December 2-4 Box Office Predictions

After a historically weak Thanksgiving frame that left moviegoers hungry for other options, the first weekend of December should be rather quiet at multiplexes as well. The lone wide release is Violent Night with David Harbour as a gun toting Santa. You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Night, even though I have it falling under $10 million, should slide into the runner-up position behind Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The MCU sequel looks to four-peat and should have no trouble doing so. A low to mid 50s drop would put it over $20 million. It’s likely to be #1 for five weekends until Avatar: The Way of Water arrives on December 16th.

After a disastrous opening (more on that below), Strange World should fall to third. With a weak B Cinemascore grade, the Disney animated flop could experience a plummet in the mid to high 50s. Who knows? Maybe even higher.

The four and five spots could be close between the second and third frames of Devotion and The Menu. Both should see dips in the mid 40s.

Here’s how I see the top 5 looking:

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Predicted Gross: $21.3 million

2. Violent Night

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

3. Strange World

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

4. Devotion

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million

5. The Menu

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

Box Office Results (Thanksgiving Weekend)

The Turkey Day holiday didn’t bring in the masses as the weekend fell under $100 million. That’s despite plenty of new releases for crowds to chew on.

Strangely enough, the biggest winner belonged to a streamer. Netflix doesn’t officially report numbers. They put Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the acclaimed sequel to 2019’s blockbuster, on just under 700 screens. Word is out that it did approximately $9.2 million from Friday to Sunday and $13.3 million since the Wednesday start. That per theater average of over $13k is easily the best of the bunch. Onion is scheduled to leave its venues tomorrow before it hits Netflix on December 23rd.

Now back to the movies that do report official tallies. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever easily stayed atop the charts with $45.5 million, besting my $37.9 million prediction in weekend #3. The 17-day total is $367 million.

The story of the holiday was the dismal Strange World performance. The Mouse Factory had a disappointing result over the summer with Lightyear. This made it look like a phenomenon. World took in an embarrassing $12.1 million from Friday to Sunday and $18.8 million in the five-day. I said it would manage $19.3 million and $26.7 million, respectively. Simply put, Disney animated efforts aren’t supposed to do those anemic figures.

I suppose technically Glass Onion was third, so the war saga Devotion was fourth. Despite mostly decent reviews, it was a flop considering the reported $90 million budget. The Friday to Sunday take was $5.9 million with $9 million when counting Wednesday and Thursday. I went higher with $7.2 million and $10.7 million.

The Menu rounded out the top five at $5.4 million (I said $6.4 million) to bring the two-week gross to $18 million.

Black Adam was sixth with $3.2 million, on target with my $3.3 million prediction. Total is $162 million.

Steven Spielberg’s awards hopeful The Fabelmans was on 638 screens and was seventh with $2.2 million ($3.1 million for the five-day). That’s under my guesstimates of $2.8 million and $4.1 million. While that’s easily the second best average of the newbies (after Onion), it’s still not too impressive. It will hope to develop legs during awards season.

The cannibalistic romance Bones and All wasn’t a recipe for success with an 8th place showing. The $2.2 million and $3.6 million three and five day earnings couldn’t match my $3.5 and $5.3 million projections.

Ticket to Paradise was ninth with $1.8 million (I went with $2.3 million) as the rom com is up to $65 million.

Fathom Event The Chosen Season 3: Episodes 1 and 2 was 10th as it dove 81% to $1.5 million. I was more giving at $2.4 million. In ten days, it’s made $13 million.

Finally, She Said was 11th after its poor premiere last weekend. With $1.1 million (I said $1.6 million), it’s at a lowly $4 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

November 25-27 Box Office Predictions

Hollywood is hoping audiences mix a trip to the multiplex in their holiday plans. We have a slew of new releases, but it should be a three-week old leftover topping the Turkey weekend charts. Disney’s animated Strange World, aerial adventure Devotion, cannibalistic romance Bones and All, and Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age awards hopeful The Fabelmans all debut or expand. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Let’s begin with a title you don’t see. Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is the eagerly awaited and well-reviewed follow-up to Knives Out, which opened over the same holiday three years ago. Netflix is the distributor and it will be before our streaming eyes for Christmas. Onion is hitting approximately 600 venues for a sneak preview from Wednesday to Sunday. It is not expected that Netflix will report its financials. That’s why you won’t find it in the top 10. If they do end up deciding to do so, I imagine it’ll do quite well (and be either third or fourth).

