2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 13th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions in the major categories, as expected, has seen some significant shifting. This is mostly due to the Toronto Film Festival and the screenings of several major contenders.

Here are some quick notes on the movement that’s taken place in the past seven days:

  • The addiction drama Beautiful Boy has taken a hit in the standings, due to a mixed Toronto reaction. It falls from #5 all the way to #21 in the Best Picture derby. Additionally, I have taken it out the 5 predicted nominees in Best Actor (Steve Carell) and Adapted Screenplay. However, Timothee Chalamet is still looking good for Supporting Actor.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk had its much awaited debut up north. I basically had it as a place holder pick at #1 in both Picture and Director, but it’s fallen in both races to #5 and #4, respectively. This vaults A Star Is Born to the #1 slot in BP with Alfonso Cuaron’s direction of Roma currently topping Best Director.
  • The elimination of the Best Popular Film category could be a good thing for Black Panther. For the first time, I have it included in my nine predicted BP nominees.
  • Peter Farrelly’s Green Book seemed to be a crowd favorite in Toronto. While I have it just outside my BP rankings, it’s now included in Best Original Screenplay and Mahershala Ali is predicted for Supporting Actor. It’s not entirely certain yet whether he will be placed in that category or go co-lead with Viggo Mortensen.
  • Speaking of category placement, we’re still not sure where Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz will end up for The Favourite. Right now, I’m assuming Colman in Actress and both Stone and Weisz for Supporting Actress. I’ve now got Stone getting a nod for the first time.
  • The Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale has apparently switched its working title name Backseat to Vice.
  • My current Best Actor predictions now include Ryan Gosling (First Man) and Robert Redford (The Old Man & The Gun) with the aforementioned Carell and Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner) out.
  • In Best Actress, solid Toronto chatter for the work of Viola Davis (Widows) puts her in the mix with Nicole Kidman (Destroyer) taken out.
  • Widows also shined a light on Daniel Kaluuya as he’s said to have a terrific part in it. He is now included in Supporting Actor along with Green Book‘s Ali. Sam Rockwell (Vice) and Russell Crowe (Boy Erased) have been moved out of the predicted nominees.
  • In Supporting Actress, Emma Stone has replaced Vera Farmiga (The Front Runner).
  • Yorgos Lanthimos has been included in my 5 director nominees and that means Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) is on the outside looking in currently.

Here’s the whole breakdown for this week!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. First Man (PR: 4)

4. The Favourite (PR: 6)

5. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR 1)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

7. Boy Erased (PR: 8)

8. Vice (PR: 9 – previously known as Backseat)

9. Black Panther (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Green Book (PR: 18)

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 15)

12. Widows (PR: 14)

13. The Front Runner (PR: 10)

14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 25)

15. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 24)

16. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

17. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 21)

18. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 17)

19. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 16)

20. Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

22. Cold War (PR: 20)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 23)

24. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 19)

25. Peterloo (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

July 22

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

4. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

9. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 12)

10. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

11. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 15)

12. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

Mike Leigh, Peterloo

Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Actor

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

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

3. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 6)

4. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 4)

5. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

7. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

8. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 10)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 5)

10. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 14)

11. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 9)

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

13. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 13)

15. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 11)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

5. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 12)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 9)

9. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 3)

10. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

12. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

13. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

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

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

Dropped Out:

Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Best Supporting Actor

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

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

3. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 3)

7. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

8. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

9. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

10. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 6)

11. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

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

13. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 12)

15. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick

J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner

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: 7)

4. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 3)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 14)

7. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

8. Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

10. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 4)

13. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 8)

15. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

Blythe Danner, What They Had

Rachel McAdams, Disobedience 

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

2. First Man (PR: 5)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Boy Erased (PR: 4)

7. Widows (PR: 13)

8. Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Front Runner (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

11. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 12)

12. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 9)

14. Disobedience (PR: 11)

15. Wildlife (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Vice (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 6)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Ben Is Back (PR: 9)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 10)

9. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 5)

10. Vox Lux (PR: 8)

11. First Reformed (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 12)

13. Mid90s (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Hereditary (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Peterloo

Isle of Dogs

Bohemian Rhapsody

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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…

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

What a difference a week makes! Last Thursday, I gave you my first initial predictions in the major categories for the Oscars. Since then – we’ve seen a slew of pictures screened at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.

