Tag Archives: J.K. Simmons

Best Supporting Actor: A Look Back

Continuing on with my look back at the major categories from 1990 to the present at the Oscars, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you missed my post regarding Supporting Actress, you can find it right here:

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

As I did with that blog entry, I’m picking the top 3 least surprising winners (performers who essentially sailed right through awards season) and the 3 biggest upsets in each race. I am also selecting the strongest and weakest fields overall.

As a primer, here are the 28 actors whose support earned them a golden statue:

1990 – Joe Pesci, GoodFellas

1991 – Jack Palance, City Slickers

1992 – Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

1993 – Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

1994 – Martin Landau, Ed Wood

1995 – Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects

1996 – Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire

1997 – Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting

1998 – James Coburn, Affliction

1999 – Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules

2000 – Benicio del Toro, Traffic

2001 – Jim Broadbent, Iris

2002 – Chris Cooper, Adaptation

2003 – Tim Robbins, Mystic River

2004 – Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

2005 – George Clooney, Syriana

2006 – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

2007 – Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

2008 – Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

2009 – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

2010 – Christian Bale, The Fighter

2011 – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

2012 – Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

2013 – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

2014 – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

2015 – Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

2016 – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2017 – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

There are plenty to choose from as far least surprising winners, but here’s my top ones:

3. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood’s Western picked up a slew of awards on Oscar night and Hackman’s inclusion in that race was never really in doubt. It was his second statue after winning Best Actor 21 years previously for The French Connection.

2. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

It was director Christopher Nolan giving numerous awards speeches on behalf of the late Ledger, as his work playing the iconic villain swept all precursors as well. This remains not only the only win in the omnipresent superhero genre in the 21st century, but the only nomination.

1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Like Ledger, Bardem created a bad guy for the ages in the Coen Brothers Oscar-winning picture. He picked up all the precursors as well for his role.

And now the upsets!

3. James Coburn, Affliction

There was clearly no front-runner in 1998 as a different actor was honored in each preceding awards show. Ed Harris took the Golden Globe for The Truman Show, Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan) was victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Robert Duvall’s role in A Civil Action was honored at SAG, and Geoffrey Rush (Elizabeth) was the BAFTA recipient. Surely one of them would win the Oscar, but it instead went to Mr. Coburn.

2. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

In 2015, the general consensus was that Sylvester Stallone would punch out the competition in his signature role for Creed. That would have been quite a feat after Rocky took Best Picture in 1976 – nearly four decades prior. Yet it didn’t materialize when Rylance made the trip to the podium.

1. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine

Along the same lines, Eddie Murphy was the strong favorite for his rare dramatic work in Dreamgirls. With Jennifer Hudson as a sure thing for Supporting Actress (which did happen), the musical looked safe for a supporting sweep. The Academy surprisingly went another route by honoring Arkin.

And now to the fields overall and choosing a strongest and weakest. For the least impressive of the bunch, I’m going with 2011. Here were the nominees:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners (winner)

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When it comes to best overall field, I chose 1993. This is the year that Tommy Lee Jones got the gold in The Fugitive. That’s a rare acting win for an action flick. It was deserved in my view and the other four nominees were very strong as well. They were:

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Furthermore, I could keep going with other deserving actors that year, including Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Sean Penn for Carlito’s Way. 

The next trip down memory lane will be Best Actress and it will be up soon!

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 13th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions in the major categories, as expected, has seen some significant shifting. This is mostly due to the Toronto Film Festival and the screenings of several major contenders.

