Summer 2012: The Top 10 Hits and More

My look back at the cinematic summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago culminates with 2012. A decade ago, the Marvel Cinematic Universe went from a successful franchise to the phenomenal juggernaut that it remains today. That’s due to the release of a little something called The Avengers. On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the biggest grosser 30 years ago (Batman Returns), two decades ago (Spider-Man), and in this post all share comic book roots.

Before we get to Iron Man and company, I’ll recount the other features in the top ten moneymakers before covering additional notable titles and some flops. If you missed my write-ups about the seasons of 1992 and 2002, you can find them here:

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

Summer 2002: The Top 10 Hits and More

10. Prometheus

Domestic Gross: $126 million

Some three decades after Alien terrified audiences, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise. However, this was more of a mixed bag in terms of critical and audience reaction. The production design and Michael Fassbender’s performance were praised while the script drew its share of critics. Nevertheless Scott would be back in the mix five years later with Alien: Covenant. 

9. Snow White and the Huntsman 

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Hot off the Twilight franchise and hot off playing Thor in The Avengers, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth battled Prometheus costar Charlize Theron’s evil stepmom in this fantasy adventure. Reviews were so-so but it performed well enough to warrant a less appreciated prequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War in 2016.

8. Ice Age: Continental Drift 

Domestic Gross: $161 million

The fourth entry in the animated franchise featuring the vocal stylings of Ray Romano and John Leguizamo kept the grosses hot. Sequel Collision Course would follow four years later.

7. Men in Black 3

Domestic Gross: $179 million

The third teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (with Josh Brolin playing a convincing younger version of him) earned $11 million less than 2002’s part II. That sequel made less than the 1997 original. The series was revamped in 2019 with Men in Black: International with none other than Chris Hemsworth, but audiences tuned out.

6. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Ben Stiller and Chris Rock returned for the third time voicing their respective lion and zebra. Spin-off Penguins of Madagascar came out two years later while a proper fourth entry never materialized from DreamWorks.

5. Ted

Domestic Gross: $218 million

Moving from Fox’s hugely successful animated sitcom Family Guy the big screen, Seth MacFarlane’s story of Mark Wahlberg and his crude talking bear Ted was the breakout comedy of the season. Follow-ups A Million Ways to Die in the West and the Ted sequel were not as well received.

4. Brave

Domestic Gross: $237 million

The first Pixar film led by a female hero is also the inaugural studio entry (co)directed by a woman. It would go on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

Domestic Gross: $262 million

After not moving forward with a fourth title directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, the Spidey franchise was rebooted with Marc Webb behind the camera and Andrew Garfield donning the red. The dollars followed although reviews were mixed and a 2014 sequel was widely considered a disappointment.

2. The Dark Knight Rises

Domestic Gross: $448 million

While perhaps not quite reaching the heights of 2008’s The Dark Knight, the culmination to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy sent Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader off in stirring fashion and with hugely profitable earnings.

1. The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $623 million

Setting record after record upon release, the melding of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye transfixed filmgoers. It’s been Marvel’s world and we’ve been living in it ever since.

And now for some other pics worthy of discussion:

Magic Mike

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Steven Soderbergh’s saga of male exotic dancers was based loosely on Channing Tatum’s real life experiences. It turned him into a superstar while giving Matthew McConaughey a memorable showcase. The micro budgeted pic (a reported $7 million) spawned a 2015 sequel and there’s a third scheduled to hit HBO Max next year.

The Bourne Legacy

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Audiences weren’t clamoring for Jeremy Renner to replace Matt Damon in this franchise, but the stateside and overseas grosses were still pretty acceptable. That said, Renner’s tenure lasted this pic and this pic only.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Domestic Gross: $46 million

While it performed even better overseas, this British import with Judi Dench  was a sleeper hit stateside that begat a 2015 sequel.

