Tolkien Box Office Prediction

His fantastical literary works have made billions at the box office and now J.R.R. Tolkien gets the biopic treatment next weekend. Set during World War I, Tolkien casts Nicholas Hoult in the title role of the famed author behind Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Finnish director Dome Karukoski is behind the camera and costars include Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, and Derek Jacobi.

This is a rare headlining role for Hoult, sandwiched between supporting parts in The Favourite and XMen: Dark Phoenix. Critics have been decidedly mixed and its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 54%.

The film has the distinction of being the first Fox Searchlight project distributed by new owner Disney. With zero awards buzz and a smallish theater count of approximately 1300, Tolkien will likely struggle to even see $5 million. Just because its subject matter’s novels are box office gold doesn’t mean this will be.

Tolkien opening weekend prediction: $3.1 million

For my Pokemon Detective Pikachu prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/pokemon-detective-pikachu-box-office-prediction/

For my The Hustle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

For my Poms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

An eagerly anticipated premiere at the Sundance Film Festival occurred yesterday with the screening of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. Set for release on Netflix this year, the true life crime thriller casts Zac Efron as notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Joe Berlinger, who’s known primarily for documentaries (his sole fictional work is the maligned horror sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2) directs. The filmmaker also made an extensive documentary about Bundy that’s up on the aforementioned streaming service this weekend. Costars in Vile include Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, Jeffrey Donovan, Jim Parsons, and John Malkovich.

Early reviews are mixed and its Rotten Tomatoes score is presently at 67%. Yet critics seem to agree on one thing and that’s the terrific work of Efron in the lead. Some suggest it could be a career changing performance. I know that the concept of Efron nabbing an Oscar seems far-fetched. Yet if Netflix can put together a solid campaign and depending on how competition plays out in 2019, you never know. The company did prove in 2018 that they’re now a factor with the Academy (see multiple nominations for Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Rules Don’t Apply Movie Review

A film focusing on a meticulous and eccentric legend who’s bedded scores of women would seem to be right up Warren Beatty’s alley, but Rules Don’t Apply is a rather big letdown for the director’s first effort in nearly two decades. It’s a passion project for Mr. Beatty that partially focuses on the life of reclusive aviation and movie making billionaire Howard Hughes. Unlike the Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio biopic The Aviator, however, Rules isn’t nearly as concerned with historical accuracy and is as much an old-fashioned Hollywood romance.

Beatty plays Hughes circa 1958-1964, a time where his OCD and reliance on pharmaceutical relief had reached massive levels. He’s still running RKO Pictures and flying girls in from all over the country for screen tests. One such prospect is Marla (Lily Collins), a devout Baptist from Virginia who flies into La La Land with her equally proper mother (Beatty’s spouse Annette Bening). She’s never had a drink, never “gone all the way” (as is the common term in this screenplay), and certainly never met a character like Mr. Hughes. Frank (Alden Ehrenreich) is one of Hughes’s many chauffeurs who’s actually yet to meet the man himself. He’s tasked with driving Marla around and they soon begin a courtship, even though Frank is engaged to his childhood sweetheart.

Further complications arise when Hughes (who strictly forbids such interaction between his many employees) gets to know Marla better. The screenplay (by Beatty and his longtime collaborator Bo Goldman) juggles the romance with some of Howard’s business and government dealings as his abnormal behavior continues to increase. We do not see the grotesque and totally shut off character that DiCaprio showed us a dozen years ago in his Oscar nominated role. Rules is much lighter stuff and feels considerably less consequential.

Some welcome comedic hey is made of the many people who wait on Hughes hand and foot, including Matthew Broderick’s assistant and Candice Bergen’s secretary. There’s many familiar faces who pop up in smaller roles (most of them likely just wanted to work with Beatty) and they include Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Platt.

Part of the problem is that while Collins and Ehrenreich are perfectly fine in their performances, their chemistry is adequate at best. A bigger issue is that Rules feels a bit all over the map in plot and tone. The arc of Howard’s disintegration into madness is an odd mix of humor and drama that never gels despite Beatty’s best efforts. It’s also hard to ignore that he’s about 20 years older than Hughes at this particular point in his life, but if anyone can pull that off…

For a director who’s known to be incredibly particular, this one contains only fleeting moments that you’ll remember. The rest, sadly, don’t apply.

** (out of four)

2016 Golden Globes: Who Will Win?

This Sunday evening, the Golden Globes (perhaps the most significant Oscar precursor) airs with Jimmy Fallon hosting. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Globes divide both Picture and the Lead Acting races in two categories: Drama and Musical/Comedy.

Here’s how I have each race playing out with the winners predicted. As a side note, I decided to not do my weekly Oscar predictions yesterday and will have an updated post on Thursday next week!

With that, let’s get to the races…

Best Drama

The Nominees: Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Todd’s Prediction: Moonlight

Analysis: Not an easy prediction as this will probably boil down to Moonlight and Manchester, with both Hacksaw and Lion being potential spoilers (Water is only pic I see as having no shot). The winner of this category will likely vault into a two-way race with La La Land as to what comes out on top at Oscar time.

Best Musical/Comedy

The Nominees: 20th Century Women, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Sing Street

Todd’s Prediction: La La Land

Analysis: It would be pretty shocking if Damien Chazelle’s ode to Hollywood musicals didn’t win here. I suppose perhaps Jenkins has a dark horse shot, but this is the easiest pick of the bunch to make.

Best Director

The Nominees: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Longergan (Manchester by the Sea)

Todd’s Prediction: Damien Chazelle

Analysis: Jenkins has racked up a slew of precursors and a win for Gibson would be seen as completing a remarkable comeback after multiple personal issues. However, at the end of the day, I believe the La La love will extend to its director.

Best Actor (Drama)

The Nominees: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences).

Todd’s Prediction: Casey Affleck

Analysis: Like the Oscar race, this looks to be between Affleck and Washington. I’ll give the former the slight edge as he’s won more precursors and Manchester itself was nominated for Picture, whereas Fences was not.

Best Actress (Drama)

The Nominees: Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals), Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Todd’s Prediction: Natalie Portman

Analysis: While I wouldn’t totally rule out an Adams or Huppert win, Portman has the edge in her acclaimed role of Mrs. Kennedy.

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

The Nominees: Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Jonah Hill (War Dogs), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

Todd’s Prediction: Hugh Grant

Analysis: Conventional wisdom would point to a Gosling win, but I believe the Hollywood Foreign Press will provide a bit of an upset here and honor Grant. Also – don’t be too shocked if Reynolds manages to surprise.

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

The Nominees: Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply), Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Todd’s Prediction: Emma Stone

Analysis: Bening and Streep are long shots, but it would be a rather large upset if Stone didn’t emerge victorious here.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), Dev Patel (Lion), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)

Todd’s Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Analysis: Bridges or Patel are feasible, but Ali has received the bulk of precursor awards and I believe that will continue here.

Best Supporing Actress

The Nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Todd’s Prediction: Viola Davis

Analysis: Davis is the clear front runner here and at the Oscars. An upset win (possible for any of these actresses other than Spencer) could dispel that notion, but it probably won’t occur.

Best Screenplay

The Nominees: Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals

Todd’s Prediction: Moonlight

Analysis: La La and Manchester are in the mix here, but this is probably where Barry Jenkins will get his win and not for direction.

Best Original Score

The Nominees: Arrival, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight

Todd’s Prediction: La La Land

Analysis: Tough one and it’s not out of the question to envision any of them winning. I’ll just go La La and see what happens.

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls, “City of Stars” from La La Land, “Faith” from Sing, “Gold” from Gold, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Todd’s Prediction: “City of Stars”

Analysis: There’s some real heavy hitters here: Justin Timberlake, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Stevie Wonder with nominations. Yet I think the HFPA honors La La once again.

Best Animated Feature

The Nominees: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, Sing, Zootopia

Todd’s Prediction: Zootopia

Analysis: Kubo has a shot and you can never dismiss Disney with Moana. However, there’s another acclaimed Mouse Factory title in the mix and I believe Zootopia gets in.

Best Foreign Language Film

The Nominees: Divines, Elle, Neruda, The Salesman, Toni Erdmann

Todd’s Prediction: Toni Erdmann

Analysis: Elle could absolutely win here (and perhaps The Salesman), but I’ll go with Academy favorite Erdmann.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have a post up Sunday night letting you know how well (or poorly) I did. Until then…

2016 Golden Globe Nominations Reaction

Well, the Golden Globe nominations are out and there are some genuine surprises to be had.

Not surprising? Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (the current front runner in the Oscar Best Picture derby) leading all nominees with seven with Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight close behind with six.

Surprising? A total shut-out for Martin Scorsese’s Silence and a better than expected showing for Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. 

All in all, my performance guessing the nominees was pretty weak. 64% total in the ten major categories predicted.

Let’s break them down one by one, shall we?

Best Picture (Drama)

My Performance 2/5

Analysis: Ouch. This race threw me for a loop as only Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight were nominated among my five. The three that weren’t: the aforementioned Silence, Arrival, and Fences. In their place: Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Garth Davis’s Lion, and David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water. Truthfully, none of their inclusions are entirely surprising. Having said that, if I thought I’d get three picks wrong, I probably would have thought Pablo Larrain’s Jackie would get in. This race now appears to be between Manchester and Moonlight.

Best Picture (Musical or Comedy)

My Performance: 3/5

Well… a little better. The three I correctly predicted were La La Land, Florence Foster Jenkins, and 20th Century Women. Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply and The Lobster didn’t make it in in favor of Deadpool (!) and Sing Street. Bottom line here? La La is going to win this category.

Best Director

My Performance: 3/5

Chazelle, Jenkins, and Lonergan were got in as I said they would, but Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) did not. In their place are Mel Gibson for Hacksaw and the rather surprising inclusion of Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals, especially considering the movie wasn’t nominated in Drama.

Best Actor (Drama)

My Performance: 4/5

The only incorrect estimate here is that Viggo Mortensen got in for Captain Fantastic instead of Tom Hanks for Sully. Ironically, I did predict Viggo would be nominated in Musical/Comedy here (I thought Fantastic would fall under that genre). The other nominees that I did get: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), and Denzel Washington (Fences).

Best Actress (Drama)

My Performance: 5/5

Hey, the one and only race where I went 100%! The nominees: Amy Adams (Arrival), Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Natalie Portman (Jackie).

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy)

My Performance: 3/5

To me, the surprise is that the Hollywood Foreign Press didn’t nominate the legendary Warren Beatty for Rules Don’t Apply. As mentioned before, I put Mortensen in here, but he ended up getting nominated for Drama. The three I got right: Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), and Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins). The two I didn’t: the pretty shocking nod for Jonah Hill in War Dogs and much deserved love for Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool.

Best Actress (Musical or Comedy)

My Performance: 3/5

Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) were all very easy picks to make and they got in. The other two were tougher. I went with Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship and Susan Sarandon in The Meddler, but it was Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply) and Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) who made the cut.

Best Supporting Actor

My Performance: 2/5

Ouch again. When it comes to Oscar predictin’, this has been the most unpredictable category of them all and that showed with my GG’s performance here. I correctly named Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Dev Patel in Lion. My picks of Lucas Hedges (Manchester), Issey Ogata (the totally ignored Silence), and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) didn’t come to fruition. Instead, we got the surprise nod for Shannon’s Nocturnal costar Aaron Taylor-Johnson along with Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) and Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins).

Best Supporting Actress

My Performance: 4/5

Correct picks were Viola Davis in Fences, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Nicole Kidman in Lion, and Michelle Williams for Manchester. It was Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures that I didn’t get (I said Greta Gerwig in 20th Century Women instead). Spencer’s inclusion is a small surprise, as some of the Oscar chatter has had Janelle Monae more likely to get in for Figures than her costar.

Best Screenplay

My Performance: 3/5

La La Land, Manchester, and Moonlight are in as predicted. No love for Arrival and Silence. In their place? Hell or High Water and Nocturnal Animals.

And there you have it! I’ll have a post up with final predictions on the winners shortly before Jimmy Fallon hosts the proceedings in January…

Rules Don’t Apply Box Office Prediction

There’s directors and actors who take time between projects and then there’s those that really do. Warren Beatty belongs in that category and Rules Don’t Apply (out Thanksgiving weekend) marks his first turn behind the camera in 18 years and first time in front of the camera in over 15 years.

The legendary star is notoriously slow-paced when it comes to perfecting his works and Apply was actually wrapped for the most part about two and a half years ago. The old school Hollywood tale set in the 1950s casts Beatty as famed reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes with a romantic plot between costars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich (soon to be the next Han Solo in that Star Wars spin-off). The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces that include Warren’s wife Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Steve Coogan, and Dabney Coleman.

As mentioned, the last pic Beatty directed was 1998’s Bulworth, which made $26 million. His last appearance in any film was 2001’s Town & Country, which faltered with just $6.7 million. Reviews have been mixed and it sits at 62% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rules Don’t Apply could face a tough time breaking out in any way. The critical notices have taken it out of the running as a true Oscar contender. Adult moviegoers may be preoccupied with Allied, which opens against it. That leads me to a belief that this could only manage mid single digits for both the three-day and five-day weekend.

Rules Don’t Apply opening weekend prediction: $4.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $6.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Moana prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/moana-box-office-prediction/

For my Allied prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/allied-box-office-prediction/

For my Bad Santa 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/11/16/bad-santa-2-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Rules Don’t Apply

The AFI Film Festival is happening in Los Angeles and that gives us an opportunity to hear about more 2016 Oscar hopefuls. This includes the fest’s premiere and it’s an eagerly awaited one – Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply.

This is the Hollywood legend’s first directorial effort in 18 years (since 1998’s well-regarded Bulworth) and first appearance on screen at all in 15 years (since 2001’s less regarded Town & Country). Anything involving Beatty is going to quickly raise questions as to its awards possibilities and this long gestating project where he portrays Howard Hughes is no exception.

It was thought for months that Mr. Beatty would compete in the Supporting Actor race until recently where a switch to Actor was announced. Reviews for Rules have been a bit mixed and even the most positive haven’t been raves. It’s at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and chances of a Picture or Director nod seem highly unlikely. Same goes for anyone in the supporting cast that includes Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Annette Bening (she’ll get recognized anyway this year for 20th Century Women), Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, and others.

As for Beatty in the Best Actor category, it’s certainly no guarantee he will get nominated, but that particular race is a bit weak this year (once you get past Denzel Washington for Fences and Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea). I would anticipate Beatty will be in the mix over the next several weeks, but whether he makes my final cut for the final five is a question mark.