Oscar Watch: Incredibles 2

This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.

As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).

Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Incredibles

2007: Ratatouille

2008: Wall-E

2009: Up

2010: Toy Story 3

2012: Brave

2015: Inside Out

2017: Coco

There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars. 

Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:

2011: Cars 2

2013: Monsters University

2016: Finding Dory

2017: Cars 3

Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Incredibles 2 Box Office Prediction

Disney/Pixar is back on the summer scene as Incredibles 2 blasts into theaters next weekend. The superhero comedy sequel is the follow-up to the studio’s sixth blockbuster that opened in November 2004. Fourteen years later, this is Pixar’s 20th assured mega grosser. Brad Bird, who made the original, is back in the director’s seat after shepherding live-action pics Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. Returning voices from the original cast include Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, and John Ratzenberger. Fresh voices for part 2 include Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini, and Sophia Bush.

The question mark here is not whether Incredibles 2 is another huge hit for Pixar (it will be). Rather, the question is whether it sets the all-time opening record for the Mouse Factory’s multi-billion dollar subsidiary. In order to do so, it would need to surpass the current one held by 2016’s Finding Dory. That sequel earned $135 million in the same weekend two summers ago.

For some context, the predecessor to Dory (2003’s Finding Nemo) made $70 million out of the gate with an eventual gross of $339 million. As for the first Incredibles? It did exactly the same in its first weekend ($70 million) and went on to earn $261 million domestically. Of course, most Pixar titles take on long shelf lives and introduce themselves to a new generation of youngsters. The Incredibles is no exception and stands as one of the most appreciated studio offerings.

I see no reason why Incredibles 2 wouldn’t perform very similarly to Dory. That said, I’m reluctant to project that it will get to $150 million plus or anything in that stratosphere. I’ll say this just manages to achieve a personal Pixar high. In doing so, just as Nemo and Incredibles got to the same number in weekend 1, so essentially will the sequels.

Incredibles 2 opening weekend prediction: $138.1 million

For my Tag prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/tag-box-office-prediction/

For my Superfly prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/07/superfly-box-office-prediction/

Joy Movie Review

“Joy and pain. Like sunshine and rain.” – Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock

David O. Russell’s latest tells a fable grounded in reality of Joy Mangano, who invented a new way to clean floors in the early 90s with the Miracle Mop. It continues his habit during this decade of taking ordinary people and telling their extraordinary situations.

Our title character is portrayed by Russell’s muse Jennifer Lawrence. As a little girl, we see that she loves making inventions with her hands. This leads to the aforementioned mop, though selling it is no easy feat. Her quirky family includes her father Rudy (Robert De Niro, thankfully doing his best work nowadays with this director), who is restless in his love life and in a burgeoning relationship with a wealthy widow (Isabella Rossellini). That widow provides a pipeline to funding the Miracle operation, though not without serious reservations and Joy mortgaging her home twice. Joy’s mother (Virginia Madsen) is essentially an anti-social shut in who exists vicariously through the soap opera characters she watches all day. This allows for some interesting cameos. There’s Joy’s aspiring singer ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez), who still lives with her and serves as a trusted advisor. And Diane Ladd is her constantly supportive grandmother, who narrates these proceedings.

Joy is about the many pains that she must face to convince her family and the consuming public that she’s onto something. The journey eventually leads her to the upstart QVC, headed by a sturdy executive (Bradley Cooper) who conducts the network’s infomercials like an orchestra (her first segment is directed with the energy and enthusiasm we expect from this filmmaker). This allows for the fascinating of seeing Melissa Rivers play her late mother Joan. She soon learns the gloomy side of business, even when success comes. The picture is divided into two halves. The first is mostly about the pain of getting her venture started. The second has more joy and a little more sunshine, but pain is always around the corner. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock couldn’t have known these lyrics would apply here, but they do.

More than anything, Joy gives Lawrence another platform to shine and she takes advantage. The film never does reach the emotional, comedic, or dramatic heights of previous efforts like The Fighter and, in particular, Silver Linings Playbook. By the movie’s end, we are dealing with a central character who’s gone from sketching her designs in crayon to a multi-million dollar empire. Yet her saga never feels as fraught with nervous excitement as that regional Pennsylvania dance contest in Playbook. Still, Joy’s strange odyssey is one worth taking due to Russell’s exuberance and Lawrence’s talent.

