Oscar Predictions: Showing Up

Kelly Reichardt is an acclaimed indie filmmaker behind the recent Certain Women and First Cow. Her latest, which premiered at Cannes, is Showing Up and it casts Michelle Williams as a sculptor in the family drama. Costars include Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, John Magaro, Andre Benjamin, and James Le Gros.

Reviews say this is a lighter take on Reichardt’s material and the 100% Rotten Tomatoes indicates a winner. In what is becoming a common refrain in these posts, the distributor is A24. It will be a juggling act when it comes to their Oscar campaigns (Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Whale, and Aftersun are just three of their hopefuls).

Williams is drawing early raves. She’s seeking her fifth nomination after two lead nods for 2010’s Blue Valentine and 2011’s My Week with Marilyn and two supporting mentions for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and 2016’s Manchester by the Sea. While she could draw attention here, there’s also Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Fabelmans where she could make an appearance in supporting.

It’s important to remember that First Cow starting garnering some awards chatter that ended up petering out. That could happen here but the strong Cannes start helps its case. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Oscar Predictions: May 10th Edition

My second round of Oscar predictions in the six biggest races are before you. When I update them next, we’ll be in the midst of the Cannes Film Festival where some of these hopefuls are screening.

As for category placement changes, I’ve moved Jesse Plemons in Killers of the Flower Moon to Supporting Actor from lead. It remains to be seen which contest he’s placed in. If it is supporting, we shall see if it’s him or Robert De Niro that gets the buzz. I’m betting on the latter at press time.

Let’s get into it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Women Talking (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Son (PR: 4) (-1)

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+2)

7. She Said (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Bardo (PR: 7) (-1)

9. The Whale (PR: 9) (E)

10. Rustin (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

11. Amsterdam (PR: 11) (E)

12. Decision to Leave (PR: Not Ranked)

13. White Noise (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Poor Things (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 17) (+2)

16. Empire of Light (PR: 16) (E)

17. Tar (PR: 14) (-3)

18. Till (PR: 15) (-3)

19. Armageddon Time (PR: 25) (+6)

20. Elvis (PR: 22) (+2)

21. Thirteen Lives (PR: 20) (-1)

22. The Woman King (PR: 23) (+1)

23. Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: 24) (+1)

24. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 18) (-6)

25. Next Goal Wins (PR: 19) (-6)

Dropped Out:

The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (E)

7. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 7) (E)

8. Maria Schrader, She Said (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 8) (-2)

11. George C. Wolfe, Rustin (PR: 10) (-1)

12. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 12) (E)

13. David O. Russell, Amsterdam (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Noah Baumbach, White Noise

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 2) (E)

3. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 6) (E)

7. Emma Stone, Poor Things (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (E)

9. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Saoirse Ronan, See How They Run (PR: 13) (E)

14. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tilda Swinton, Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Greta Gerwig, White Noise 

Best Actor

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Colman Domingo, Rustin (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Amsterdam (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Joaquin Phoenix, Disappointment Blvd. (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Idris Elba, Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: 15) (E)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 3) (E)

4. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 6) (E)

7. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 7) (E)

8. Whoopi Goldberg, Till (PR: 8) (E)

9. Margot Robbie, Amsterdam (PR: 9) (E)

10. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Rooney Mara, Women Talking (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Patricia Clarkson, She Said (PR: 12) (E)

13. Audra McDonald, Rustin (PR: 13) (E)

14. Margaret Qualley, Poor Things (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth

Sadie Sink, The Whale

Frances McDormand, Women Talking 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 10) (+6)

5. John David Washington, Amsterdam (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Willem Dafoe, Poor Things (PR: 7) (E)

8. Glynn Turman, Rustin (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead Actor)

10. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Anthony Hopkins, The Son (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Frankie Faison, Till (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 8) (-6)

15. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Don Cheadle, White Noise 

2022 Oscar Predictions: May 1st Edition

Welcome to the first ranked Oscar predictions of the 2022 season for the 95th Academy Awards! I’ll be doing these every few days (once a week or every two weeks) for the high-profile races of Picture, Director, and the four acting derbies. In the fall (maybe earlier), this will expand to all categories covering feature lengths films.

