2019 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are updated! Some events from over the last week:

  • By Friday next week, The Irishman will have screened and we will know how much of a contender it truly is. I’ve held it as a placeholder in first since I started my projections a month ago. I’m shaking it up a bit and sliding the picture and Martin Scorsese to third. That means Marriage Story takes over in slot one for Pic and Quentin Tarantino is first for direction.
  • Winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, Jojo Rabbit got just the shot in the arm it needed after mixed reviews. 10 of the past 11 Toronto recipients have nabbed a Best Picture nod. So it’s back in my mix. It replaces Waves.
  • In Director, Sam Mendes is back in with James Mangold out.
  • No changes to the top five in Best Actor. . In Actress and Supporting Actress – same story as even 1-5 rankings remain consistent.
  • In Supporting Actor, it’s Willem Dafoe returning to the predictions over Sterling K. Brown.
  • The five Adapted Screenplays haven’t changed while in Original, it’s The Farewell over Waves. 

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Jojo Rabbit 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Waves 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. 1917 (PR: 10)

7. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 14)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 4)

9. Joker (PR: 8)

10. Little Women (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Waves (PR: 9)

13. The Farewell (PR:12)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 13)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

16. Bombshell (PR: 18)

17. The Lighthouse (PR: 20)

18. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

19. Booksmart (PR: 22)

20. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

21. The Report (PR: 15)

22. Knives Out (PR: 21)

23. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. The Good Liar (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

2. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

3. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

7. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 13)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

13. Todd Phillips, Joker (Not Ranked)

14. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

15. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 3)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 2)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 13)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 10)

13. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim 

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 10)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 12)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 13)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: 15)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 8)

7. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 7)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 11)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 6)

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 7)

7. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 5)

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

9. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

10. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 8)

11. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

15. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Aldis Hodge, Clemency 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 4)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Booksmart (PR: 10)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. The Report (PR: 7)

11. Knives Out (PR: 11)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Honey Boy (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Queen and Slim 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

3. Little Women (PR: 2)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 3)

5. Joker (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

8. Downton Abbey (PR: 13)

9. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

10. Judy (PR: 11)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 15)

12. Luce (PR: 10)

13. Hustlers (PR: 9)

14. Toy Story 4 (PR: 12)

15. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

Back at it next week!!

Jojo Takes Toronto

Buckle up Oscar prognosticators because we are in for a heckuva awards season over the next few months!

One week after Joker took the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and increased its Oscar chances for Best Picture, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit has emerged victorious in the People’s Choice Award in Toronto.

A very solid argument can be made that this particular designation is even more key in determining an eventual BP nod. Why? The odds are certainly in its favor. 10 out of the last 11 winners have received a nod in the big race come Oscar time. Four of them – 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave and last year’s Green Book – ended up winning BP.

What makes the Jojo victory surprising is the mixed critical reaction it’s garnered. The buzz for this award was centered on titles like Parasite (which was a runner-up), Marriage Story (another runner-up), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Conventional wisdom in the last few days has been that Jojo is an on the bubble BP contender at best. The Toronto audience love shows that its admirers are passionate. And that might be enough to overcome the naysayers.

There is no doubt that this is exactly the kind of prize Jojo needed to keep its Oscar viability alive. And now Jojo and Joker have more in common than their alphabetical proximity. They’re contenders.

My Jojo Rabbit review can be found here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/09/10/jojo-rabbit-movie-review/

Oscar Watch: A Hidden Life

In his near half century as an acclaimed director, Terrence Malick has only made ten features and his latest is the World War II era drama A Hidden Life. The Fox Searchlight pic debuted early this summer at the Cannes Film Festival and has continued to Toronto before its December release.

Some critical reaction indicates it could be an awards player while other reviews haven’t been quite as effusive. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 74%. Malick has seen two of his works attract Academy attention in the last two decades with 1998’s The Thin Red Line and 2011’s The Tree of Life. Both received Picture nods and nabbed direction calls for Malick.

With Jojo Rabbit garnering a heavily mixed response in Toronto, perhaps Fox (now owned by Disney) could shift its marketing focus to Life. I wouldn’t count their campaign abilities out, but this will definitely need a strong push to contend. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

Well, a lot has certainly transpired on the Oscar prognostication front in the past week! Most notably would be the Toronto Film Festival and as usual, it helped some pictures and performers and threw shade on the hopes of others.

For blog followers, you’ve seen a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts over the last few days. Various rankings in the eight major categories have shifted as we arrive at today’s predictions with some newcomers hitting predicted territory.

Let’s go through some highlights:

  • One of the more unexpected events from up north was the love for Hustlers, out tomorrow. The attention was particularly centered on the performance of Jennifer Lopez. She goes from unranked all the way to #3 in Supporting Actress.
  • The Two Popes is gathering more admirers as it plays the circuit. I now have it #4 in my BP derby (up five spots). This could change, but I think it’s one of a handful of pics that could win top prize.
  • Joker surprised many by emerging victorious for the Golden Lion at Venice. It now enters the fray as a predicted nominee in BP and Adapted Screenplay, in addition to Joaquin Phoenix.
  • Like Popes, Waves is also making a festival splash and it enters my projected BP recipients in ninth.
  • My projections in the lead acting categories remains the same ten, albeit with some jockeying from last week to this one.
  • In Supporting Actor, lots of movement. Tom Hanks was heralded for his portrayal of Mister Rogers in Toronto for Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I also have Sterling K. Brown in Waves pulling a J-Lo and going from not ranked to nominee. And Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy is drawing acclaim so he joins the shortlist. They replace Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, and Taika Waititi in a crowded field.
  • Speaking of Waititi, Jojo Rabbit was met with wildly divergent opinions in Toronto. I now have it only receiving an Adapted Screenplay nod, but expect its journey to Oscar attention or no attention to be an ongoing story.
  • Harriet seemed to be a bit of a Toronto disappointment. While I’m still listing Cynthia Erivo’s work as the title character in Actress, the movie itself has dropped completely out of my top 25.
  • There is no doubt that the badly reviewed The Goldfinch has seen its Academy dreams totally vanish.

Keep reading on to see how I have everything shaking out at the moment and I’ll have updates forecasts next Thursday!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

4. The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Joker (PR: 15)

9. Waves (PR: 12)

10. 1917 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

12. The Farewell (PR: 11)

13. Just Mercy (PR: 21)

14. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

15. The Report (PR: 10)

16. Pain and Glory (PR: 13)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 18)

19. A Hidden Life (PR: 16)

20. The Lighthouse (PR: 19)

21. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

22. Booksmart (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: 23)

24. Rocketman (PR: 22)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

The Laundromat

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

7. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 11)

10. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 9)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 13)

13. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

15. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 15)

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

3. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 5)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

5. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 9)

9. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

10. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 15)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 10)

13. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 12)

14. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 13)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 14)

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 9)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 15)

13. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 12)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

15. Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

3. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

5. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

7. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 3)

8. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 7)

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 8)

11. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

12. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 15)

13. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

14. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aldis Hodge, Clemency (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 6)

8. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 11)

10. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

11. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

12. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

14. Ana de Armas, Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Renee Elise Goldsberry, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Harriet

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

Taylor Russell, Waves

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Little Women (PR: 3)

3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

4. Joker (PR: 7)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

7. Dark Waters (PR: 4)

8. The Laundromat (PR: 5)

9. Hustlers (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Judy (PR: 15)

12. Toy Story 4 (PR: 11)

13. Downton Abbey (PR: 14)

14. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 12)

15. The Good Liar (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Goldfinch

The King

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Waves (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 6)

7. The Report (PR: 5)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

10. Booksmart (PR: 10)

11. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 14)

15. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Harriet

Dolemite Is My Name

Jojo Rabbit Movie Review

Taika Waititi is a tightrope walker when it comes to the execution of Jojo Rabbit, the kind of picture that few directors might be permitted to make. It helps when you’re coming off Thor: Ragnarok, the best received of that sub franchise in the MCU. This is a tale of atrocities and those involved in it. And it’s handled with a primarily light tone that eventually doesn’t shy away from the horrors of Nazi Germany.

The premise, based on a novel from Christine Leunens, sounds high concept in description. A boy with an imaginary friend that happens to be Adolf Hitler. That sentence could provide a visceral reaction for many and it’s up to Waititi to justify it. He does so in large measure.

