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!

Paddington 2 Box Office Prediction

Apologies in advance for the pun, but Warner Bros is hoping for a “beary” pleasing result when Paddington 2 debuts next weekend. It arrives three years after the original posted stellar results stateside during the MLK four-day frame. The family pic brings back Ben Whishaw as the voice of the title bear made famous by a series of childrens stories. Paul King returns in the director’s chair, as do cast returnees Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and Peter Capaldi. New but familiar faces to the series include Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson.

The sequel received a bit of unexpected publicity this fall as it was originally to be distributed by the Weinstein Company. When controversy swirled around Harvey Weinstein, Warner swooped in and picked up distribution rights. The well-reviewed predecessor premiered in January 2015 to a $25 million long weekend opening with a $76 million eventual haul. Part 2 has already taken in nearly $100 million overseas and has critics on its side, with a 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

There is still competition out there for family audiences as Jumanji should still be posting solid grosses. The sequel may not quite match the earnings of the first, but I’ll predict it manages to top $20 million out of the gate.

Paddington 2 opening weekend prediction: $22.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Post prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/04/the-post-box-office-prediction/

For my The Commuter prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/03/the-commuter-box-office-prediction/

For my Proud Mary prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/01/03/proud-mary-box-office-prediction/

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

ME…

Another “re-imagining” of the Tarzan tale? Could this work at all?

YOU…

might be surprised by how some wise choices contribute to David Yates’s The Legend of Tarzan being a fairly satisfying experience.

The first solid choice is not to make this an origin story like we’ve seen repeatedly with franchises in recent years. When the proceedings begin, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is settled in London as Lord Greystoke with wife Jane (Margot Robbie). His childhood of growing up in the wild and being able to communicate with the jungle creatures is told as backstory and it doesn’t take up much screen time.

Of course, we know a plot point must return Greystoke to his native grounds. It involves bad guy Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) collecting some precious diamonds from a tribe led by a Chief (Djimon Hounsou). In exchange for the stones, the Chief only wants Tarzan in return. You see – our title character had a run-in with the Chief’s only son years ago.

To the jungle we go with lots of CG animals that look fine, though maybe not quite as exquisite as in The Jungle Book or the revamped Apes franchise. Joining Big T on the adventure are his wife and American envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson).

The second welcome choice here is Robbie, who’s radiance has permiated everything she’s been in. Beyond her top-notch work, the screenwriters succeed in making her more than a Damsel in a White Dress. She’s tough, feisty, funny, and equal to her man.

Tarantino stalwarts Waltz and Jackson give you pretty much what you’d expect. Jackson gets a couple decent one-liners and Waltz could play the conniving villain role in his sleep (and has with superior writing). Skarsgard’s performance will be remembered more for his muscle tone and vine swinging than much else (he looks the part though).

Even though this legend has been around forever, you may find yourself recalling this year’s live-action version of Kipling’s Jungle Book from time to time and not just because of the CG. A scene where elephants are bowed to and treated as mystical creatures? Check. Overtones of colonialism that the filmmakers don’t really know how to deal with? Little bit. That said, we’ve got hungry hippos in Tarzan and they weren’t in Jon Favreau’s movie!

So while this may feel a bit familiar, the aforementioned pluses make this frequent return to this legend an entertaining enough time.

*** (out of four)

Bridget Jones’s Baby Box Office Prediction

Bridget Jones’s Baby not only marks the return of a long dormant franchise, but also the return of Oscar winner Renee Zellweger, making her first onscreen appearance in six years. It’s been twice that long since her title character has been in multiplexes.

In 2001, Bridget Jones’s Diary was a solid hit, opening to $10.7 million and displaying great legs to get to $71 million domestic. It also earned its lead a Best Actress nod. The 2004 sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, didn’t fare as well with a $40 million eventual gross.

Besides Zellweger returning to one of her most well-known roles, Sharon Maguire (director of the original) is also back. Same with Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent. Not returning: Hugh Grant and the love triangle with Bridget and Mr. Firth is instead completed by Patrick Dempsey.

As I see it, the long wait between entries and middling performance of the second entry doesn’t bode too well here. I highly doubt this can reach the $17.8 million accomplished by My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (another long gestating rom com sequel) earlier this year. After all, the predecessor for that one made $241 million.

My prediction is this doesn’t quite reach teens for its box office birth.

