Oscar Watch: Bad Education

Few actors had a better movie year as Hugh Jackman’s 2017 with two smash hits – Logan and The Greatest Showman. Yet despite the acclaim, Oscar didn’t honor him. In fact, his sole nod came five years prior in Les Miserables. Last year’s The Front Runner looked like awards bait, but it fizzled quickly.

Now we have Bad Education for possible consideration as it screened in Toronto. The comedic drama tells the true tale of a beloved New York school superintendent cheating the system. And Variety has called it Jackman’s best performance to date. Other reviews also praise his work in this effort from director Cory Finley. This is his sophomore film following 2017’s well regarded Thoroughbreds. Costars include Allison Janney (who did win in 2017 for I, Tonya), Geraldine Viswanathan, Ray Romano, and Alex Woolf.

I say possible consideration because Education has yet to land a distributor. However, that shouldn’t be a problem. The real question is whether this gets released in 2019. If so, I would expect a campaign to be mounted for its lead actor. And as I’ve said repeatedly in the past few festival days, that race is looking incredibly competitive. Unlike The Front Runner, I would anticipate some critics vying for his inclusion. It could be a long shot, but he’s in the large mix. A Golden Globe nod in Musical/Comedy might be more reachable. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Mary Queen of Scots

At this year’s AFI Film Festival, there were two high-profile Oscar contenders screening for the first time. A week ago, it was On the Basis of Sex and I believe it lessened its chances at nominations. Last night, it was Mary Queen of Scots and we could have a potential contender on our hands.

The Josie Rourke directed historical drama casts Saoirse Ronan (nominated in 2015 and 2017 in Actress for Brooklyn and Lady Bird) in the title role with Margot Robbie (nominated last year for I, Tonya) as Queen Elizabeth I.

Early reviews suggest it’s a winner and it stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical notices don’t automatically vault it into Best Picture, though I’d say its chances have improved. It may find itself in direct competition for votes with another female led historical film The Favourite, which also has reviews on its side. Scots is expected to play in down the line races like Costume Design, Production Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

The biggest question mark was the reaction to Ronan and Robbie’s work. Buzz from AFI suggests they could both find themselves in the mix for Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively.

Bottom line: Mary has a brighter outlook for Academy attention based on last night. Expect this to appear on some category lists next Thursday when I update my predictions. My Oscar watch posts will continue…

Best Supporting Actress: A Look Back

Today begins a new blog series where I’m looking back at five of the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present: the four acting races and Best Picture. This is essentially the time period where I’ve closely watched and analyzed. My charge? Picking the three largest upsets in each said category and the three least surprising winners… a film or performer where it truly would have been a shock if they didn’t emerge victorious.

We begin with Best Supporting Actress and this is one in which there have been some genuine upsets over the past quarter century plus. Unlike some other races we’ll get to later, it was not a challenge to pick three unexpected winners.

The other agenda item here is I’m picking my personal selections for strongest and weakest overall field among the five nominees in the acting derby’s and five-ten for Best Picture.

For starters, here’s the list of women that won gold statues in the supporting race from 1990 to now:

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

1991 – Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

1992 – Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

1993 – Anna Paquin, The Piano

1994 – Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

1995 – Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

1996 – Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

1997 – Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

1998 – Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

2000 – Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

2001 – Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

2002 – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

2003 – Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2004 – Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

2005 – Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

2006 – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

2007 – Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

2008 – Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

2009 – Mo’Nique, Precious

2010 – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

2012 – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

2015 – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

2016 – Viola Davis, Fences

2017 – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

I’ll begin with the least surprising winners. Truthfully, there are plenty of selections (and will be in each race) to pick from here. It’s normal procedure for the front runner to actually win. Here’s three that did just that:

3. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

Of the 28 recipients to choose from, note that 3 of them were under the direction of Woody Allen. None were surprise winners. That’s most evident with Wiest’s showcase work as an aging diva here. Her win here came just eight years following her Oscar winning role in another Allen pic, Hannah and Her Sisters.

2. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Fans of the Broadway play this is based upon knew Ms. Hudson could have a legitimate breakthrough part here. She nailed it and her win was never in much doubt.

1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Similar to Hudson’s victory, Hathaway’s casting as Fantine and her “I Dreamed a Dream” dramatic solo made her the odds-on favorite from the moment the project was announced. That never changed.

Now we get to the upsets and there were four to choose from. I could easily include Anna Paquin in The Piano, who became the second youngest winner when she beat out favorite Winona Ryder for The Age of Innocence. Here’s 3 I rank as even more surprising:

3. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Harden had won no significant precursors and Kate Hudson was expected to have her name called for Almost Famous. She wasn’t even nominated for a Golden Globe or SAG.