For BP, I will list 25 possibilities with 15 hopefuls in the others. Some quick caveats that always apply – titles of the pictures will change. Just this week, David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass became Amsterdam and Avatar 2 is now Avatar: The Way of Water. 

Actors listed in lead will become supporting players and vice versa. Some movies will be pushed to 2023. And, of course, titles listed on the first day of May will become commercial and critical disappointments and drop off the list. Some pics and performances I’m not even considering at the moment will rise during festivals like Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, and Venice.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon 

2. Killers of the Flower Moon

3. The Fabelmans

4. The Son

5. Women Talking

6. She Said

7. Bardo

8. Everything Everywhere All at Once

9. The Whale

10. Rustin

Other Possibilities: 

11. Amsterdam

12. White Noise

13. Poor Things

14. Tar

15. Till

16. Empire of Light

17. Avatar: The Way of Water

18. Don’t Worry Darling

19. Next Goal Wins

20. Thirteen Lives

21. The Banshees of Inisherin

22. Elvis

23. The Woman King

24. Three Thousand Years of Longing

25. Armageddon Time

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon 

2. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon

3. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking

5. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo

Other Possibilities:

6. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once

7. Florian Zeller, The Son

8. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale 

9. Maria Schrader, She Said

10. George C. Wolfe, Rustin

11. Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things

12. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water

13. Noah Baumbach, White Noise

14. David O. Russell, Amsterdam

15. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon

2. Regina King, Shirley 

3. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

4. Carey Mulligan, She Said 

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till 

Other Possibilities: 

6. Cate Blanchett, Tar

7. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light 

8. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody 

9. Emma Stone, Poor Things 

10. Laura Dern, The Son

11. Viola Davis, The Woman King 

12. Greta Gerwig, White Noise

13. Saoirse Ronan, See How They Run 

14. Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling 

15. Tilda Swinton, Three Thousand Years of Longing 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale

2. Hugh Jackman, The Son 

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon 

4. Colman Domingo, Rustin 

5. Christian Bale, Amsterdam 

Other Possibilities: 

6. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon 

7. Adam Driver, White Noise 

8. Austin Butler, Elvis 

9. Diego Calva, Babylon 

10. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans 

11. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo 

12. Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives 

13. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins

14. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin 

15. Idris Elba, Three Thousand Years of Longing 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

2. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

3. Zoe Kazan, She Said

4. Vanessa Kirby, The Son 

5. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking 

Other Possibilities: 

6. Hong Chau, The Whale 

7. Jean Smart, Babylon 

8. Whoopi Goldberg, Till

9. Margot Robbie, Amsterdam 

10. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth

11. Sadie Sink, The Whale 

12. Patricia Clarkson, She Said 

13. Audra McDonald, Rustin 

14. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King

15. Frances McDormand, Women Talking 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans

3. Brad Pitt, Babylon 

4. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once 

5. Glynn Turman, Rustin 

Other Possibilities: 

6. John David Washington, Amsterdam 

7. Willem Dafoe, Poor Things

8. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans 

9. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things 

10. Tom Hanks, Elvis

11. Anthony Hopkins, The Son

12. Frankie Faison, Till

13. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking 

14. Don Cheadle, White Noise 

15. Colin Firth, Empire of Light 

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Supporting Actress)

My first glance at who and what I think could be on the Oscar’s radar screen for next year continues with Best Supporting Actress. If you missed my post for Supporting Actor, it’s right here:

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Supporting Actor)

At this early stage, there’s obviously plenty of mystery for category placements. For instance – Women Talking could have its whole cast (that includes Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, and Jessie Buckley) in this race. I’m putting McDormand in lead at this juncture with the rest here and only Buckley making the top five. The same applies for Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said. They could both be lead or supporting (as of now I’m going with the former in Actress and the latter in supporting).

Let’s get to it and I’ll have Best Actor up next!