Back to movies where we expect box office grosses! Strange World is the Mouse Factory’s latest animated offering to be unveiled over Thanksgiving. Yet the marketing campaign has been weak. My high teens three-day and mid 20s five-day is very subpar for the studio. On the bright side, they’ll certainly have numbers 1-2 as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever should three-peat with a drop in the low 40s range.

Devotion could over perform if enough older moviegoers check in. I have it settling for a so-so third place in the high single digits for the traditional frame and low double digits for the Wednesday to Sunday portion.

The Menu should be fourth after an appetizing start (more on that below). I think it’ll only fall in the high 20s or low 30s for the sophomore outing. Bones and All could round out the top five. Its gory subject matter could prevent crowds from perusing its gruesome menu.

Spielberg’s The Fabelmans is out on just 600 screens. That limits the potential and I have a gut feeling it may fall short of expectations anyway. I have it pegged for 7th place as it hopes that Oscar buzz improves its earnings in later weekends.

Here’s how I envision the top 10 looking with 3 and 5 day estimates for the newcomers:

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Predicted Gross: $37.9 million

2. Strange World

Predicted Gross: $19.3 million (Friday to Sunday); $26.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Devotion

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $10.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

4. The Menu

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

5. Bones and All

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $5.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

6. Black Adam

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million

7. The Fabelmans

Predicted Gross: $2.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $4.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

8. The Chosen Season 3: Episodes 1 and 2

Predicted Gross: $2.4 million

9. Ticket to Paradise

Predicted Gross: $2.3 million

10. She Said

Predicted Gross: $1.6 million

Box Office Results (November 18-20)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever didn’t quite drop as far as MCU predecessors Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Thor: Love and Thunder, but it was still a steep decline. The sequel to 2018’s phenomenon slid 63% in weekend 2 with $66.4 million, under my $70.3 million projection. The ten-day tally is $287 million.

The Menu was the rare pic for the grown-ups that performed admirably. The culinary satire was runner-up with $9 million, a bit ahead of my $8.2 million prediction. Look for it for to hold well over Thanksgiving.

The Chosen Season 3: Episodes 1 and 2 had its core audience believing as the Fathom Events experience was third with $8.7 million (topping my $7.5 million estimate). Last December, Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers had a 71% plummet in its second weekend. Expect similar results here.

Black Adam was fourth with $4.6 million (I said $5.3 million) as the superhero pic is up to $157 million after four weeks.

Ticket to Paradise rounded out the top five at $3.1 million, below my $4.1 million prediction. The rom com has grossed $61 million.

Finally, She Said was a dud. Focused on the journalistic journey to expose Harvey Weinstein, it was a quiet sixth at $2.2 million. I went with $3.4 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

My deep dives into 6 high profile Oscar races reaches the top one with Best Picture. If you missed my posts on Director and the four acting competitions, you can find them here:

At this early November period from 2019-21, here’s how accurate I was with my BP forecast. Three years ago, I correctly called 8 of the 9 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The ninth hopeful was Joker and it was listed in Other Possibilities. In the wildly unpredictable 2020, I was right about 5 of 8 with two months left in the calendar – Nomadland (which won), The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named in Other Possibilities while Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not yet in my top 15. In 2021, the Academy went back to a set number of 10 BP nominees. I rightly identified 7 of the 10 with Belfast, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. The film that emerged victorious – CODA was not yet predicted but in Other Possibilities. So was Don’t Look Up while Drive My Car wasn’t among the 15.

Moving to 2022 – I can’t recall a year where four sequels were viable for inclusion. That’s where we stand at the moment. The top grosser of the year is Top Gun: Maverick and I do believe the Academy will reward it for bringing older audiences back to multiplexes (and of course for its quality). In a few weeks, we’ll have a better idea about Avatar: The Way of Water. I’m not ready to vault into my ten, but that could change soon. Knives Out missed out on BP in 2019 so I’m skeptical for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And while Black Panther made the lineup in 2018, Wakanda Forever seems like a stretch despite the solid buzz. Nevertheless it’s not crazy to think that 40% of the BP players could be sequels.

