Daily Streaming Guide: March 19th Edition

My Daily Streaming Guide for titles worthy of including in your binge watching escapades continues with some lighter and laugh inducing material:

Amazon Prime

Our taste for cinematic whodunits increased this fall with the release of the blockbuster Knives Out. For those who haven’t seen Clue, not only is it my favorite flick based on a board game – it’s one of my favorite murder mysteries (packed with great one-liners). Featuring an array of hilariously broad performances led by Tim Curry, the pic has deservedly turned into a cult classic. I watched it endlessly as a kid and find it just as entertaining today.


Over a decade before Robin Williams donned a dress and spectacles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Dustin Hoffman did the same in 1982’s massive hit Tootsie. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, a new generation might not be familiar with it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a look.


For something more recent, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne headline the dramedy Instant Family. It casts the pair as foster parents entering unknown and often funny and dramatically resonant territory. Certainly a worthwhile experience that the whole family can enjoy.

I’ll be back at it tomorrow! Until then…

Same Year Double Oscar Nominees: A History

It’s a rare occurrence at the Oscars and it hasn’t happened in over a decade – one actor being nominated in the same year in the lead and supporting categories. To be precise, this has occurred 11 times in the 91 year history of the Academy. Eight women, three men. And if you think this rare honor might lessen the chances of the performer winning, seven of them did. The first four of them emerged victorious for their supporting roles. The last three won for lead.

One of them gets an asterisk and a rather fascinating one for awards trivia buffs. In 1944, Barry Fitzgerald was a double nominee for the same movie! That would be Going My Way. He won for Supporting Actor, but lost out to Bing Crosby in lead. What did Bing win for? Going My Way. After that, the Academy changed their rules so that could never happen again and we didn’t even see another double year individual until almost 40 years later.

That brings us into the modern era when Jessica Lange took gold in Supporting Actress for Tootsie. She came up empty handed in lead for Frances, losing to Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice). Somewhat surprisingly, Streep is not one of the 11 designees despite her record setting amount of nods.

1992 saw Al Pacino finally win a statue for his lead part in Scent of a Woman and he was also nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross. The following year, Holly Hunter won for The Piano and got a supporting nod in The Firm. And our last double year winner was Jamie Foxx in 2004 for Ray with supporting recognition for Collateral. Cate Blanchett is currently the last performer with this rare honor. She heard her name called in 2007 for Elizabeth: The Golden Age (lead) and I’m Not There (supporting). She’s won two Oscars, but not that year, despite the double play.

So why write about this now? In 2019, there are two legitimate possibilities for inclusion to this short list. And both of them have decent shots at winning one of the categories. Let’s start with Scarlett Johansson. She’s somehow never been nominated for an Oscar. And with Marriage Story, it seems that streak is going to end. That would fall under lead and she is a contender to win. Yet she could also find herself in the mix in supporting for Jojo Rabbit.

And how about Brad Pitt… who’s been nominated but never won? He’s already achieving front runner status in Supporting Actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Could his momentum also propel him to a lead actor nod in Ad Astra? Unlikely perhaps, but it’s feasible.

There are plenty of Oscar years where this double nomination thing isn’t even a realistic proposition. 2019 is a different story.

Here’s the full list of the double nominees:


Fay Bainter: Actress (White Banners), Supporting Actress (Jezebel – WON)


Teresa Wright: Actress (The Pride of the Yankees), Supporting Actress (Mrs. Miniver – WON)


Barry Fitzgerald: Actor (Going My Way), Supporting Actor (Going My Way – WON)


Jessica Lange: Actress (Frances), Supporting Actress (Tootsie – WON)


Sigourney Weaver: Actress (Gorillas in the Mist), Supporting Actress (Working Girl)


Al Pacino: Actor (Scent of a Woman – WON), Supporting Actor (Glengarry Glen Ross)


Holly Hunter: Actress (The Piano – WON), Supporting Actress (The Firm)


Emma Thompson: Actress (The Remains of the Day), Supporting Actress (In the Name of the Father)


Julianne Moore: Actress (Far From Heaven), Supporting Actress (The Hours)


Jamie Foxx: Actor (Ray – WON), Supporting Actor (Collateral)


Cate Blanchett: Actress (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Supporting Actress (I’m Not There)

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:



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…

The Gambler Box Office Prediction

Paramount Pictures goes for a little Christmas counter programming with the crime drama The Gambler, a remake of a 1974 James Caan flick. Rupert Wyatt (who did Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directs with Mark Wahlberg headlining. John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Brie Larson costar. Reviews have been mostly positive with a current ranking of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The majority of holiday pictures out there are not catering directly to an adult audience (Unbroken is a notable exception) and it could allow The Gambler to post a decent debut. Wahlberg is hit or miss at the box office, however and I’m not sure the marketing campaign has been effective enough to bring older moviegoers out in droves.

