What Men Want Box Office Prediction

Paramount is banking on a significant African-American and female audience next weekend for What Men Want, a remake of the 2000 blockbuster What Women Want with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. As the title suggests, this is a flip of the original with its lead character being able to hear the inner thoughts of the male species. Taraji P. Henson plays her with costars including Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Pete Davidson, and Erykah Badu. Adam Shankman, maker of Bringing Down the House and The Pacifier, directs.

The gimmicky formula could be a success with its target audience. Its source material was a smash, debuting to $33 million and legging out to $182 million overall. Henson has starred in such high-profile hits as Hidden Figures, No Good Deed, and the Think Like a Man pics.

Some of those efforts saw openings in the mid to high 20s and that’s exactly where I see this starting out at.

What Men Want opening weekend prediction: $26.4 million

For my The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/29/the-lego-movie-2-the-second-part-box-office-prediction/

For my Cold Pursuit prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/30/cold-pursuit-box-office-prediction/

For my The Prodigy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/01/31/the-prodigy-box-office-prediction/

The Critics Choose Their Buffet

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominees for the Critics Choice Awards today, with the show itself airing January 13. Unlike some precursors, it truly can be a window of what’s to come with Oscar nods… with a significant caveat.

This particular awards ceremony lists six to seven performers and directors in those races. Therefore we know one or two nominees won’t make the cut for the gold statue. As for Best Picture, they do name ten and that’s the highest number the Academy can honor. Critics Choice has a large number of categories, but we shall focus on the top six in today’s analysis and use the last three ceremonies for historical context.

Best Picture

Nominees: BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice

In 2015, all eight Oscar nominated films were named here. In 2016, it was eight of the nine Academy honorees named, with Hidden Figures missing the Critics cut. Last year, it was 8/9 again with Phantom Thread as the outlier.

The 10 nominees this year exactly match my current top 10 Oscar possibilities. These selections serve as potential bad news for titles such as Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Eighth Grade, First Reformed, Crazy Rich Asians and Widows. If any of them make it in, First Man is likely the most vulnerable.

Best Director

Nominees: Damien Chazelle (First Man), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Peter Farrelly (Green Book), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), Adam McKay (Vice)

Three and five and four. Those are the respective number of nominated directors here from 2014-2016 that made the Academy cut.

The story here is the surprising omission of Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk. Whether that is a sign of something to come is questionable. Chazelle, Farrelly, and McKay might have helped themselves a bit today.

Best Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book)

2015 saw a five for five match while the last two years have seen four Critics nominees receive Oscar love. As in the previous two races, First Man got a boost yet again for the box office disappointment that had previously underwhelmed in precursors. This list not including Robert Redford’s work in The Old Man & The Gun could mean the end of the road for his potential inclusion.

Best Actress

Nominees: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Simple math here. Over the past three years, the five women listed for the Best Actress Oscar have all been mentioned here. By the way, the three winners match as well.

This year is crowded for Best Actress (more so than Actor). Today’s nominations could be best news for Viola Davis (Widows), Nicole Kidman (Destroyer), Julia Roberts (Ben Is Back), Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots), and Rosamund Pike (A Private War).

As for actual nominees, Aparicio and Collette helped their momentum to potentially dislodge one or two of the others.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)

Unlike the last race, 2015 and 2016 saw four Critics recipients here get Academy attention. Last year, it was three. While Jordan helped himself, we could still see Sam Rockwell (Vice) or possibly Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) in the mix.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams (Vice), Claire Foy (First Man), Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Five for five match three years ago and four for five the last two years. Right now, these six women are my top six Oscar contenders. If there’s a name not here that could sneak in for Academy voters, perhaps it’s Natalie Portman in Vox Lux, though it’s weak limited release debut over the past weekend doesn’t help at all.

It never lets up this time of year with Awards prognosticating. SAG nods will be unveiled Wednesday. I’ll have predictions up in short order with reaction up soon after!

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!

Proud Mary Box Office Prediction

During last year’s Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Taraji P. Henson had the #1 film with her Oscar nominated Hidden Figures. In 2018, she’s back in the action thriller Proud Mary. The pic finds her cast as a Boston hitwoman from director Babak Najafi, best known for making poorly received sequel London Has Fallen. Supporting players include Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, and Margaret Avery.

While she’s best known for “Empire” television work, Henson’s big screen track record has been rather impressive with her roles in Figures, The Karate Kid remake, and No Good Deed.

Proud Mary could have the advantage of attracting some genre fans, as well as African Americans and females (a demographic often underserved with action flicks). I believe this could post a high teens debut, which would put it above direct genre competition The Commuter.

Proud Mary opening weekend prediction: $18.5 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Commuter prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/03/the-commuter-box-office-prediction/

For my The Post prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/04/the-post-box-office-prediction/

For my Paddington 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/03/paddington-2-box-office-prediction/

 

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures is a good film about a great story. It’s a picture about racial discrimination that isn’t looking to make any waves, but rather tell its tale in an audience pleasing style. Director Theodore Melfi and the top-notch cast manage to achieve their mission, while moviegoers looking for something deeper about similar subject matter have plenty of other quality material to select from.

Figures is set in the early 1960s and focuses on three African American women who were instrumental to the nation’s space race. Katherine (Taraji P. Henson) is a math whiz who does the work that computers would later accomplish. Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) is a capable supervisor whose chances at career advancement are hindered by her race. Same goes for Mary (Janelle Monae), a talented engineer who must fight to attend a whites only school to further her opportunities.

Each woman is presented with unique challenges based on their being in a foreign world in Langley. Even as Katherine is elevated to more important work in her field, she must run half a mile to a building with a colored only restroom as her new digs don’t have one. Dorothy’s supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) has a tough time envisioning her employee doing a similar job. Mary must be creative with the judicial system to achieve her goals.

