Oscars 2021: The Case of Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield’s acclaimed performance as Rent playwright Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick… Boom! is next up in my Case Of posts for this year’s Best Actor contenders. If you missed the first two, you can peruse them here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Javier Bardem

Oscars 2021: The Case of Benedict Cumberbatch

The Case for Andrew Garfield:

Garfield received some career best notices for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Netflix musical drama. It also helps that the actor had a banner 2021. In addition to Boom!, critics lauded his work as Jim Bakker alongside Oscar nominated Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye and he reprised his web slinger role in the box office behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home. At the Golden Globes, he took the gold for Best Actor in Musical/Comedy.

The Case Against Andrew Garfield:

The Globes divide their lead races into Drama and Musical/Comedy. Will Smith received the Drama trophy for King Richard and he also just won the SAG Award. In other words, Garfield is definitely behind Smith and likely third in line after Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog. 

Previous Nominations: 1

Hacksaw Ridge (2016 – Actor)

The Verdict:

Mr. Garfield probably has a better shot in 2021 than he did five years ago for Hacksaw Ridge, but he’s still in the middle of the pack and has yet to have a signature victory that proves he’s a threat to the frontrunners.

My Case Of posts will continue with the Supporting Actress hopefuls and Judi Dench in Belfast

2021: The Year of Andrew Garfield

My third post covering actors who had a memorable 2021 reaches yet another one who appeared in (SPOILER ALERT)…

Spider-Man: No Way Home, the MCU juggernaut that jumpstarted a box office suffering from nearly two years in the COVID era. It started with Benedict Cumberbatch and continued with Zendaya. Now we’re at Andrew Garfield.

His reprisal of his web slinging part is garnering retribution comments for his two stint as the superhero which drew mixed audience and critical reaction. Yet that’s not the primary reason for Garfield’s inclusion.

As playwright Jonathan Larson in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Netflix musical drama Tick, Tick… Boom!, Garfield looks to nab his second Oscar nomination five years after Hacksaw Ridge. He will vie for the prize along with Mr. Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) and Will Smith for King Richard. 

As televangelist Jim Bakker alongside Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Garfield earned further kudos for his embodiment of a real life figure.

Another Spidey actor whose work in other projects accuentated the 2021 output. My Year Of posts will continue…

Encanto Box Office Prediction

Disney has a history opening their animated product over the long Thanksgiving holiday and they’re back at it with Encanto. The Columbian themed musical fantasy comes from directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush, the creative team behind Zootopia. Featuring music from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the voice cast includes Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama.

Reviews are where they need to be with 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Mouse Factory rolled out their hits over the same five-day period from 2015-2018. Six years ago, the strategy produced the lowest premiere of the bunch with The Good Dinosaur. It made $39 million for the traditional Turkey Day weekend and $55 million when factoring in Wednesday and Thursday. The high point came a year later when Moana did $56 million and $82 million respectively. 2017’s Coco took in $50 million from Friday to Sunday and $72 million for the five-day. Ralph Breaks the Internet posted $56 million and $84 million the following Thanksgiving.

The Dinosaur haul was considered a disappointment, but that was during a pre-COVID era. If Encanto accomplishes what that pic did, it would be considered more than satisfactory. Family audiences have proven they’re up for a trip to the theater and have done so in the past few days. Clifford the Big Red Dog was a good boy at the box office when it lapped up $16 million last weekend from Friday to Sunday and $22 million overall as it started on Wednesday as well. If Clifford can do that, I imagine Encanto could double those grosses.

Encanto opening weekend prediction: $31.2 million (Friday to Sunday); $46.5 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my House of Gucci prediction, click here:

House of Gucci Box Office Prediction

For my Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City prediction, click here:

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Encanto

The Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars was established in 2001 and since then, Disney has won the race 14 out of 20 times (including 8 out of the past 9). It’s safe to say they have a distinct advantage in the competition and that’s why Encanto has long been seen as a frontrunner. From 2016 winner Zootopia makers Byron Howard and Jared Bush, it features the voices of Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama.

With songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical fantasy opens over Thanksgiving and the review embargo lifted today. The current 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating is encouraging. The track “Dos Oruguitas” could put Miranda in the running for an EGOT. For the unfamiliar, that’s winning an Emmy, Tony, Oscar, and Grammy and only 16 people have done it. My guess is that Beyonce and her King Richard song “Be Alive” could prevent that from occurring.

I do believe Encanto stands the best chance of the 2021 Mouse Factory offerings to take the prize over Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon (which may miss the top five altogether). Yet there is a sturdy competitor with Flee, the Danish critically lauded effort that could make history with nods in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film, and maybe even Best Picture. It’s a guessing game at the moment as to which of the first three it wins (if any). My best guess is that the animated competition is where it could do so and that could leave Encanto as runner-up.

That said, betting against Disney has been the correct call just 30% of the time. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Tick, Tick… Boom!

Out in limited release tomorrow before its Netflix premiere on November 19, Tick, Tick… Boom! marks the long awaited big screen directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Hamilton sensation already has the EGT (Emmy, Grammy, Tony) in the EGOT (the O is for Oscar obviously) and he has multiple projects in 2021 to contend for it.

Tick is an adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s own autobiographical Off Broadway musical and features Andrew Garfield portraying the late creator of Rent. Having screened at the AFI Fest, reviews are trickling in. Some of the critical reaction is not overly gushing, but there’s enough praise that it could contend in multiple races. First and foremost is Best Actor with Garfield and I’m feeling more confident that he could snag one of the five spots. If so, it would mark his second nod five years after Hacksaw Ridge. His chances in lead, in my view, are greater than in supporting with The Eyes of Tammy Faye. 

Garfield’s inclusion is the only competition where I’m relatively confident. That said, the Academy could fall for Miranda’s first foray behind the camera and that could open up Picture and maybe even Supporting Actor (where Robin de Jesus is generating some solid ink). I don’t look for much chatter for remaining supporting cast which includes Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, and Bradley Whitford. I’m also skeptical Adapted Screenplay comes into the mix, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Miranda’s strongest shot at his own nomination could come with another project: Disney’s upcoming animated Encanto in the Original Song derby. In the Heights, the reworking of his acclaimed play that faltered at the box office over the summer, has seen its prospects dim.

Bottom line: Garfield has likely played his way into Best Actor while attention elsewhere seems questionable. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

I’m closing out my deep dives of the major Oscar races with the granddaddy of them all – Best Picture. If you missed my posts covering Best Director and the four acting categories, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

Unlike the previous several years where the Picture nominees could fluctuate between 5-10 (though 8 and 9 were the magic numbers), 2021 brings fluidity with a set 10 films being honored (I’d like to thank the Academy for that).

As I’ve done with the others, let’s take a look back at how I was performing in the early November time frame from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I had 8 of the eventual 9 movies pegged: winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The other – Joker – was mentioned in Other Possibilities.

2020 was trickier at this stage, but I identified 5 of the 8 hopefuls: winner Nomadland along with The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named as a possibility while I didn’t have Promising Young Woman or Sound of Metal yet in the 15 selections.

For 2021 – I feel confident that four already screened entries will make the dance. We begin with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, the 1960s set coming-of-age drama that could be looked at as the soft frontrunner. It’s been listed at #1 in my estimates for several weeks.

Belfast displaced The Power of the Dog from Jane Campion in that spot, but I still see the Netflix title having no trouble securing its placement among the contenders.

King Richard should find its way as the inspirational sports flick that will have audiences on its side. Furthermore, Will Smith appears in position to possibly win Best Actor. You have to go back to Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) twelve years ago where the Oscar winning actor didn’t see his movie recognized in Picture.

Then there’s Dune. The sci-fi epic from Denis Villeneuve got the box office and critical kudos it needed to storm the competition. The filmmaker could make a victory play for his direction while the picture itself seems destined for a nod here and tech wins elsewhere.

In past years, the bulk of nominees in Picture were screened at festivals. In 2021, that dynamic could shift as there’s a slew of unscreened material that seems like Oscar bait. That list includes Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom!, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. 

The first four of the six are ones I’ve had in my ten for a bit and I’m not changing it today. That said, this could be altered quickly once their official reviews are up (and that will be soon). Some prognosticators are more confident with Don’t Look Up. I’ll believe it when I see it.

With the pics that have been seen, Pablo Larrain’s Spencer is sure looking like it will garner Kristen Stewart her first ever nod with a solid chance at a victory. I do believe the Princess Diana tale will manage to make the cut, but it could go either way.

This also holds true for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which should also manage some tech recognition and for its lead Denzel Washington and maybe Frances McDormand.

I will admit that it seems strange to leave off any titles that screened early at Sundance. After all, last year there were 3 pics from the fest (The Father, Minari, Promising Young Woman) that got in. There’s a trio that could do the same in 2021 and they’re all listed in Other Possibilities: CODA, Flee, and Mass. Of that group, Flee (which I do have predicted in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film) may have the strongest chance.

Foreign flicks could factor in and they include A Hero, The Hand of God, Parallel Mothers, and The Worst Person in the World. I wouldn’t completely discount Netflix hopefuls such as The Lost Daughter and Passing. 

Then there’s high profile fare where the luster has been lost either to mixed reviews or poor box office. That list includes Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and certainly Chloe Zhao’s Eternals. 

The bottom line is this – in 2021, with two months left to go in the calendar, there’s a lot yet to be determined. Here’s my take for now:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. King Richard (PR: 3)

4. Dune (PR: 4)

5. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

7. West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. House of Gucci (PR: 8)

9. Spencer (PR: 9)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. Flee (PR: 13)

12. Don’t Look Up (PR: 11)

13. Mass (PR: 12)

14. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 15)

15. CODA (PR: 14)

And that wraps the detailed looks, folks! Next weekend I’ll be back with updated estimates…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

After four posts focusing on the acting races at the 2021 Oscars, it’s time to turn to Best Director. If you missed those entries on the lead and supporting performer derbies, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

With the directing category, I do believe there’s three filmmakers that have likely punched their ticket to a nomination. Before we get there, let’s take a look at how my projections panned out at the same early November time frame in 2019 and 2020.

Two years back, I correctly identified four of the five contenders: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) as well as Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. 2020 was more unpredictable with two months left to go and that resulted in only two directors being accurately named: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), who took the gold, and David Fincher (Mank). Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while neither Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) or surprise nominee Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were yet listed in my top ten.

Back to 2021 and the three individuals who I believe stand probable shots at making the cut. They are Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).

It was 28 years ago that Campion was nominated for The Piano. If it hadn’t been for Oscar juggernaut Schindler’s List, she likely would’ve been making a speech. Upon its premiere in Venice, Campion took the Silver Lion (equivalent to this competition) for Dog. I don’t see her being left off the ballot.

Belfast is the current frontrunner for Best Picture and it’s hard to envision  writer/director Branagh not making it in. If so, it would be his first nod in directing since Henry V some 32 years back.

Dune is being heralded for its technical wizardry and it should pick up numerous down the line wins and nominations. Five years after his behind the camera work was recognized for Arrival, Villeneuve should be a factor again.

Interestingly, I don’t feel there’s a clear favorite to win. There are plausible scenarios for any member of this trio to emerge victorious. Campion, Branagh, and Villeneuve constitute my top 3 (in that order), but it’s more of a 1a, 1b, and 1c at press time.

As for the other two slots, there’s a few contenders stemming from unseen product. There’s big names in that bunch: Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley, who won four years ago for The Shape of Water), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza, a two-time nominee for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread), Ridley Scott (for House of Gucci and not The Last Duel), Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up, previously nominated for The Big Short), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick, Tick… Boom!), and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story,  a two-time winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan).

Any of these gentlemen could bubble up to the surface once their pictures are screened. I’m sticking with the two I’ve had in my five recently: del Toro and Anderson.

King Richard has a chance to win Best Picture, but I’m skeptical its maker Reinaldo Marcus Green makes it here. The sports drama seems destined to be recognized more for its performances, but if the Academy really falls for it, Green could be theoretically be swept in. That holds true for Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Pablo Larrain (Spencer) as well.

Lastly, Thomas Vinterberg’s nod in 2020 for Another Round came out of nowhere. While it was pegged to take International Feature Film (which it did), Round was not nominated in Best Picture. There’s a slew of directors who could fill the “surprise” slot this time around (many from foreign features): Pedro Almodovar (Parallel Mothers), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Asghar Farhari (A Hero), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World). I wouldn’t completely count out Rebecca Hall for Passing. Yet none of these upset selections are in my top ten.

The one that is: Jonas Poher Rasmussen for festival darling Flee. While I don’t have it nabbing a Best Pic nom at the moment, I do foresee the Danish doc contending in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film. That kind of attention could cause the voters to include him.

Here’s how those rankings look at the start of November:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 6)

7. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: 9)

10. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Best Picture is next!

Oscar Watch: Vivo

While we wait to see whether or not most of the Best Picture contenders truly are viable, the Animated Feature race is already packed with contenders. Vivo is available on Netflix today. The Sony Pictures effort comes from director Kirk DeMicco (best known for making The Croods) and features original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The voice cast includes Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer, and Gloria Estefan.

The film’s reviews are solid with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating. In a lighter year, that might automatically warrant inclusion in the final five. Not so fast in 2021. The list of other hopefuls already released includes Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, Belle and The Mitchells vs. the Machines (another Netflix title that they should campaign heavily for). Additionally, Miranda has Mouse Factory effort Encanto this autumn which is another likely player. Add to the list the critically acclaimed animated doc Flee and Henry Selick’s Wendell and Wild and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2 (also both upcoming from Netflix). So, yeah, it’s crowded.

If Vivo doesn’t make the cut, it could still make a play in Original Song. Estefan has the track “Inside Your Heart”. That particular competition is also expected to have plenty of tracks competing against each other.

Bottom line: there’s a lot of pics and songs in the mix, but Vivo is at least on the radar for attention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Is In the Heights Out of Oscar Contention?

Ten days ago, Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights went into its premiere weekend as the first bonafide Best Picture contender of 2021. Sporting a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%, the musical (adapted from a play co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda) was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening frame. And then reality happened.

The pic was a major box office disappointment and earned just $11.5 million out of the gate (landing at #2 behind the third weekend of A Quiet Place Part II). Even then not all hope was lost. With solid word-of-mouth and awards buzz, perhaps Heights would hold well in subsequent weekends.

And then reality happened again. Heights appears to have dropped to sixth place in its sophomore outing with a drop of over 60%. What a difference a week and a half can make. There’s really no positive spin for its box office performance. It’s simply very underwhelming. Furthermore, the bulk of publicity received for Heights in recent days was either for its disappointing numbers or controversy emerging from its casting choices (something for which Miranda issued an apology for).

At this juncture, it’s a legitimate question whether Heights is still a viable contender at the Oscars. Much of that could depend on if Warner Bros makes a robust effort to campaign for it. I would say its inclusion in the big categories is now iffy at best. This applies to Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Anthony Ramos in Actor (which was probably always a long shot), and Olga Merediz in Supporting Actress. Down the line categories such as Sound and Original Song are more questionable as well.

The studio could shift its focus to fall contenders including Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, and King Richard with Will Smith. Bottom line: Heights isn’t finished in the Oscar derby, but it is hard to say that it’s not wounded.

June 11-13 Box Office Predictions

The two week spell of horror sequels topping the box office charts should be broken this weekend with the release of the musical adaptation for In the Heights and kiddie follow-up Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/02/in-the-heights-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/05/peter-rabbit-2-the-runaway-box-office-prediction/

I look for multiplexes playing Heights to not be a quiet place and I’m projecting a mid 20s rollout for what should be a #1 opening. This is despite Lin-Manuel Miranda’s co-creation also playing on HBO Max as the pic is the first real Oscar buzz contender of 2021. I anticipate a healthy female and Latino turnout.

The Rabbit sequel may not match the $25 million achieved by its 2018 predecessor, but I do think it’ll conjure up a mid to high teens posting for what should easily be a second place debut.

As for those horror sequels, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It premiered on the higher end of expectations (more on that below). The previous direct predecessor, 2016’s The Conjuring 2, fell a precipitous 63% in its sophomore outing. Devil will probably suffer a similar decline and that could put it in a third place showdown with the third frame of A Quiet Place Part II. I actually believe Place could edge out Devil for that slot, but it should be awfully close. Disney’s Cruella will round out the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. In the Heights

Predicted Gross: $26.8 million

2. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Predicted Gross: $15.9 million

3. A Quiet Place Part II

Predicted Gross: $9.4 million

4. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million

5. Cruella

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

Box Office Results (June 11-13)

I was too generous to the holdovers and too miserly with the newcomers this past weekend as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opened at #1 with $24 million. My prediction of $19.8 million was off the mark and I had it placing second to A Quiet Place Part II. Oops. The return of the Warrens and their supernatural investigations premiered on the higher end of expectations, but well below the $40 million plus starts of its two predecessors. That said, considering it’s also on HBO Max, it’s a solid haul.

A Quiet Place Part II slipped to second with a 59% decline and $19.2 million. I was far more optimistic at $28.4 million. While I was off, Paramount has to be pleased. The sequel has generated $88 million in ten days.

Cruella was third in its sophomore outing at $11 million (I projected more with $13 million). The Disney live-action remake stands at $43 million.

DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed was fourth with $6.1 million, galloping past my $4.4 million forecast. While I was more skeptical, this is about where it was anticipated to land.

Raya and the Last Dragon was fifth with $1.2 million (I said $1.6 million) and it’s up to $53 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…