The British Fall for 1917

The BAFTAs took place today and they’re the British equivalent of the Oscars. And it was 1917 continuing its epic run in precursors by winning 7 trophies, including Best Picture and Director. That said, the victory comes with a caveat and not a minor one. The last five BAFTA Picture recipients did not go on to nab the top prize with the Academy. So if you’re still considering going with Parasite or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or something else to take the biggest Oscar, there’s reason to do so.

In the acting races, nothing changed the narrative of having major front runners in all four. The winners (and it’ll look familiar): Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) for Actor, Renee Zellweger (Judy) in Actress, and Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) for the supporting derbies. Simply put, anyone other than this quartet taking Oscar gold would constitute an upset.

One day after the Writers Guild named Jojo Rabbit as Adapted Screenplay as its winner and Parasite in Original Screenplay, BAFTA followed suit. It puts them in the driver’s seat for the Academy and that’s not welcome news for Little Women in Adapted or Hollywood in Original.

Another race to watch is Animated Feature because it seems wide open at the moment. Toy Story 4 is seen as the favorite due to Oscar’s penchant for Pixar. However, that sure seems iffy because other titles keep picking up precursors. Today it was Netflix’s Klaus taking the award.

Here’s the list of other winners for the BAFTAs:

Outstanding British Film – 1917

Film Not in the English Language – Parasite

Documentary – For Sama

Score – Joker

Casting – Joker

Cinematography – 1917

Editing – Ford v Ferrari

Production Design – 1917

Costume Design – Little Women

Makeup & Hair – Bombshell

Sound – 1917

Visual Effects – 1917 

Look for plenty more Oscar speculation as we are now one week away from the show!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Joaquin Phoenix

The Case of posts for performers up for Academy Awards on February 9th arrived at Joaquin Phoenix as Joker in the Todd Phillips directed blockbuster:

The Case for Joaquin Phoenix

After three previous nominations for Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, all signs are pointing to Phoenix finally getting the gold. For this particular comic book pic, Joker defied all expectations with a worldwide gross of over a billion dollars. Much of the focus was on Phoenix’s intense performance and he’s been rewarded with Golden Globe and SAG victories already. The film itself leads the Oscars with 11 total nominations.

The Case Against Joaquin Phoenix

The release of Joker was met with some controversy about its themes and overall message. There could be enough of a backlash that it could prevent Phoenix rising up to the podium.

The Verdict

Simply put, he is a massive front runner for his first Academy Award. If Phoenix does so, he would make a bit of Oscar history. There’s only been one combination of actors winning for playing the same fictional character: Marlon Brando and Joaquin’s Joker costar Robert De Niro as Michael Corleone in the first two Godfather epics. In 2008, Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded Supporting Actor as Joker in The Dark Knight. Expect there to be a second instance of that occurring.

My Case of posts will focus next on Charlize Theron for Bombshell!

Jojo and Parasite Get the Writers Approval

The Writers Guild of America held their awards ceremony this evening and it serves as a significant indicator for the direction Oscar voters might go for the Adapted and Original Screenplay categories.

In Original Screenplay, this race was looked at as a showdown between Marriage Story and Parasite. The other nominees (1917, Booksmart, Knives Out) weren’t much in contention. For awards followers, you might notice I didn’t say Quentin Tarantino’s script for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s a reason as the filmmaker is not a member of the guild and therefore not eligible for recognition. In the 2010s, we’ve already seen that factor come into play once when his Django Unchained screenplay wasn’t listed (Zero Dark Thirty won instead). Quentin went on to Oscar victory.

This evening, it is Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-won taking the prize for Parasite. My feeling is that the recipient between that and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story now has the upper hand to compete with Hollywood at the Academy ceremony next weekend. So it’s a good night for the Parasite team.