Films like A Star Is Born, Roma, First Man, and The Favourite solidified their status as contenders. Others like Boy Erased and The Front Runner availed themselves as possibilities, but not slam dunks. Others like Destroyer and The Old Man & The Gun likely took themselves out of the running in Best Picture, but shined a light on their actors that could receive nods.

And here’s the thing… by the time I do my third round of predictions next Thursday, we will have lots more pictures screened at the Toronto Film Festival, which begins today. That includes such high-profile titles as If Beale Street Could Talk, Beautiful Boy, Widows, and more.

Here’s how I have the key races ranked by possibility of nomination at this point in time!

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 4)

4. First Man (PR: 5)

5. Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

6. The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. Backseat (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Black Panther (PR: 12)

12. Peterloo (PR: 9)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

14. Widows (PR: 11)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 16)

16. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 17)

17. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 22)

18. Green Book (PR: 21)

19. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

20. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

21. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 23)

22. July 22 (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 19)

24. The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Destroyer

Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 11)

7. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

8. Adam McKay, Backseat (PR: 7)

9. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

10. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Mike Leigh, Peterloo (PR: 9)

12. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

14. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

15. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

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

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

3. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

4. Christian Bale, Backseat (PR: 6)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

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

8. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

10. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 13)

11. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 10)

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

13. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 14)

14. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 6)

4. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 9)

5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 3)

9. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

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

12. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 15)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 13)

15. Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

Best Supporting Actor

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

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

10. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

12. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 11)

13. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick (PR: Not Ranked)

15. J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 3)

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

3. Amy Adams, Backseat (PR: 5)

4. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

7. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 12)

10. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

12. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 9)

13. Blythe Danner, What They Had (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

15. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

4. Boy Erased (PR: 3)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. The Front Runner (PR: 8)

8. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Disobedience (PR: 13)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

13. Widows (PR: 12)

14. Wildlife (PR: 14)

15. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 5)

2. Roma (PR: 1)

3. Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Green Book (PR: 11)

7. Peterloo (PR: 2)

8. Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ben is Back (PR: 8)

10. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

11. Isle of Dogs (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 9)

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

14. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 14)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Destroyer

Colette

Check back next Thursday for updated predictions!

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: August 30th Edition

My weekly ranked Oscar predictions kick off today as the Venice Film Festival is in full swing with Toronto and Telluride on deck!

Each Thursday, I will be bringing you my top 25 possibilities for Best Picture, along with 15 for Best Director, the four acting races, and the screenplay categories.

In November, the rankings will constrict to 15 possibilities for Best Picture and ten for every other race covering feature films (this is when all the tech categories, animated feature, foreign film, documentary will enter the mix).

Before I get to the rankings, some warnings: these will change dramatically as time rolls along. Some features could be pushed back to 2019. Some of them will instantly become non-factors due to poor critical reaction. Others will vault higher.

In the acting races, there is always uncertainty at this juncture about placement in which category. Here’s a few 2018 examples: right now I have Steve Carell listed in lead actor for Beautiful Boy with Timothee Chalamet in supporting. That could switch or both could be campaigned for in lead. Time will tell. Same goes for Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book. Right now, I have Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for lead, but it could easily be supporting. And it’s uncertain where the women (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) of The Favourite will land.

All of this will be sorted out in the coming weeks and months and I’ll be here every Thursday to share with you where I have each category at this snapshot in time.