The screenplay focuses most prominently on Katherine and her interactions with sympathetic Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), director of the Space Task Group. He enlists her help in the furious space race with the Russians as they try to get John Glenn to orbit the Earth.

Hidden Figures serves as a nifty history lesson to younger viewers and those who’ve forgotten their lessons when it comes to that race. And it’s the race of the three leads and their true stories that probably should’ve been told before now. The screenplay has apparently taken some liberties here and there with certain facts, but the contributions of Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary is not in question.

The subject’s personal lives aren’t explored in major detail, save for Katherine’s romance with a military officer (Mahershala Ali). Figures is more concerned with their work and the dynamic between Katherine and Harrison is the most interesting. It helps that both Henson and Costner do fine work here.

While the pic isn’t necessarily told in a new way as it builds toward triumphant moments for the principles, I’m glad I got to know about their previously unheralded contributions.

*** (out of four)

Going in Style Box Office Prediction

Call it Grumpy Old Thieves as Going in Style debuts at the box office next weekend. The pic is actually a remake of a 1979 caper comedy with George Burns and Art Carney about some old men cheated out of their pensions who exact the revenge. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin are the headliners with Zach Braff directing. Costars include Joey King, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, and Matt Dillon. Theodore Melfi, who recently directed Hidden Figures, is the screenwriter.

Style could work reasonably well as a pleasant diversion for older moviegoers. The box office has been dominated by family fare as of late and comedies have been in rather short supply (CHiPs didn’t exactly set the multiplex on fire).

There’s a possibility that this could put up similar numbers to Last Vegas, which premiered to $16 million. That’s on the higher end of expectations. I believe a more likely scenario is $10-$13 million with the hope from Warner Bros that word of mouth is solid and it does well in subsequent weekends.

Going in Style opening weekend prediction: $11.5 million

For my Smurfs: The Lost Village prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/29/smurfs-the-lost-village-box-office-prediction/

For my The Case for Christ prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/03/the-case-for-christ-box-office-prediction/

Who Should Play Donald Trump?

This news should come as no surprise as HBO has announced they will be producing a miniseries in the near future focusing on the 2016 Presidential Election. The effort will come from the team behind Game Change, which told the tale of Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in her quest to become John McCain’s (Ed Harris) VP in 2008. Game director Jay Roach will be behind the camera.

There is little doubt the project will heavily focus on the man who became the 45th President of the United States. So that begs the question: who will play Donald Trump? I imagine this will be the focus on much speculation until an announcement is made, so I’ll get in on it too. I’ve come up with a dozen interesting choices outlined in this here post. However, before we move to that, let’s discuss some choices that are sure to bandied about.

Name one: Alec Baldwin. Of course, he may be the first actor people think of due to his portrayal of the President on SNL. Yet I find it extremely unlikely that Baldwin would be interested (he’s already announced his impression of POTUS on SNL is soon coming to an end). The filmmakers themselves also might not be wild about casting the performer only known for an exaggerated comedic take on Trump.

Then there’s some big names that might be given the role if they’re interested. Two that spring to mind immediately: Kevin Spacey and Bryan Cranston. Here’s another – Matthew McConaughey. After all, he’s worked with HBO before on “True Detective”.

Yet I wish to delve a bit deeper into Hollywood’s rolodex for some other names. Here’s a dozen of them for your consideration:

Tom Berenger

This choice seems unlikely as he’s probably not a big enough name anymore, but he’s the right age (67) and he does kind of bear a resemblance to POTUS. It’s been over three decades since Berenger was Oscar nominated for Platoon, but he’s popped up occasionally in recent years in pics like Training Day and Inception. 

Kenneth Branagh

The Irish actor has been known more lately for his work behind the camera, including 2015’s Cinderella. Later this year, he directs and stars in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express. That should be a high-profile project and could dovetail well into this very high-profile experience.

Kevin Costner

Coming off a supporting role in the blockbuster Hidden Figures, I question whether Costner could get the look down. Yet he’s a big star who HBO would probably consider.

Russell Crowe

This is a possible example of HBO going with the Oscar winner if he wants to do it. Crowe would be a huge actor to cast in the part and he could potentially add Emmy winner to his award shelf.

Thomas Haden Church

The Oscar nominee for 2004’s Sideways is currently on HBO right now alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce”. I could see him pulling off the look for Trump and see him as an intriguing prospect. Possible issue: big enough name?

Greg Kinnear

Another Academy Award nominee for 1997’s As Good As It Gets, it’s been awhile since Kinnear has had a major showcase role. I could see him totally pulling this off and he’s near the top of my choices.

Viggo Mortensen

Mr. Mortensen could be a fascinating pick and he’s coming fresh off an Oscar nod for Captain Fantastic. Like Kinnear, this pick would fascinate me.

Edward Norton

Like Crowe, this would be an example of a major movie star taking on the part. Norton can be a chameleon and I like this idea.

Bob Odenkirk

The Emmy winner for “Better Call Saul” could nail this part, I suspect. He’s shown both dramatic and comedic chops in his body of work.

Kurt Russell

Russell is simply one of my favorite actors period. He’s more versatile than he gets credit for and I totally buy him making this work.

James Spader

Another high-profile choice due to his exposure on “The Blacklist”, he’s toward the top of my personal choices.

Owen Wilson

Of all the choices here, I could really see him getting the look down. The big question: could his very distinctive voice pull off the tones of The Donald?

So there you have it! What actors not mentioned do you feel could step into the President’s shoes? And how about this question: how will Donald Trump react to his casting on Twitter??