Moonrise Kingdom 

Domestic Gross: $45 million

Wes Anderson scored with critics and crowds with this coming-of-age dramedy that premiered at Cannes and then found an audience in the weeks that followed.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Domestic Gross: $12 million

This indie drama from Benh Zeitlin was truly a little movie that could. Shot for under $2 million, it eventually nabbed Oscar nods for Picture, Director, Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis at age 9), and Adapted Screenplay.

They’re not all winners so let’s get into some critical and/or commercial failures from the period:

Dark Shadows

Domestic Gross: $79 million

Johnny Depp’s box office happy days were beginning to fade as his 8th collaboration with Tim Burton was perhaps the least memorable. This horror comedy failed to enlighten viewers.

Battleship

Domestic Gross: $65 million

Action fans weren’t taken with this Peter Berg directed board game adaptation starring Liam Neeson and Rihanna with a bloated budget of over $200 million.

Total Recall

Domestic Gross: $58 million

And your action sci-fi fans weren’t signing up for Colin Farrell taking over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in this unneeded remake.

Rock of Ages

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Based on the Broadway musical, there was a deaf ear turned to this adaptation despite Tom Cruise getting solid notices for his performance. Lucky for him, he’d rule this current summer with Top Gun: Maverick. 

That’s My Boy

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg’s comedic partnership drew a 20% Tomatoes meter and ambivalence from usually devoted Sandler fans.

The Watch

Domestic Gross: $35 million

That wasn’t the only high-profile comedic flop as this sci-fi mashup with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill fared even worse in numbers and rotten reviews (17% RT).

And that’ll close it out, ladies and gents! It’s been a pleasure revising these cinematic seasons of days past.

Oscar Predictions: Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg came to prominence over four decades ago with his wild mix of gore and sci-fi that resulted in such notable pics as Scanners, Videodrome, and The Fly. In the 20th century, his crime thrillers A History of Violence and Eastern Promises were met with acclaim and acting nominations for William Hurt in Supporting Actor and Viggo Mortensen in lead, respectively.

At the Cannes Film Festival, the 79-year-old auteur returns to the body horror genre that made him known with Crimes of the Future. Like his earlier fare, critics indicate this may not be for everyone (including those with weak stomachs). Yet the Rotten Tomatoes score is currently a sturdy 90%.

Starring frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart (fresh off her Spencer nomination), I don’t see this staying fresh in awards voters brains after its stateside debut on June 3rd even as it may satisfy admirers of Cronenberg’s early work. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Spencer Review

Approximately a decade into their marriage, the union of Diana and Charles is as decayed as the floorboards in her abandoned childhood home and there seems to be nowhere to go but down. That early 90s mindset is where we find Kristen Stewart as the People’s Princess in Spencer from Pablo Larrain. Set at Christmas, it’s an unexpectedly claustrophobic mood piece punctuated by jazz beats and occasional moments of joy (mostly courtesy of young William and Harry). They’re weighed down by Diana’s loveless connection to her husband and in-laws.

Focused on someone who strained to follow royal patterns, it seems appropriate that Spencer refuses to follow ones in the biopic genre. That makes it unique and sometimes haunting – a bit like the title character. In 1991, Diana is well aware of the Prince’s other relationship. So are the paparazzi and they force curtains to be sewn shut as the Royals holiday at their Norfolk estate. Sewing the Princess’s garments are Maggie (Sally Hawkins), one of the few subjects that Diana can talk to. The same cannot be said for Major Gregory (Timothy Spall), who runs the home with the same military precision as the cooks preparing their meals.

In her room that she appears not to share with Charles, the reading list is suggestive. A novel about Anne Boleyn (a 16th century Queen executed by her King) leads to Diana having strange visions of the long beheaded branch of the complicated family tree.

Spencer is not concerned with historical accuracy as much as how history affected the former Miss Spencer’s psyche. She longs to break free as evidenced by an excursion to her former residence. The dialogue between her and Charles (Jack Farthing) or the Queen (Stella Gonet) is curt and strained. There are no pearls of wisdom found in their interactions.

