2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 20th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions are below for your perusal! The whirlwind festival season of Venice/Telluride/Toronto has come to an end and there’s precious few Academy contenders left to screen as the races come into more focus.

Here are some significant developments over the week:

  • The rise of Green Book after it won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. The Peter Farrelly directed race relations drama has vaulted into the Best Picture contest as it rises from #10 on last week’s list to #5. It replaces Boy Erased in my listing of the nine predicted Picture nominees. We are not entirely sure yet that it’s Viggo Mortensen for lead Actor and Mahershala Ali for Supporting Actor, though that appears to be the case. Mortensen is now a predicted nominee (going from #8 to #4) and that means I took Robert Redford’s performance in The Old Man & The Gun out. Ali rises from #5 to #2 in Supporting Actor.
  • In Best Director, I’ve gone back to Spike Lee being nominated for BlacKkKlansman over Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk.
  • The Best Actress five remains the same, but I’ll note that Yalitza Aparicio’s work in Roma is sneaking up there as far a predicted nominee.
  • Word is out that Natalie Portman in Vox Lux will be campaigned for in Supporting Actress and not lead. My rankings reflect that change.
  • Speaking of Supporting Actress, I now have both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in for The Favourite. Weisz replaces Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased (that film has taken a big hit as of late in my rankings and we’ll see if it recovers).
  • Stan and Ollie released its first trailer and while I don’t have it predicted for actual nominations, the film makes its first appearance as far as possible nods in Picture, Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly), and Original Screenplay.
  • The critically acclaimed Leave No Trace from earlier this year makes its inaugural showing for possible nominations in Picture, Actor (Ben Foster), Supporting Actress (Thomasin McKenzie), and Adapted Screenplay.

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 3)

4. The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Green Book (PR: 10)

6. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Black Panther (PR: 9)

9. Vice (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

11. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

12. Widows (PR: 12)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 14)

14. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 16)

15. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

16. The Front Runner (PR: 13)

17. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 23)

18. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 19)

19. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 17)

20. Beautiful Boy (PR: 21)

21. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 18)

22. Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

23. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

24. Eighth Grade (PR: Not Ranked)

25. Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ben Is  Back

Cold War


Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 3)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 5)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

7. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 12)

8. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 10)

9. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 7)

10. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 9)

11. Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 13)

12. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 11)

13. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 14)

14. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

15. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jason Reitman, The Front Runner

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 3)

3. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 2)

4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 8)

5. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 5)

7. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

8. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

10. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 6)

11. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 13)

12. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 11)

13. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 10)

14. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk 

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 6)

7. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 9)

8. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

9. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 10)

10. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 12)

12. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 11)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 14)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 15)

15. Keira Knightley, Colette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 5)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

4. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 3)

5. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

8. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 6)

9. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 9)

10. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

11. John C. Reilly, Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

13. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: 12)

14. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 14)

15. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 1)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 7)

5. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

7. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

8. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Lead Actress)

9. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 6)

10. Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (PR: 8)

11. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: 11)

12. Linda Cardellini, Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Widows (PR: 7)

7. Boy Erased (PR: 6)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

9. Black Panther (PR: 8)

10. The Front Runner (PR: 9)

11. Beautiful Boy (PR: 12)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR 11)

13. Disobedience (PR: 14)

14. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

15. Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 4)

4. Vice (PR: 3)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Reformed (PR: 11)

7. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 8)

9. Stan and Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

10. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 9)

11. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ben Is Back (PR: 7)

13. Hereditary (PR: 14)

14. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 12)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Vox Lux



Oscar Watch: Green Book

If the name Peter Farrelly rings a bell, it’s likely because you usually hear it as part of the Farrelly Brothers. They’re the comedy team responsible for directing such massive hits as Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. At the Toronto Film Festival, Peter has made his first solo venture and it’s a more serious effort in the form of Green Book.

The true life pic tells the story of an Italian American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) chauffeuring jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through the Deep South in 1962. Critical reaction is out and the term crowd pleaser is a common one in the notices. There’s even been some comparisons to Driving Miss Daisy, based on its themes. That won Best Picture nearly three decades ago.