It may be a wager that doesn’t quite work for the studio. I believe The Gambler could get somewhat lost in the shuffle among the higher profile releases. It could struggle to reach $15 million over the four day extended holiday frame and I’ll estimate that it will not.

The Gambler opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $12.2 million (Thursday to Sunday)

For my Into the Woods prediction, click here:


For my Unbroken prediction, click here:


For my prediction on The Interview, click here:


For my prediction on The Imitation Game, click here:


For my Big Eyes prediction, click here:


Todd’s Oscar Predictions: ROUND TWO (October Edition)

This evening on the blog, we arrive at round two of my Oscar Predictions for the 2014 race, which will air in early 2015 with Neil Patrick Harris handling hosting duties. In late August, I made my initial round of predictions and two months later, much has changed and much has stayed the same. Unlike my first round, my second go round will include the races of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay.

Let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s where I see the Oscar race right now in the eight major categories:

Best Adapted Screenplay

For my first crack at the Adapted Screenplay race, it’s probably safe to assume Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own bestseller Gone Girl will make the cut, as well as festival favorites The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything. I’m also safely (at the moment) including Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, even though no one has seen it yet. The fifth slot includes several contenders: Still Alice, Inherent Vice, Wild, Into the Woods, and American Sniper. No one has viewed Sniper yet, but its recently released trailer inspires hope.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

American Sniper

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything


Best Original Screenplay

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman appear to be shoo-ins for inclusion. I’m also thinking Wes Anderson’s work for The Grand Budapest Hotel stands it best chance at a nod here. For the remaining two slots – I’m saying Foxcatcher and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, for now. Other contenders include Mr. Turner, Top Five, Whiplash, A Most Violent Year, Selma, and Big Eyes.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY




The Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Supporting Actress

This race has changed quite a bit since my first round of predictions. I originally had both Emily Blunt for Into the Woods and Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything listed here, but it’s since been announced their performances will fall into the Best Actress race. They’re out – along with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in Selma. The only two actresses from my initial predictions are Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (who’s a front runner) and Laura Dern in Wild. Added to the mix are Emma Stone in Birdman and Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game. Other possibilities for the fifth slot include Meryl Streep in Into the Woods, Jessica Chastain in Interstellar, Carrie Coon for Gone Girl, Sienna Miller in American Sniper, Julianne Moore in A Map to the Stars, Anna Kendrick in Into the Woods, Katherine Waterson in Inherent Vice, and Jessica Lange in The Gambler. I’ll go with Kristen Stewart as a surprise nominee for the acclaimed Still Alice.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Kristen Stewart, Still Alice

Emma Stone, Birdman

Best Supporting Actor

My first predictions didn’t include J.K. Simmons for his lauded work in Whiplash, but he could be considered the favorite at this juncture. Staying in are Edward Norton in Birdman and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher and it’s tough to imagine them not being recognized. For the other two slots, I’m including Miyavi for his villainous role in Unbroken and Ethan Hawke for Boyhood. Left out from my first round: Domhall Gleeson (Unbroken), Logan Lerman (Fury), and Tim Roth (Selma). Other contenders: John Goodman for The Gambler, Tom Wilkinson for Selma, Albert Brooks for A Most Violent Year, Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes, Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice, Robert Duvall in The Judge, and Johnny Depp for Into the Woods.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Miyavi, Unbroken

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Actress

Following my August estimates, the festival circuit anointed Julianne Moore as a likely front runner for playing an Alzheimer’s patient in Still Alice. I’m also sticking with initial predictions Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). Since the announcement of her inclusion in this race and not Supporting Actress, Felicity Jones joins the fray for The Theory of Everything. Other possibilities: Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year (who made the cut in August), Emily Blunt for Into the Woods, Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars, and Hilary Swank for The Homesman.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ACTRESS:

Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor

Just like last year, what a crowded field we have! The following quartet seem virtual locks for nominations: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Michael Keaton (Birdman), and Steve Carell (Foxcatcher). The fifth slot is the real mystery. I originally had Joaquin Phoenix here for Inherent Vice, but I’m skeptical now. For now, I’ll replace him with Jack O’Connell in Unbroken. Other possibilities include Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner (who could easily find a way in), Bradley Cooper in American Sniper (same), Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ben Affleck in Gone Girl, Bill Murray for St. Vincent, David Oyelowo in Selma (depends on film’s success and critical reception), Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar (fact that he won last year hurts), Jake Gyllenhall for Nightcrawler (pic is probably too quirky and small), and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher (Carell likely to steal his thunder).