TODD’S APRIL 2022 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Jessie Buckley, Women Talking 

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Zoe Kazan, She Said

Vanessa Kirby, The Son

Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

Other Possibilities:

Raffey Cassidy, White Noise

Hong Chau, The Whale

Patricia Clarkson, She Said

Claire Foy, Women Talking

Whoopi Goldberg, Till

Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth

Rooney Mara, Women Talking 

Audra McDonald, Rustin

Sadie Sink, The Whale

Jean Smart, Babylon

22 for ’22: Oscars Early Look

It’s been an entire week since The Slap… check that, the 94th Academy Awards where CODA parlayed its Sundance buzz from January 2021 all the way to a Best Picture victory.

That also means I’ve managed to wait a whole week without speculation for the next Academy Awards which will hopefully be a slap free zone. So what are some titles that could be vying for attention?

On May 27th and after numerous delays, Top Gun: Maverick will find Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role some 36 years after the original. There’s a decent chance it could be up for similar prizes that its predecessor landed like Sound, Film Editing, and Song (courtesy of Lady Gaga apparently). Visual Effects is a possibility as well.

My weekly Oscar prediction posts won’t begin until mid to late August. In the meantime, you’ll get individualized write-ups for pics that open or screen at festivals.

Yet for today – I feel the need. The need to identify 21 other 2022 titles that might end up on the Academy’s radar. Enjoy!

Armageddon Time

Despite acclaimed movies like The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, James Gray has yet to connect with awards voters. This drama, rumored to be centered on his Queens upbringing, is the next hopeful and features a stellar cast including Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. Release Date: TBD

Avatar 2

The 2009 original amassed nine nominations and won took home three. The first sequel (there’s three more on the way) arrives in December from James Cameron. Will it capture the critical and box office magic of part one? That’s impossible to know at this juncture, but one can safely assume it’ll be up for some tech categories like Sound and Visual Effects. Release Date: December 16th

Babylon

Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the big dance. Whiplash was a BP nominee and J.K. Simmons won Supporting Actor. Chazelle took Director for his follow-up La La Land along with Emma Stone’s Actress victory and it almost famously took BP. First Man nabbed four nominations, but missed the top of the line races. Babylon is a period drama focused on Hollywood’s Golden Age and should be right up the Academy’s alley. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. Release Date: December 25th

Canterbury Glass

Robbie also turns up in David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece. Anytime he’s behind the camera, Oscar nods typically follow (think The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). Slated for November, the dramedy also features Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, and… Chris Rock. Release Date: November 4th

Elvis

Arriving in June but with a Cannes unveiling in May, Baz Luhrmann’s musical bio of The King stars Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as The Colonel. If this doesn’t contend for the major awards, I would still anticipate potential tech recognition (Production Design, Sound, etc…). Release Date: June 24th

Empire of Light

Sam Mendes was likely in the runner-up position in 2019 for Picture and Director (behind Parasite) with 1917. His follow-up is an English set romance starring Olivia Colman (who would be going for her fourth nomination in five years), Michael Ward, and Colin Firth. Release Date: TBD

Everything Everywhere All at Once

From two filmmakers known collectively as Daniels, Once is already out in limited release with spectacular reviews (97% on RT). The sci-fi action comedy might be too bizarre for the Academy, but I wouldn’t count it out as its admirers are vocal. Picture, Director, Actress (Michelle Yeoh), and Original Screenplay are all on the table. Release Date: out in limited release, opens wide April 8th

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directs a semi-autobiographical tale and cowrites with his Lincoln and West Side Story scribe Tony Kushner. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano. Needless to say, this is a major contender on paper. Release Date: November 23rd

Killers of the Flower Moon

Alongside The Fabelmans, this might be the most obvious nominee from a personnel standpoint. Martin Scorsese helms this western crime drama featuring Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and his two frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Apple TV just became the first streamer to get a BP victory with CODA. This could be the second in a row. Release Date: November

Poor Things

In 2018, The Favourite scored a whopping ten nominations. Based on an acclaimed 1992 novel, Poor Things is Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up and it reunites him with Emma Stone along with Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, and Mark Ruffalo. The plot sounds bizarre but it could also be an Oscar bait role for Stone and others. Release Date: TBD

Rustin

One of Netflix’s contenders is George C. Wolfe’s profile of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Colman Domingo). In 2020, Wolfe directed Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to nods for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Look for Domingo to be a competitor and the supporting cast includes Chris Rock (maybe he will be back at the show), Glynn Turman, and Audra McDonald. Release Date: TBD