Here are some quick notes on the movement that’s taken place in the past seven days:

  • The addiction drama Beautiful Boy has taken a hit in the standings, due to a mixed Toronto reaction. It falls from #5 all the way to #21 in the Best Picture derby. Additionally, I have taken it out the 5 predicted nominees in Best Actor (Steve Carell) and Adapted Screenplay. However, Timothee Chalamet is still looking good for Supporting Actor.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk had its much awaited debut up north. I basically had it as a place holder pick at #1 in both Picture and Director, but it’s fallen in both races to #5 and #4, respectively. This vaults A Star Is Born to the #1 slot in BP with Alfonso Cuaron’s direction of Roma currently topping Best Director.
  • The elimination of the Best Popular Film category could be a good thing for Black Panther. For the first time, I have it included in my nine predicted BP nominees.
  • Peter Farrelly’s Green Book seemed to be a crowd favorite in Toronto. While I have it just outside my BP rankings, it’s now included in Best Original Screenplay and Mahershala Ali is predicted for Supporting Actor. It’s not entirely certain yet whether he will be placed in that category or go co-lead with Viggo Mortensen.
  • Speaking of category placement, we’re still not sure where Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz will end up for The Favourite. Right now, I’m assuming Colman in Actress and both Stone and Weisz for Supporting Actress. I’ve now got Stone getting a nod for the first time.
  • The Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale has apparently switched its working title name Backseat to Vice.
  • My current Best Actor predictions now include Ryan Gosling (First Man) and Robert Redford (The Old Man & The Gun) with the aforementioned Carell and Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner) out.
  • In Best Actress, solid Toronto chatter for the work of Viola Davis (Widows) puts her in the mix with Nicole Kidman (Destroyer) taken out.
  • Widows also shined a light on Daniel Kaluuya as he’s said to have a terrific part in it. He is now included in Supporting Actor along with Green Book‘s Ali. Sam Rockwell (Vice) and Russell Crowe (Boy Erased) have been moved out of the predicted nominees.
  • In Supporting Actress, Emma Stone has replaced Vera Farmiga (The Front Runner).
  • Yorgos Lanthimos has been included in my 5 director nominees and that means Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) is on the outside looking in currently.

Here’s the whole breakdown for this week!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. First Man (PR: 4)

4. The Favourite (PR: 6)

5. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR 1)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

7. Boy Erased (PR: 8)

8. Vice (PR: 9 – previously known as Backseat)

9. Black Panther (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Green Book (PR: 18)

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 15)

12. Widows (PR: 14)

13. The Front Runner (PR: 10)

14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 25)

15. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 24)

16. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

17. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 21)

18. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 17)

19. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 16)

20. Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

22. Cold War (PR: 20)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 23)

24. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 19)

25. Peterloo (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

July 22

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

4. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

9. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 12)

10. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

11. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 15)

12. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

Mike Leigh, Peterloo

Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 2)

3. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 6)

4. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 4)

5. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

7. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

8. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 10)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 5)

10. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 14)

11. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 9)

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

13. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 13)

15. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 11)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

5. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 12)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 9)

9. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 3)

10. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

12. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

13. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

14. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 13)

15. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

3. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 3)

7. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

8. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

9. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

10. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 6)

11. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

12. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 12)

15. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick

J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 1)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 7)

4. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 3)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 14)

7. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

8. Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

10. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 4)

13. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 8)

15. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

Blythe Danner, What They Had

Rachel McAdams, Disobedience 

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

2. First Man (PR: 5)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Boy Erased (PR: 4)

7. Widows (PR: 13)

8. Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Front Runner (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

11. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 12)

12. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 9)

14. Disobedience (PR: 11)

15. Wildlife (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Vice (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 6)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 13)

7. Ben Is Back (PR: 9)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 10)

9. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 5)

10. Vox Lux (PR: 8)

11. First Reformed (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 12)

13. Mid90s (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Hereditary (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Peterloo

Isle of Dogs

Bohemian Rhapsody

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

What a difference a week makes! Last Thursday, I gave you my first initial predictions in the major categories for the Oscars. Since then – we’ve seen a slew of pictures screened at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.

Films like A Star Is Born, Roma, First Man, and The Favourite solidified their status as contenders. Others like Boy Erased and The Front Runner availed themselves as possibilities, but not slam dunks. Others like Destroyer and The Old Man & The Gun likely took themselves out of the running in Best Picture, but shined a light on their actors that could receive nods.

And here’s the thing… by the time I do my third round of predictions next Thursday, we will have lots more pictures screened at the Toronto Film Festival, which begins today. That includes such high-profile titles as If Beale Street Could Talk, Beautiful Boy, Widows, and more.