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST ACTOR:

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Jack O’Connell, Unbroken

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Director

Only one change here as I’m taking Bennett Miller’s direction for Foxcatcher out and putting David Fincher’s work in Gone Girl in. I think the commercial and critical success of it and Fincher’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s best filmmakers gets him in (at press time). Those who could spoil my predictions: Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Ana DuVernay (Selma), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year), and Rob Marshall (Into the Woods).

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, Gone Girl

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Angelina Jolie, Unbroken

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Christopher Nolan, Interstellar

Best Picture

As you may know, anywhere from 5-10 films can be nominated in the biggest category of them all. Since that system has been in place, nine pictures have been recognized every time. In August’s predictions, I predicted eight. And now – I’m going with nine. The MLK biopic Selma is the one I’ve removed. Don’t get me wrong – it could still easily make the cut, but no one’s seen it yet and it’s a question mark. Gone Girl and American Sniper enter the race in my opinion and this marks their first inclusion. Other films that could potentially make the cut (even though I say no at the moment): Mr. Turner, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Violent Year, and Into the Woods.

Todd’s Current Predictions for BEST PICTURE

American Sniper




Gone Girl

The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


Throwback Thursday Reviews: Cape Fear (1991)

Upon its release in 1991, Cape Fear had the unique and odd distinction of being both Martin Scorsese’s most conventional picture and his most experimental. Here the master filmmaker was working in the mainstream world of crafting an audience pleasing thriller. Yet Scorsese was most known for titles that weren’t developed for mass consumption and were made with a more personal touch. Some of them turned out to be masterpieces – Mean Street, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, GoodFellas.

Cape Fear was a different animal. A remake of a 1962 B movie thriller that starred Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. This would allow Scorsese to pay homage to it and Hitchcock’s catalog while modernizing it. Robert De Niro stars as Max Cady, a recently released convict with plans to exact revenge on his defense attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who hid evidence that could have exonerated him. Unlike the 1962 predecessor, Sam’s family is not near picture perfect. Far from it. His wife Leigh (Jessica Lange) is still scarred from her husband’s past infidelities. Danielle (Juliette Lewis) is their bored and sometimes rebellious teenage daughter. One of the things that makes the picture most interesting is that Max is not just going after Sam for vengeful purposes. He has designs to emotionally wound the family even more and he succeeds.

The film is filled with nods to genre pictures that Scorsese undoubtedly feasted on as a young man. Anyone who’s read about him knows he’s an encyclopedia of the trade he’s exceled in for nearly half a century. And Cape Fear‘s greatness is due to the infectious joy that we feel due to Scorsese’s joy in creating it.

Yes, it’s a mainstream thriller with all the conventions we’ve come to expect. A phone ringing unexpectedly during a tense moment. Cady disguising himself in a manner which I still recall had crowds understandably gasping in the theater. However, Cape Fear comes equipped with a brilliant director and first-rate actors participating. De Niro (Scorsese’s go to actor before DiCaprio) is often terrifying in the role of the Southern menace wreaking havoc on the Bowdens. The actor infuses his character with a demented religious fervor and a workout regiment that shows him in a way you’ve never seen him before or since. He received an Oscar nomination and deserved it.

Nolte’s work is worth lots of praise, too. He successfully strays away from making the character heroic and it’s a great twist to have the protagonist written and portrayed in that way. Lange is equally impressive as the frustrated wife and Lewis is a revelation as Danielle. The most famous sequence in the pic involves Max’s first encounter with her. It’s been noted that the scene is improvised and it isn’t your typical scary movie scene, but it might be the most chilling thing of all. For those who’ve yet to see it, I won’t spoil it. The subplot involving Sam’s law clerk (Ileanna Douglas) and her encounter with Max is unforgettable and horrific as well. Their pairing provides our first glimpse of what our main character is capable of.

In a nod to the ’62 original, its stars Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, and Martin Balsam all appear in welcome cameos. Joe Don Baker (one of the terrific characters actors of our time) provides some fine and often humorous moments as a P.I. trying to help Sam out.

As you’d expect in a Scorsese pic, the technical aspects from music to cinematography and so forth are impeccable. Cape Fear may not get mentioned in the same conversations as the director’s beloved group of classics. That’s OK, but it’s a remarkable viewing experience in its own right. And on this Throwback Thursday – it’s one you need to seek out if you haven’t watched it. Or watch it again for that matter to see one of cinema’s best directors put his delicious spin on a well-worn genre.

**** (out of four)