See How They Run

The 1950s set murder mystery could provide 27-year-old Saoirse Ronan with an opportunity to land her fifth nomination. Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, and Ruth Wilson are among the supporting players. Tom George directs. Release Date: TBD

She Said

Five years after the scandal rocked Hollywood, She Said from Maria Schrader recounts the New York Times sexual misconduct investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, and Patricia Clarkson lead the cast. Release Date: November 18th

The Son

Florian Zeller won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for The Father along with Anthony Hopkins taking Best Actor. This follow-up (based on the director’s play) finds Hopkins reprising his Oscar-winning part in supporting fashion. Other cast members seeking awards attention include Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby. Release Date: TBD

TAR

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Todd Field behind the camera. Previous efforts In the Bedroom and Little Children received 8 nominations between them. A decade and a half following Children comes this Berlin set drama with Cate Blanchett, Noemie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Release Date: October 7th

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Scheduled for a Cannes bow in May, Longing is a fantasy romance from the legendary mind of George Miller (who last made Mad Max: Fury Road which won six tech Oscars). Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star. Release Date: TBD

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Mickey Rourke to a comeback narrative nod for 2008’s The Wrestler. Two years later, his follow-up Black Swan earned Natalie Portman a statue. Brendan Fraser is hoping for the same treatment with The Whale as he plays a 600 pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter. Costars include Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I’d expect Makeup and Hairstyling could also be in play with this. Release Date: TBD

White Noise

Not a remake of the Michael Keaton supernatural thriller from 2005, this is Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Marriage Story. Based on a 1985 novel, it’s the filmmaker’s first picture based on other source material. Marriage landed three acting nods (with Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress). The cast here includes frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver, real-life partner Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, and Don Cheadle. This could be Netflix’s strongest contender. Release Date: TBD

The Woman King

Expect this West Afrian set historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood to be heavily touted by Sony with awards bait roles for leads Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The supporting cast includes John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. Release Date: September 16th

Women Talking

Based on a 2018 novel, Sarah Polley writes and directs this drama focused on eight Mennonite women and their story of abuse. The sterling cast includes Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy, and Rooney Mara. Release Date: TBD

And that’s just a small preview of the features that could materialize for the 95th Academy Awards! As always, the speculation on this site will continue throughout the year and into the next. Stay tuned…

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review

There’s a sequence in Venom: Let There Be Carnage where Woody Harrelson’s serial killer villain engages in mayhem with his crazy girlfriend (Naomie Harris). The deadly duo wreak their havoc in a ’66 Mustang and, for a moment, I was reminded of the actor’s appearance nearly 30 years ago in Natural Born Killers. Call it Muckey and Mallory this time as the amount of extraterrestrial goo is easily doubled in this sequel.

Speaking of natural born killers, it’s an apt description for the title character. The alien symbiote longs to bite humans heads off, but he’s mostly under control due to his human host Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Poor Venom has to settle for chickens. Continuing the banter that was the highlight of the original, Carnage still allows for Hardy’s bizarre but oddly effective comedic performance.

For those who forgot (and 2018’s Venom was a bit forgettable), Eddie is a San Francisco based journalist whose expose into scientific experiments stuck him with the black liquid alien that now lives in his body. Our loony reporter is put on assignment when Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) tasks Eddie with extracting evidence from death row condemned psycho Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson).

Their jailhouse interview leads to chaos and Carnage – as in the name of a Venomous offspring that invades the already crazed Cletus. And there’s the aforementioned love interest played by Harris. Confined to the Ravencroft Institute (where we first met Cletus in a Venom post-credits bit), Frances Barrison can manipulate sound to get herself out of sticky situations. This earns her the moniker Shriek due to those deadly decibels.

Andy Serkis is in the director’s chair (replacing Ruben Fleischer) and he keeps Carnage short, light, and full of CG action. The screenplay strains a little to justify bringing back Michelle Williams as Eddie’s ex-flame. I suppose someone’s gotta get saved by the hero in the third act. Reid Scott reprises his role as her boyfriend and there are a couple of humorous moments with his character.