With a stirring score from Jonny Greenwood and masterful cinematography by Claire Mathon, this is a gorgeously rendered production. Stewart has shown her considerable talents post Twilight before – particularly in Personal Shopper. While she may not closely resemble Diana, her mannerisms do and her vulnerability is often something to marvel at. Those looking for a traditional experience may not gel with Spencer. I found myself not being able to look away.

***1/2 (out of four)

2021 Oscars: FINAL Winner Predictions

And it’s come to this! After seven months of endless speculation, predictions, and posts – the 94th Academy Awards (with your hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall) airs this Sunday evening.

These are my final picks for the races covering feature films. Will the Best Picture be CODA?

Or The Power of the Dog?

We have ourselves some real intrigue as both are strong possibilities. Either way, a steamer (either Netflix or Apple TV) should pick up its inaugural Best Pic victory.

Will there be upsets in any of the acting derbies where there seems to be a consensus four based on precursors? And just what will occur in the screenplay races which look unpredictable?

For each race, I’ll give you a bit of commentary along with my projected victor and the runner-up.

Let’s get to it! On Sunday evening, you will see a recap with how I performed…

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

Well, the big daddy of them all has certainly become fascinating. CODA, the little Sundance pic that could, has surged in the past few days. In addition to winning the SAG Ensemble prize, it captured the Producers Guild top honor and was a BAFTA selection for Adapted Screenplay. These designations (PGA especially) are significant precursors. A strong argument could be made that it has the momentum as voting closed yesterday. In fact, I’ve seen more prognosticators picking it this week than not…

However, The Power of the Dog is still quite viable. It took the Golden Globe Best Drama trophy as well as Critics Choice and BAFTA. Until CODA‘s rise, it was the heavy favorite.

We’ve got a real coin flip, folks! That definitely makes the end of Oscar night more suspenseful than last year when Nomadland seemed unbeatable and indeed was.

I don’t believe any of the other eight pictures have a chance. As for the two that do, I’ve gone back and forth constantly all week. There’s a time to stop speculating and make a final pick and I still believe there’s enough power for the Dog to edge out CODA. That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it turns out the other way.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Commentary:

This is far easier than Picture. With CODA maker Sian Heder absent, Jane Campion is in line to become the third female (and second in a row) to make a podium trip. She’s won all the key precursors – DGA, Globes, Critics Choice. It’s even a challenge to name a runner-up (I guess I’ll say Spielberg because he’s Spielberg). Make no mistake – this is one of the simplest checkmarks on the ballot.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessicas Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Commentary:

Kidman garnered the initial heat after a surprise Globe win, but that’s stalled as no other awards programs followed suit. Instead it’s been Chastain on the minor streak with SAG and Critics Choice. If there’s an upset in any acting derby, this is probably where it happens. Stewart’s road to Oscar looked shaky after some snubs. Academy voters could reward her and there’s some chatter about Cruz being viable. Yet I’m sticking with the safest best and that’s Chastain taking her first gold.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Riunner-Up:

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Best Actor

Nominees:

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary:

During the fall, I was thinking there could be a barnburner between Smith and Cumberbatch (with Garfield as potential spoiler). That’s not how it’s played out as the Fresh Prince has been crowned the king in all preceding shows. I expect the sweep to continue.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Judi Dench, Belfast

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Commentary:

Buckley and Dench were surprising inclusions, but there won’t be any shocks with the winner. DeBose has run the table and she should represent Story‘s lone victory.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Commentary: 

Despite its quartet of performers getting nominations, Dog is likely to produce Oscars for none of them. Smit-McPhee received the Golden Globe but it’s been all Kotsur since. This is the race where I’m most confident of a CODA moment.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Runner-Up:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog 

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

Good luck with this one! The Writer’s Guild threw everyone for a loop last weekend when Don’t Look Up won over Licorice Pizza (Belfast was not eligible). I just don’t envision the Academy honoring Up. With a Belfast or Pizza victory, they would bestowing first ever Oscars to Kenneth Branagh and Paul Thomas Anderson respectively. With the Globe and Critics Choice going to Belfast, it has my vote (though it’s close).