On the non-sequel front, we begin with The Fabelmans. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age tale has been listed at #1 for weeks on the blog. Only one of the filmmaker’s works – 1993’s Schindler’s List – has won BP. Shakespeare in Love was a surprise recipient in 1998 over the favored Saving Private Ryan. Nearly 30 years later, Fabelmans could have the credentials to be the second.

However, the frontrunner at this stage often doesn’t cross the finish line and Spielberg’s latest feels like a soft frontrunner. I could easily envision a scenario where the voters go outside the box with Everything Everywhere All at Once. A24’s multi-genre pic achieved wide acclaim and did great business at the box office. While spring releases rarely make the journey all the way through the awards calendar, Everything could buck that trend.

Other spoilers include The Banshees of Inisherin and Women Talking, which both garnered kudos at film festivals and will have their ardent admirers. I believe that logic also applies to Tár and The Whale though I don’t see either having a shot to win. And we are still waiting to see if Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is as viable as its pedigree suggests (we’ll know in a few days when it screens).

It’s become more common for an international feature film to get in and the two most likely to do so are All Quiet on the Western Front (which might just be Netflix’s most serious hopeful) and Decision to Leave. The reviews for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo should leave it out (it might not even make the separate international race).

While Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the favorite to be Best Animated Feature, I don’t see it breaking into the big dance. It’s probably the only animated title with any sort of chance.

The festival circuit always lessens the viability of some pics. In 2022, I would put the following on that list: Empire of Light, The Son, and Armageddon Time.

The Academy could choose to honor some moneymakers like Elvis and The Woman King (though putting Maverick in could check that box). Till may only show up in Best Actress for Danielle Deadwyler. And it’s tough to know what to make of the upcoming Emancipation considering it’s led by Will Smith (who has some, um, recent history with the ceremony).

Bottom line: there is a lot of uncertainty about BP. I feel fairly confident about The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere, Women Talking, The Banshees of Inisherin, Top Gun: Maverick, Tár, and The Whale (more than others with that one). We’ll know about Babylon shortly so that leaves two spots. I could definitely see a sequel or a foreign flick jumping up. For now, the 9th and 10th entries go to Triangle of Sadness and She Said. Expect movement as the weeks roll along.

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1 . The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

6. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tár (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)

9. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (E)

10. She Said (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 11) (E)

12. Decision to Leave (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Elvis (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 15) (E)

Stay tuned for estimates on all the races coming up soon!

See How They Run Review

You know a genre has made a real comeback when the passably forgettable entries pop up. That’s an apt description for Tom George’s See How They Run which features lovely production design, a few humorous bits, and a murder mystery that’s hard to get invested in. The 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express and 2019’s Knives Out made whodunits a valuable commodity again as Run catches up with the trend.

This one is a little meta (very much of the times) as the killing occurs in London’s West End circa 1953. The Mousetrap, a play written by Agatha Christie, is celebrating its 100th performance. Side note: for some fun research, look up how long the actual play ran. American film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody), a drunken louse, is slated to make the film adaptation. His inappropriate behavior puts him at odds with the stage performance’s lead Dickie Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), producers John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) and Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), and screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo). Another side note as my 90s kid upbringing only left me slightly distracted that Dickie Attenborough would become a famed director who also happens to be John Hammond from Jurassic Park.

Moving on, Leo’s early narration correctly surmises that the most contemptible character in these stories usually gets offed. Therefore his time is short-lived and everyone onscreen seems to have a motive. Another drunken louse is in charge of the crime solving when Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is assigned the case. Shadowing him is the eager but inexperienced Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan).

The chemistry between the two investigators is meant to carry the load for most of the snappy runtime (98 minutes). This is where the screenplay from Mark Chappell isn’t quite up to snuff. Rockwell speaks his lines in a woozy register that recalls Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Lady Bird‘s Ronan (like the rookie she’s portraying) gives it her all. Unfortunately the material is pretty thin. It might be considered a lesser tome from Christie, who factors into the plot in numerous ways. To put it simply, the case that Stoppard and his trusty Stalker are looking into isn’t that compelling.

See How They Run goes by quickly and there are a handful of inspired bits. When the action reaches a snowed in mansion in the third act, I wished the whole picture could’ve been set there. Most of it is as disposable as the victim.

