The Rider Takes The Film Critics Cup

The National Society of Film Critics bestowed their best of 2018 awards today and it showcases another victory for Chloe Zhao’s western drama The Rider. The indie pic already won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards over some higher profile competition. With two top prize victories, is there any chance The Rider could gallop into Oscar contention?

That seems doubtful, but you never know. This particular critics branch has previously honored movies that the Academy ignored. Recent examples include 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers and 2014’s Goodbye to Language from legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. It is worth noting that the winners in 2015 and 2016 (Spotlight, Moonlight) won the Oscar and last year’s Lady Bird was nominated.

In the Director race, it was another trophy for Alfonso Cuaron’s work in Roma. He already has achieved status as the Academy favorite. He also won for his cinematography.

Ethan Hawke received yet another critics prize here for Actor in First Reformed, as did Olivia Colman in Actress for The Favourite. The latter’s Oscar chances seem assured while Hawke is more of a mystery (I’ve got him in currently). Regina King’s SAG snub is seeming less and less important as she got another honor in Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk. And Steven Yeun added to his reviewer group awards here with his Supporting Actor role in Burning. He’s racked several up, but still appears to be a long shot for Academy inclusion. Same goes for Screenplay as the Society went with The Death of Stalin. I’ve yet to include it in my Adapted Screenplay projections. It’s possible, but it probably won’t get in.

So while it was another good day for The Rider, I’m still skeptical that will equate to Oscar attention.

 

Gotham Takes a Ride

The Gotham Awards were held this evening in the Big Apple and the annual ceremony honoring the year’s best in independent filmmaking provided a couple of legitimate surprises. Chloe Zhao’s Western The Rider was a surprise winner for Best Feature, beating out the favored The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk. The Rider premiered all the way back in April after originally screening at Cannes in May 2017. The acclaimed film from director Chloe Zhao has not been on my Oscar radar screen whatsoever.

Should it be? If you look at Gotham’s winners for the last few years, you may deduce that the answer is yes. From 2014-2016, the honored feature (Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight) went on to win Best Picture in the biggest race of all. Call Me by Your Name from last year got a nomination. On the flip side, the recipients from 2012 and 2013 (Moonrise Kingdom and Inside Llewyn Davis) failed to garner Academy recognition. The Rider will more than likely fall in that camp, unlike fellow nominees The Favourite and Beale Street. The other two features nominated were Madeline’s Madeline (an Oscar non-factor) and First Reformed (more on that in a minute).

The Actress race also provided an unexpected winner in the way of Toni Collette for Hereditary. She won out over Glenn Close, who seems bound for an Oscar nod in The Wife. Best Actress is crowded this year, but the fourth and fifth slots seem open to several leading ladies. If Collette can manage some critics awards (which are coming very soon), expect her name to earn more chatter. For the time being, I still believe a nomination is a reach. That could change.

For Actor, Ethan Hawke was a victor for First Reformed. Unlike Actress, this year’s crop of potential Actors at the Oscars is a little weaker. Hawke seems to be gaining momentum at the right time. Last week, I included him in my predicted five for the first time. I feel better and better about it.

Speaking of First Reformed, Paul Schrader (who also directed it) picked up the Screenplay award. Somehow he has never been Oscar nominated… not even for his Taxi Driver screenplay over four decades ago. In order to get his first, his original script would need to knock out one of the following contenders in that race: The Favourite, Roma, Green Book, Eighth Grade, or Vice. That could be a tall order, but it’s certainly possible.

Check back tomorrow as the National Board of Review (a significant precursor) unveils their winners. I’ll have reaction to that with updated Oscar predictions on Thursday!

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s FINAL Predictions

The time has come to make my FINAL predictions for the Oscars. Nominations will be out on Thursday and I’m predicting every category that involves feature films. Therefore, the animated and documentary short films will not be predicted. I have written extensively about why I’m predicting certain movies, performers, and so on. That time is over. Here is my final listing of what and who I believe will be honored. The predictions are written by order of chances of nomination and I am listing runner-ups for each race in case some of my picks don’t pan out (which is guaranteed to happen). And here we go:

BEST PICTURE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. American Hustle

4. Nebraska

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Her

7. Captain Phillips

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

9. Dallas Buyer’s Club

Runner-Ups:

10. Saving Mr. Banks

11. Philomena

12. Blue Jasmine

13. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

14. August: Osage County

15. Lone Survivor

16. Fruitvale Station

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

3. David O. Russell, American Hustle

4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Spike Jonze, Her

7. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

8. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST ACTOR

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

4. Robert Redford, All is Lost

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

7. Christian Bale, American Hustle

8. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

9. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

BEST ACTRESS

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

3. Judi Dench, Philomena

4. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Amy Adams, American Hustle

7. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour

8. Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

4. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

5. Will Forte, Nebraska

Runner-Ups:

6. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

7. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

8. James Gandolfini, Enough Said

9. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

3. June Squibb, Nebraska

4. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

7. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County

8. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. American Hustle

2. Nebraska

3. Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Her

5. Blue Jasmine

Runner-Ups:

6. Dallas Buyer’s Club

7. Gravity

8. Fruitvale Station

9. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

10. Saving Mr. Banks

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Philomena

3. Before Midnight

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. August: Osage County

7. The Book Thief

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1. Frozen

2. The Wind That Rises

3. Ernest&Celestine

4. Monsters University

5. Despicable Me 2

Runner-Ups:

6. The Croods

7. A Letter to Mono

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Gravity

5. The Invisible Woman

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. Rush

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. Nebraska

7. All is Lost

8. Prisoners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. The Great Gatsby

2. American Hustle

3. 12 Years a Slave

4. The Invisible Woman

5. The Book Thief

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST FILM EDITING

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. American Hustle

4. Captain Phillips

5. Rush

Runner-Ups:

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Lone Survivor

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. American Hustle

2. The Lone Ranger

3. The Great Gatsby

Runner-Ups:

4. Dallas Buyer’s Club

5. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Gravity

2. Rush

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Captain Phillips

5. Lone Survivor

Runner-Ups:

6. All is Lost

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. 12 Years a Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

1. Gravity

2. Captain Phillips

3. Rush

4. Pacific Rim

5. All is Lost

Runner-Ups:

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

7. Lone Survivor

8. Man of Steel

9. World War Z

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1. Gravity

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

3. Pacific Rim

4. Iron Man 3

5. World War Z

Runner-Ups:

6. Star Trek Into Darkness

7. Elysium

8. Oblivion

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. The Book Thief

4. Saving Mr. Banks

5. Her

Runner-Ups:

6. Monsters University

7. All is Lost

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. “Let It Go” from Frozen

2. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

3. “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

4. “In the Middle of the Night” from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. “The Moon Song” from Her

Runner-Ups:

6. “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

7. “Rise Up” from Epic

8. “Sweeter than Fiction” from One Chance

I’m not listing alternates for the final two predicted categories, mostly because I’m supremely not confident with my limited knowledge for these races.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing

Blackfish

The Square

Stories We Tell

20 Feet from Stardom

This means my predictions would garner the following number of nominations for these pictures:

10 Nominations – 12 Years a Slave, Gravity

8 Nominations – American Hustle

6 Nominations – Captain Phillips, Nebraska

5 Nominations – Rush

4 Nominations – The Great Gatsby, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street

3 Nominations – Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis

2 Nominations – All is Lost, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, The Book Thief, Frozen, The Invisible Woman, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Pacific Rim, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

1 Nomination – Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Lone Survivor, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, World War Z

And there you have Todd’s final Oscar predictions. I will have reaction in a blog post Thursday once nominations are released and include a tally of how I did!

2014 Golden Globe Awards: Todd’s Predicted Winners

In four days, we’ll have the Hollywood Foreign Press bestow their honors to the film and television world at the Golden Globe Awards with return hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Readers of my blog will note that I’ve extensively and frequently been posting my Oscar predictions. I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the Globes, but I did want to put my two cents in and predict the winners in the picture, directing, and acting categories.

The Globes are different from the Oscars because categories are divided between Drama and Musical/Comedy categories for Picture, Actor, and Actress. Director and Supporting Actor and Actress are awarded regardless of genre. If you would like to read my detailed analysis of awards contenders, I suggest you look on the blog for my Oscar predictions posts. For the purposes of this post, I’ll simply predict who I think will Globes this Sunday and note the other nominees. I am noting my second choice if my primary choice doesn’t win in bold. I am not predicting the TV categories except for one: it should be an interesting showdown in Best Drama between the final season of “Breaking Bad” and first season of “House of Cards”, but ultimately I think Walter White and company win out.