Adapted Screenplay was definitely one to watch. Two nominees – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Joker – were looked at as long shots at best. This one came down to The Irishman (Steve Zaillian), Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi), and Little Women (Greta Gerwig). That holds true for Oscar (the five nominees here match the Academy’s). Waititi is the victor for Rabbit. The film most negatively affected is The Irishman, as Adapted Screenplay looks to be its most viable chance for a major category pickup. The narrative lately is that Gerwig could win the Oscar, especially since she was snubbed for Director. Yet Waititi’s trophy tonight puts him in the soft front runner position.

Look for lots more Oscar coverage on the blog as we are eight days away from the event itself!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Adam Driver

My Case of posts for the acting contenders at this year’s Oscar brings us to the third performer in Best Actor… Adam Driver in Marriage Story. Here’s his story:

The Case for Adam Driver

2019 capped off an amazing decade for Driver. In addition to his high-profile role in the HBO series Girls, his filmography over the past few years has been remarkable. To give you an idea, here’s some of the directors he worked with in the 2010s: Clint Eastwood, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Terry Gilliam, and Spike Lee. The latter filmmaker helped Driver get his first Oscar nod last year in Supporting Actor for BlacKkKlansman. 2019 saw his best year yet with his final portrayal as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and critical praise for the political drama The Report. Yet it’s his role as the divorcing husband to Scarlett Johansson in frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story that garnered his greatest reviews thus far.

The Case Against Adam Driver

He’s still young enough that there’s little overdue for a win sentiment happening. Marriage Story has fallen behind in numerous categories with the exception of Laura Dern in Supporting Actress. Joaquin Phoenix has swept the key precursors.

The Verdict

Driver will likely place second in the voting behind the rising of Phoenix over the past few weeks.

My Case of posts will continue with the third competitor in Best Actress… Saoirse Ronan in Little Women!

Birds of Prey Box Office Prediction

When Margot Robbie walks the Oscar red carpet next Sunday evening as a Supporting Actress nominee for Bombshell, she will do so as an underdog in that category. On the bright side, it’s a near certainty that she’ll be starring in the #1 film in the United States. Robbie returns as DC Comics villain Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, her stand-alone continuation of her character first seen in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Cathy Yan directs with a supporting cast including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor.

Graced with the lengthy subtitle and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, the eighth pic in the DC Extended Universe is not expected to hit Suicide Squad numbers ($133 million opening weekend) or last fall’s Joker ($96.2 million). As for the latter, projections are putting it at around half that figure.

Prey should be assisted by the fact that Robbie had an impressive 2019. In addition to her Academy approved work in Bombshell, she costarred in Quentin Tarantino’s hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While the official Squad sequel won’t be ready until summer of 2021, Quinn was certainly regarded as one of the original’s bright spots.

As of now, the high end of estimates puts this in the mid 50s. I’m predicting it will achieve that and could even climber higher if positive buzz develops in the coming days.

Birds of Prey opening weekend prediction: $55.6 million

Oscars 2019: The Case of Leonardo DiCaprio

For my second writeup in my Case of posts in the Best Actor derby at the Oscars, we come to Leonardo DiCaprio (perhaps you’ve heard of him). Here’s the storyline for and against a second trip to the podium:

The Case for Leonardo DiCaprio

Well, he’s probably the biggest movie star in the world and that helps. A six-time nominee and winner in 2015 for The Revenant, his work in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood garnered the usual raves and one heckuva meltdown scene. In a 2019 field that saw over 10 feasible contender in this race, he’s one of just three (along with Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver) to be nominated in all the higher profile precursors.

The Case Against Leonardo DiCaprio

Of the precursors, he’s lost them all to Phoenix. DiCaprio’s costar Brad Pitt has been receiving the lions share of awards love here with multiple Supporting Actor victories.

The Verdict

Had DiCaprio not recently won for The Revenant (Hollywood is his first movie since), there might be more of a path. However, the Phoenix factor and Pitt attention should leave Leo 1/6 on Oscar night.

My Case of posts will continue with the second nominated Best Actress… Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story!

