Harriet Box Office Prediction

Once looked at as a potential Oscar contender, buzz for Harriet has significantly dwindled since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival back in September. I suspect this autobiographical tale of abolitionist Harriet Tubman will suffer at the box office as a result. Widows actress Cynthia Erivo stars in the title role with a supporting cast including Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monae. Kasi Lemmons directs. 

Its premiere in Canada yielded mixed reviews and it currently stands at a middling 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. Best Picture seems like a lost cause and Erivo (once looked at as a sure fire contender) may have a tough time making the cut for Best Actress. 

Based on those factors, I foresee Harriet struggling to hit double digits for its start. 

Harriet opening weekend prediction: $8.2 million 

For my Terminator: Dark Fate prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/22/terminator-dark-fate-box-office-prediction/

For my Motherless Brooklyn prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/23/motherless-brooklyn-box-office-prediction/

For my Arctic Dogs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/23/arctic-dogs-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Harriet

Harriet has been a circled possibility for Oscar attention since the project was announced and it’s now screened in Toronto. The biopic of abolitionist Harriet Tubman is from director Kasi Lemmons, whose debut Eve’s Bayou garnered acclaim over two decades ago. Cynthia Erivo, who received her own critical kudos in last year’s Widows, plays the heroic title character. The supporting cast includes Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monae.

A first glance at the current 91% Rotten Tomatoes score indicates it might be the Best Picture contender it was anticipated to be. Yet a deeper dive shows even the mostly positive reviews have significant reservations. Few writers are calling it great and there’s more using words like standard.

Erivo still has a major chance at a Best Actress nod, though I don’t think it’s guaranteed. Critics have singled out her work. That’s probably the extent of acting notices at the Oscars and I’m now relatively confident Best Picture will be elusive. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 5th Edition

A lot can change in a week and that’s certainly the case in my second edition of weekly Oscar predictions for 2019. That’s because the Venice and Telluride festivals have happened and numerous contenders have emerged. Some have seen their fortunes dwindle (like Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat or Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn). Other films and performances have received a serious boost like Ford v Ferrari, Waves (not even on my radar last week), The Two Popes, and Renee Zellweger in Judy.

While last Thursday provided my pre festival rankings, there’s plenty of movement that’s occurred since then. And by next Thursday… the picture will begin more clear with the Toronto Film Festival beginning today and where several other high profile hopefuls will screen.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 11)

5. Parasite (PR: 7)

6. 1917 (PR: 4)

7. Little Women (PR: 5)

8. Jojo Rabbit (PR, 10)

9. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Report (PR: 9)

11. The Farewell (PR: 6)

12. Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pain and Glory (PR: 16)

14. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 12)

15. Joker (PR: 15)

16. A Hidden Life (PR: 19)

17. Dark Waters (PR: 17)

18. Bombshell (PR: 13)

19. The Lighthouse (PR: 21)

20. Harriet (PR: 14)

21. Just Mercy (PR: 20)

22. Rocketman (PR: 22)

23. Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

24. The Laundromat (PR: 8)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

Booksmart

Avengers: Endgame

The Goldfinch

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 4)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 5)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 12)

7. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 6)

9. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

11. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 13)

13. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

15. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 5)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 2)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 4)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 6)

8. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky (PR: 12)

9. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

10. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

12. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 15)

13. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 13)

15. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 3)

4. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 8)

7. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 4)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 5)

9. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 7)

10. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

11. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

12. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 14)

13. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: 15)

14. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, The Report

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 1)

3. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 3)

5. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Janelle Monae, Harriet (PR: 10)

10. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

11. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 13)

13. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 12)

14. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters (PR: 6)

15. Taylor Russell, Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 2)

3. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 4)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

7. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 7)

9. Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Waves (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman (PR: 10)

11. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 5)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat (PR: 3)

14. Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

Timothee Chalamet, Little Women

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 4)

