behind the camera can match his writing. The West Texas residents of High Water may have been troubled and outraged by their lot in life, but they also had a sense of pride of where they came from. The people of Wind River feel the same. And our time spent with them is worthwhile.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan has been quite the hot screenwriter as of late with 2015’s Sicario and last year’s Hell or High Water, for which he received an Oscar nomination in Original Screenplay. His latest is Wind River, a thriller involving a murder case at an Indian reservation. It also marks his directorial debut and its buzz from both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals could receive awards attention.

Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, and Jon Bernthal headline River, which rolls in stateside in August. Reviews have been solid thus far and it stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. I would say it stands a fair, but not overwhelming shot at being this year’s Hell or High Water – which scored four Academy nods including Best Picture.

Wind River very likely won’t reach that number, but the possibility exists for a second straight Original Screenplay recognition for Mr. Sheridan.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Todd’s Updated 2016 Oscar Winner Predictions

Good Sunday all! 15 days from today, the Oscars will air and for the next three Sundays, I’ll be giving you my take on where I see each category standing. This means my winner prediction and each nominee listed in order of likelihood to take their prize.

My final predictions will post on Sunday, February 26 prior to the broadcast the next day. Let’s get to it, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Manchester by the Sea

4) Hidden Figures

5) Lion

6) Arrival

7) Hacksaw Ridge

8) Hell or High Water

9) Fences

BEST DIRECTOR

1) Damien Chazelle, La La Land

2) Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

3) Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

4) Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

5) Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTOR

1) Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2) Denzel Washington, Fences

3) Ryan Gosling, La La Land

4) Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

5) Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTRESS

1) Emma Stone, La La Land

2) Natalie Portman, Jackie

3) Isabelle Huppert, Elle

4) Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1) Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2) Dev Patel, Lion

3) Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

4) Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

5) Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1) Viola Davis, Fences

2) Naomie Harris, Moonlight

3) Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

4) Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

5) Nicole Kidman, Lion

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1) Moonlight

2) Lion

3) Hidden Figures

4) Fences

5) Arrival

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1) Manchester by the Sea

2) La La Land

3) Hell or High Water

4) The Lobster

5) 20th Century Women

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1) Zootopia

2) Kubo and the Two Strings

3) Moana

4) My Life as a Zucchini

5) The Red Turtle

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

1) The Salesman

2) Toni Erdmann

3) Land of Mine

4) A Man Called Ove

5) Tanna

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1) I Am Not Your Negro

2) O.J.: Made in America

3) 13th

4) Fire at Sea

5) Life, Animated

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Lion

5) Silence

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1) Jackie

2) La La Land

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Allied

BEST EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Hacksaw Ridge

5) Hell or High Water

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1) Star Trek Beyond

2) Suicide Squad

3) A Man Called Ove

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1) La La Land

2) Arrival

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Hail, Caesar!

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1) La La Land

2) Lion

3) Moonlight

4) Jackie

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1) “City of Stars” from La La Land

2) “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

3) “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” from Trolls

4) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

5) “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

BEST SOUND EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Deepwater Horizon

5) Sully

BEST SOUND MIXING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

5) 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1) The Jungle Book

2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3) Doctor Strange

4) Kubo and the Two Strings

5) Deepwater Horizon

Next Update will be Be Sunday!

2016 SAG Awards Predictions

The final major awards ceremony before Oscar takes place tonight on TBS and TNT as the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards airs. These awards and winners are voted by fellow thespians, so the races are a bit different in the sense that there’s no Best Picture per se. Instead it’s Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the five nominated pictures contains one rather glaring omission: La La Land, even though it’s the front runner at the Academy Awards.

We do have the other acting races we’re accustomed to, as well as Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture. Let’s break each category down one by one with my predicted winners for this evening.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture 

Nominees: Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Predicted Winner: Moonlight

Analysis: The recipient here could solidify its status as Most Likely to Win Best Picture at the Oscars if La La doesn’t. I’ll predict the SAG voters give the edge to Barry Jenkins acclaimed drama over Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester, just like the Globes did.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck

Analysis: The five nominees match five for five with the Academy. Affleck has received the lions share of precursors thus far and I expect that to continue here. Washington is the only other possibility.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (Arrival), Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Predicted Winner: Natalie Portman

Analysis: Yes, I’m going for the minor upset here as Stone is the likely front runner. Only the two of them and Streep match the Oscar nods, as SAG honored Adams and Blunt instead of Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Ruth Negga (Loving).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion)

Predicted Winner: Mahershala Ali

Analysis: A win by either Bridges or Patel wouldn’t surprise me, but Ali has picked up a lot of critics prizes. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, surprise Globe winner for Nocturnal Animals, isn’t present here.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Predicted Winner: Viola Davis

Analysis: Another exact match with Oscar and I expect the same result – a win for Ms. Davis. Anything else would be a surprise.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, Jason Bourne, Nocturnal Animals

Predicted Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Analysis: This is a tough one as either of the comic book flicks could win. Still, I’ll go with the only nominated Best Picture at the Oscars. By the way, why Nocturnal is present here baffles me.

And there you have it! Happy watching tonight…