Oscar Watch: Hope Gap

Alongside Glenn Close and Amy Adams, Annette Bening could be the most high profile and acclaimed actress that has yet to win Oscar gold despite multiple nominations. She is a four time nominee – once for Supporting Actress in 1990’s The Grifters and thrice nominated in the lead race with 1999’s American Beauty, 2004’s Being Julia, and 2010’s The Kids Are All Right. In both 1999 and 2004, Bening was likely the runner-up and lost both awards to Hilary Swank (for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, respectively).

There’s a feeling that her time may come, but this year’s Hope Gap is unlikely to get her there. The drama premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival. Focusing on her strained marriage with Bill Nighy, Gap is directed by William Nicholson. He’s known most for his screenwriting with credits including the Oscar winning Gladiator as well as Shadowlands, Nell, and Les Miserables (2012 version).

So while the Oscar pedigree is certainly present, reviews are decidedly more mixed. The Rotten Tomatoes rating stands at a so-so 63% after Gap forewent a theatrical release and went straight to VOD. Perhaps Bening will have a bite at the Supporting Actress apple with October’s Death on the Nile, the follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express. As for Gap, there’s scant hope. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Hunt Box Office Prediction

After being pushed back several months due to its violent subject matter, Blumhouse’s thriller The Hunt debuts next weekend. Based loosely on the nearly century old story “The Most Dangerous Game”, the pic comes from director Craig Zobel. The cast includes Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, and Justin Hartley.

As is the case with most Blumhouse Productions, this is a low budget venture with a reported price tag of $15 million. Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost, HBO’s Watchmen, and numerous film scripts, has cowriting credit.

The satiric tale was originally scheduled for September of last year before being delayed following the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. The Friday the 13th reschedule could manage to capitalize on its past publicity, but I question whether it will. I believe The Hunt may not achieve double digits for its start.

The Hunt opening weekend prediction: $7.7 million

For my I Still Believe prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/03/i-still-believe-box-office-prediction/

For my Bloodshot prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/04/bloodshot-box-office-prediction/

For my My Spy prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/03/05/my-spy-box-office-prediction/

Best Actress: A Look Back

Back at it again with my look back at major Oscar races from 1990 to the present! We’ve arrived at Best Actress. If you missed my previous posts covering the Supporting performers, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/25/best-supporting-actor-a-look-back/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/20/best-supporting-actress-a-look-back/

As I did with those posts, I’m selecting my top 3 least surprising winners and top 3 upsets. I’m also giving you my personal pick for strongest and weakest fields from the past 28 years.

For starters, here’s the list of winners from 1990 to now:

1990 – Kathy Bates, Misery

1991 – Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs

1992 – Emma Thompson, Howards End

1993 – Holly Hunter, The Piano

1994 – Jessica Lange, Blue Sky

1995 – Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking

1996 – Frances McDormand, Fargo

1997 – Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets

1998 – Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry

2000 – Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich

2001 – Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball

2002 – Nicole Kidman, The Hours

2003 – Charlize Theron, Monster

2004 – Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

2006 – Helen Mirren, The Queen

2007 – Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

2008 – Kate Winslet, The Reader

2009 – Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

2010 – Natalie Portman, Black Swan

2011 – Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

2012 – Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

2013 – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2014 – Julianne Moore, Still Alice

2015 – Brie Larson, Room

2016 – Emma Stone, La La Land

2017 – Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

When it comes to Best Actress, I must say it’s probably the race with the least amount of genuine upsets. Nearly every year, there’s a pretty strong front-runner and they win – even more so than in Actor and the Supporting players. Of many non-surprises, here’s my top ones:

3. Holly Hunter, The Piano

Hunter’s work as a mute piano player in Jane Campion’s period piece was the clear favorite over significant competition that included Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do With It? and the previous year’s winner Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day. 

2. Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars had already received nods for Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman and there was little question that Brockovich would earn Roberts her first and only (so far) trip to the Oscar stage.

1. Charlize Theron, Monster

Theron’s metamorphosis into serial killer Aileen Wuornos swept all precursors. The rest of the field was also fairly weak that year, making her the obvious victor.

And now the “upsets”…

3. Kate Winslet, The Reader

While not a surprise when she won Oscar night, the multi-nominated Winslet was expected for much of the year to get a nod for Revolutionary Road instead. Yet it was this Stephen Daldry drama that was selected instead.

2. Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

This was a two-way contest between Cotillard and veteran Julie Christie for Away from Her, with many believing the latter had the edge. It didn’t turn out that way.

1. Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry and Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

This #1 comes with a caveat. It wasn’t much of an upset by the time Swank won her double Oscars. What’s interesting here is that she single-handedly denied two prime opportunities for the winless Annette Bening to get a statue for American Beauty and Being Julia. 

We move to the fields. For weakest field, I’m selecting 1994 when Jessica Lange won for the little-seen Blue Sky. Other nominees were Jodie Foster in Nell, Miranda Richardson in Tom&Viv, Winona Ryder for Little Women, and Susan Sarandon in The Client. 

Strongest group in my opinion goes to 2010 with Natalie Portman’s victorious role in Black Swan. The rest of that impressive field is Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence’s first nomination in Winter’s Bone, and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

Best Actor is next, folks! Stay tuned…

Oscar Watch: What They Had

A week from today, Bleecker Street releases What They Had in limited fashion. The film marks the directorial debut of Elizabeth Chomko (who also wrote the script) and centers on a family dealing with a mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It premiered at Sundance back in January and features a cast including Hilary Swank (two-time winner for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby), Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, Taissa Farmiga, and Josh Lucas.