3. Little Women (PR: 3)

4. Dark Waters (PR: 5)

5. The Laundromat (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 6)

7. Joker (PR: 7)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 9)

9. The Goldfinch (PR: 11)

10. The Good Liar (PR: 12)

11. Toy Story 4 (PR: 8)

12. Motherless Brooklyn (PR: 14)

13. The King (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Downton Abbey (Not Ranked)

15. Judy (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Ford v Ferrari (moved to Original)

Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Parasite (PR: 5)

5. The Report (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Farewell (PR: 3)

7. Pain and Glory (PR: 7)

8. Waves (Not Ranked)

9. Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Adapted)

10. Booksmart (PR: 6)

11. The Lighthouse (PR: 12)

12. Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Harriet (PR: 11)

14. 1917 (PR: 8)

15.  Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ad Astra

Us

Queen and Slim

Expect more changes next week when much of the Toronto happenings will have transpired! Until then…

2019 Oscar Predictions: August 29th Edition

Welcome to my first edition of my weekly Oscar predictions where I’ll be ranking my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 contenders in the directing, acting, and screenplay categories!

The dawn of my rankings coincides with the start of film festival season as Venice is in full swing with Telluride and Toronto on deck. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has already screened in Italy and solidified its status as a serious contender in numerous races. There’s a whole bunch of movies premiering in the coming days so expect the picture to become a wee bit clearer. That said, I’ve learned a lot of things from years of past predicting when it comes to this time of the year:

  • Movies thought to be contenders will fail to live up to their buzz
  • Movies will be pushed back to 2020 and render them ineligible
  • Leading actor and actress candidates will be moved to supporting and vice versa
  • Screenplays considered Adapted will become Original and vice versa
  • Sleepers not currently on the radar will rise up… think last year’s Best Picture winner Green Book

With all those caveats, let’s get to it! And expect updates every Thursday on the blog…

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. Marriage Story

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. 1917

5. Little Women

6. The Farewell

7. Parasite

8. The Laundromat

9. The Report

Other Possibilities:

10. Jojo Rabbit

11. Ford v Ferrari

12. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Bombshell

14. Harriet

15. Joker

16. Pain and Glory

17. Dark Waters

18. Booksmart

19. A Hidden Life

20. Just Mercy

21. The Lighthouse

22. Rocketman

23. Ad Astra

24. Avengers: Endgame

25. The Goldfinch

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Sam Mendes, 1917

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

5. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Greta Gerwig, Little Women

7. Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

9. Lulu Wang, The Farewell

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

12. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

15. Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

4. Robert DeNiro, The Irishman

5. Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

8. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

9. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

10. Adam Driver, The Report

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar

14. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

2. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

4. Awkwafina, The Farewell

5. Renee Zellweger, Judy

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

7. Alfre Woodard, Clemency

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim

11. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

12. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

13. Felicity Jones, Aeronauts

14. Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

3. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

4. Al Pacino, The Irishman

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman

11. Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

12. Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

14. Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

15. Timothee Chalamet, Little Women

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Annette Bening, The Report

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

3. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

5. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Other Possibilities:

6. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

10. Janelle Monae, Harriet

11. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

12. Anna Paquin, The Irishman

13. Jennifer Hudson, Cats

14. Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

15. Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. The Laundromat

3. Little Women

4. Jojo Rabbit

5. Dark Waters

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joker

8. Toy Story 4

9. Just Mercy

10. Ford v Ferrari

11. The Goldfinch

12. The Good Liar

13. Judy

14. Motherless Brooklyn

15. Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. The Farewell

4. The Report

5. Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Booksmart

7. Pain and Glory

8. 1917

9. Bombshell

10. Dolemite Is My Name

11. Harriet

12.  The Lighthouse

13. Ad Astra

14. Us

15. Queen and Slim

And that does it for my inaugural ranked predictions! Keep an eye on the blog daily for ongoing developments…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Continuing with my initial Oscar predictions for the 2019 season, we arrive at Best Supporting Actor! If you happened to miss Supporting Actress, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

As mentioned in the previous posts, these are the pre-festival projections where there’s a whole lot of guesswork involved. However, my five performers that I called out in my initial 2018 predictions yielded a strong three of the eventual five nominees: Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman, Sam Elliot in A Star Is Born, and Sam Rockwell in Vice. In the ten other possibilities, I did name nominee Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? The only actor I didn’t list was eventual winner Mahershala Ali for Green Book.