PREDICTED WINNER:

Belfast

Runner-Up:

Licorice Pizza

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog 

Commentary:

CODA‘s BAFTA win kickstarted its momentum. Even if Dog is Best Picture, CODA could still take this. On the other hand, I think there’s a better chance Best Pic and Adapted Screenplay match so I’m rolling with the Dog with no degree of confidence whatsoever.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Commentary:

I’m tempted to pick a Mitchells upset, but it’s dangerous to pick against Disney and Encanto is the frontrunner.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Encanto

Runner-Up:

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best International Feature Film

Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

This is unquestionably one of the no brainer picks as Drive My Car has dominated the precursors and is the only nominee to also nab a Best Picture nod.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Drive My Car

Runner-Up:

The Worst Person in the World

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul

Writing with Fire

Commentary:

With nominations in Animated Feature, International Feature, and Doc – it sure seems like Flee should win one of them. It might stand the best chance in this competition, but Summer of Soul has been impressive in precursors and should continue the streak.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Summer of Soul

Runner-Up:

Flee

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary: 

This might be the tech race where Dog is successful. I’m not predicting it though and (get used to hearing this) think Dune emerges.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Commentary:

Cruella has killed it the preceding competitions. Dune, if it crushes all techs, could take it but I’m going with the former.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Cruella

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

The Power of the Dog

tick, tick… Boom!

Commentary:

Don’t sleep on King Richard which was bestowed the EDDIE award. I still think this is Dune‘s to lose.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

King Richard

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Coming 2 America

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Commentary:

Gucci could fashion a 1 for 1 victory but Tammy Faye has taken some precursors.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Runner-Up:

House of Gucci

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Encanto

Parallel Mothers

The Power of the Dog

Commentary:

Like Cinematography, this is between Dog and Dune. Like Cinematography, I’m choosing the latter.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

“Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days

Commentary:

Diane Warren gets her 13th nomination with “Somehow” and somehow she’s never won. That will continue. The smart money is on the 007 theme song from Billie Eilish. Yet I’m going with a minor upset with the Disney tune.

PREDICTED WINNER:

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Runner-Up:

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary:

For the last three categories, I could just say Dune and be done with it. In fact, I think I will…

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Sound

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

Free Guy

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

There isn’t one… that’s how I’m confident I am that Dune takes it.

And so, ladies and gents, that means I’m predicting that these movies win these numbers of Oscars:

6 Wins

Dune

3 Wins

The Power of the Dog

2 Wins

Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

1 Win

Belfast, CODA, Cruella, Drive My Car, King Richard, Summer of Soul, West Side Story

Make sure to check out the blog post ceremony!

BAFTA and Critics Choice Awards Reaction

It was a frenzied Sunday for awards prognosticators as both the BAFTA and Critics Choice Awards aired. Both can be sturdy forecasters for what Oscar will do. This time around, I did better with the Brits than the stateside reviewers. For BAFTA, I went 15/22 (not bad). As for the Critics… oof. Just 10 for 21. Let’s take a look at both with some commentary below:

BAFTA

What I Got Right:

Film – The Power of the Dog

Director – Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Actress – Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Documentary – Summer of Soul

Film Not in the English Language – Drive My Car

Casting – West Side Story

Cinematography – Dune

Costume Design – Cruella

Makeup and Hair – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Original Score – Dune

Production Design – Dune

Sound – Dune

Special Visual Effects – Dune

Outstanding British Film  – Belfast

What I Got Wrong:

Actor – Will Smith, King Richard (Predicted: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog)

Supporting Actor – Troy Kotsur, CODA (Predicted: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog)

Original Screenplay – Licorice Pizza (Predicted: Belfast)