*** (out of four)

 

Joy Box Office Prediction

For the third time, director David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence team up for comedy/drama Joy and it hopes to replicate the success from their two previous outings, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. 

The pic tells the true-ish story of Miracle Mop founder Joy Mangano (Lawrence) and features Russell regulars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, as well as Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd.

This will need to clear some considerable hurdles in order to match previous successes. For starters, Joy is opening on Christmas in an ultra competitive frame where competition for adult moviegoers includes Concussion and The Big Short (and the second weekend of Star Wars). Secondly, unlike Playbook and Hustle, the awards buzz for this is muted at best. While Lawrence is likely to receive a Best Actress nod for her well regarded work, critics have been mixed and it stands at 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (well under Russell and Lawrence’s first two outings). The so-so buzz means it probably won’t be a player in any other Academy categories other than for its lead actress.

With those factors in mind, I anticipate Joy not reaching the $19.1 million accomplished by American Hustle over the holidays in 2013. A debut in the low to mid teens seems more probable.

Joy opening weekend prediction: $14.9 million

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/concussion-box-office-prediction/

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/daddys-home-box-office-prediction/

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/point-break-box-office-prediction/

For my The Big Short prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/16/the-big-short-box-office-prediction/

Joy’s Oscar Bubble Bursts

Just one week ago, I wrote a blog post detailing the Oscar prospects for David O. Russell’s latest Joy, which comes out on Christmas. Seven days ago, I believed its prospects for a nomination in Best Picture were still fairly decent. Some of this was due to Mr. Russell’s track record over the decade. His last three pictures – The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle – all were nominated, as was Russell. Those three movies represent an astounding 11 acting nominations with three wins. And the advance word of mouth on Joy was cautiously optimistic enough that I still felt it stood a good shot at Academy attention.

What a difference a week makes. The official embargo on Joy reviews was lifted this morning and a clearer picture has emerged. Bottom line: Joy will not be nominated for Best Picture. David O. Russell will not be nominated for Director. None of the supporting players that includes Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, and Isabella Rossellini will hear their names called. Reviews have been extremely mixed. While some critics have heaped praised, other prominent reviewers have called it his worst movie. While the number is bound to fluctuate, it currently stands at just 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Fighter? 90%. Silver Linings Playbook? 92%. American Hustle? 93%. You get the idea.

The only bright spot is that Jennifer Lawrence’s inclusion in Best Actress still appears be solid. Writers have singled out her work and the superstar looks to land her third recognition in a row for a Russell directed effort.

The Joy bubble bursting will surely give rise to another film that many prognosticators had under their bubbles for Picture predictions, including my own. This could represent good news for pictures ranging from Mad Max: Fury Road to Creed to Son of Saul to Anomalisa to The Big Short.

One thing is nearly certain: Russell’s joyful Oscar streak looks to be finished.

Oscar Watch: Joy

When it comes to Oscar nominations over the first half of this decade, no director matches the incredible track record of David O. Russell. Let’s do some math, shall we? His last three pictures – 2010’s The Fighter, 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2013’s American Hustle – have scored a combined 25 Academy Award nods. All three were nominated for Best Picture. Russell was in the Directing race for each film. The trio of pics nabbed a total of 11 acting nominations resulting in three victories: Christian Bale (Supporting Actor for The Fighter), Melissa Leo (Supporting Actress for The Fighter), and Jennifer Lawrence (Actress for Silver Linings Playbook).

Therefore, it’s obvious that December’s Joy has been high on the list for potential Oscar attention. Over the weekend, it screened for critics and journalists for the first time. While reviews are officially embargoed until mid December, the word is that Russell likely has his fourth contender in a row. Early buzz makes one thing clear: Lawrence is in line to receive her fourth nomination as the title character in Best Actress. At this point, it’d be a shock if she’s not included. This would mark her third recognition in a row from the Academy working with Russell (winning for Playbook, nominated for Hustle). As for other acting races, it’s murkier. Bradley Cooper would also be going for his third nomination in a row with Russell, but his part is said to be small and he probably won’t be included. Robert De Niro, on the other hand, has potential with his supporting turn. His last nomination was in the same category for Playbook. Diane Ladd is rumored to be the Supporting Actress most in contention over costars Virginia Madsen and Isabella Rossellini.

