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

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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 Sisters Brothers

Two notable Westerns have had their debuts an ocean away at Venice and Oscar attention could be questionable for both. The first is The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the latest effort from the Coen Brothers. Today brings us The Sisters Brothers, The first English language project from acclaimed French filmmaker Jacques Audiard (whose titles include A Prophet and Rust and Bone).

Said to be a violent romp with comedic touches, the cast includes John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed. The performance getting the most attention is Reilly’s. Could the Academy honor the venerable actor 16 years after his sole nod in Supporting Actor for Chicago? Like any other nominations in the major categories, it’s likely a long shot. Even though Venice reviews have been pretty sturdy, I just don’t envision this as a player for Oscar voters.

Two exceptions could be Cinematography and the Original Score from Alexandre Desplat, an Academy favorite who’s won twice already for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water.

Bottom line: despite solid buzz, don’t expect that to translate to significant awards chatter for The Sisters Brothers.

The film opens stateside on September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Film Festival Season Approaches: The 2018 Hopefuls

We may be smack dab in the middle of the summer movie season, but Oscar season will be taking shape before we know it. This week, the organizers of the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals have unveiled lineups for the pictures that will be premiering at their events in a few weeks. Many of them are awards hopefuls.

To give you an idea of the importance of festivals when it comes to Oscar nominees, six of last year’s nine nominees premiered at some combination of Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York, Sundance, or Cannes. Every Best Picture winner from this decade and beyond played at one of them. The last one that didn’t was The Departed back in 2006.

The months of September-December are the fertile ground for most nominated features. Last year, seven of the nine Picture nominees came out in that time frame. In 2016 – it was 8 out of 9.

Beginning in late August/early September, I will begin my weekly Oscar prediction columns. It works like this:

Late August/Early September – first posting of predictions in the categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress

Months of September and October – weekly Oscar predictions column post covering those 6 categories, as well as Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-25. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-15.

Months of November through announcement of nominations – weekly Oscar predictions column covering every category involving feature films. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-15. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-10.

While these posts are a month away, today I bring you 25 fall awards hopefuls that I suspect I’ll be mentioning frequently. Most of these are premiering at the high-profile quartet of upcoming fests (Venice, Toronto, New York, Telluride). Some aren’t, but could certainly be added to Telluride or New York especially (as they’re more known for surprise screenings).

Let’s get to it!

A Star is Born

The third remake of the musical drama marks the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper and features a potential showcase role for his costar Lady Gaga. Early word of mouth is already strong.

At Eternity’s Gate

He received a nomination for his supporting work last year for The Florida Project and Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in what could be another awards bait role.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Backseat

Expect Adam McKay’s follow-up to The Big Short to receive plenty of attention. Christian Bale is Cheney with Amy Adams as wife Lynne and last year’s Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Beautiful Boy

Steve Carell plays the father of a meth addict played by Timothee Chalamet, who was nominated last year for Call Me by Your Name.

Ben is Back

Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts headline this family drama that premieres at Toronto.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Bohemian Rhapsody

Despite some behind the scenes drama in its filming, all eyes will be on Rami Malek’s work as Queen front man Freddie Mercury.

Boy Erased

Perhaps an even larger showcase role for Lucas Hedges is this drama where he plays a homosexual sent to conversion camp. Joel Edgerton directs and costars along with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy received an Academy Award nomination with her breakthrough role in Bridesmaids. This drama about writer Lee Israel could muster attention for her yet again.

First Man

Director Damien Chazelle has seen both of his efforts (Whiplash, La La Land) nominated for Best Picture and he’s the youngest filmmaker to ever win Best Director. His third pic is a Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling. It opens the Venice Film Festival.

If Beale Street Could Talk

The follow-up to his Oscar winning Moonlight, Barry Jenkins directs this drama set in 1970s Harlem.

July 22

United 93 and Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass brings his latest to Netflix and it focuses on the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Life Itself

Premiering at Toronto, this ensemble drama includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Munn, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas.

Mary Poppins Returns

She’s already a contender for A Quiet Place and Emily Blunt could face competition from herself with Disney’s expected monster hit.

Mary Queen of Scots

They were both nominated for Best Actress last year and now Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this historical drama about the title character and Queen Elizabeth I.

Old Man & The Gun

David Lowery directs Robert Redford in the true life tale of a prison escape artist. Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck costar.

On the Basis of Sex

The documentary RBG could get noticed by the Documentary branch, as could this biopic which casts Felicity Jones as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Peterloo

Acclaimed British director Mike Leigh returns with this historical 19th century drama.

Roma

This Mexican family drama is Alfonso Cuaron’s first directorial effort since his acclaimed Gravity.

Suspiria

Call Me by Your Name maker Luca Guadagnino shifts gears for this remake of the 1970s horror classic. Don’t be surprised if this receives attention in some technical categories.

The Favourite

The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos is behind this historical drama featuring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.

The Front Runner

Jason Reitman directs this biopic of failed Presidential candidate Gary Hart with Hugh Jackman cast in the role.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

The Sisters Brothers

John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal are among the cast in this Western from acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard.

Welcome to Marwen

Steve Carell stars in this unique looking drama from Forrest Gump maker Robert Zemeckis.

Widows

It’s been five years between projects for Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. This heist thriller stars recent winner Viola Davis.