Early reviews have been positive and it stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, critical reaction likely isn’t strong enough to make this a player in Best Picture. What They Had could struggle generally to get noticed at all. Its best chances aren’t with Swank or Shannon, but with Danner and Forster. For them to get noticed, the picture will need to at least break through with audiences to a certain degree. That could be a tall order in the midst of more high-profile contenders.

Bottom line: while this is generating solid reviews, Had is a long shot for Academy attention. My Oscar watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Annette Bening is an actress that some might be surprised to find has never won an Oscar. She’s been nominated for four – as Supporting Actress in 1990’s The Grifters and in the lead race for 1999’s American Beauty, 2004’s Being Julia, and 2010’s The Kids Are All Right. In 1999 and 2004, she was considered a front runner for much of the season and was defeated by Hilary Swank both years.

Ms. Bening will not be “swanked” in 2017, but she may have trouble getting into the mix altogether. Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. The May-December romance casts its lead as old school Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame and focuses on her relationship with a younger man portrayed by Jamie Bell.

Much like another festival screening this weekend – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – the early awards chatter focused solely on the female lead. With Ebbing, the new buzz has also centered on costar Sam Rockwell. With Liverpool, some reviews have singled out Bell as the real revelation and a possibility for Supporting Actor.

Critical reaction has been mixed and even with Best Actress looking extremely competitive, Bening could still manage to get in. However, that looks less likely now than it did before the long weekend began. And despite the Bell praise, I don’t envision him getting in if his counterpart doesn’t.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Logan Lucky Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/17): I am revising my Logan Lucky prediction down to $10.5 million on the eve of its debut.

The eclectic Steven Soderbergh is back in theaters with heist comedy Logan Lucky, debuting next weekend. It marks the director’s first theatrical release in four and a half years since Side Effects and first picture altogether since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra which premiered on HBO.

Lucky is headlined by many familiar faces, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig (getting raves for the role), Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and Sebastian Stan. Reviews have been quite pleasing and it stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, being frequently compared to the Ocean‘s trilogy that Soderbergh made.

Even with the solid reviews and a NASCAR tie-in (the film’s heist takes place at a race), there could be some issues with this completely breaking out. There is direct competition in the form of The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and it’s more likely to debut a bit higher. The mid August release date is also not one that lends itself well to openings above $20 million.

I’ll predict Lucky‘s number falls in the low to possibly mid teens, as it will hope to leg out well in future weekends (and may well do so).

Logan Lucky opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my The Hitman’s Bodyguard prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/09/the-hitmans-bodyguard-box-office-prediction/

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: Round FOUR (December Edition)

We have arrived at take #4 of my Oscar Predictions and these reflect my first predictions in the month of December. Much has changed since my last pre-Thanksgiving picks. Most importantly, the nominations for the SAG and Golden Globe awards have been released and they obviously show many directions in which the Academy could go. Just as importantly, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken screened for critics. Many anticipated the picture could be a potential Oscar front runner. However, it didn’t pan out that way with its current 55% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It may struggle now to be nominated at all.

As I’ve done before, let’s breakdown the eight major categories one by one:

Best Adapted Screenplay

Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything appear to be locks for nominations here. I will still include Unbroken, though its inclusion is less clear. The fifth slot could be anything from Still Alice to American Sniper to Into the Woods. Yet (for now) I’ll go with Wild. This latest round replaces Into the Woods with the Reese Witherspoon drama.

Predicted Nominees

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Wild

Best Original Screenplay

No changes here in a very strong category. However, the list of movies that could be spoiler nominees includes Mr. Turner, Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, and even The LEGO Movie.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Selma

Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Just one change here as I’m taking out Carmen Ejogo for Selma and replacing her with Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year. Other potential nominees: Laura Dern in Wild, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl, and Kristen Stewart in Still Alice.

Predicted Nominees

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

The disappointment of the Unbroken reaction has led me to take out Miyavi for that picture and replace him with Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson in Selma. Other potential nominees: Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice and Tim Roth in Selma. Robert Duvall has landed SAG and Globe nods, but I still can’t bring myself to include him yet.

Predicted Nominees

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Tom Wilkinson, Selma

Best Actress

This category seems to have four locks: Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, and Rosamund Pike. The five spot is truly up for grabs. It could go to Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Emily Blunt (Into the Woods), or Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars). For now – I’m taking Blunt out and predicting the final slot goes to Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night.

Predicted Nominees

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor

In any other year – Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Jake Gyllenhall (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), and Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) might find themselves in the mix. However, there are five other strong contenders and they’re the same that I predicted last month.

Predicted Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

David Oyelowo, Selma

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Director

I’ve had Angelina Jolie included in my previous three posts, but she’s out for the first time. I’m replacing her with David Fincher for now. Other possibilities include Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), and JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year), among others.

Predicted Nominees

Ana DuVernay, Selma

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Picture

Two changes here as Into the Woods and Interstellar are out. I’m still including Unbroken, but it may be in serious danger. The two newbies have both been predicted in previous posts but not last month: Foxcatcher and Gone Girl. 

Other pictures not predicted that could find a way in: The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, and Mr. Turner.

Predicted Nominees

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

Whiplash

And that’s the latest folks! I’ll likely have a part two December predictions before the dawn of 2015. Stay tuned!