A couple of quick notes: Brad Pitt is likely a shoo-in for a nod. There seems to be a question as to whether Tom Hanks will be classified as lead or supporting for his role as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’m listing him as a possibility for both categories until it’s official.

Let’s get to it!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Alda, Marriage Story

Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

John Lithgow, Bombshell

Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Other Possibilities:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

Jamie Bell, Rocketman

Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes

Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

Al Pacino, The Irishman

Joe Pesci, The Irishman

Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Best Actress is next!

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

In his version of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh allows himself a part as big as his glorious mustache. The supporting players are often relegated to bits as small as the crumbs that might fall out of said mustache if his character didn’t maintain it so fastidiously.

That character is famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Don’t pronounce it Hercules or he will correct you in the exacting fashion he orders his eggs. That precision extends to his career. There’s right and wrong and nothing in between. Poirot’s worldview is challenged when he boards the Orient Express circa 1934, which happens to be the year Agatha Christie’s source material was penned.

Booking passage from stunning Istanbul to Paris, Poirot looks forward to a break from his work, but his powers of detection are utilized when a murder occurs. Nefarious character Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is stabbed multiple times during the night. Everyone onboard is a suspect and there’s about a dozen of them that Poirot must consider.

A lot of familiar faces are among the possibilities. There’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s flirty and dramatic Caroline. Daisy Ridley’s mysterious Mary and her connection with Leslie Odom Jr.’s Dr. Arbuthnot. Judi Dench’s domineering Princess Dragomiroff and her quiet assistant (Olivia Colman). Josh Gad is the victim’s right-hand man and Willem Dafoe is German professor Gerhard. Penelope Cruz is there as the faithful Pilar who hints at a more sinful past. And there’s more.

Yet even though Branagh has assembled a fine troupe of actors, this is the Poirot show. He dominates the running time with his outsized personality and facial hair. The character is introduced as a bit of a caricature but he becomes more sympathetic as the details of the murder and those who may have committed it are slowly revealed.

For those who’ve never read the book or seen any of the other filmed versions (the most notable being Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation with Albert Finney as Poirot in a considerably smaller ‘stache), Murder might keep you guessing. A lot of other audience members, I suspect, already know the outcome.

Branagh brings a visual style here that is grand and sweeping. There’s some complicated and impressive tracking and overhead shots to behold. We also have the train careening through the wilderness and into tunnels that often look a bit too digitized for my taste.

Truth be told, this Murder doesn’t add much fresh to Christie’s story. Viewers who are fans of the 1974 pic might deem this unnecessary. It’s still an often fascinating whodunnit with a talented director, albeit one who hogs the spotlight a bit. Poirot may eventually change his views by the closing credits and it mirrors my reaction. It doesn’t get it totally right or totally wrong. There’s an in between.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Murder on the Orient Express

Ok, so perhaps you’re thinking the idea of Murder on the Orient Express receiving Oscar attention is a track taken too far. Yet it’s not so crazy when considering that the Sidney Lumet 1974 version of Agatha Christie’s whodunnit novel garnered an impressive six nods, including Best Picture and Actor (Albert Finney). Ingrid Bergman even won Supporting Actress 43 years ago for her role.

Reviews are out today for the Kenneth Branagh remake opening next Friday. Some of the critical notices have paid homage to Branagh’s apparently glorious mustache in his portrayal of detective Hercule Poirot. The reviews themselves have been mixed and it currently stands at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad, but nowhere near what it needs for awards chatter.

It’s not exactly a surprise, but I wouldn’t suspect we’ll find this Express iteration getting the kind of Academy attention we saw four decades ago.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…