34th PGA Awards Winner Predictions

Ahead of Sunday evening’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, it’s the producers turn on Saturday night. The 34th PGA Awards winner for their best in show has matched the Oscar Picture victor 70% of the time in the previous decade. The times they diverged were 2015 with PGA naming The Big Short instead of Spotlight, 2016 with La La Land over Moonlight, and 2019 when 1917 took the producer prize as opposed to Parasite. PGA also has animated and documentary competitions. I’m walking through them one by one with a winner and runner-up projection.

Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures

Nominees:

Avatar: The Way of Water

The Banshees of Inisherin

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Tár

Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

There’s a 7 for 10 correlation with the PGA contenders and the BP hopefuls from the Academy. The former has Black Panther, Glass Onion, and The Whale up while the Oscars went with All Quiet on the Western Front, Triangle of Sadness, and Women Talking. The PGA is known for favoring blockbusters over some smaller pics from time to time. Previous examples that didn’t make the Academy’s cut include Bridesmaids, Skyfall, Gone Girl, Straight Outta Compton, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, and Crazy Rich Asians.

This helps explain why some prognosticators are favoring Maverick to take PGA’s highest award. Another explanation is that pundits are attempting to make the race more exciting than it actually is. I do believe Everything Everywhere All at Once is still most likely to emerge. Maverick does warrant runner-up status.

Predicted Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: Top Gun: Maverick

Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures

Nominees:

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Turning Red

Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix rendering of the classic tale has cleaned up with precursors and there’s no reason to believe it won’t with PGA.

Predicted Winner: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Runner-Up: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures

Nominees:

All That Breathes

Descendant

Fire of Love

Navalny

Nothing Compares

Retrograde

The Territory

I wrongly picked Fire of Love to win the BAFTA instead of Navalny. Have I learned my lesson? Nope! I’m doubling down and saying a Fire PGA victory will make the Oscar quintet more competitive.

Predicted Winner: Fire of Love

Runner-Up: Navalny

I’ll have a recap up Saturday evening or Sunday ahead of the SAG show. If you missed my SAG predictions, they can be accessed here:

Babylon Review

The silent days and boisterous evenings of Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s are meticulously depicted in Babylon. From the gourd of Damien Chazelle, this is his version of Boogie Nights in many respects. It focuses on one version of Tinseltown technology fading out in favor of another. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece from a quarter century ago, it was X rated material shot on film being transitioned to video. Here it’s the silent era making way for talkies. The adult entertainment is on ample display at the swank and sweaty bashes that feature cocaine and elephants as party favors.

We meet the main principals at an L.A. happening in 1926. Manny Torres (Diego Calva) is an immigrant doing menial work for Kinoscope Studios. At the company’s debauched soirée, aspiring star Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) literally crashes into his consciousness and a years long infatuation is born. Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) is the already established screen hero whose shooting schedules seem to last longer than his marriages. Jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) provides the soundtrack to the sin while cabaret songstress Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li) supplies sultry vocals. Columnist Elinor St. John (Jean Smart) is around to gossip about it.

The night serves as the intro point for Manny and Nellie to mount separate meteoric rises in a shifting industry. She becomes a silent film sensation just as sound (courtesy of The Jazz Singer) is around the corner. Manny’s connection with Conrad opens doors to big jobs as the movie headliner’s career begins a downward slide. Palmer, meanwhile, becomes a popular if exploited attraction in a series of musicals.

For three hours plus, Babylon celebrates and denigrates the excesses of the era. Nellie’s substance fueled rocket ride and downfall is given bulky screen time while others get the short shrift (Jun Li’s Zhu being one example). There is impressive production design to spare where odious actions occur within the walls. Tobey Maguire’s cameo as a whacked out criminal at an underground function displays scenarios that might make Robbie’s and her costars from The Wolf of Wall Street blush.

Chazelle’s message is pretty straightforward when there isn’t vomit and defecate being spewed. As ugly as Hollywood is, the end result can be beautiful. This is evident in a couple of terrific sequences that show the joy and pain of moviemaking. In one we witness Conrad’s war-torn romance catch the light at the perfect time. In another we suffer along with Nellie as she acclimates herself to the noise being introduced to celluloid.