Here’s how I have the key races ranked by possibility of nomination at this point in time!

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 4)

4. First Man (PR: 5)

5. Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

6. The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. Backseat (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Black Panther (PR: 12)

12. Peterloo (PR: 9)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

14. Widows (PR: 11)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 16)

16. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 17)

17. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 22)

18. Green Book (PR: 21)

19. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

20. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

21. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 23)

22. July 22 (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 19)

24. The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Destroyer

Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 11)

7. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

8. Adam McKay, Backseat (PR: 7)

9. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

10. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Mike Leigh, Peterloo (PR: 9)

12. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

14. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

15. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 3)

3. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

4. Christian Bale, Backseat (PR: 6)

5. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

7. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 5)

8. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

10. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 13)

11. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 10)

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

13. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 14)

14. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 6)

4. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 9)

5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 3)

9. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

11. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

12. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 15)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 13)

15. Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

10. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

12. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 11)

13. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick (PR: Not Ranked)

15. J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 3)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Backseat (PR: 5)

4. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

7. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 12)

10. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

12. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 9)

13. Blythe Danner, What They Had (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

15. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

4. Boy Erased (PR: 3)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. The Front Runner (PR: 8)

8. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Disobedience (PR: 13)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

13. Widows (PR: 12)

14. Wildlife (PR: 14)

15. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 5)

2. Roma (PR: 1)

3. Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Green Book (PR: 11)

7. Peterloo (PR: 2)

8. Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ben is Back (PR: 8)

10. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

11. Isle of Dogs (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 9)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

14. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 14)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Destroyer

Colette

Check back next Thursday for updated predictions!

Oscar Watch: The Front Runner

Director Jason Reitman debuted his newest feature at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend. It’s a venue that he probably has affection for. Both 2007’s Juno and 2009’s Up in the Air premiered in Colorado and went on to garner Best Picture nominations. On the other hand, his last feature to open there (2014’s Labor Day) saw its awards hopes dashed upon critical reaction.

This brings us to The Front Runner, which recounts Gary Hart’s failed 1988 Presidential campaign. Hugh Jackman plays him with Vera Farmiga as his wife. The buzz from Telluride includes some solid reviews, with some claiming it shares the vibe of Robert Altman’s 1970s works. However, not all write-ups have been raves.

This puts The Front Runner in a position of uncertainty. It could face an uphill battle for Picture or Director nods (as well as Adapted Screenplay). Jackman has only one Academy Awards nomination to his credit for 2012’s Les Miserables. He didn’t manage to score recognition last year for two high-profile roles in Logan or The Greatest Showman. Farmiga also has one nod to her credit courtesy of Reitman’s Up in the Air. Both are possibilities, but far from slam dunks in Actor and Supporting Actress.

Bottom line: let’s see how future buzz plays out, but The Front Runner might find itself on the back burner for Oscar chatter.

The film opens November 7 in the United States. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: First Man

The Venice Film Festival has kicked off today with Toronto coming next week. That means you can expect two dozen or more Oscar Watch posts coming your way on the blog over the next few days!

The opening film from Venice is a big one – Damien Chazelle’s First Man. The story of Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) journey to the moon has screened for critics and the early verdict is quite strong.

It should come as no surprise that Man is considered a potential serious awards contender. Director Chazelle has seen both of his previous works – 2014’s Whiplash and 2016’s La La Land – land Best Picture nominations. The latter infamously lost to Moonlight. Additionally, both pictures resulted in Oscar wins for their performers (J.T. Walsh for Supporting Actor in Whiplash and Emma Stone in lead Actress for La La).

So where does this stand based on early buzz emanating from Italy? It would appear First Man is highly likely to be director’s third effort in a row to be recognized in Best Picture. Chazelle also stands a great chance at a directing nod (he won for La La and was the youngest filmmaker in history to do so).

As for the actors, critical notices have heaped praise on Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife Jan. Her inclusion in Supporting Actress is probable. Of the many recognizable male supporting players, it appears Jason Clarke is receiving the most attention. It’s possible that Universal’s Oscar campaign’s focus could primarily center on Gosling and Foy, but I wouldn’t count Clarke out.