**1/2 (out of four)

Toronto Crowns The Fabelmans

Just how indicative is nabbing the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival of eventually receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? Let’s go the numbers: 13 out of the last 14 have and that includes the past 10 in a row. 2011’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only outlier since 2008. Of those 13 films, five would go on to win the Academy’s top prize (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, Nomadland).

So it was with anticipation that awards prognosticators like yours truly awaited the bestowment of the Canadian fest’s biggest award. True to form, it went to a movie widely anticipated to be in the BP mix: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The legendary director’s most personal work to date was his first journey up north and he was rewarded handsomely for it. When I did my latest round of predictions on Friday, I had The Fabelmans listed in first place and this helps solidify that decision. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the BP race is over (far from it). Yet there’s no doubt that The Fabelmans has positioned itself as a major threat to take the top prize.

That’s not all because TIFF also names a first and second runner-up. And those picks are frequent indicators of what will play down the road. Over the previous decade, nine of the 20 runner-ups have gotten BP nods. This includes victorious ones like Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite and nominees such as Call Me by Your Name, Roma, and The Power of the Dog. 

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is first runner-up for 2022. It played to mostly raves at TIFF and I have it ranked 4th currently in the BP derby. Second runner-up was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The top 3 placement is something predecessor Knives Out didn’t manage 3 years ago. My estimates two days back put Onion on the outside looking in at 14th (though I did project for it for an Adapted Screenplay nod). My hesitation to put it in is this: just how many sequels could that Academy include in their group of 10? I’ve got Top Gun: Maverick already there (at 6th) and we still need to see Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (whose predecessors were both BP hopefuls). However, at this point, Netflix may choose to go all in on Onion being their most likely contender.

There are a couple films in particular that could’ve benefited from a top 3 showing today. I think immediately of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. I still anticipate both to be in the hunt (I’ve got them ranked 5th and 7th respectively).

Bottom line: The Fabelmans had itself a meaningful premiere in Toronto that currently puts Spielberg’s latest in the Oscar driver’s seat.

Oscar Predictions – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The critics certainly don’t have their knives out for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. This is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Rian Johnson’s 2019 comedic murder mystery which grossed over $300 million worldwide and gave Daniel Craig another franchise. Johnson and Craig are back with a new supporting cast that includes Edward Norton, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessicas Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista.

Slated for select cinemas in November before a December 23rd Netflix bow, Onion has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival with reviews saying it’s quite appealing. Some even claim it improves on the original. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%.

Three years ago, Knives had a sliver of hope to nab a Best Picture nomination, but it never materialized. An Original Screenplay mention was the reward for its success. This time around, it would contend in Adapted Screenplay since it’s based on existing IP. That could happen though let’s see how competitive that race is over the remainder of the year. I suspect if we see a sequel nominated for Best Picture in 2022, it’ll be Top Gun: Maverick and not this… and we still don’t know how solid Avatar: The Way of Water is. As for performances, Monae is being singled out in several write-ups as the MVP. However, Supporting Actress is already starting to looked stacked.

Where Onion could sizzle is at the Golden Globes with a Musical/Comedy Best Motion Picture nod and Best Actor in that category for Craig. That occurred in 2019 and could happen again. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

See How They Run Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (09/14): I am revising down estimate down from $4.8 million to $3.2 million.

Shades of Agatha Christie are said to inspire See How They Run, a whodunit slated to hit approximately 2200 venues on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, the cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

The Searchlight production has generated mostly positive reactions thus far (it opens in UK cinemas a week prior to the North American start). The Rotten Tomatoes score is 75%. Run‘s existence is likely due to the success of recent genre fare like Murder on the Orient Express and especially Knives Out. 

Without significant star power and with buzz muted, I do believe this could struggle to find an audience. Murder mystery aficionados may wait to get their fix with the forthcoming Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. An opening in double digits would be surprising. I think the range is more $4-6 million and my estimate  is at the middle of it.

See How They Run opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

For my The Woman King prediction, click here:

The Woman King Box Office Prediction

For my Pearl prediction, click here:

Pearl Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: See How They Run

With plenty of critics citing inspiration from Agatha Christie, the humorous murder mystery See How They Run arrives in UK theaters Friday and in the US on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and one-time winner Sam Rockwell lead a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

Run forewent the fall festival circuit which surprised me a bit. Some reviews are appreciative of its charms while others aren’t nearly as impressed. The 76% Rotten Tomatoes indicates that most write-ups don’t have their knives out for it.