It would also seem that Joy remains a strong contender for Best Picture recognition and that could extend to Russell’s fourth time in the Director category. As stated, Russell’s films have been an Oscar juggernaut and it’s unlikely to let up here (especially with J Law). A caveat: some of the initial reaction for this isn’t quite as over the moon as the director’s last efforts, so I would write Joy‘s Best Picture nomination and Russell’s down in pencil, not pen until officials reviews are released. Feel free to use a Bic with Lawrence.

Todd’s Oscar Predictions: November Edition

We have arrived at my third round of Oscar predictions for the month of November. Some has changed, some has stayed the same. We’ll go through each of the six major categories one by one…

Let’s go!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

This is the one category where I’ve made no changes, though any of the others listed as possibilities could find their way in. Most have Jane Fonda in the mix already, but I’m not quite there yet.

TODD’S PREDICTIONS  in SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Joan Allen, Room

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Other Possibilities:

Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy

Jane Fonda, Youth

Diane Ladd, Joy

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Isabella Rossellini, Joy

Julie Walters, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

And here we have the most changes of any category! Coming out of nowhere last week was Sylvester Stallone’s acclaimed performance in Creed and as of now, here appears to be a strong contender for a nod and maybe even the win. I’m also including Mark Ruffalo and re-including Idris Elba. Falling out are Benicio del Toro, Robert De Niro, and Tom Hardy, though they all remain possibles. This category has a whole lot of potential nominees, but only five slots available.

TODD’S PREDICTIONS for SUPPORTING ACTOR

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Michael Keaton, Spotlight

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Other Possibilities:

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Bradley Cooper, Joy

Paul Dano, Love and Mercy

Benicio del Toro, Sicario

Robert De Niro, Joy

Joel Edgerton, Black Mass

Harrison Ford, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight

Harvey Keitel, Youth

Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton

Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

Jacob Tremblay, Room

BEST ACTRESS

Four slots seem to be rather safe and have been for awhile: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Saoirse Ronan. The fifth slot could legitimately be any of the others listed, but for now I’ve removed Carey Mulligan and replaced her with Blythe Danner.

TODD’S PREDICTIONS for ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Blythe Danner, I’ll See You in My Dreams

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Other Possibilities:

Emily Blunt, Sicario

Carey Mulligan, Suffragette

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Maggie Smith, The Lady in the Van

Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Lily Tomlin, Grandma

BEST ACTOR

Only one change here as I currently feel the massive box office success of The Martian will get Matt Damon in. That takes Michael Caine out. Watch out for Will Smith, though, even though I don’t yet have him in the final  cut.

TODD’S PREDICTIONS for ACTOR

Matt Damon, The Martian

Johnny Depp, Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Other Possibilities:

Michael Caine, Youth

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies

Michael B. Jordan, Creed

Will Smith, Concussion

BEST DIRECTOR

Two changes here as I believe Danny Boyle may miss out and George Miller won’t be the wild card pick I predicted in October. This puts David O. Russell and Ridley Scott in.

TODD’S PREDICTIONS for DIRECTOR

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

David O. Russell, Joy

Ridley Scott, The Martian

Other Possibilities:

Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs

Ryan Coogler, Creed

John Crowley, Brooklyn

Cary Fukanaga, Beasts of No Nation

Todd Haynes, Carol

Tom Hooper, The Danish Girl

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies

Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

BEST PICTURE

I am still predicting nine nominees out of the possible five-ten and I’ve made two changes. I’m putting Carol back in the mix and The Martian in for the first time. That leaves out Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl, though both remain major contenders. It’s worth noting that Steve Jobs, due to its disastrous box office performance, is not even close to a shoo in  and it could fall off.

TODD’s PREDICTIONS for PICTURE

Brooklyn

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Joy

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Steve Jobs

Other Possibilities:

Beasts of No Nation

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Creed

The Danish Girl

Inside Out

In the Heart of the Sea

Mad Max: Fury Road

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Straight Outta Comption

And that does it for my November Oscar predictions, folks! I’ll have the December predictions up shortly before Christmas…