Adapted Screenplay – CODA (Predicted: The Power of the Dog)

Animated Feature – Encanto (Predicted: Flee)

Editing – No Time to Die (Predicted: Dune)

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer – The Harder They Fall (Predicted: Passing)

Critics Choice Awards

What I Got Right:

Picture – The Power of the Dog

Director – Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Actor – Will Smith, King Richard

Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Adapted Screenplay – The Power of the Dog

Foreign Language Film – Drive My Car

Cinematography – The Power of the Dog

Costume Design – Cruella

Score – Dune

Visual Effects – Dune

What I Got Wrong:

Actress – Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Predicted: Kristen Stewart, Spencer)

Supporting Actor – Troy Kotsur, CODA (Predicted: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog)

Original Screenplay – Belfast (Predicted: Licorice Pizza)

Animated Feature – The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Predicted: Encanto)

Comedy – Licorice Pizza (Predicted: The French Dispatch)

Young Actor/Actress – Jude Hill, Belfast (Predicted: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story)

Acting Ensemble – Belfast (Predicted: The Power of the Dog)

Editing  – West Side Story (Predicted: Dune)

Hair and Makeup – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Predicted: House of Gucci)

Production Design – Dune (Predicted: Nightmare Alley)

Song – “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (Predicted: “Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up)

Commentary –

Let’s start with the acting races. I would venture to say now that those four categories all have strong frontrunners: Jessica Chastain and Will Smith in lead and Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur in supporting. Smith and DeBose, in particular, appear unbeatable while Chastain and Kotsur are easy odds-on favorites.

Dune should win plenty of the down the line competitions and appears bound to win the most Oscars overall.

The screenplay races are filled with genuine drama. CODA taking Adapted Screenplay over The Power of the Dog at the BAFTAs was a shocker, but it could be a sign of things to come from the Academy (though I wouldn’t wager money on that). Original Screenplay is absolutely a two-horse race between Belfast and Licorice Pizza. 

Drive My Car is going to take International Feature Film. Simple as that. Summer of Soul looks to be in solid shape for Doc. And even though The Mitchells vs. the Machines managed to take the critics prize, Disney’s Encanto is probably still out front for the Oscar.

In other down the line derbies, the double victories in Makeup and Hairstyling for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Cruella in Costume Design make them favorites.

And despite The Power of the Dog not picking up some trophies at both ceremonies, it did so with Picture and Director at both. And it should do so on Oscar night.

That’s all for now! Next week (probably on Wednesday), look for my FINAL Oscar winner predictions!

2021 Critics Choice Awards WINNER Predictions

The 27th Critics Choice Awards air this Sunday evening and they’re another often reliable indicator for who and what may win on Oscar night. As I have with SAG and the Golden Globes, I am giving you my winner predictions along with the runner-up pick.

Let’s get to it and I’ll have a recap up either Sunday evening or Monday!

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

tick, tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Predicted Winner:

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Predicted Winner:

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Actor

Nominees:

Nicolas Cage, Pig

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Predicted Winner:

Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Caitríona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner:

Licorice Pizza

Runner-Up:

Belfast

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

CODA

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Winner:

Encanto

Runner-Up:

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best Comedy

Nominees:

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Don’t Look Up

Free Guy

The French Dispatch

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner:

The French Dispatch

Runner-Up:

Licorice Pizza

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

A Hero

The Worst Person in the World

Predicted Winner:

Drive My Car

Runner-Up:

The Worst Person in the World

Best Young Actor/Actress

Nominees:

Jude Hill, Belfast

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Emilia Jones, CODA

Woody Norman, C’Mon C’Mon

Saniyya Sidney, King Richard

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Emilia Jones, CODA

Best Acting Ensemble

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

The Harder They Fall

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Belfast

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Dune

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Cruella

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Editing

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Hair and Makeup

Nominees:

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

Predicted Winner:

House of Gucci

Runner-Up:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Nightmare Alley

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Score

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Song

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Guns Go Bang” from The Harder They Fall

