Alicia Vikander won a Supporting Actress trophy for 2015’s The Danish Girl and she looks for her first lead nod as Catherine Parr, the sixth spouse of Jude Law’s Henry VIII in Firebrand. The period drama comes from Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz with a supporting cast including Sam Riley, Eddie Marsan, Simon Russell Beale, and Erin Doherty.
Buzz coming from its screening at Cannes is of the mixed variety and that’s evidenced by the 50% Rotten Tomatoes score. Even the recommendatory write-ups aren’t exactly glowing. Law is getting the best ink. However, his third nod (after 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley in supporting and 2003’s Cold Mountain in lead) is highly unlikely to come to fruition as well as any hope for Vikander. I suppose a Costume Design nod could occur, but Firebrand should be put out of contention by the time nominations are out. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World returns on April 15th with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third entry in a franchise that hasn’t spellbound audiences in the same way that Harry Potter did. David Yates, who made the last four Potter pics and previous two Beasts offerings, is back in the director’s chair. Familiar cast members are led by Eddie Redmayne alongside Jude Law (as the title character), Ezra Miller (in what may be his last appearance in the series due to offscreen controversies), Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, and Katherine Waterston. Speaking of offscreen controversies, Johnny Depp is no longer the villainous Grindelwald as Mads Mikkelsen now fills the role.
COVID and Depp’s recasting kept Secrets from its intended November 2021 debut. With an Easter premiere, Warner Bros is hoping this at least stays on par with predecessor The Crimes of Grindelwald. In 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them took in $74 million for its start with $234 million overall domestically. 2018 follow-up Grindelwald couldn’t match that as it conjured up a Wizarding World opening nadir of $62 million and $159 million total.
Reviews for Secrets are better than those of Grindelwald (60% vs. 36% on Rotten Tomatoes). I’m not sure that will matter all that much. I’m just not sensing the enthusiasm and the three and a half year wait shouldn’t help. This might earn about $15 million less than Crimes to set another low mark.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opening weekend prediction: $48.1 million
Of the 10 pictures released thus far in the Wizarding World franchise, all but three have managed at least one Oscar nomination. That’s a 70% ratio and, somewhat surprisingly, there’s only one victory of the 14 total nods. Even more unexpected is that the sole win doesn’t belong to any of the 8 Harry Potter flicks. That honor goes to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with a Costume Design statue.
On the flip side, its sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is among the trio that received no love from the Academy. It’s also the lowest grossing feature of the series and received the worst reviews (36% on Rotten Tomatoes).
With that context, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opens April 15th. The review embargo is lifted and while its 62% is certainly an improvement on its predecessor, it marks the second lowest meter of the group.
So will the 11th entry attract any Oscar attention? Production Design is always a possibility as half of the pics have managed a nod in that category. I’m more skeptical that Visual Effects or Costume Design come into play. My gut says, however, this could be the fourth tale to come up empty-handed. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
2020’s first precursor to the big show arrived today with the Gotham Awards nominations. The group which honoring independent pictures with budgets of $35 million and under made a little history too. All five contenders for Best Feature are made by female directors: Kitty’s Green The Assistant, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, and Relic from Natalie Erika James.
The tight controls on eligibility (and some major studios didn’t submit their Oscar hopefuls) makes it tricky to prognosticate how these nods compare to what the Academy may do. This has always been the case. That said, in the previous decade, at least one Gotham Feature nominee almost always gets a Best Picture nod. In fact, from 2014 to 2016, the Feature winners (Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight) matched the Oscar winner. Last year, Marriage Story was the sole nominee at Gotham to make the Academy’s cut. In 2018, there were none. Three years ago, both Call Me by Your Name and Get Out got Oscar love.
First Cow led with the most nods and had itself a very good morning. However, its Oscar prospects are iffy while Nomadland looks to be the nominee that will almost certainly get recognition from the Academy (it could even win). The other three nominees are likely non-factors. We did not see another major picture from a female director with One Night in Miami make the final five, though Kingsley Ben-Adir did score a Breakthrough Performance nomination. Also left off: Minari, which seems to be rising in the Oscar chatter.
In the acting races, there were some high profile snubs particularly with Best Actress. Since this category’s inception in 2013, only one winner has matched up with Academy’s selection (Julianne Moore in Still Alice in 2014). In the previous year, none of the five women got Oscar recognition. In every other year, there’s been at least one.
The Gotham Actress hopefuls this year are Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth), Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things), Carrie Coon (The Nest), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). Only McDormand seems destined for the Oscars in lead actress while Youn could show up in Supporting Actress. What is a bit surprising is the number of Gotham eligible performers who appear to be likely Oscar contenders who missed out here. That list includes Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), and Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit). I wouldn’t read too much into it, but it’s worthy of mention.
In Best Actor, Chadwick Boseman picked up his first posthumous mention for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He is joined by Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Jude Law (The Nest), John Magaro (First Cow), and Jesse Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things). Some eligible actors with Oscar hopes that missed out include Winston Duke (Nine Days) and Steven Yeun (Minari). The same could be said for Bill Murray in On the Rocks, though he would compete in supporting with the Academy.
Bottom line: while the Gothams aren’t a reliable barometer for what happens months from now, it does give a fun glimpse at what could follow. Today’s actions unsurprisingly solidify Nomadland and could give a slight boost to Cow. My weekly Oscar predictions will be updated tomorrow so stay tuned!
Continuing with my series showcasing the voluminous amount of Oscar nominees and winners that have appeared in the 25 Marvel Cinematic Universe pictures (including the upcoming Black Widow and The Eternals), we arrive at Best Supporting Actor.
If you missed my previous posts covering the lead performers in Actor and Actress, you can find them here:
Supporting Actor, of the four acting categories, contains the most nominees at 36. However, there are only 4 wins represented. As a reminder, the MCU has given us 110 total nominees and 20 golden recipients.
Let’s start with the four gentlemen who made a trip to the podium:
Sam Rockwell, who costarred in Iron Man 2, took gold in 2017 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Tommy Lee Jones, who appeared in Captain America: First Avenger, emerged victorious in 1993 for The Fugitive
Benicio del Toro, who memorably appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, won in 2000 for Traffic
J.K. Simmons, who popped up in Spider-Man: Far From Home reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson from the original Spidey trilogy, won in 2014 for Whiplash
And now the 29 additional performers who received nods:
Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr., received a nomination in 2008 for Tropic Thunder
Jeff Bridges, the Iron Man villain, is a four-time nominee for 1971’s The Last Picture Show, 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 2000’s The Contender, and Hell or High Water in 2016
Samuel L. Jackson, who has played Nick Fury in numerous MCU entries, got a nod in 1994 for Pulp Fiction
Edward Norton, who was the Hulk before Mark Ruffalo, is a two-time nominee for 1996’s Primal Fear and 2014’s Birdman
Tim Roth, bad guy in Norton’s The Incredible Hulk, for 1995’s Rob Roy
William Hurt, whose MCU appearances also began in The Incredible Hulk, for 2005’s A History of Violence
Sam Rockwell was nominated a year after his Billboards win in 2018 for Vice
Anthony Hopkins, Thor’s dad, for 1997’s Amistad and last year’s The Two Popes
Stanley Tucci, also of Captain America: First Avenger, in 2010 for The Lovely Bones
Mark Ruffalo is a three-time nominee: 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, 2014’s Foxcatcher, and in 2015 for Spotlight
Jeremy Renner, aka Hawkeye, in 2010’s The Town
Ben Kingsley, from Iron Man 3, is a two-time mention for 1991’s Bugsy and 2001’s Sexy Beast
Benicio del Toro also received a nomination for 2003’s 21 Grams
Bradley Cooper, Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, for 2013’s American Hustle
Djimon Hounsou, who first appeared in Guardians, for both 2003’s In America and 2006’s Blood Diamond
John C. Reilly, another Guardians performer, for 2002’s Chicago
Josh Brolin, aka Thanos, for 2008’s Milk
Sylvester Stallone, who appeared in the Guardians sequel, for 2015’s Creed
Matt Damon, who had a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, for Invictus in 2009
Jude Law, from Captain Marvel, received a nomination 20 years earlier for The Talented Mr. Ripley
Jake Gyllenhaal, villain for Spider-Man: Far From Home, for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain
And that does it for now, folks! I’ll have Supporting Actress up in short order…
I was rewatching Avengers: Endgame over the weekend and it once again struck me how many famous actors are in that thing. I mean… seriously. It’s rather amazing. This got me thinking and yes, current world events may have given me an opportunity to do so:
Just how many performers that have been in Marvel Cinematic Universe entries have won Oscars or been nominated for Oscars? I knew the number would be high, but the answer still astonished me. In fact, you have to back to 1981 for a year where no actor that eventually appeared in the MCU didn’t receive a nomination.
If you count Marvel’s next two pictures (Black Widow, The Eternals) and then count the 23 movies prior that started in 2008 with Iron Man, it encapsulates 110 acting nominations and 20 wins! I am not yet putting Christian Bale in there though he’s rumored to be playing the villain in the fourth Thor flick. I’ll wait for confirmation on that. If you did count Bale, the numbers go to 114 nods and 21 Academy victories.
Due to this research, I’m writing 4 blog posts dedicated to each acting race and we begin with Best Actor:
The leading man category makes up 33 out of the 110 nominations with 6 wins. The victorious gentlemen are as follows:
Jeff Bridges, the main baddie in Iron Man, won in 2009 for Crazy Heart
William Hurt, who appeared in The Incredible Hulk and other MCU titles, took Best Actor in 1985 for Kiss of the Spider Woman
Anthony Hopkins, aka Thor’s Dad, was stage bound in 1991 for his iconic role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs
Ben Kingsley, who sparred with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, is a 1982 recipient in the title role of Gandhi
Michael Douglas, who appeared in both Ant-Man pics, was Best Actor in 1987 for Wall Street
Forest Whitaker, who costarred in Black Panther, took gold in 2006 for The Last King of Scotland
Aside from the winners, here are the other 27 Actor nods:
Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., for 1992’s Chaplin
Terrence Howard, who was in the first Iron Man, for 2005’s Hustle & Flow
Jeff Bridges scored two additional nominations for 1984’s Starman and 2010’s True Grit
Edward Norton, who was Hulk before Mark Ruffalo, for 1998’s American History X
William Hurt, like fellow winner Bridges, also landed two other nods for 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News
Don Cheadle, who replaced Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2 and more, for 2004’s Hotel Rwanda
Mickey Rourke, the villain in Iron Man 2, for 2008’s The Wrestler
Anthony Hopkins, following his Lambs victory, was nominated twice more for 1993’s The Remains of the Day and 1995’s Nixon
Tommy Lee Jones, from Captain America: First Avenger, for 2007’s In the Valley of Elah
Jeremy Renner, aka Hawkeye, for his breakthrough role in 2009’s The Hurt Locker
Robert Redford, who was in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, surprisingly only has one acting nod for 1973’s The Sting. He is, however, a twice nominated director and won in 1980 for Ordinary People
Bradley Cooper, Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy, has been nominated thrice with no wins: 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2014’s American Sniper, and 2018’s A Star Is Born
Benedict Cumberbatch, aka Doctor Strange, for 2014’s The Imitation Game
Chiwetel Ejiofor, also in Doctor Strange, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave
Sylvester Stallone, who popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for his signature role in 1976’s Rocky
Michael Keaton, the villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming, for 2014’s Birdman
Matt Damon, who had a memorable cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, is twice nominated for 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2015’s The Martian
Daniel Kaluuya, Black Panther costar, for 2017’s Get Out
Laurence Fishburne, supporting player in Ant-Man and the Wasp, as Ike Turner in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It
Jude Law, from Captain Marvel, for 2003’s Cold Mountain
Whew. And there you have it. I’ll be back at it shortly with the Best Actress nominees who got their Marvel on!
Available via Netflix, today’s streaming guide highlights a Depression era gangster pic that took its star out of his typical comfort zone:
2002’s Road to Perdition casts Tom Hanks as a 1930s hitman whose family falls victim to his professional choices. The pic comes from Sam Mendes as the follow-up to his Oscar winning American Beauty. The supporting cast includes Paul Newman in one of his final onscreen appearances, Jude Law, and a pre 007 Daniel Craig (Mendes would direct him later in Skyfall and Spectre).
This was a rather bold choice for everyman Hanks and it paid off with solid reviews and robust box office. If you missed it the first time around, it’s well worth a view.
Blogger’s Note (01/29): Revising my estimate from $8 million down to $6.5 million
Paramount is hoping their spy thriller The Rhythm Section makes sweet music at the box office next weekend, but it’s likely to face an uphill battle. Reed Morano directs Blake Lively as a woman investigating the death of her family in a plane crash. Costars include Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, and Max Casella.
Like many titles that end up in January, Section has seen its release date delayed from February to November 2019 and now this. Looking at comps in similar genre territory, 2011’s Hanna took in just over $12 million for its start. In 2012, Haywire premiered with $8.4 million.
Without much buzz surrounding it, I could see Rhythm falling in between those numbers. That puts it just under or just over double digits.
The Rhythm Section opening weekend prediction: $6.5 million
By the time the strains of “Just a Girl” blare over the speakers during a climactic fight scene, there is no doubt that CaptainMarvel has adequately placed itself as a bridge between Avengers epics. That’s not an especially high bar in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it answers the most important question needed before April’s Avengers: Endgame – who’s this new heroine that’s going to help the team we’re accustomed to seeing?
That would be Brie Larson as Vers. She’s part of the Kree alien race with persistent flashbacks to an old life on C53, a planet otherwise known as Earth. Her mentor is Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who helps her hone her mysterious superpowers. The flashback mentor is Mar-Vell (get it?) and she takes the form of Annette Bening as an all-knowing being who may have taught Vers in a previous life that’s fuzzy to her.
Since this is the MCU, we correctly suspect that purported good guys may become bad guys and vice versa. Vers and her team are battling another race called the Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn, always solid). They can take the form of any being they wish, so we see Mr. Mendelsohn in his bespectacled British form and in impeccable creature makeup.
Vers’s interactions with the Skrulls involves a crash landing in Los Angeles. Not today’s L.A., mind you, but 1995 L.A. where relics of the past like Blockbuster Video and two-way pagers exist. This time frame is mined for humor and its soundtrack that includes Nirvana and Salt n Pepa. We also meet Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in his pre eyepatch days and a rookie Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg).
The Earth bound action gets us to a place where we can call Vers the Captain now. And clad in her Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, it get us one step closer to her joining Captain America, Tony Stark, and others decades later.
CaptainMarvel is yet another origin story and it follows the tried and true MCU blueprint. Luckily for us, that familiar path includes picking directors (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) that are unconventional choices (they’re known for indie dramas like HalfNelson). It includes humorous touches that work and plenty of them come in the feline form of Goose, who steals some sequences.
Have there been stronger intros in this franchise before? Absolutely. As the first female MCU hero with a stand-alone tale, Larson is spirited. Is her back story as inspiring as what the DCU provided in WonderWoman? I’d have to say no. And like many MCU pics before it, the villains here are standard – even with fine actors playing them. We will see if Larson’s character can become a fan favorite in this vast world. I’d say the jury is currently unsure. At the conclusion of Avengers: InfinityWar, we learned she was needed. CaptainMarvel provides some decently entertaining history as to why.
Brady Corbet’s VoxLux portrays a star who is born out of tragedy and she manages to keep milking it for a seemingly infinite time. Natalie Portman is that star and her work here is certainly memorable. Unlike her Oscar-winning turn in 2010’s BlackSwan (which also explored the highs and lows of notoriety), this movie never quite earns being blessed by her committed performance. It drew me in for a while before getting lost in its own pretentiousness and, eventually, a feeling of meaninglessness. Maybe that’s the point Corbet is going for with his script as he ruminates on the vapid nature of pop celebrity. However, when the message is that the main character isn’t ultimately worth paying attention to, it’s tricky to get invested.
We meet Celeste as a 14-year-old in 1999, as played by Raffey Cassidy. She and sister Ellie survive a school shooting, leaving Celeste with a gunshot wound to the spinal area. Her recovery inspires her to write a ballad that strikes a chord with the nation. When it’s time to cut a full album, it’s in the aftermath of 9/11 when her lightweight dance pop recordings (courtesy of Sia) are the kind of throwaway ditties that fit the airwaves. These horrific events turn Celeste into a superstar and ultimately a diva.
Forty minutes in, the story flashes forward to 2017. Now 31 years old and now in the diminutive but fierce form of Portman, Celeste is prepping a comeback tour while attempting to rid herself of certain baggage. There’s an at fault car accident from a few years back that caused injury. And there’s the breaking news of the day – a terrorist attack in Central Europe where the assailants dressed as characters from one of her old videos.
Celeste deals with all this as she’s an absentee mom to her own teen, also played by Cassidy. Her girl is raised primarily by Ellie (Stacy Martin) and that sister relationship is strained to its limit. Jude Law is the manager who puts up with the frequent tantrums and rock star behavior while indulging in it himself.
For a while, VoxLux is unique enough with its subject matter to inspire hope. That’s for about an hour when it seems to be generating its thesis on stardom and tragedy. I will say I dug Willem Dafoe’s intermittent ironic narration. In the second half, it’s mostly about watching Celeste’s out of control behavior. In the realm of musical tales, this runs out of fresh notes to hit. What helps is that Portman is terrific. She just never quite elevates this above being an occasional fascinating misfire.