Parasite Invades SAG

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards remained on script for about 99% of its running time last night. And then it went ahead and made this year’s Best Picture race at the Oscars all the more interesting.

Before we get to that, I went four for four in my acting category predictions and did so by sticking with the front runners. Those would be Joaquin Phoenix in Joker and Renee Zellweger in Judy in the leads and Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Laura Dern for Marriage Story with supporting. Let’s be clear: 2019 appears to be a year where there’s strong favorites in all four races. Anyone other than this quartet winning on Oscar night at this point would constitute an upset.

When it comes to the biggest race of all, it’s still open. One could argue that 1917 is a soft front runner after winning Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America (where 13 of 19 recipients this century took the Oscar) and Best Drama at the Golden Globes. The Sam Mendes World War I epic wasn’t nominated for SAG. And therefore the narrative going into yesterday evening is that the winner here could serve as the most viable Academy alternative.

I projected that movie would be Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Yet the SAG branch went with Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. Perhaps I should have suspected this when its cast (presenting clips) received raucous applause that eclipsed all others. However, I chose not to predict its win, in part, due to no actors getting individual nods for their work. The Parasite victory here is major as its the first foreign language feature to be named in this category. It certainly sets up an argument that the Best Picture derby at the Oscars has really come down to three: 1917, Hollywood, and Parasite.

So what’s next? The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announces their winner this Sunday. That feels important because 16 out of the past 19 directing winners there have taken the gold statue. It’s probably Joon-Ho vs. Mendes and the honoree could then see their film vault to the front of the Picture pack.

Bottom line: SAG solidified the four actors vying for their statues while further complicating the Picture derby.

2019 SAG Awards WINNER Predictions

Another major Oscar precursor holds their ceremony this evening with the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. This particular show has definitely served as a massive indicator where the Academy might go with the acting winners. As for Best Picture, not so much.

So let’s get into it as I make my projections for what will happen tonight!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Analysis: Nyong’o is the odd one out here as she didn’t nab an Oscar nomination. A win here by Johansson and Theron (both are possible) could set up a narrative as being Zellweger’s legit competition. Over the past decade, the SAG and Oscar winner have matched seven out of nine times. The outliers include last year when Glenn Close took the SAG for The Wife and Olivia Colman won the Academy Award for The Favourite. Tonight could also solidify Zellweger’s work as Judy Garland in the biopic. My suspicion is that it happens.

PREDICTED WINNER: RENEE ZELLWEGER

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Analysis: A Best Actor derby where ten performers were vying for five spots means 2 men here didn’t make the Oscar cut: Bale and Egerton. Therefore, I see this as a three person showdown between DiCaprio, Driver, and Phoenix. The Oscar/SAG linkage here is significant as eight of the last nine victors went on to take the Academy Award. 2016 was the only exception when Denzel Washington got the SAG for Fences and Casey Affleck was the Oscar recipient for Manchester by the Sea.

Driver could be the larger threat, but this season is shaping up to be a sweep for Phoenix. That’s where the smart money is tonight.

PREDICTED WINNER: JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Analysis: There is a 7 for 9 SAG/Oscar match in this category this decade. Foxx didn’t get the Academy attention. Hanks is beloved, but his movie has underwhelmed elsewhere. Pacino and Pesci should split votes. And the narrative continues for Pitt to have a terrific awards season.

PREDICTED WINNER: BRAD PITT

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 

The Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Nicole Kidman (Bombshell), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

Analysis: During the 2010s, there was an 8 for 8 SAG/Oscar match here from 2010-2017. Yet 2018 was the exception and a rather enormous one. Emily Blunt’s victory last year for A Quiet Place was a stunner since she had no Oscar nod. And the Academy’s winner (Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk) didn’t get a SAG nod.

Could this set up a situation where Lopez, snubbed by the Academy, could walk to the podium tonight? I’m tempted to make that upset pick. However, Dern is unquestionably the favorite and I just can’t bet against her.