You can expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts coming your way directly focused on individual films screenings at festivals over the coming days.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. A Star Is Born

3. Beautiful Boy

4. Roma

5. First Man

6. BlacKkKlansman

7. Boy Erased

8. Backseat

9. Peterloo

Other Possibilities:

10. Mary Queen of Scots

11. Widows

12. Black Panther

13. The Favourite

14. The Front Runner

15. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

16. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

17. Crazy Rich Asians

18. Old Man & The Gun

19. Bohemian Rhapsody

20. Destroyer

21. Green Book

22. Mary Poppins Returns

23. At Eternity’s Gate

24. On the Basis of Sex

25. Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

7. Adam McKay, Backseat

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

9. Mike Leigh, Peterloo

10. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

11. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

12. Steve McQueen, Widows

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther

14. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner

15. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

2. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy

3. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

4. Ryan Gosling, First Man

5. Robert Redford, Old Man & The Gun

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Backseat

7. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

8. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner

10. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk

11. Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

13. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

2. Glenn Close, The Wife

3. Viola Davis, Widows

4. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary

8. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

9. Olivia Colman, The Favourite

10. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex

11. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

12. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

13. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

14. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

15. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat

4. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased

5. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

7. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

9.. Mahershala Ali, Green Book

10. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Jason Clarke, First Man

12. Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

13. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex

14. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots

15. Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

3. Claire Foy, First Man

4. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Amy Adams, Backseat

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy

7. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

8. Sissy Spacek, Old Man & The Gun

9. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns

10. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

12. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

13. Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

14. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience

15. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Beautiful Boy

3. Boy Erased

4. A Star Is Born

5. BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man

7. Mary Queen of Scots

8. The Front Runner

9. Crazy Rich Asians

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Old Man & The Gun

12. Widows

13. Disobedience

14. Wildlife

15. The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma

2. Peterloo

3. Backseat

4. Eighth Grade

5. The Favourite

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

7. Destroyer

8. Ben Is Back

9. On the Basis of Sex

10. At Eternity’s Gate

11. Green Book

12. Colette

13. A Quiet Place

14. Bohemian Rhapsody

15. Sorry to Bother You

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures is a good film about a great story. It’s a picture about racial discrimination that isn’t looking to make any waves, but rather tell its tale in an audience pleasing style. Director Theodore Melfi and the top-notch cast manage to achieve their mission, while moviegoers looking for something deeper about similar subject matter have plenty of other quality material to select from.

Figures is set in the early 1960s and focuses on three African American women who were instrumental to the nation’s space race. Katherine (Taraji P. Henson) is a math whiz who does the work that computers would later accomplish. Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) is a capable supervisor whose chances at career advancement are hindered by her race. Same goes for Mary (Janelle Monae), a talented engineer who must fight to attend a whites only school to further her opportunities.

Each woman is presented with unique challenges based on their being in a foreign world in Langley. Even as Katherine is elevated to more important work in her field, she must run half a mile to a building with a colored only restroom as her new digs don’t have one. Dorothy’s supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) has a tough time envisioning her employee doing a similar job. Mary must be creative with the judicial system to achieve her goals.

The screenplay focuses most prominently on Katherine and her interactions with sympathetic Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), director of the Space Task Group. He enlists her help in the furious space race with the Russians as they try to get John Glenn to orbit the Earth.

Hidden Figures serves as a nifty history lesson to younger viewers and those who’ve forgotten their lessons when it comes to that race. And it’s the race of the three leads and their true stories that probably should’ve been told before now. The screenplay has apparently taken some liberties here and there with certain facts, but the contributions of Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary is not in question.

The subject’s personal lives aren’t explored in major detail, save for Katherine’s romance with a military officer (Mahershala Ali). Figures is more concerned with their work and the dynamic between Katherine and Harrison is the most interesting. It helps that both Henson and Costner do fine work here.

While the pic isn’t necessarily told in a new way as it builds toward triumphant moments for the principles, I’m glad I got to know about their previously unheralded contributions.