I wish the gifted provider of Whiplash and La La Land could’ve reigned himself in. The aforementioned segments show how special this would have been with a tighter focus. Unfortunately it’s not only septa being deviated from. While Robbie and Pitt both have shining moments, Chazelle’s screenplay never makes Manny a compelling central figure. Calva doesn’t have much to work with considering his blank slate of a character. There are many known faces that pop up in the crowded script including Olivia Wilde and Katherine Waterston as fleeting wives to Conrad. Lukas Haas is the sad sack friend to the frequent divorcee whose character is similar to William H. Macy’s in Boogie Nights. That picture and Babylon take place in different eras of Hollywood shifts. One is brilliant. The other is occasionally inspired and often maddening.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscars: The Case of Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once is fifth on the docket in my Case Of posts for the 10 Best Picture nominees. Let’s plead the case for and against it!

The Case for Everything Everywhere All at Once:

The sophomore feature from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as the Daniels) debuted at South by Southwest on March 11th and will have been a legit contender for over a year when the Oscars air March 12th. A critical darling with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it has been nominated in every major precursor. This includes 10 BAFTA nominations, 14 Critics Choice mentions with 5 wins (including Picture, Director and Screenplay), 6 Golden Globe nods with two wins for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, and 5 pending SAG noms. While some have griped that recent BP recipients didn’t break through with mass audiences, Everything was a box office success with $71 million domestically. Its 11 Academy nods are the most of any picture and that includes four for its ensemble (Yeoh, Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu).

The Case Against Everything Everywhere All at Once:

In the last 10 ceremonies, only two films that led or tied in total nominations (Birdman and The Shape of Water) ended up winning BP. One could argue Everything is the frontrunner. In recent years, ask how that worked out for La La Land, Roma, and 1917. The Academy could follow the Globes suit and skew toward The Banshees of Inisherin. There are some prognosticators who feel it’s too strange for the Academy.

Other Nominations:

Director (the Daniels), Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Supporting Actress (Stephanie Hsu), Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song

The Verdict:

I’ve never bought the “too weird for the Academy” or not traditional enough argument. You could say the same for Birdman or The Shape of Water and Everything is looking to model them on the road to victory. It is risky to be out front, but I do feel this is the odds on favorite. A SAG Ensemble loss on February 26th (especially if it’s to Banshees or The Fabelmans) could cause more intrigue. If it wins, look for this to enter March 12th as even more of a probable BP.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Fabelmans!

If you missed my other posts in this series, you can find them here:

Babylon Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (12/20): I am revising my Babylon prediction down to $8.7 million

The La La Land man turns his attention to the debauchery of Hollywood’s early days in Babylon. Damien Chazelle directs the epic dramedy that rivals Avatar: The Way of Water (188 minutes) in terms of length. Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Lukas Haas, Max Minghella, Samara Weaving, Olivia Wilde, and Tobey Maguire are among the sprawling cast.

While the review embargo hasn’t officially lifted, social media reactions are all over the map. There’s praise and contempt for the hard R rated extravaganza. This week it received five Golden Globes nods (including Best Picture – Musical/Comedy) and nine mentions from the Critics Choice Awards (including Best Picture). Oscar attention is anticipated.

There’s comparisons in terms of tone (and rampant drug use) to The Wolf of Wall Street from 2013. It also was presented during the Christmas season to a traditional three-day haul of just over $18 million. That’s probably the ceiling of where Babylon would manage.

I’ll project lower double digits is where this starts as it hopes the buzz keeps it going into the new year.

Babylon opening weekend prediction: $8.7 million (REVISED)

For my Puss in Boots: The Last Wish prediction, click here:

For my Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody prediction, click here:

Oscar Predictions: Babylon

One of the last significant pieces of the 2022 Oscar puzzle has come into sharper focus with Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. The 188 minute epic set in late 1920s Hollywood has screened for industry and critics and reaction is wildly divergent. Some posts are calling it a triumph while others proclaim it a grotesque mess. One thing seems certain – this one will get a whole lotta chatter leading up to its December 23rd release. One other thing – the buzz below could change with more screenings as we get closer to the premiere.

Newcomer Diego Calva headlines a cast that includes Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, and Tobey Maguire. While the review embargo won’t lift for a bit, the all over the map chatter raises some questions for its awards viability.

Chazelle has a sterling track record with voters. His first two features – 2014’s Whiplash and 2016’s La La Land – were both Best Picture nominees (the latter rather famously losing to Moonlight). Chazelle did take the Director prize for La La. On the other hand, 2018’s First Man underperformed at the box office and with the Academy (its four nods were all in tech categories).

So it’s a given that Babylon has (sight unseen) sat high on the projections of prognosticators for months. First things first. This won’t end the streak of Chazelle’s movies getting nominations. It’s a major possibility in numerous below the line competitions like Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Score, and Sound. Film Editing is one that could be contingent on a BP nod.

Will it get there for the biggest race? I think it still probably makes the cut. Yet Paramount might be feeling that Top Gun: Maverick is now their ace contender. The studio has had such a solid year that both could get in. There’s been some comparisons to The Wolf of Wall Street with the running time and frequent debauchery. That was a BP hopeful in 2013. For another Leo pic reference, Don’t Look Up was up last year and it too garnered severely mixed reviews.

I suspect I’ll still have Babylon in my top 10 when I updated my projections this weekend. I’ve had it listed 3rd for weeks and I would anticipate that ranking will drop. Chazelle is unlikely to be my #2 where he’s sat behind Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans) for awhile. I’m not completely sure he’ll be in my estimated quintet.

As for the actors – Robbie is getting a lot of praise thus far as is Calva. Best Actress, as I’ve noted a lot on here, is packed this year. I believe Cate Blanchett (Tár), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) are currently top 3 in the race and there’s a handful of others vying for spots 4-5. That includes Robbie and I still believe she stands a realistic shot. So does Calva and that may be due to Actor being pretty weak this year. His inclusion is far from guaranteed, but he could nab a fourth or fifth slot like his costar. While Pitt is getting decent notices, I’m less convinced he’s in for Supporting Actor.

Bottom line: Babylon doesn’t seem like a threat to win Best Picture and it’s questionable whether it even gets in. Acting nods are feasible but not assured. Tech noms are inevitable. My Oscar prediction posts will continue…

Best Picture 2016: The Final Five


We have reached 2016 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-15, you can peruse them here:

We know one thing for sure – Moonlight from Barry Jenkins is in. As you may recall, it had to wait a tad longer to win Best Picture when an envelope mishap caused Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to wrongly proclaim La La Land as the voters choice.

As for the 8 other hopefuls (including La La), here’s my take on which half of them would have made the dance.

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama tied Moonlight for the second most nods at 8. In addition to BP, the director and adapted screenplay were nominated along with tech mentions in Sound Editing (where it won), Sound Mixing, Production Design, Cinematography, and Editing. On the flip side, star Amy Adams was omitted in Best Actress. It stands as one of the most surprising acting snubs of the past decade.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but I’ll admit I went back and forth here. There’s certainly an argument to be made that it gets in due to the high number of nominations. However, the Actress snub and it not making the Golden Globe five for Drama make me more comfortable leaving it out. **As a side note – I didn’t let my personal take on it interfere as it’s probably my favorite picture of 2016.

Fences

Denzel Washington starred and directed this adaptation of the August Wilson play. Washington landed an Actor nom while costar Viola Davis won Supporting Actress. The Adapted Screenplay was also up.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Had it materialized in Director, I might think twice but this was probably 7th at best of the nine contenders.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson made a filmmaking comeback in the World War II drama. He was up for his direction and Andrew Garfield earned a Best Actor spot. It won Sound Mixing and Film Editing and was up for Sound Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite its screenplay not being mentioned, the Editing victory puts it in for me. In the 21st century, the winner of the race has missed BP exactly once (2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Hell or High Water

Taylor Sheridan is best known these days for co-creating TV’s hit Yellowstone. He earned an Original Screenplay nod for this neo-Western that was also up for Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges) and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Director David Mackenzie wasn’t up and the 0 for 4 showing is a sign the final five wasn’t reachable.

Hidden Figures

Theodore Melfi’s true life look at African-American female mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s was a gigantic hit – blasting off to $170 million domestically. Besides BP, Octavia Spencer was up for Supporting Actress as was the Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No in spite of its box office. Of the nine nominees, it got the smallest number of noms and took home zero. It was also missed the Golden Globe and Critics Choice lists.

La La Land

Damien Chazelle won Best Director for his musical and Emma Stone was crowned Best Actress. The total number of nominations was 14 – which tied All About Eve and Titanic for the most ever. Other victories were Score, Song, Cinematography, and Production Design. The other mentions were Actor (Ryan Gosling), Original Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Costume Design, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

A big and obvious yes. When Dunaway accidentally proclaimed it BP, no one was surprised since it was the frontrunner. It was very likely the runner-up in votes.

Lion

Garth Davis’s drama finds Dev Patel searching for his birth parents and it found its way to five other nods for Patel in Supporting Actor, Nicole Kidman for Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Cinematography. It did not win any of them.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. I will admit that this could be a stretch and Arrival might be the pick of others. I just think that there would have been enough sentiment for this one to make the final cut even without directing and editing mentions.

Manchster by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan got a directing nod for this grief filled drama and Casey Affleck won Best Actor. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were up for the supporting derbies while Lonergan won Original Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The screenplay and Actor wins solidify this and it was probably third of the five behind Moonlight and La La Land.

Therefore my projected 2016 five is:

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

2017 is next!

2022 Venice Film Festival Preview

How important is the Venice Film Festival when it comes to premiering Oscar hopefuls? In the past decade, nearly half of the Best Picture winners got their rollout in Italy. That would be Birdman, Spotlight, The Shape of Water, and Nomadland. It’s tough to find a recent Venice fest where there’s not at least 2 eventual nominees for the Academy’s biggest race.

This year’s competition kicks off tomorrow and you can anticipate plenty of individualized Oscar prediction posts coming your way. Telluride follows this weekend (with the lineup announcement on Thursday) and Toronto starts next Thursday (I’ll be there!).

Let’s take a look at ten Venice entries looking to create their Oscar buzz over the next few days…

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed 

Laura Poitras, who won an Academy Award for her 2014 Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, turns her eye to activist Nan Goldin and her fight against the opioid epidemic. This could certainly be a player in the Doc competition.

The Banshees of Inisherin 

The last time filmmaker Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson collaborated, the result was the acclaimed 2008 black comedy In Bruges. They’re playing in the same genre here with McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which earned acting Oscars for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.

Bardo

3 out of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s last four films were nominated for Best Picture. Birdman took gold with Babel and The Revenant contending. Expectations are that his latest drama (available on Netflix in December) could be the streamer’s most serious contender and it could immediately become a frontrunner for International Feature Film.

Blonde

Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas (another Netflix offering) comes with an NC-17 rating and lots of prognosticators wondering if it’s too risqué to get awards attention. We’ll know soon.

Bones & All

Luca Guadagnino had a pic in the BP derby five years ago with Call Me by Your Name and then followed with the confounding Suspiria remake. This horror romance with cannibalistic themes stars Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell. I have’t really had this as much of a threat for the Oscar race so let’s see if that narrative shifts.

Don’t Worry Darling

Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to Booksmart is a tale of marital and suburban strife headlined by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. The thriller  has been generating headlines for some wrong reasons lately, but great reviews could turn that buzz around.

The Son

Florian Zeller took home a Screenplay Oscar for 2020’s The Father while Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor. The Father is next and Hugh Jackman is seeking his first statue. The supporting cast includes Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, and Hopkins. Any and all could be in the mix for acting honors.

Tar

Cate Blanchett could be lined up for a third Oscar win in Todd Field’s latest in which the acclaimed actress plays a composer. It’s the director’s first feature in over 15 years after both In the Bedroom and Little Children received Academy nods.

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Natalie Portman to the podium in 2010’s Black Swan. There’s chatter he could do the same and assist in mounting a significant career comeback for Brendan Fraser (something he did for Mickey Rourke with 2008’s The Wrestler). The Mummy star plays a 600 pound man reconnecting with his daughter (Sadie Sink).

White Noise

Noah Baumbach’s last Netflix film was the BP contending Marriage Story from 2019. His Marriage star Adam Driver is back in this adaptation of a 1980s sci-fi dark comedy. It will open Venice tomorrow and it will be my first Oscar Predictions post. Stay tuned!

22 for ’22: Oscars Early Look

It’s been an entire week since The Slap… check that, the 94th Academy Awards where CODA parlayed its Sundance buzz from January 2021 all the way to a Best Picture victory.

That also means I’ve managed to wait a whole week without speculation for the next Academy Awards which will hopefully be a slap free zone. So what are some titles that could be vying for attention?

On May 27th and after numerous delays, Top Gun: Maverick will find Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role some 36 years after the original. There’s a decent chance it could be up for similar prizes that its predecessor landed like Sound, Film Editing, and Song (courtesy of Lady Gaga apparently). Visual Effects is a possibility as well.

My weekly Oscar prediction posts won’t begin until mid to late August. In the meantime, you’ll get individualized write-ups for pics that open or screen at festivals.

Yet for today – I feel the need. The need to identify 21 other 2022 titles that might end up on the Academy’s radar. Enjoy!