The boy is Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a 10-year-old Hitler youth living with his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) in the waning days of World War II. All he really knows is the propaganda of his nation’s leaders and he’s part of the Nazi youth camps. They’re taught by an alcoholic Captain (Sam Rockwell) and a no nonsense Fräulein (Rebel Wilson). Jojo reveres Hitler so much that he acts as his imaginary companion. Waititi pulls double duty as the monstrous Chancellor and plays him as a total nincompoop. Yet like most fictitious companions (even if they’re based on evil real life figures), Jojo’s Hitler serves to reinforce his misguided feelings toward the Jewish people. Also because he’s lonely.

When he discovers that his mom is sheltering young Jewish Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) upstairs, his adolescent worldview is shattered. The witless Hitler doesn’t know what to make of it. Therefore Jojo struggles with how to handle this until his humanity starts to shine through.

To call this movie is a delicate balance is an understatement. There are satirical tones, but there’s a lot more heart. Anyone expecting a Mel Brooks style Producers exercise should look elsewhere. The humor is abundant for the first two acts especially, but always imbued with a level of pathos that comes into sharper focus as it goes on.

Jojo Rabbit is mostly an inventive case study in showing one child learning not to hate. It could fall apart without the casting of Davis. He’s rarely off screen and his performance is fantastic. Not fantastic for a child actor. Fantastic. Not many youngsters could pull off the range of emotions he has to go through and he nails it. McKenzie, in many ways, has an equally challenging role as Elsa navigates teaching Jojo not to fear her. The humanity of her character and the actress playing her convinces us and him. As you might imagine, Waititi has a tricky part as well. He’s got some of the best lines and reactions of all in his campy take. The more recognizable actors are all first-rate. In one of the most powerful scenes not involving Jojo, Johansson has a heart to heart about adulthood with Elsa (on the cusp of entering that status). And speaking of highlights, Jojo’s actual best friend Yorki, played by Archie Yates, is a scene stealer.

So… does this all work? Mostly yes. I also can’t deny that Rabbit never quite reaches the emotional impact that it’s trying to land. The concept doesn’t block that possibility. It’s more that the tonal shifts can be somewhat jarring in a couple of cases. It’s practically unavoidable. I never doubted that Waititi’s heart is in the right place and he’s assembled a superb cast to provide numerous laughs and a lot of warmth. Most importantly, it’s told through a child’s eyes who doesn’t recognize his idols are as false as can be until those eyes are opened.

*** (out of four )

Oscar Watch: Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit is undoubtedly one of Toronto’s most eagerly awaited screenings and it held its unveiling last night. The latest from writer/director Taika Waititi (who hit the big time with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok), Jojo is a comedy that involves a child with an imaginary friend who happens to be Adolf Hitler. The child is played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis while the filmmaker himself plays Hitler. Other costars include Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Sam Rockwell, and Scarlett Johansson.

It’s tough to gauge if this odd concoction will work based on the trailer. Early critical reaction is all over the map. Some love it while others seem quite turned off with claims that its unique tone never comes together. The result is shown in the current Rotten Tomatoes rating – 55%.

Most films with that score wouldn’t be in the conversation for a Best Picture nod. This could be an exception as those who like it really like it. I still think it’s probably an on the bubble candidate, but let’s see how it plays out.

The two actors getting the most praise appears to be youngsters Davis and Thomasin McKenzie. Waititi and Johansson were looked at as possibilities for the supporting races. Not so much anymore in my view (Scarlett can take comfort in that she’s appears in for Marriage Story). And Waititi could still land an Adapted Screenplay nod.

Bottom line: Jojo Rabbit looks polarizing enough to keep it away from the big dance, but ardent supporters could change that dynamic. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Personal History of David Copperfield

In the first of what will be several Oscar Watch posts from screenings at the Toronto Film Festival, we consider The Personal History of David Copperfield. Armando Iannucci serves as director for the Charles Dickens based satire with Dev Patel (Oscar nominee in 2016’s Lion) in the title role. Costars include Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw.

The film is said to be a crowd pleaser. Iannucci has received Academy attention previously with his Original Screenplay for 2009’s In the Loop. Last year’s The Death of Stalin was considered a contender in Adapted Screenplay, though that nod never came. He’s best known stateside for creating HBO’s Veep.

While I don’t foresee Copperfield vying for Picture or any of the acting categories (though Patel is getting raves), Adapted Screenplay could be feasible. That’s with a rather large caveat. A number of the contenders in that race (The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Little Women) are still unseen. That’s changing shortly and we may have a better idea whether there’s any room for this soon. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…