And with that, my predictions:

BEST DRAMA

Predicted Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Captain Phillips, Gravity, Philomena, Rush

BEST MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: American Hustle

Other Nominees: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Other Nominees: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), David O. Russell (American Hustle)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Other Nominees: Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club), Robert Redford (All is Lost)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Other Nominees: Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Kate Winslet (Labor Day)

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Other Nominees: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Joaquin Phoenix (Her)

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY

Predicted Winner: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Other Nominees: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Other Nominees: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), June Squibb (Nebraska)

And there you have my predictions for your Golden Globe winners on Sunday!

Oscar Predictions: Todd’s December Take

Well, folks, we’ve arrived at my December predictions for the six major categories at the Oscars! And there’s been significant changes in some categories. There’s not one category that’s remained the same from my last go-round of guesses. A lot has happened since my November predictions. Every major contender has now screened with critics. Golden Globe and SAG nominations have been announced. And, per usual, things are unclear. Don’t get me wrong – there’s certain films and actors that seem destined for nominations. However, no field is close to being set. Not even close.

For the first time in making my predictions, I am predicting the winner in each race. I would expect at least one more round (more likely two) prior to nominations being announced in mid January. Here we go!

BEST PICTURE

Todd’s Predictions –

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Saving Mr. Banks

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

Analysis: Yes, I am keeping the number at nine predicted pictures (there could be anywhere from five to ten). This new round of predictions brings in three new films – Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks – and takes out three – All is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Other possible nominees include Dallas Buyer’s Club, August: Osage County, Lone Survivor, Philomena, Rush, Prisoners and Fruitvale Station.

Predicted Winner: Conventional wisdom is that the race is between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, with The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle as potential spoilers. My gut tells me (at least for now) that 12 Years a Slave is in the driver’s seat and it is my current prediction to win.

BEST DIRECTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Analyis: As I see it, only Cuaron and McQueen are surefire nominees and should compete with each other for the win. Let’s not forget that last year’s Director nominees were a total shocker to everyone when Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) did not pick up expected nominations. My predictions today reflect putting Payne and Scorsese in and taking J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) out. Chandor seems highly unlikely to get a nod at this point, but any combination of Greengrass, Spike Jonze (Her), the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), or John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks) could get in.

Predicted Winner: As mentioned, Cuaron and McQueen are the frontrunners. I could easily see a scenario where 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture and Cuaron still nabs Director for the amazing technical achievement that Gravity was. It’s tempting, but for now, my prediction is that Picture and Director will match up and McQueen wins.

BEST ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Analysis: This is shaping up to be by far the most fascinating race to watch. My current predictions put Dern and DiCaprio in and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Joaquin Phoenix (Her) out. And don’t count out Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Christian Bale (American Hustle), or Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis). Frankly, I would say Ejiofor is the only nominee I would be shocked at if he’s not nominated. The crazy thing is – I could see any one of the five predicted nominees actually win and that’s rare. This is an extraordinarily tough call, but right now I’m staying on the 12 Years bandwagon and going with Ejiofor.

BEST ACTRESS

Todd’s Predictions –

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

Analysis and Predicted Winner: Just one change here – Amy Adams (American Hustle) out and Emma Thompson in. This looks to be a showdown between Blanchett (who’s picking up the majority of critics awards) and Bullock (the most popular actress starring in a wildly popular film). The fact that Bullock won four years ago leads me to give Blanchett a slight edge and she’s my prediction. Other contenders not predicted: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), as well as Adams.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Todd’s Predictions –

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Analysis: Of the five predicted, I am only confident about Fassbender and Leto. My current predictions have Hanks in and his Captain Phillips costar Barkhad Abdi out. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abdi, John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Will Forte (Nebraska), Harrison Ford (42), or the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said) nominated.

Predicted Winner: A 12 Years sweep could give Fassbender the prize. However, my prediction is Jared Leto for his acclaimed work in Dallas Buyer’s Club.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Analysis: Voters might not be able to resist nominating Julia so she’s in and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) is out. Other not predicted contenders could be Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and Margo Martindale (August: Osage County). This race appears to be coming down to Lawrence and Nyong’o.

Predicted Winner: Much like Supporting Actor, a 12 Years night should include Nyong’o. And then came Jennifer Lawrence, who’s having an incredible film year with her Best Actress Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook and headlining the massive hit The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her performance in Hustle is garnering raves. Could she win two years in a row? Between her and Nyong’o, this seems like a coin toss at this juncture. For now, I’ll predict the 12 Years momentum gives Nyong’o the win.

And there you have it. To recap, my current winner predictions:

PICTURE – 12 Years a Slave

DIRECTOR – Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

ACTOR – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

ACTRESS – Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave