Tag Archives: Liam Neeson

Widows Box Office Prediction

Widows is Steve McQueen’s follow-up to 2013’s Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave and it boasts an impressive cast and its own awards buzz. Viola Davis headlines the heist thriller alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson.

Opening next weekend, the film sits at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. It could potentially contend in Best Picture, Actress (Davis), Supporting Actor (Kaluuya) and its Adapted Screenplay from Gone Girl and Sharp Objects writer Gillian Flynn. So how will that translate to box office bucks?

I believe the likelihood is that Widows will succeed in appealing to action fans and manage to bring in a sizable female audience. Yet it should also be the type of performer that experiences solid holds from weekend to weekend and not necessarily have a huge opening. Mid teens appears to be the correct forecast for its start.

Widows opening weekend prediction: $15.8 million

For my Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald prediction, click here:


For my Instant Family prediction, click here:


Oscar Watch: Widows

Five Oscars ago, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture and it’s been five years for his follow-up to debut. That picture is Widows, a heist drama based on a 1983 British miniseries and it’s premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

Reviews for the film are encouraging, but I’m not too sure they’re strong enough for a realistic shot at Best Picture, Director, or Adapted Screenplay (by the director and Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn) nods.

As for the actors involved, that could be a different story. An impressive supporting cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. Most of the ink, however, has been reserved for its star Viola Davis. She won Supporting Actress just two years back for Fences. It appears she could factor into the lead Actress race this time around, though competition could be steep. If there’s anything chance at supporting players being recognized, both Daniel Kaluuya (nominated for last year’s Get Out) and Elizabeth Debicki have been singled out in some reviews.

Bottom line: Widows is doubtful for Best Picture, but Davis and maybe a supporting performance or two could be in the mix.

The film opens domestically on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Just over a decade ago, Joel and Ethan Coen finally broke through with Academy voters via No Country for Old Men. Premiering in Venice today is their latest effort The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Originally conceived as a six-part Netflix series, the brothers Coen chose to combine this tale of violent Western vignettes into a feature film. Its cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson.

Reviews overseas indicate that Ballad contains great moments and some uneven ones. I wouldn’t expect this to be a contender in Picture or Director. As for its actors, Neeson and Waits have been singled out. Yet again, their inclusion is Supporting Actor could be a reach.

Ballad does stand a better chance at possible recognition for Original Screenplay (depending on strength of competition) and its cinematography.

Bottom line: Ballad could factor into down the line races, but don’t expect this to play in the largest prize pool.

Following an expected theatrical release, Scruggs debuts on Netflix on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Summer 1988: The Top 10 Hits and More

We are in the midst of the blockbuster summer season of 2018. As I do every year on the blog, I’m recounting the summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago with the top 10 moneymakers and other notable features and flops. We begin with 1988 and unlike the current 2018 crop that is dominated by big-budget sequels, it was surprising to find that there were a host of follow-up flops three decades ago. Sequels make up just 20% of the top ten here.

The seasons of 1998 and 2008 will be posted shortly, but here’s what what was happening 30 years ago at the cinema:

10. Bull Durham

Domestic Gross: $50 million

Writer/director Ron Shelton’s sports comedy came as Kevin Costner was experiencing a string of hits in the late 80s and early 90s. Considered one of the finest sports films ever made, it also featured showcase roles for Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

9. Rambo III

Domestic Gross: $53 million

The third go-round for Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo earned only a third of what Rambo: First Blood Part II achieved three summers prior and received mostly negative reviews. The star would revise the character 20 years later in Rambo.

8. Willow

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Ron Howard’s fantasy adventure (with a story conceived by George Lucas) was considered only a moderate success at time of its release and critical notices were mixed. It has since gone on to garner cult status.

7. A Fish Called Wanda

Domestic Gross: $62 million

This acclaimed heist comedy was an unexpected critical and audience darling with a screenplay from the legendary John Cleese. Both he and “Monty Python” cohort Michael Palin starred alongside Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, in a rare comedic role that won an Oscar for Supporting Actor. Nine years later, the cast reunited for the less regarded Fierce Creatures. 

6. Cocktail

Domestic Gross: $78 million

Coming off his iconic role in Top Gun two years earlier, Tom Cruise propelled this bartender tale to major success despite poor reviews (even Cruise admitted it wasn’t so good years later). It did provide The Beach Boys with a big comeback hit in the form of “Kokomo”.

5. Die Hard

Domestic Gross: $83 million

It might be #5 on the list, but Die Hard is easily the most influential film of the summer of ’88. Rightfully considered the quintessential action movie, it served as a springboard for Bruce Willis’s film career and gave us an unforgettable villain in Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber. Four sequels and numerous knock-offs would follow.

4. Crocodile Dundee II

Domestic Gross: $109 million

Paul Hogan’s Aussie creation struck box office gold in 1986 when the first Dundee made $174 million and was an unexpected smash. The sequel didn’t measure up to the first commercially or critically, but it still managed to edge past the $100 million mark.

3. Big

Domestic Gross: $114 million

Tom Hanks earned his first Oscar nomination (several would follow) for Penny Marshall’s classic comedy about a teenager wanting to be an adult. It also earned an Original Screenplay nomination.

2. Coming to America

Domestic Gross: $128 million

Eddie Murphy was about the biggest box office draw in the world circa 1988 and this serves as one of his classics. There’s been long rumored plans for a sequel, but whether or not it ever materializes is a legit question three decades later.

1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Domestic Gross: $156 million

This landmark blending of live-action and animation from director Robert Zemeckis combined beloved characters from the Warner Bros and Disney catalogs, winning three technical Oscars. The title character would appear in some animated shorts in the following years, but a traditional sequel surprisingly never followed.

And now for some other notable features from the summer:

Young Guns

Domestic Gross: $45 million

This Western about Billy the Kid and his gang cast many of the hot young stars of the day, including Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Charlie Sheen. A sequel would follow two years later.

Midnight Run

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Serving as Robert De Niro’s first major foray into comedy (blended with action), Midnight Run found him brilliantly cast alongside Charles Grodin in this effort from Beverly Hills Cop director Martin Brest. Its status has only grown in subsequent years.

And now we arrive at some of the pictures that didn’t fare so well and we have 5 sequels that couldn’t match the potency of what came before them:

The Dead Pool

Domestic Gross: $37 million

Clint Eastwood’s fifth and final appearance as Dirty Harry was met with mixed reviews and lackluster box office. It’s got perhaps the best supporting cast of the lot, however, including Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, and Jim Carrey a few years before he became a phenomenon.

Big Top Pee-Wee

Domestic Gross: $15 million

While Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure earned $40 million and introduced moviegoers to Tim Burton, this sequel underwhelmed. Star Paul Reubens would, um, pick up notoriety three years later for another experience in a movie theater.

Arthur 2: On the Rocks

Domestic Gross: $14 million

The 1981 original earned Academy Award nominations and a fantastic $95 million domestic haul. By the time the sequel followed seven years later, audiences weren’t interested in the comedy starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli.

Poltergeist III

Domestic Gross: $14 million

The franchise began in 1982 with acclaim and huge dollars. A sequel diminished those returns and by the time part 3 hit screens, crowds were tuned out. Tragically, Heather O’Rourke (who famously played Carol Anne) died months before its release at the age of 12.

Caddyshack II

Domestic Gross: $11 million

Part 1 was a comedy classic. Part 2 was anything but. Chevy Chase was the only returning cast member to return and there was no repeating the magic with Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, Randy Quaid, and Dan Aykroyd.

And finally…

Mac and Me

Domestic Gross: $6 million

A notorious bomb, this E.T. rip-off received plenty of ink on account of its awfulness. There is a silver lining, however, as Paul Rudd has hilariously incorporated it into segments on Conan O’Brien’s show over the years.

And there you have the summer of 1988 in a nutshell! I’ll be back with 1998 soon…

The Commuter Movie Review

Director Jaume Collet-Serra and his aging action star Liam Neeson collaborate for the fourth time with The Commuter. If you remember their 2014 effort NonStop quite vividly, good for you because I had forgotten much of it. That pic put Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long flight in which he was forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. Four years later, this one puts Mr. Neeson in a precarious position on a long train ride in which he is forced to commit potential crimes commanded by shadowy villains. If that makes you think The Commuter doesn’t exactly aim high, you’d be correct.

The trick with these movies is whether we can successfully put our brains aside and just enjoy the junk food genre offerings. This time around, the director and star don’t make it very easy for us. Neeson is Michael, an ex NYC cop turned life insurance agent for the last decade. He’s 60 (as he reminds us a few times) with a wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and son about to enter college. It’s tough for the family man to make ends meet and that’s thrown into chaos when he’s unceremoniously fired. Each day he makes a long commute home and on the day of his unexpected dismissal, more surprises follow. He’s approached on the train by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and she offers an opportunity. There’s $100,000 for Michael if he can identify and place a GPS tracker on a passenger who goes by Prynne. Farmiga’s Conjuring hubby Patrick Wilson turns up as Michael’s old partner.

This is all tied to a murder investigation and Prynne is a witness. Joanna’s benefactors want Prynne eliminated and Michael is their ticket to make that happen. All this leads to Michael having to make a series of moral decisions while intermittently kicking an appropriate amount of baddie butt. We also are introduced to the train’s other passengers – some of whom are given perfunctory subplots while we await Prynne’s grand reveal.

The Commuter, quite frankly, is totally ludicrous and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The same could certainly be said of Unknown (the first Collet-Serra/Neeson joint) or NonStop. Yet I found both to be slightly more entertaining than this. The screenplay (which somehow took three people to write it) does too little to engage us with its silly plot and a couple of decently choreographed action sequences aren’t enough to save it. Neeson gives it his earnest and occasionally intense all. Bless his heart for not coasting as the story does.

** (out of four)

The Commuter Box Office Prediction

It’s been nine years since Liam Neeson reinvented himself as everyone’s go to elder action star with Taken. The last couple of years have seen him focusing on other genres,  but he’s back in kick ass mode next weekend with The Commuter. This marks his fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra after Unknown, NonStop, and Run All Night. Costars include Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (presumably doing no conjuring work), as well as Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, and Elizabeth McGovern.

Mr. Neeson’s first two pictures with this director came while he was still packing in audiences with the Taken franchise. That helped propel Unknown and NonStop to openings above $20 million. Run All Night (and another more recent Neeson action flick A Walk Among the Tombstones) both failed to reach the teens in their debuts.

The Commuter has received decent reviews so far and sits at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, recent evidence has shown the star’s box office potency in the genre has waned. I’ll predict this reaches low to possibly higher teens for its four-day MLK weekend debut.

The Commuter opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my The Post prediction, click here:


For my Paddington 2 prediction, click here:


For my Proud Mary prediction, click here:



Todd’s 2017 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 28th Edition

Back at it with my weekly Oscar predictions on the eight major categories and how those races are shaping up! In the next week, two big pieces of the Academy puzzle will come into focus. Last Flag Flying will screen this evening at the New York Film Festival and Blade Runner 2049 will have its reviews out as it opens a week from tomorrow (early word-of-mouth is strong). I’m also, for the first time, including Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, which hasn’t been confirmed for release by the end of the year (though it’s expected to be).

As for this week, we’ve seen some significant changes in the rankings at the top for both Actress and Supporting Actress. Again, I’ll note that just because I’m ranking something first doesn’t mean I think it wins. This is strictly guesstimates on chances of being nominated.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dunkirk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Post (PR: 2)

3. The Shape of Water (PR: 4)

4. Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 7)

6. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

7. Mudbound (PR: 5)

8. Last Flag Flying (PR: 9)

9. Battle of the Sexes (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Phantom Thread (PR: 11)

11. Wonder Wheel (PR: 12)

12. The Greatest Showman (PR: 10)

13. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 14)

14. Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 15)

15. The 15:17 to Paris (PR: Not Ranked)

16. Get Out (PR: 24)

17. All the Money in the World (PR: 17)

18. Detroit (PR: 16)

19. Downsizing (PR: 13)

20. The Big Sick (PR: 21)

21. Lady Bird (PR: 25)

22. I, Tonya (PR: 20)

23. The Florida Project (PR: 19)

24. Molly’s Game (PR: Not Ranked)

25. Wonderstruck (PR: 22)

Dropped Out:



Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk (PR: 1)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Post (PR: 2)

3. Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

4. Joe Wright, Darkest Hour (PR: 4)

5. Dee Rees, Mudbound (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

7. Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 7)

8. Richard Linklater, Last Flag Flying (PR: 8)

9. Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 11)

10. Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread (PR: 10)

11. Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel (PR: 12)

12. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 9)

13. Jordan Peele, Get Out (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman (PR: 15)

15. Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ridley Scott, All the Money in the World

Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour (PR: 1)

2. Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread (PR: 2)

3. Tom Hanks, The Post (PR: 3)

4. Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman (PR: 4)

5. Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steve Carell, Last Flag Flying (PR: 9)

7. Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 6)

8. Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq. (PR: 7)

9. Domhnall Gleeson, Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 8)

10. Andrew Garfield, Breathe (PR: 11)

11. Donald Sutherland, The Leisure Seeker (PR: 10)

12. James Franco, The Disaster Artist (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jeremy Renner, Wind River (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 13)

15. Christian Bale, Hostiles (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Bryan Cranston, Last Flag Flying (reportedly competing in Supporting Actor)

Liam Neeson, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Matt Damon, Downsizing

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Meryl Streep, The Post (PR: 2)

2. Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 3)

3. Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes (PR: 1)

4. Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, I, Tonya (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game (PR: 7)

7. Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 6)

8. Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (PR: 10)

9. Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul (PR: 8)

10. Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman (PR: 9)

11. Diane Kruger, In the Fade (PR: 11)

12. Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (PR: 12)

13. Brooklyn Prince, The Florida Project (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jennifer Lawrence, mother! (PR: 13)

15. Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Carey Mulligan, Mudbound

Jane Fonda, Our Souls at Night

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project (PR: 1)

2. Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 2)

3. Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 3)

4. Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name (PR: 5)

5. Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Mitchell, Mudbound (PR: 6)

7. Mark Rylance, Dunkirk (PR: 8)

8. Bryan Cranston, Last Flag Flying (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Laurence Fishburne, Last Flag Flying (PR: 9)

10. Kevin Spacey, All the Money in the World (PR: 10)

11. Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water (PR: 7)

12. Will Poulter, Detroit (PR: 12)

13. Patrick Stewart, Logan (PR: 11)

14. Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water (PR: 15)

15. Dustin Hoffman, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Garrett Hedlund, Mudbound

Christoph Waltz, Downsizing

Best Supporting Actress

1. Allison Janney, I, Tonya (PR: 2)

2. Melissa Leo, Novitiate (PR: 1)

3. Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird (PR: 6)

4. Hong Chau, Downsizing (PR: 4)

5. Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary J. Blige, Mudbound (PR: 7)

7. Holly Hunter, The Big Sick (PR: 11)

8. Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water (PR: 5)

9. Claire Foy, Breathe (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Margot Robbie, Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 8)

11. Kirsten Dunst, The Beguiled (PR: 9)

12. Julianne Moore, Wonderstruck (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Juno Temple, Wonder Wheel (PR: 14)

15. Tatiana Maslany, Stronger (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Julianne Moore, Suburbicon

Michelle Pfeiffer, mother!

Brooklyn Prince, The Florida Project (moved to Lead Actress)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Post (PR: 1)

2. Call Me by Your Name (PR: 2)

3. Mudbound (PR: 3)

4. Last Flag Flying (PR: 4)

5. Molly’s Game (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. All the Money in the World (PR: 10)

7. Wonderstruck (PR: 5)

8. Victoria and Abdul (PR: 8)

9. The Beguiled (PR: 7)

10. The 15:17 to Paris (PR: Not Ranked)

11. The Disaster Artist (PR: 12)

12. Blade Runner 2049 (PR: 11)

13. Stronger (PR: 9)

14. Wonder (PR: 13)

15. Thank You for Your Service (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (PR: 1)

2. The Shape of Water (PR: 3)

3. Darkest Hour (PR: 2)

4. Wonder Wheel (PR: 4)

5. The Big Sick (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Get Out (PR: 7)

7. Battle of the Sexes (PR: 5)

8. Dunkirk (PR: 8)

9. Phantom Thread (PR: 12)

10. Lady Bird (PR: 10)

11. Downsizing (PR: 9)

12. The Florida Project (PR: 11)

13. Wind River (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Goodbye Christopher Robin (PR: 14)

15. The Greatest Showman (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:


And there you have it! Updates will be on the way next Thursday…