Bridget Jones’s Baby opening weekend prediction: $12.3 million

For my Blair Witch prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/07/blair-witch-box-office-prediction/

For my Snowden prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/07/snowden-box-office-prediction/

For my Hillsong – Let Hope Rise prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/12/hillsong-let-hope-rise-box-office-prediction/

The Legend of Tarzan Box Office Prediction

Remember three summers ago when the mega-budgeted The Lone Ranger made just $29 million in its first weekend and was a huge disappointment? I give you what could be this year’s Ranger: Warner Bros The Legend of Tarzan, which swings into theaters over July 4th weekend with an estimated $180 million budget. I’m not convinced it’ll reach half its budget domestically when all is said and done.

Based on the iconic character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan is directed by David Yates – the man responsible for the last four Harry Potter pics and this fall’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Alexander Sarsgard is in the title role with Margot Robbie as Jane and Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, and Jim Broadbent among the supporting players.

The biggest hurdle here could be the considerable competition for a family audience. Finding Dory will still be earning a lot in weekend #3 and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG opens the same day. There just doesn’t seem to be much excitement for this and it could get a bit lost in the shuffle. Luckily for Yates, his Beasts project is likely to be a smash. Luckily for Robbie, she’s a just over a month away from Suicide Squad probably doing bang-up business.

I’ll predict a three-day debut in the high teens and a low 20s four-day for the holiday frame. Considering its price tag, that’s bad news at Warner.

The Legend of Tarzan opening weekend prediction: $17.5 million (Friday to Sunday), $22 million (Friday to Monday)

For my The BFG prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/22/the-bfg-box-office-prediction/

For my The Purge: Election Year prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/22/the-purge-election-year-box-office-prediction/

Big Game Movie Review

“Say cheese” is the final line of Jelmari Helander’s Big Game and it’s an appropriate one because this Finnish director knows he’s paying homage to 80s/90s style PG-13 adventure in a tongue and cheek way. The result is a fast paced experience that doesn’t always transcend the cliches of the kind of pics it admires, but has some fun moments along the way.

The concept is of the highest order. The President of the United States Bill Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) is aboard Air Force One flying over Finland (though it was filmed in Germany) when it’s shot down by terrorists. The POTUS gets out through an escape pod, landing in the wilderness. Lucky for him, young Oskari (Onni Tommila) is on a hunting trip in the barren land. He’s about to turn 13 and it’s tradition in his family to show their manhood by bagging a bear or deer… or in this case, corrupt Secret Service agents and Middle Eastern looking baddies. The two team up to outrun their hunters, led by Ray Stevenson’s head agent gone rogue (think James Woods in White House Down). We also see the confusion happening in Washington D.C. as the VP (Victor Garber), an expert CIA man (Jim Broadbent, having a good time), and others including Felicity Huffman and Ted Levine try to save their leader.

Somewhat surprisingly, Helander’s screenplay doesn’t turn President Moore into a secret ass kicker like this material frequently does (think ID4’s Bill Pullman or Air Force One’s Harrison Ford). He’s a bit of a weakling (his approval rating is apparently upside down as well) and young Oskari is also trying to live up to his father’s legendary huntsman status. Moore’s survival skills are questionable as is his teenage companion’s bow and arrow abilities. In a role where one might think Jackson would overact, he gives an often tender performance, when he’s not trying to work a machine gun.

Action sequences are certainly not of the huge budget order, but they’re passable enough. The villains are pretty dull and non descript. For a quick fix of playful and knowingly ridiculous entertainment, Big Game isn’t bad even if its concept can’t completely sustain itself through the Finnish line. What I came away thinking the most is that director Helander could be a natural choice to helm a throwback genre that’s been rebooted or is currently producing sequels. With his clear admiration of the time period, he might do something worthwhile with Jurassic dinos or Goonies.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Brooklyn

When John Crowley’s period piece immigration drama Brooklyn premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it quickly vaulted itself into the world of Oscar buzz. This holds especially true for its star Saoirse Ronan, who plays a 1950s Irish woman who travels to that titled burrow and finds romance with an Italian (Emory Cohen, whose performance is also receiving kudos). Domnhall Gleeson and Jim Broadbent are among the costars but it’s the other female cast member, Julie Walters, who’s also meriting Academy nod talk in the Supporting Actress race.

If Ronan were to find herself in the Actress mix, it would be her first recognition in that category, though she did pick up a Supporting Actress nomination for 2007’s Atonement. The pic appears to be somewhat similar in plot to Jim Sheridan’s 2003 acclaimed In America, which received nods for Screenplay, Actress (Samantha Morton) and Supporting Actor (Djimon Hounsou).

Early reviews are glowing (it’s at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Brooklyn appears likely at this juncture to be a player in the Best Picture derby with Ronan seeming like a lock. The film premieres stateside on November 6.