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Predicted Winner:

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up 

Runner-Up:

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

The Matrix Resurrections

Nightmare Alley

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

No Time to Die

That equates to the following pictures garnering these numbers for wins:

6 Wins

The Power of the Dog

3 Wins

Dune

2 Wins

West Side Story

1 Win

Cruella, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Encanto, The French Dispatch, House of Gucci, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Spencer

Oscars 2021: The Case of Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart’s role as Princess Diana in Spencer is the fifth and final Case Of post for the Best Actress contenders. The first four can be accessed here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jessica Chastain

Oscars 2021: The Case of Olivia Colman

Oscars 2021: The Case of Penelope Cruz

Oscars 2021: The Case of Nicole Kidman

The Case for Kristen Stewart:

Awards attention for the Twilight star has been building for some time. After acclaimed performances in indie fare like Clouds of Sils Maria, Certain Women, and Personal Shopper, this high-profile role has been considered a potential frontrunner performance since it debuted at the Venice Film Festival.

The Case Against Kristen Stewart:

That frontrunner status hit massive speed bumps. While Stewart nabbed Golden Globe and Critics Choice nods, she was snubbed at SAG and BAFTA. She lost the Globe to Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) and SAG went to Jessica Chastain. She’s yet to take a significant precursor (a Critics Choice Award this weekend could help). Furthermore, Spencer drew mixed reaction from critics and audiences and Stewart holds the sole Oscar nod for it.

Previous Nominations:

None

The Verdict:

It’s a guessing game in Best Actress. Despite Stewart’s setbacks, she’s still in the running in this wide open derby. Her exclusion in SAG could even cause Academy voters to grant her retribution. That said, she’s probably behind Chastain and Kidman at the moment.

My Case Of posts will continue with our last Best Actor player – Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

2021 SAG Awards Winner Predictions

The SAG Awards air this Sunday night and I’m here to give you my take. For some context, I went 4/5 in my projections from 2017-2019 and 3/5 last year. The winners here will certainly help themselves if they’re nominated for Oscars (as you’ll see – not all are).

Let’s get to it!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

House of Gucci

King Richard

Commentary:

I could offer an argument for anything but Gucci (partly because The Birdcage from 1996 is the only winner that wasn’t nominated for BP at the Oscars). The rest of the pics are BP players with the Academy. Belfast is the most likely to win (notice frontrunner The Power of the Dog isn’t here). Even though I’m not projecting its lone nominee (Balfe) to take the SAG and it was a surprise that Ciaran Hinds didn’t make it, I’ll say the cast is ultimately honored as a whole. CODA is right on its heels.

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: CODA

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Commentary: 

Welcome to the confounding world of Best Actress in the 2021 awards season and this is easily the trickiest race to figure out. The Oscar/SAG match is 3/5. Gaga and Hudson didn’t make the Acadeny’s cut in favor of Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer).

Let’s start with Gaga. The SAG winner in this race has never not been nominated for an Oscar so the superstar would certainly make history if she takes this. That stat discourages me from calling her name, but who knows? All hopefuls here would be first-time winners in this category (Hudson took Supporting Actress 15 years back in Dreamgirls). She seems least likely to win. So we’re down to Chastain, Colman, and Kidman. All could prevail. Kidman took the Golden Globe and a podium trip could solidify her status as the Oscar frontrunner. Chastain’s showy role could be honored and it’s a bit of a coin flip for me. I’ll give Kidman an ever so slight edge.

Predicted Winner: Nicole Kidman

Runner-Up: Jessica Chastain

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary:

Not complicated like Actress as there’s a 5 for 5 lineup with the Academy’s nominees. Unlike the Oscars, I do buy into the theory that Garfield might be more of a spoiler than Cumberbatch to Smith. The SAG folks could reward Garfield’s showy role. That said, I’m not betting against Smith.