*** (out of four)

2016 Oscars Reaction

Well… then! Who expected that ending at the Oscars?? One that involved Bonnie and Clyde, Leonardo DiCaprio, wrong envelopes, and a mild Best Picture upset! Yes, the jokes about that already infamous finale to the 89th Annual Academy Awards deserves the endless tweets about M. Night Shyamalan coming up with it and Steve Harvey being off the hook for his Miss Universe gaffe.

All in all, it was a fairly unpredictable night even up until that wild conclusion. My predictions went 14 for 21. Expect for Picture, I did get all the high-profiles race right: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) for Director, Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) for Actor, Emma Stone (La La) for Actress, Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) for Supporting Actor, Viola Davis (Fences) for Supporting Actress, Moonlight for Adapted Screenplay, and Manchester for Original Screenplay. Animated Feature Zootopia and Foreign Language Film The Salesman were also rightly called. Down the line categories that I got right: Original Score and Song (La La and “City of Stars” from that film), Production Design and Cinematography (La La), and Visual Effects (The Jungle Book).

I whiffed on Documentary – O.J.: Made in America was the front runner and won over my upset pick I Am Not Your Negro. Others: Sound Editing (Arrival instead of Hacksaw Ridge), Sound Mixing (Hacksaw instead of La La), Makeup and Hairstyling (Suicide Squad over Star Trek Beyond), Costume Design (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them over Jackie), and Editing (Hacksaw over La La).

And, of course, Best Picture, where La La Land won for about two minutes before the Academy’s producers pointed out a mistake and that Moonlight actually won.

The evening started on a happy note with Justin Timberlake dancing his way into the auditorium to his hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls. Jimmy Kimmel did a decent job hosting for the most part. Some bits worked better than others. I enjoyed the group of tourists unknowingly being brought to the theater and his endless ribbing of Matt Damon. The candy and cookies falling down to the audience felt a little old hat. The In Memorium package was a little tough with the legends lost this year and props to Jennifer Aniston for mentioning the passing of Bill Paxton as news had just broke that morning.

Did the show feel long? Of course. It always does, but for those that stuck around… yowza! That was an Oscar ending that will not soon be forgotten.

Moonlight Movie Review

One not need to live in Chiron’s world in Moonlight to understand his struggles. We all have moments where we feel isolated. We all have had family drama. We all have moments where we strive to figure out who we are. The central character in this Barry Jenkins picture may experience it at an elevated level and in a universe where his identity is shunned. However, we manage to identify with him and that’s a tribute to an often subtle and smart script.

The film is told in three chapters as it follows various stages in Chiron’s life in Miami and eventually Atlanta. It begins under the heading “Little”, where we find him as a shy young boy. His mother Paula (Naomie Harris) is an absentee one and Little is soon befriended by drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monae). They serve as his de facto parents.

Second chapter “Chiron” finds him as a teenager who’s frequently targeted at school. Paula is now a drug addict, Teresa still cares for him, and Juan is no longer in the picture. He also has a complicated relationship with longtime friend Kevin that alters between romantic and antagonistic.

Chapter three “Black” finds Chiron as a twenty something whose life has veered into territory much like Juan’s. It would probably be something his father figure would despise. The years gone by have also gotten him out of touch with Kevin, but their paths coincide once again.

Moonlight finds three actors playing Chiron (and Kevin) in these stages. Alex Hibbert is the youngster in part one, Ashton Sanders is the teen, and Trevante Rhodes is the young man. All of them shine. Same goes for the supporting players, with note deserved to Ali for putting a fresh spin on a character who could’ve been far more stereotypical.

There are events key to Chiron’s story that aren’t shown here and while I understand the structural decision not to belabor them, it does occasionally take away from its overall dramatic impact.

Yet its staying power is still significant. The film is about someone discovering their sexuality and we finds ourselves for rooting for Chiron to get there. No matter your identity, you’ll recognize and sympathize with moments of family struggle, bullying, and loneliness. Jenkins (who wrote and directed) assuredly keeps the audience wondering where his subject’s journey turns next.

***1/2 (out of four)