2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

While the film itself was the anticipated winner for Picture (which it did), the Oscars were expected to select the legendary Lauren Bacall for her work in Barbra Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yet it was Binoche’s performance that was unexpectedly honored.

1. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

For starters, comedic roles are rarely nominated and wins are even more unheard of. Tomei was a newcomer in a picture that wasn’t a factor in any other category. Her competition was a list of venerable actresses: Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Joan Plowright (Enchanted April), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and Miranda Richardson (Damages). The victory here was so shocking that conspiracy theories emerged that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name. That’s been debunked, but Tomei’s trip to the stage remains one of Oscar’s largest jaw droppers.

As for the fields, I’m going with 1991 for the weakest link in the chain. I probably would have given the award to Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear. However, the group was not particularly strong:

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King (Winner)

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes

For the strongest field overall, I went with 2004 when Cate Blanchett won for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. The other nominees:

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

And there you have it! I’ll have Supporting Actor up soon…

Gotham Awards Reaction 2018

It’s only mid-October, but the first significant precursor of awards season rolled out nominations today in the form of the Gotham Awards. If you’re not familiar, the Gothams honor independent film in a limited number of categories.

While not as prolific as the Golden Globes or SAG nominations, there has been a correlation with movies and performers nominated here getting Oscar attention. Let’s take a look at the past five Gotham awards nominees and how they matched up with the Academy:

In 2013, 12 Years a Slave was nominated for Best Feature and went on to win the Oscar. In the Best Actor race, eventual Academy winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) was victorious here and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Slave) also was nominated for both. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) was nominated here and went on to win the gold statue. It’s worth noting that the Gothams do not have supporting acting categories (we’ll get to that in a minute).

In 2014, three movies that got Best Picture nods were honored here: Birdman (Oscar winner), Boyhood, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. In the acting races, Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Oscar/Gotham winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice) were included.

For 2015, no Best Actor nominees for the Gothams correlated to Oscars. However, there were actress match-ups with Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room) and Cate Blanchett (Carol). Also – the Gotham and Oscar Best Picture winners were the same – Spotlight.

That happened once again in 2016 as Moonlight won the Oscar and the Gotham. Manchester by the Sea was also nominated for both. Casey Affleck’s work in that film won Best Actor at both ceremonies. For Actress, Natalie Portman as Jackie got double nods.

Last year, two Gotham Film nominees got Best Picture recognition: Call Me by Your Name and Get Out. In Actor, it was Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out as a double recipient. In Actress, same goes for Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). And coming back to the fact that there’s no supporting races, Willem Dafoe received an Actor nomination at the Gothams for The Florida Project while being recognized for Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

So, as you can see, there’s usually some overlap for the two ceremonies. And that brings us to today’s nominees and how I think that overlap will occur this year:

In the Gotham Best Feature race, the nominees are:

The Favourite

First Reformed

If Beale Street Could Talk

Madeline’s Madeline

The River

The average number of Gotham/Oscar film nominees lately has been two and that likely holds true here with The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk. The other three are highly unlikely to get Academy recognition.

In the Best Actor race, the nominees are:

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Ben Foster, Leave No Trace

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

LaKeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You

Grant is probably this year’s Willem Dafoe and will be recognized by the Academy in Supporting Actor. Adam Driver falls in the same category, but is more of a long shot. Stanfield is out of the running for Actor at the Oscars, while Foster and Hawke remain possibilities. That said – like 2015 – this could well be a year where there’s no matches.

That is not the case with Actress and the nominees are:

Glenn Close, The Wife

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Kathryn Hahn, Private Life

Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Michelle Pfeiffer, Where is Kyra?

Collette is a possible nominee, but it’s Close that seems a near lock for Oscar attention and a possible win. The others? Not so much.

Finally, a Special Jury prize was initiated that honors the three actresses from The Favourite. That would be Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz and all three could find themselves in the mix at Oscar time. The Gothams did the same jury designation for 2014’s Foxcatcher and 2015’s Spotlight. 

So there you have it! My take on how the Gotham Awards will relate to the biggest awards show of all…

 

The Shape of Oscar 2017

Well, the 90th Annual Academy Awards have come and – after 220 minutes of ceremony – gone. This is my annual wrap up of the show and (of course most importantly) how I did with my predictions!

In short, not too shabby…

I went 19/21 on my predictions – missing out on just Best Original Song (“Remember Me” from Coco won over my upset pick “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall and A Fantastic Woman took Foreign Film over The Insult). Neither were a surprise.