Predicted Winner: Will Smith

Runner-Up: Andrew Garfield

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Ruth Negga, Passing

Commentary: 

There’s only a 2 for 5 symmetry with the big show and that’s DeBose and Dunst. Balfe, Blanchett, and Negga are in over Academy picks Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Judi Dench (Belfast), and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard). I do think it’s between the Oscar contestants. Dunst is a threat though I’m going with DeBose sweeping until I see different.

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose

Runner-Up: Kirsten Dunst

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Commentary:

Like Supporting Actress, just a 2 for 5 (Kotsur, Smit-McPhee) match. Affleck, Cooper, and Leto got SAG love instead of Oscar selections Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog), and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos). And I’ll also say it’s between the two Academy players. This is difficult because I could easily see Smit-McPhee sweeping (he won the Globe). Yet I have a sneaking suspicion the thespians may go for Kotsur. With little confidence, I’ll pick that.

Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur

Runner-Up: Kodi Smit-McPhee

I’ll have reaction up on the ceremony Sunday night!

Oscars 2021: The Case of Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman’s turn in Netflix’s The Lost Daughter is the second Case Of post for the five women competing for Best Actress. If you missed the first on Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, you can find it here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jessica Chastain

The Case for Olivia Colman:

It’s another hailed performance from the Oscar winner who surprisingly took to the podium three years back for The Favourite (upsetting frontrunner Glenn Close in The Wife). Colman gets her third nod in four years. In addition to the victory from 2018, she was nominated last year in supporting for The Father. She nabbed precursor attention at the Globes, SAG, and Critics Choice. Daughter performed decently with the Academy with Jessie Buckley receiving an unexpected spot in Supporting Actress and director Maggie Gyllenhaal’s being recognized for her adapted screenplay. Furthermore, Best Actress looks wide open and anything could happen.

The Case Against Olivia Colman:

Had Daughter managed a Best Picture slot, I might feel more confident in calling for a potential second trophy for Colman. That said, none of the five Actress’s films are in the big dance. Critics liked this better than general audiences judging from Rotten Tomatoes. In an unexpected twist, BAFTA did not include Colman. What gives me the most pause is that Colman is the most recent recipient – Jessica Chastain and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) have never won, Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) is a supporting winner from 13 years ago, and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) took Actress 19 years ago.

Previous Nominations: 2

The Favourite (2018 – Actress, WON); The Father (2020 – Supporting Actress)

The Verdict:

This is a tricky one and good luck figuring out Best Actress in 2021. The counterargument to the recency bias is that it didn’t hurt Frances McDormand (Nomadland) last year. However, that was a frontrunner for BP and that narrative doesn’t exist this time around. If Colman can get a win at SAG this weekend or Critics Choice later on, it increases her viability with the Academy. If not, I doubt she gets her second Oscar.

My Case Of posts will continue with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jessica Chastain

The first hopeful in a very interesting Best Actress competition is up next in my Case Of posts for the 94th Academy Awards and that’s Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. 

The Case for Jessica Chastain:

Of the five nominees in Actress, only Kristen Stewart (Spencer) and Chastain have yet to win an Oscar. Somewhat surprisingly, she’s only been nominated twice and the last time was nine years ago. There could already be a feeling that she’s overdue and Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, and Nicole Kidman have already won. Her embodiment of evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker (with its nominated makeup team) drew raves from critics and she received nods at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics Choice Awards.

The Case Against Jessica Chastain:

The film itself did not draw raves with a middling 69% Rotten Tomatoes score. Furthermore, it was a bust at the box office with just over $2 million domestically.

Previous Nominations: 2

The Help (2011 – Supporting Actress); Zero Dark Thirty (2012 – Actress)

The Verdict:

Best Actress is wide open at this juncture. So-so reviews for the picture itself didn’t hurt Renee Zellweger in 2019 with Judy and it may not hurt Chastain. She’s a possibility to win, but then again, so are the others.

My Case of posts will continue with our first Best Actor nominee – Javier Bardem in Being the Ricardos