Armageddon Time

Despite acclaimed movies like The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, James Gray has yet to connect with awards voters. This drama, rumored to be centered on his Queens upbringing, is the next hopeful and features a stellar cast including Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. Release Date: TBD

Avatar 2

The 2009 original amassed nine nominations and won took home three. The first sequel (there’s three more on the way) arrives in December from James Cameron. Will it capture the critical and box office magic of part one? That’s impossible to know at this juncture, but one can safely assume it’ll be up for some tech categories like Sound and Visual Effects. Release Date: December 16th

Babylon

Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the big dance. Whiplash was a BP nominee and J.K. Simmons won Supporting Actor. Chazelle took Director for his follow-up La La Land along with Emma Stone’s Actress victory and it almost famously took BP. First Man nabbed four nominations, but missed the top of the line races. Babylon is a period drama focused on Hollywood’s Golden Age and should be right up the Academy’s alley. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. Release Date: December 25th

Canterbury Glass

Robbie also turns up in David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece. Anytime he’s behind the camera, Oscar nods typically follow (think The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). Slated for November, the dramedy also features Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, and… Chris Rock. Release Date: November 4th

Elvis

Arriving in June but with a Cannes unveiling in May, Baz Luhrmann’s musical bio of The King stars Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as The Colonel. If this doesn’t contend for the major awards, I would still anticipate potential tech recognition (Production Design, Sound, etc…). Release Date: June 24th

Empire of Light

Sam Mendes was likely in the runner-up position in 2019 for Picture and Director (behind Parasite) with 1917. His follow-up is an English set romance starring Olivia Colman (who would be going for her fourth nomination in five years), Michael Ward, and Colin Firth. Release Date: TBD

Everything Everywhere All at Once

From two filmmakers known collectively as Daniels, Once is already out in limited release with spectacular reviews (97% on RT). The sci-fi action comedy might be too bizarre for the Academy, but I wouldn’t count it out as its admirers are vocal. Picture, Director, Actress (Michelle Yeoh), and Original Screenplay are all on the table. Release Date: out in limited release, opens wide April 8th

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directs a semi-autobiographical tale and cowrites with his Lincoln and West Side Story scribe Tony Kushner. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano. Needless to say, this is a major contender on paper. Release Date: November 23rd

Killers of the Flower Moon

Alongside The Fabelmans, this might be the most obvious nominee from a personnel standpoint. Martin Scorsese helms this western crime drama featuring Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and his two frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Apple TV just became the first streamer to get a BP victory with CODA. This could be the second in a row. Release Date: November

Poor Things

In 2018, The Favourite scored a whopping ten nominations. Based on an acclaimed 1992 novel, Poor Things is Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up and it reunites him with Emma Stone along with Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, and Mark Ruffalo. The plot sounds bizarre but it could also be an Oscar bait role for Stone and others. Release Date: TBD

Rustin

One of Netflix’s contenders is George C. Wolfe’s profile of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Colman Domingo). In 2020, Wolfe directed Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to nods for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Look for Domingo to be a competitor and the supporting cast includes Chris Rock (maybe he will be back at the show), Glynn Turman, and Audra McDonald. Release Date: TBD

See How They Run

The 1950s set murder mystery could provide 27-year-old Saoirse Ronan with an opportunity to land her fifth nomination. Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, and Ruth Wilson are among the supporting players. Tom George directs. Release Date: TBD

She Said

Five years after the scandal rocked Hollywood, She Said from Maria Schrader recounts the New York Times sexual misconduct investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, and Patricia Clarkson lead the cast. Release Date: November 18th

The Son

Florian Zeller won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for The Father along with Anthony Hopkins taking Best Actor. This follow-up (based on the director’s play) finds Hopkins reprising his Oscar-winning part in supporting fashion. Other cast members seeking awards attention include Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby. Release Date: TBD

TAR

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Todd Field behind the camera. Previous efforts In the Bedroom and Little Children received 8 nominations between them. A decade and a half following Children comes this Berlin set drama with Cate Blanchett, Noemie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Release Date: October 7th

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Scheduled for a Cannes bow in May, Longing is a fantasy romance from the legendary mind of George Miller (who last made Mad Max: Fury Road which won six tech Oscars). Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star. Release Date: TBD

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Mickey Rourke to a comeback narrative nod for 2008’s The Wrestler. Two years later, his follow-up Black Swan earned Natalie Portman a statue. Brendan Fraser is hoping for the same treatment with The Whale as he plays a 600 pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter. Costars include Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I’d expect Makeup and Hairstyling could also be in play with this. Release Date: TBD