Which brings us to Gosling. Critics have been very kind in praising his understated work. I don’t think it’s yet a guarantee that Gosling lands his third Best Actor nod (after Half Nelson and La La Land), but he’s absolutely in the mix.

In addition to Best Adapted Screenplay, First Man should definitely find itself under consideration for numerous tech races including Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Production Design, and Original Score.

Bottom line: First Man is the first fall festival picture to be screened… and it’s established itself as a major player.

First Man opens domestically on October 12. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Justice League Movie Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a bit of a mess and it earned its reputation as such in many ways. However, I found myself seemingly in the minority of those who sort of dug it. Where it failed – it failed significantly. That includes the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor with his manic and bizarre take on the iconic villain. There were some narrative choices that were questionable. Yet when BvS worked, I felt it worked well and that included Ben Affleck succeeding as Batman.

Justice League is less cluttered. Zack Snyder, directing this DC Universe for the third time, captains a tighter ship with a shorter running time than what’s preceded it… and nearly all recent comic book adaptations for that matter. It is, of course, Warner Bros venture into Avengers territory. There’s a somewhat lighter tone that we first saw in the summer’s Wonder Woman stand-alone feature. The inclusion of The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) contribute to that. So does the fact that the unusually somber Superman (Henry Cavill) who brooded through much of Man of Steel and BvS is absent much of the time.

As you’ll recall, Superman was dead and buried at the BvS conclusion. Justice League opens with the world missing him and crime on the rise. Batman is doing his level best, but he needs a squad. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still dealing with the loss she experienced in her own movie, but she’s game to help. They recruit the newbies only glimpsed upon in BvS: The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). It is their mission to thwart the Earth dominating plans of Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), a motion capture evil alien. The League incorporates their powers to do so, but they know they must resurrect the Big S to complete the task.

The Avengers had the advantage of having introduced several of its core characters in separate entries. That doesn’t hold true here for half of the Justice League. Miller provides some decent comic relief, Momoa has a memorable moment or two and Fisher’s backstory is a bit blah. Their inclusion feels a little rushed and a little watered down.

Curiously the villain issue of BvS, while highly disappointing, was at least fascinating to witness in a rather bad way. Here the character of Steppenwolf isn’t really interesting at all. Many of these comic book adaptations have suffered the most from bland baddies and this is another.

League finds time to bring back Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and Clark’s mama (Diane Lane) in limited fashion. J.K. Simmons turns up briefly as the previously MIA Commissioner Gordon. It is Gadot who shines brightest, which is no surprise considering her rock solid solo spotlight just months prior.

In essence, Justice League feels ordinary too often. It’s got the same flaws as others in the genre. It has the same bright spots with certain performances. There’s action sequences that impress and others with dodgier CG. Call me crazy, but I admired BvS often for its occasional audacity and untidiness. With Justice, it joins a league of plenty others like it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Father Figures Box Office Prediction

Looking to tickle the funny bones of audiences over the long holiday weekend, Father Figures debuts next Friday. The pic casts Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as brothers searching for their biological pops after mom Glenn Close informs them it could be several men. J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames, and Terry Bradshaw (playing himself) are among them. Katt Williams, June Squibb, and Harry Shearer are included in the supporting cast with Lawrence Sher directing.

Originally titled Bastards, the comedy was originally slated by Warner Bros. for a November 2016 opening before a delay until January 2017 and finally this Christmastime release. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with the multiple push backs.

Figures has plenty of competition and of the five wide releases premiering over the weekend, it will likely place fifth among them. Its best hope would be to replicate what Why Him? (last year’s Christmas entry in the genre) did with $15.5 million over the four-day frame.

That could be wishful thinking. I’ll predict this only reaches high single digits to low double digits for its roll out.

Father Figures opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/11/jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle-box-office-prediction/

For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/pitch-perfect-3-box-office-prediction/

For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/the-greatest-showman-box-office-prediction/

For my Downsizing prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/13/downsizing-box-office-prediction/