Speaking of, we’ll know whether Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is an awards player when it premieres in Toronto this weekend. I don’t believe this genre predecessor will be. Perhaps something like Production Design or Costume Design but that’s likely the extent of it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2021 DGA and PGA Nominations Predictions

Two significant Academy precursors are coming our way tomorrow when the Directors and Producers Guilds of America reveal nominees. Both groups could shed major light on who and what we will see on Oscar nomination morning in less than two weeks.

The DGA nominates five directors for their top prize and it is a reliable preview for usually 4 of the 5 eventual hopefuls at the big show. In the past five years, the DGA’s list corresponds with the Academy’s on the 4 of 5 ratio. The exception was 2018 when it was 3/5. You have to go back to 2009 to find the last year in which there was a perfect match.

For weeks, my Oscar projections in Best Director has remained consistent: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune). That’s probably the safest lineup to predict for DGA as well, but I’m hesitant to do so since it’s been over a decade with the two corresponding.

So who’s vulnerable and who could rise up? It’s hard to see Campion (the Oscar frontrunner), Villeneuve, or Spielberg missing. Same generally goes for Branagh though there’s whispers that Belfast could be slipping a bit (still not enough for me to take him out). That leaves Anderson and there’s some precedent. In 2017, the Academy nominated him for Phantom Thread while DGA omitted him. He’s the easiest to leave off their ballot.

Who takes his place? I doubt that it’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car. In recent times, the Academy has been more generous with nods for filmmakers and their international features. Last year, they nominated Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) and in 2018 they did the same for Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War) while DGA ignored them.

If there’s a surprise fifth nominee in store, watch out for Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter) or Sian Heder (CODA). However, I think it could come down to Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up). The latter is a two-time DGA nominee (The Big Short and Vice) and Don’t Look Up is a buzzy streaming success story that’s been widely viewed. Coen, on the other hand, could be honored for the technical mastery of Macbeth. 

This is a close call, but I’m ever so slightly leaning toward McKay and I’ll go that route. Therefore – my official DGA predictions are:

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Second Alternate: Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Let’s move to the PGA, shall we? Over the last five years, these are the matches between the Producers and the Academy when it comes to their Best Picture awards:

2016: 9/9

2017: 7/9

2018: 8/8

2019: 9/9

2020: 7/8

It’s important to keep in mind that the Academy, for the past several years, can have anywhere between 5-10 BP contenders (the magic number has been 8 or 9). Yet in 2021, the Oscars are reverting back to a set 10 (the PGA always nominates 10 except for 2017 when they had 11 for some inexplicable reason).

That means there’s only been three films (Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread in 2017 and The Father in 2020) that received Oscar nods and didn’t materialize on the PGA list.

My current 10 selections for BP from the Academy are as follows: Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Dune, House of Gucci, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story.

I’m estimating that only Gucci and Tragedy could be truly vulnerable to miss the PGA cut (anything else being left off would constitute a pretty big surprise). If that happens, CODA or Richard might be the ones.

In my view, Tragedy is exactly the kind of feature that PGA may not recognize. Gucci is more of a question mark as the Producers generally like to nominate pictures that performed well at the box office. To that point, the PGA has a history of honoring moneymakers that the Academy does not. Recent examples include Bridesmaids, Skyfall, Gone Girl, Straight Outta Compton, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, Crazy Rich Asians, A Quiet Place, and Knives Out.

That could absolutely open the door for No Time to Die or Spider-Man: No Way Home… or both. I’m slightly more hesitant to include Spidey being that neither Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame got PGA love. However, I’m not oblivious to the fact that this guild may want to mention the picture that broke pandemic era box office records.

Outside of the blockbuster mold, you could also see titles like Being the Ricardos, Drive My Car, The Lost Daughter, Nightmare Alley, or Tick, Tick… Boom! factor in.