And there’s your very early preview of some titles to keep an eye on over the coming months. Those Oscar posts will start rolling out weekly in about a month! Stay tuned…

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Some stuff is considerably bigger and louder in the newest iteration of the 84 year-old franchise featuring cinema’s most famous plus sized ape. The sound effects are turned up to a higher volume. Since it’s set in the mid 70s, the fashion is louder. The cast of characters we have to keep track of is more populous and filled with familiar faces. And King Kong, himself, is quite bigger. He’s the size of a building this time around. What’s not larger is the running time and that’s a good thing. It was something that hindered Peter Jackson’s lovingly constructed remake of the 1933 classic in 2005. That version ran three hours plus, which was about an hour too long. Kong: Skull Island gets the running time right (two hours) and it gets other things right, too.

I liked the fact that our title character is truly monstrous in size this time around. I enjoyed that it’s set in the Watergate era right as the Vietnam War is winding down. I appreciated the sense of humor and B movie escapism that this Kong often gleefully exudes. Yet when the credits rolled, I couldn’t shake a feeling that the idea of Kong: Skull Island was cooler than the overall execution.

The pic opens with a prologue during World War II where an American and Japanese fighter pilot crash-land on a deserted island. Confronting one another, they mistakenly believe they must only fight each other for survival. Turns out there’s another inhabitant hanging around and he’s about the size of a building.

Flash forward to 1973. John Goodman is Bill Randa, who works for a government agency called Monarch. He’s seen as a crackpot with wild conspiracy theories and one of them involves Skull Island, a remote South Pacific island. Bill convinces his higher-ups to fund a mission to the location and he takes along a whole crew of military guys. They include Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s looking for any action as the Vietnam War is closing out. There’s also British Captain Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who’s charged with navigating through this unknown jungle terrain. Brie Larson is Mason, an anti-war photojournalist fresh from the war and she’s there to document Skull Island. I could continue listing the supporting players. There are lots of them and few of them are very interesting. This is not a screenplay where the human beings are given preferential treatment.

When the team reaches their destination, they discover they are not alone. Kong is there, of course, but so are the island’s natives and that American WWII fighter pilot who is now John C. Reilly with a beard that rivals what David Letterman looks like now. There’s other creatures, too. “Skullcrawlers”, as Reilly coined them because it sounded cool, are reptile like menaces that are the real villains around these parts. That doesn’t matter to Colonel Packard, however, as he’s determined to wipe out Kong for protecting his territory and destroying some of the Colonel’s men along the way.

While 2005’s overstuffed King Kong attempted to be a five-course meal in the giant ape’s filmography, Skull Island is junk food. It mostly knows it is. Many of the actors involved (some fun overacting by Reilly and Jackson) know it is. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts allows moments where the kitschy 70s vibe provides some smiles (watch that Richard Nixon bobblehead shaking during some helicopter escapades). The special effects are, as expected, state of the art. Having said that, I didn’t really feel the Kong we see here is much more impressive than the 2005 version, even though he’s much more ginormous.

The film may have been more effective had it not introduced so many humans and their threadbare subplots and focused instead on – say – three or four of them. Better yet, the focus could have been on the mutated animals and their battle royales. After all, the point of this picture is to eventually produce a King Kong vs. Godzilla extravaganza. In that sense, the 2014 Godzilla reboot directed by Gareth Edwards was a more satisfying appetizer while Kong is a bit less filling.

**1/2 (out of four)

Kong: Skull Island Box Office Prediction

The most famous ape in movie history in back on screen for the first time in over a decade when Kong: Skull Island debuts next weekend. With a reported $190 million budget, Warner Bros. is hoping to keep their monster franchise reaping big grosses as they move toward a planned Godzilla/Kong pic.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs and he’s certainly an interesting choice as his only feature was the low-budget indie The Kings of Summer in 2013. The director may not be high-profile, but the cast is. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell headline. Even with those recognizable names, the real star is that giant CG creature that first graced the screen almost 85 years ago.

Kong is not expected to match the earnings of the Godzilla reboot three years ago. It had a plum summer release date and made over $90 million out of the gate. Competition from the second weekend of the acclaimed Logan could also hinder this a bit.

I expect this will hover right above or below $50 million and word of mouth will determine how it goes from there.

Kong: Skull Island opening weekend prediction: $48.6 million

Sing Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment has become a force in the animated world with huge hits including the Despicable Me franchise, spin-off Minions, and this summer’s The Secret Life of Pets.

They’re back at it again looking for a Christmas cash in with 3D animated musical Sing. The $75 million production should have no trouble bringing in kids and their parents over the holiday season. Singing animals is usually a decent formula for a blockbuster and this should be a strong #2 to the second weekend of Rogue One. There’s plenty of recognizable faces behind their characters including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, and Nick Kroll.

I’ll predict Sing takes in high 40s during the long holiday weekend while reaching mid 60s when you include its Wednesday debut.

Sing opening weekend prediction: $55.3 million (Friday to Monday), $74.1 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Passengers prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/12/14/passengers-box-office-prediction/

For my Assassin’s Creed prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/12/14/assassins-creed-box-office-prediction/

For my Why Him? prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/12/14/why-him-box-office-prediction/

For my Fences prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/12/14/fences-box-office-prediction/