In fact, the night was rather predictable as far as winners. The Shape of Water was the big victor, taking Picture, Director (Guillermo del Toro), Production Design, and Original Score. The acting winners (Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Allison Janney in I, Tonya) were the wise ones to have in the pool. Get Out got its recognition via Jordan Peele’s Original Screenplay. Legends like James Ivory (for his Call Me by Your Name Adapted Screenplay) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (for his Blade Runner 2049 work) finally won gold statues.

Some other quick observations:

  • Jimmy Kimmel, as he was last year, is a solid host for the show. I would have no problem with him essentially being the new Billy Crystal and hosting every year or every other year. That said, it sure would be interesting to see what a Tiffany Haddish or Dave Chappelle could do with it.
  • That 90 years in movies Oscar montage could have gone on another half hour and I would have been fine with it.
  • I hope the Phantom Thread costume designer is enjoying his jet ski today.
  • And, of course, no Best Picture screw up! Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway can relax today.

And there you have it, folks! That’s my shape of Oscar 2017.

 

Todd’s FINAL 2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

Well… here we are. After months of prognosticating and speculating, the 90th Annual Academy Awards is upon us this Sunday. This post serves as my final predictions for what and who will emerge victorious in five days.

I am listing my predicted winner as well as my runner-up in case I’m not perfect… and I certainly won’t be. I’ll have reaction up Sunday night as to how I did and my general thoughts on the ceremony.

Until then – these are my FINAL Oscar Winner predictions:

Best Picture

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

Phantom Thread

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Jordan Peele, Get Out

PREDICTED WINNER: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk

Best Actor

Nominees:

Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

PREDICTED WINNER: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

Best Actress

Nominees:

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Meryl Streep, The Post

PREDICTED WINNER: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

RUNNER-UP: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

RUNNER-UP: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

Call Me by Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

PREDICTED WINTER: Call Me by Your Name

RUNNER-UP: Molly’s Game

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

The Big Sick

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Get Out

RUNNER-UP: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner

Coco

Ferdinand

Loving Vincent

PREDICTED WINNER: Coco

RUNNER-UP: Loving Vincent

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

A Fantastic Woman

The Insult

Loveless

On Body and Soul

The Square

PREDICTED WINNER: The Insult

RUNNER-UP: A Fantastic Woman

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Faces Places

Icarus

Last Men in Aleppo

Strong Island

PREDICTED WINNER: Icarus

RUNNER-UP: Last Men in Aleppo

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

Mudbound

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Beauty and the Beast

Darkest Hour

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Victoria and Abdul

PREDICTED WINNER: Phantom Thread

RUNNER-UP: The Shape of Water

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Darkest Hour

Victoria and Abdul

Wonder

PREDICTED WINNER: Darkest Hour

RUNNER-UP: Wonder

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Kong: Skull Island

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

War for the Planet of the Apes

PREDICTED WINNER: Blade Runner 2049

RUNNER-UP: War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Blade Runner 2049

Best Sound Mixing

Nominees:

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

PREDICTED WINNER: Dunkirk

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Dunkirk

Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

PREDICTED WINNER: The Shape of Water

RUNNER-UP: Dunkirk

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Mighty River” from Mudbound

“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name

“Remember Me” from Coco

“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

PREDICTED WINNER: “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall

RUNNER-UP: “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman 

And that leaves the following breakdown of number of wins for each picture:

4 Wins

The Shape of Water

3 Wins

Dunkirk

2 Wins

Darkest Hour, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Blade Runner 2049

1 Win

I, Tonya, Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, Coco, The Insult, Icarus, Phantom Thread, Marshall

 

2017 Oscar Winner Predictions

The 2017 Oscar nominations came out yesterday with yours truly battling a so so 71%. Naturally we now move to predicted winners in the categories. This will not be my last time predicting as I’ll make final winner estimates on the eve of the ceremony.

For now, here’s who and what I have taking home the prized golden statue:

Best Picture

The Shape of Water

Best Director

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor

Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your Name

Best Original Screenplay

Lady Bird

Best Animated Feature

Coco

Best Foreign Language Film

The Insult

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places

Best Editing

Dunkirk

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Best Production Design

The Shape of Water

Best Costume Design

Phantom Thread

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour

Best Visual Effects

War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing

Dunkirk

Best Sound Mixing

Dunkirk

Best Original Score

The Shape of Water

Best Original Song

“This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

That’s all for now but expect final predictions shortly before the ceremony!