I’m keeping Gucci in (with extreme uncertainty) and projecting 007 in the mega-earner slot so here’s my PGA ten:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Dune

House of Gucci

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Runner-Up: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Second Alternate: The Tragedy of Macbeth 

So there you have it! I’ll have reaction up on both DGA and PGA tomorrow on the blog…

The Lone Screenplay Nominee: An Oscar Prediction Analysis

We are getting the nitty gritty on nailing down Oscar predictions on this blog and it’s time to consider a prevailing trend in the 21st century when it comes to the Adapted and Original Screenplay contests. That would be The Lone Screenplay Nominee.

What’s that you ask? For the last 20 award ceremonies, at least one movie has been nominated in its screenplay race and in no other additional category. That’s a rather startling statistic, but it’s true. You have to go all the way to 2000 to find a year in which the ten nominated films in those two derbies didn’t get a nod elsewhere.

Here’s the list from 2001-2020 of pictures that got The Lone Screenplay nomination (abbreviation are AS for Adapted and OS for Original):

2001 – Ghost World (AS), The Royal Tenenbaums (OS)

2002 – About a Boy (AS), My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama Tambien (OS)

2003 – American Splendor (AS), Dirty Pretty Things (OS)

2004 – Before Sunset (AS)

2005 – Match Point, The Squid and the Whale (OS)

2006 – Borat (AS)

2007 – Lars and the Real Girl (OS)

2008 – Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges (OS)

2009 – In the Loop (AS)

2010 – Another Year (OS)

2011 – The Ides of March (AS), Margin Call (OS)

2012 – Moonrise Kingdom (OS)

2013 – Before Midnight (AS)

2014 – Nightcrawler (OS)

2015 – Straight Outta Compton (OS)

2016 – 20th Century Women, The Lobster (OS)

2017 – The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game (AS), The Big Sick (OS)

2018 – First Reformed (OS)

2019 – Knives Out (OS)

2020 – The White Tiger (AS)

Clearly the writing branch of the Academy enjoy singling out a pic or two that doesn’t get any love elsewhere. And it’s a tradition that I haven’t really factored into my predictions for 2021’s hopefuls. That changes today.

My latest round of predictions from last week were the following for Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay:

Adapted – CODA, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Original – Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

Here’s the problem – all ten of those pictures are highly likely to find nominations elsewhere.

So… what’s vulnerable and what are the movies that could fit the Lone Screenplay Nominee mold when the announcement is made on February 8?

Glad you asked. In Adapted, Dune could absolutely miss. The voters in the screenplay race could decide that it’ll get plenty of tech nods (it will) as well as Picture and Director mentions (highly probable). Its screenplay nod could  wait until its sequel.

So what are the contenders in Adapted that may not get nods elsewhere? There’s The Last Duel, which could get points for its unique script that tells its medieval tale from three differing perspectives. It appears to have little chance at Picture or even Jodie Comer’s acclaimed performance in lead actress.

There’s also Passing, but that’s assuming Ruth Negga misses out in Supporting Actress (and I’ve got her in). Other possibilities are Nightmare Alley (though it should at least be recognized for Production Design) and Tick, Tick… Boom! (which could be in line for Picture but especially for Andrew Garfield in lead actor). The Lost Daughter could be the one. However, I have a hard time seeing Olivia Colman not getting in for Best Actress.

Moving to Original Screenplay, my five current nominees all seem destined to achieve mentions elsewhere. I look at King Richard and Being the Ricardos as potentially being two that could miss the screenplay cut.

There are three pictures with original scripts that could fill the slots and be The Lone Nominee and they are:

    • C’Mon C’Mon. And there’s history here. Mike Mills was the writer/director for the aforementioned 20th Century Women from 2016. With Joaquin Phoenix as a long shot for Best Actor inclusion, this is the type of nominee that the writers might celebrate.
    • Mass. It looked like a potential BP nominee for some time but it has fallen (it’s not even in my top 15). Ann Dowd could score a Supporting Actress nomination, but I currently have her ranked 7th. It’s a pic that’s all dialogue between four actors and that could strike the voters fancies.
    • Parallel Mothers. The Pedro Almodovar pic was not Spain’s selection for International Feature Film and is therefore not eligible. Penelope Cruz is a possibility for Actress, but I have her outside the top five.

When I update my estimates for all categories this weekend, expect to see one of these titles (either in Adapted or Original or maybe both) selected. History says it’s the right call. Stay tuned!