Drawing on his own upbringing, Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age drama The Fabelmans opens semi-wide over the long Turkey Day frame. After its September premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the film has been seen as a major Oscar contender with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. Newcomer Gabriel LaBelle (essentially playing young Spielberg), Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and Julia Butters are among the ensemble.
The ode to family and cinema debuted November 11th on four screens with a fair though not impressive $40,000 per theaters average. That’s a little under what fellow awards hopeful The Banshees of Inisherin made in the same amount of venues a few weeks back.
Spielberg’s most personal work to date expands to approximately 600 screens on Wednesday, November 23rd. That meager count could mean a floor as low as $2 million for the three-day and $3 million for the five-day (if it goes any lower that would be considered a massive flop). A rosier picture could mean $5-6 million for Friday to Sunday and higher single digits when factoring in Wednesday and Thursday.
My gut says to be on the lower end of that scale as it’ll hope for solid holds throughout the holidays.
The Fabelmans opening weekend prediction: $2.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $4.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
For several weeks, I have had Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans listed at the top in my predictions for Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams). Prior to its November 11th limited release and Thanksgiving holiday domestic expansion, the coming-of-age drama has screened in Toronto. That’s a first for the most famous director in the world and festival goers are celebrating what they’re seeing in his autobiographical tale.
Reviews are strong with a current 86% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Awards voters have always been fans of pictures centered on its industry and The Fabelmans is said to be a loving look back at Spielberg’s formative years. There’s little doubt that this has already done enough to become his 14th feature to nab a Best Picture nod (Schindler’s List remains the sole winner). This should also mark his 8th mention in Director (he’s won twice for List and Saving Private Ryan). An Original Screenplay nod (alongside Tony Kushner) is coming where it could be a battle with Everything Everywhere All at Once or others.
What of the cast? It appears Williams (essentially portraying the filmmaker’s mom) deserves that front runner status in Supporting Actress. Her fifth nomination (after Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn, Manchester by the Sea) could at last be the charm. As Dad, Paul Dano could be in the mix for his first nod in an impressive year that includes his turn as The Riddler in The Batman. Yet it could be Judd Hirsch (in what’s said to be about 10 minutes of screen time) that lands attention in that race. His scene is said to be a scene stealer and if there’s only one nominee in the Supporting Actor field, expect it to be Hirsch over Dano or Seth Rogen. If so, that would come 42 years following Hirsch’s sole nod for Ordinary People. As for 19-year-old newcomer lead Gabriel LaBelle, he’s absolutely a contender for Best Actor though I’d say his making the cut is less certain than Williams or Hirsch.
No surprise that tech nods are anticipated including Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Sound, and so forth. Bottom line: The Fabelmans has begun its long Oscar journey north of the border. Not only will it be nominated in the major categories, but it could win. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
With an eye popping budget of $200 million (a reported record for Netflix), spy thriller The Gray Man begins streaming tomorrow. Anthony and Joe Russo (no strangers to gargantuan price tags thanks to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame) direct Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. Costars include Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Rege-Jean Page, Wagner Moura, Julia Butters, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, and Billy Bob Thornton.
The high priced endeavor is garnering mixed reviews with the positive ones not exactly over the moon. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 49%. Unlike the Russo’s MCU extravaganzas, the visual effects here shouldn’t attract the attention of Academy voters. Same goes for Sound or anything else. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
We have reached the eighth post in my Case of series outlining the pros and cons of films up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Up now: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If you missed previous write-ups, you can find them here:
Tarantino is a legendary filmmaker and his efforts have yet to win Best Picture despite nominations for Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained. With critical acclaim and healthy box office ($141 million), this star studded entry might simply feel like QT’s time has come. The precursor love has extended to Brad Pitt (the major front runner for Supporting Actor) and a Golden Globe victory for Best Musical/Comedy. It’s tied for the second most nominations with 10 along with The Irishman and 1917.
The Case Against Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
This might not seem like a big deal. but its omission for Best Editing kind of seems like a thing. The Best Picture recipient almost never misses that final five. Furthermore, its loss in the PGA race to 1917 and SAG ensemble to Parasite are significant exclusions.
A narrative is being established that the race could be between 1917 and Parasite. Yet Hollywood still feels like the third viable contender even with the lack of SAG and PGA attention.