Green Book would really need to turn into a major hit to get Best Picture attention. As for Mortensen and Ali, their work has been praised. There is some confusion which categories they’ll be placed in, but buzz up north suggests they’re both unquestionably leads. If that holds true for the Oscar campaign, they enter into a crowded race with the risk of splitting one another’s votes. Both men are no stranger to Academy attention. Mortensen is a two-time nominee for 2007’s Eastern Promises and 2016’s Captain Fantastic. Ali took the Supporting Actor statue two years ago with Moonlight.

On the brighter side, the Original Screenplay category is looking a little light right now. That could be the perfect place for this to be recognized.

Bottom line: if things go really well for Green Book, it could be a factor in more than one big race. Original Screenplay looks more possible.

The film debuts November 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Daddy’s Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy’s Home was a rather unremarkable comedy that managed to elicit a few laughs and coast on the talents of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. It also made a boatload of money and so we enter the territory of the likely unplanned sequel that often feels that way.

The concept, just as in part 1, is pretty simple. The 2015 original pitted softie stepdad Brad (Ferrell) against harder edged real dad Dusty (Wahlberg) vying for the kids attention. Part 2 finds them in a seemingly happy place as Co-Dads. That is until their papas travel to see them for Christmas. And wouldn’t you know it? They exhibit some of the opposite traits that caused Brad and Dusty their problems. John Lithgow is the squishy and overly attentive Brad dad and Mel Gibson is the alpha male and barely attentive Dusty dad. Their presence threatens to upend the recent harmony of their sons. As in the first, there’s an abundance of physical hijinks that follow… most of it directed toward Ferrell. Kids get drunk. They discover girls. Lots of father/son bonding and non bonding happens. The 1980s holiday relief anthem “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” gets more attention than it’s been granted in some time.

Like in the original Home model, the jokes here are mostly predicable and bland with a few genuinely funny parts sprinkled in. Anyone looking for sincere character motivations and real emotion in a Yuletide pic should look elsewhere. In fact, Gibson’s character is kind of an inexplicable monster when you stop and really think about it. It’s  not much worth doing so.

Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t bad and neither was its predecessor. It is utterly forgettable and a little more so than what preceded it. In my review of #1, I stated that when I think of Ferrell and Wahlberg together – my mind goes to the often inspired The Other Guys. I called Daddy’s Home “The Other Movie”. This is the other other one.

** (out of four)

Daddy’s Home 2 Box Office Prediction

Nearly two years after its predecessor was a major holiday hit, Daddy’s Home 2 looks to replicate that success next weekend. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are back, but this time instead of concentrating on their rival dad scenario – it’s their dads joining the mix in the form of John Lithgow and Mel Gibson. Sean Anders returns as director. Other costars include Linda Cardellini and John Cena.

When the original Daddy’s opened on Christmas Day in 2015, it exceeded expectations with a $38 million opening weekend and $150 million eventual gross. Many comedic sequels don’t match the performance of the original. I suspect that will be the case here. For one thing, the Christmas weekend is a huge one but this sequel chose a November release date. A Bad Moms Christmas will be in its second weekend for humorous sequel competition, as well as other heavy hitters like the sophomore frame of Thor: Ragnarok and the premiere of Murder on the Orient Express.

My estimate has part 2 opening with a low to possibly 20s gross. That may actually put it in third behind Thor and Murder.

Daddy’s Home 2 opening weekend prediction: $21.8 million

For my Murder on the Orient Express prediction, click here:


The Founder Movie Review

Michael Keaton can convey so much with an expression. There are scenes in John Lee Hancock’s The Founder where he doesn’t need dialogue to show what’s going through his head. Luckily, a lot of the writing here is quite good and often gets close to matching the lead’s masterful performance.

The pic has Keaton playing Ray Kroc, the man who started McDonald’s. Well, sort of. We open in 1954 as Kroc is a struggling traveling salesman in Missouri who stumbles upon a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It’s doing things differently from the endless drive-in joints across the nation. Run by Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald, McDonald’s makes its food fast in an era the term fast food was yet to be coined. The brothers also take their work seriously and have chosen not to franchise after their first try resulted in poor service and quality. There’s a scene where Dick recalls how the restaurant’s burger making assembly line was perfected that’s an absolute joy to watch.

Ray immediately realizes the cash cow that Dick and Mac are sitting on and his relentless salesmanship gets them to relent on opening more locations. This brings forth a flurry of activity as Ray gets those Golden Arches up while constantly clashing with the actual founders.

Director Hancock’s last effort, Saving Mr. Banks, showed another 1950s era titan of industry with an unending drive and ambition in the form of Walt Disney. Kroc is just as much an icon in many ways, though his motives are often far more ruthless. The screenplay by Robert D. Siegel doesn’t exactly make him a villain, but you won’t exactly sympathize with him either. With rare exception, Kroc’s actions are all about his personal gain. He barely speaks to his wife (Laura Dern) and has his eye on a business partner’s wife (Linda Cardellini). Yet at the same time, it was him who had the vision to expand a chain of restaurants that now feeds 1% of the world every day. And it probably took his kind of personality to do it.

The work of Lynch and Offerman is top-notch. Offerman’s Dick sees the writing on the wall with Ray, while Lynch’s Mac can’t quite get there. This is Keaton’s movie, though. Like Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, Keaton gives us another corporate honcho to kind of despise and kind of love. The Founder may not be as fantastic as those two pictures, but the star is and it’s quite entertaining watching the intrigue unfold.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Founder Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton has had the rare feat of appearing in the last two Best Picture Oscar winners with 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight. For awhile, The Founder (out next weekend) was looked at as potential awards bait. Keaton headlines the biographical drama playing Ray Kroc, the man who acquired what would become the multi billion dollar McDonald’s franchise. John Lee Hancock directs and his previous efforts include The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, and B.J. Novak costar.

The Founder has had a shifty journey to the big screen. It was originally tapped to debut in November before being pushed up to August before being pushed back to January. It had a very limited release in December to qualify for Academy consideration, but that probably won’t matter much. While reviews so far have been decent (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s likely to receive zero nominations. This won’t be a Keaton trifecta for Best Picture.

What does it all mean for the box office? While any moviegoer is certainly familiar with the subject matter, I don’t that see that translating to much business. That said, the pic comes with just a tiny reported $7 million budget. I’ll predict it mkea under that in its first weekend for a mid single digits start.

The Founder opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my xXx: Return of Xander Cage prediction, click here:


For my Split prediction, click here:


For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:


For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:


Daddy’s Home Movie Review

Daddy’s Home, the second teaming of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, is perfectly content to coast on its own innocuous brand of humor. This PG-13 laugher from a director and stars often known for R rated material takes its simple premise and often manages to squeeze the most out of it. That’s not saying a whole lot, but if you want a watered down and passable experience this holiday season, you could do worse.

The pic pits step dad vs. real dad as Ferrell’s Brad is a committed yet overly emotional radio executive raising two precocious kids with his wife (Linda Cardellini). He’s making headway with them in the step dad department until biological pop Dusty (Wahlberg) enters the picture. Dusty is a careless muscle bound character (who might be Special Forces) who still cares for his children at least as much as his abs. In fact, there are times when Brad reminds chiseled Dusty to put a shirt on, just like Steve Carell admonished him in Date Night. Soon our two leads are competing for their affection with ponies, playoff tickets to Lakers games (quite an unrealistic prospect currently), and tricked out tree houses with corporate sponsors.

Nothing in Daddy’s Home has much edge to it, even when it seems to be trying. We get supporting players like Thomas Haden Church as Brad’s sleazy boss and comic Hannibal Buress as a handy man who takes Dusty’s side in the dad wars. Both might’ve been more fun in a movie that wanted to push the envelope but that’s not what we have here.

Instead, Daddy’s Home drifts on the personality traits of Ferrell and Wahlberg that we usually see in their comedies. Director Sean Anders and his cowriters have no real fascination with exploring any real issues involved with absentee dads or the step fathers that coddle them. That screenplay frequently has the actors doing things that only make sense to move things along (Cardellini’s emotions in particular often veer wildly from segment to segment). The humor is wrung out of the opposite effect of what these two guys look like without their shirts on. Some of this material is undeniably amusing and often rather bland. The leads elevate it about as high as it can get.

When I think of Ferrell and Wahlberg together on the silver screen, it’ll be 2010’s raucous and quite hilarious The Other Guys that springs to mind. Daddy’s Home is the Other Movie, but it isn’t bad.

**1/2 (out of four)