White Noise

Not a remake of the Michael Keaton supernatural thriller from 2005, this is Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Marriage Story. Based on a 1985 novel, it’s the filmmaker’s first picture based on other source material. Marriage landed three acting nods (with Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress). The cast here includes frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver, real-life partner Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, and Don Cheadle. This could be Netflix’s strongest contender. Release Date: TBD

The Woman King

Expect this West Afrian set historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood to be heavily touted by Sony with awards bait roles for leads Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The supporting cast includes John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. Release Date: September 16th

Women Talking

Based on a 2018 novel, Sarah Polley writes and directs this drama focused on eight Mennonite women and their story of abuse. The sterling cast includes Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy, and Rooney Mara. Release Date: TBD

And that’s just a small preview of the features that could materialize for the 95th Academy Awards! As always, the speculation on this site will continue throughout the year and into the next. Stay tuned…

PGA: The Rise of CODA

When it comes to the Producers Guild of America awards, there’s a 14/21 match between their best picture and the Academy’s in the 21st century. The two-thirds ratio is 3/5 in the past five years. In 2016, La La Land took PGA over the Oscar selection of Moonlight. For 2019, PGA went with 1917 while the big show went with Parasite. Other 21st century examples: The Big Short won PGA in 2015 (Oscar: Spotlight). For 2006, Little Miss Sunshine got the PGA prize while The Departed took Oscar.

The PGA’s for 2021 occurred last night and it’s another feather in the cap for CODA. Sian Heder’s coming-of-age drama built upon its recent SAG ensemble victory  to triumph here. If there was any doubt before, CODA has unquestionably positioned itself as the alternate to The Power of the Dog winning Best Picture at the Oscars. Not Belfast. Not King Richard or Dune. This is a two-horse race between Dog and CODA and they both have important precursor hardware. No matter which one grabs the gold, it will be the first BP win for a streamer (Netflix for Dog and Apple TV for CODA).

Jane Campion’s direction of Dog won the Director Guild of America (DGA) prize this week and that’s a reliable Academy precursor. She’s almost certain to be the Oscar winner (CODA‘s Sian Heder isn’t nominated). In fact, CODA only has three nominations overall: Picture, Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur), and Adapted Screenplay. It didn’t seem feasible until recently, but it could legitimately go 3 for 3.

Having said that, I wouldn’t dream of counting Dog out. It’s the Globe and BAFTA recipient. The precursor bonafides for it are just as impressive as CODA‘s. Even a week ago, however, I would’ve said Dog had about a 90% chance to be the Oscar BP. Now… well, it’s considerably less and we’ll see what I predict when I make my final picks on Wednesday.

In the Animated Feature and Documentary races at PGA, the respective winners were Encanto and Summer of Soul and they maintain their status as Academy favorites.

Oscars 2021: The Case of The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is my ninth Case Of post covering the Best Picture nominees for the 2021 Academy Awards. If you missed the previous entries, you can access them here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

Oscars 2021: The Case of Don’t Look Up

Oscars 2021: The Case of Drive My Car

Oscars 2021: The Case of Dune

Oscars 2021: The Case of King Richard

Oscars 2021: The Case of Licorice Pizza

Oscars 2021: The Case of Nightmare Alley

The Case for The Power of the Dog:

And it’s quite a case to be made. Last week, the Netflix period drama ruled Oscar nominations morning with an even better than expected 12 nods. It even garnered unexpected mentions in Sound and for Jesse Plemons in Supporting Actor (alongside his costars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee). In doing so, Dog landed placements in all of the down the line races where a BP win is key: directing, performances, adapted screenplay, editing, and so forth. At the Golden Globes (where many were predicting a Belfast victory), it took Best Drama. It’s also been the beneficiary of numerous critics groups awards for Best Pic.

The Case Against The Power of the Dog:

Being the frontrunner doesn’t always pan out and we’ve seen it in three of the past five Oscars. Just ask La La Land (which lost to Moonlight in 2016), Roma (which fell to Green Book in 2018), and 1917 (which came up short to Parasite in 2019). Getting the most nominations also doesn’t mean you’re taking the big prize. Just ask Mank from last year. Or Joker two years ago. Or The Favourite or Roma from 2018.

The Verdict:

While the case against is somewhat persuasive, there’s no denying that Dog is unquestionably the favorite to win. Yet there’s compelling evidence that an upset is certainly feasible.

My Case Of posts will continue with West Side Story