PREDICTED WINNER: LAURA DERN

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Bombshell, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite

Analysis: Now here is where it gets interesting! Unlike the individual acting races, there isn’t as much of a history with this category matching up with Oscar’s Best Picture. This decade it’s happened four out of nine times. For the 21st century, it’s nine out of nineteen times.

You don’t see 1917 listed here and with its Golden Globe Best Drama and PGA victories, it’s the soft front runner for Oscar. An omission here doesn’t mean much as the last two Academy BP recipients (The Shape of Water, Green Book) missed here. Other than Bombshell, the nominees here are all nominated for Best Picture. Any of them winning tonight could position that film as the main competitor to 1917. That said, I don’t discount Bombshell taking the prize this evening as it received the greatest number of SAG nods.

Parasite is the only nominee where none of its individual performers were nominated. You could argue that the voters simply saved for their votes for this race. Jojo has its hardcore fans. The Irishman boasts a trio of acting legends.

Ultimately, I’m leaning toward the sprawling cast of Hollywood. Yet I’ll freely admit that this category seems wide open.

PREDICTED WINNER: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

And there you have it! I’ll have a post up recounting how I did and what it means for the Oscar race soon enough…

The Producers Go To 1917

Last night, the Producers Guild of America bestowed their honoree for best of the year and it’s a significant harbinger of what could lie ahead at the Oscars. In the 21st century, 13 of the 19 PGA winners ended up winning Best Picture from the Academy. In fact, 2018’s “surprise” PGA recipient Green Book took the prize at the big show as well.

It was the Sam Mendes World War I epic 1917 that emerged victorious. That’s another major precursor pickup after the Golden Globes named it Best Drama a couple weeks back. 1917 earned the award over nine other nominees that includes the eight pictures it’s nominated with from the Academy and Knives Out.

Let’s be clear – a solid argument can now be made that 1917 is the front runner to win the Oscar. If the Directors Guild of America names Mendes as their choice next weekend, that will serve as another huge precursor. Yet the 1917 love won’t extend to tonight’s Screen Actors Guild Awards (my predictions for that event will be on the blog later this morning). 1917 is not nominated for Best Ensemble from SAG. If The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Parasite win Ensemble, the narrative may turn to that picture as its strongest competitor.

Still, one week after 1917 rode its awards buzz to impressive box office earnings, it’s established itself as perhaps the film to beat.

Oscars 2019: The Case of Joker

Part 4 of my Case of posts laying out the pros and cons for nominees to win the big Oscar races continues with Joker in Best Picture. If you missed the first three covering Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, and Jojo Rabbit, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/17/oscars-2019-the-case-of-jojo-rabbit/

The Case for Joker

The grim comic book adaptation has the most nominations of any film with 11. Even heavy hitters The Irishman, 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood followed with 10. Of the nine pictures featured, it’s easily the box office king with $334 million domestically and over a billion dollars worldwide. Joaquin Phoenix appears to be the front runner in Best Actor. The film’s awards chatter exploded when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Joker is further proof that the Academy has warmed to the genre after Black Panther was the first comic book flick to get a Picture nod in 2018.

The Case Against Joker

Many of the reasons listed above can actually be used against it. The picture with the most nominations fails to win Best Picture more often than not. Same goes for the movie that made the most money. Director Todd Phillips got the Oscar nod, but missed the Directors Guild final five. Furthermore, the 69% Rotten Tomatoes is awfully low for a potential Picture recipient. While Joker certainly has its fervent defenders, it was also subject to plenty of controversy about its subject matter.

The Verdict

The thought of Joker winning Best Picture seemed unlikely a short time ago. However, its chances due to the volume of nominations has certainly increased. Ultimately its best bet is for Phoenix to make it to the podium, but this is a Picture victory that can’t be totally discounted.

Up next in my Case of posts… Little Women!