I couldn’t quite recommend Venom though I came close solely based on Hardy’s batty work. This is no comic book masterwork and even the great Harrelson’s villainous turn is passable at best. Yet I more or less came around with Carnage. I give it props for foregoing a bloated running time (it’s just an hour and a half). It’s hard to not be entertained by Hardy and his skull chomping companion. In the constantly growing universe of comic book based franchises, it’s getting common for the sequels to improve upon the originals. The first entries always have to go through the origin story while the follow-ups can be a little more fun. That applies here.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions – Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Tom Hardy is back to his dualistic ways in Venom: Let There Be Carnage this weekend. The sequel to the 2018 Marvel Comics property officially had its review embargo lifted today and the results are a bit surprising. While plenty of critics aren’t being overly kind, the 58% Rotten Tomatoes rating is an improvement over its predecessor’s 30% score.

Sony is hoping audiences are primed for more of Hardy and his black goo. The only awards possibility lies in the Visual Effects race. And if part 1 couldn’t manage a nod, I doubt this will either.

There is serious competition with other comic book based pics including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the upcoming Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s also a safe bet that Dune and The Matrix Resurrections will make the cut. Perhaps Carnage will surface in the ten finalists vying for five slots, but I wouldn’t count on it getting in. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Box Office Prediction

Arriving one year after its COVID delay, Tom Hardy returns as the Marvel Comics title character in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The sequel includes returnees Michelle Williams and Reid Scott along with newcomers Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, and Woody Harrelson (who did briefly cameo in the original’s post credits scene). Andy Serkis, certainly no stranger to CG effects, takes over directorial duties from Ruben Fleischer.

Three years ago, Venom surpassed expectations with a then October best opening weekend of just over $80 million. That record was beaten a year later by Joker. The overall domestic gross of $213 million guaranteed a follow-up.

After witnessing the recent robust performance of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Sony actually pushed up the release date by two weeks.

Carnage kicks off a month where studios are hopeful for pleasing returns with heavy hitters like No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, and Dune. I don’t envision this getting to $80 million like its predecessor. A more realistic expectation would be part II nabbing about 75% of what part I achieved out of the gate.

That would be $60 million and I’ll say it goes just under that.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage opening weekend prediction: $58.7 million

For my The Addams Family 2 prediction, click here:

The Addams Family 2 Box Office Prediction

For my The Many Saints of Newark prediction, click here:

The Many Saints of Newark Box Office Prediction

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids

As SNL just wrapped its 46th season last night, today seemed like a good opportunity to showcase an alumni deserving of awards consideration from a decade ago. In the summer of 2011, Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids became the comedy smash of the season. It was noticed by the Academy. Melissa McCarthy landed a nod in Supporting Actress while Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo were nominated for their Original Screenplay.

I would contend that Wiig should have been a double nominee in lead actress, especially considering that 2011 was a rather weak year in that race. Meryl Streep took the gold for The Iron Lady in what’s widely thought of as one of her least impressive victories. She triumphed over Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).

Bridesmaids is perhaps the most impressive SNL cast member starring debut in history (an argument could also be made for Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.). Wiig’s drunken scene on an airplane headed to Vegas alone is worthy of awards attention and her work would have marked a fine occasion for the Academy to throw a rare bone to the comedic genre.

Venom Movie Review

A comic book origin story that often masquerades as an otherworldly buddy comedy, Venom will likely be remembered for the weirdly inspired performance of Tom Hardy and not much else. We’ve seen the title character before with Topher Grace in SpiderMan 3. The alien creature made of black goo played as a superfluous extra villain in that picture. Now Venom is ready for his closeup.

Hardy is Eddie Brock, a San Francisco investigative reporter with a lovely DA fiancée Anne (Michelle Williams) and a penchant for asking one too many questions. He does just that with gazillionaire inventor Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who’s a beloved mogul in the community. He’s also, unbeknownst to the masses, experimenting on poor people with a mysterious alien life form that his company the Life Foundation discovered in outer space. Eddie’s inquires into these practices lead to his firing as a journalist and the dissolution of his romance.

A few months later as Eddie is down on his luck, one of Drake’s scientists spills the beans to him about further tomfoolery at the Foundation. This leads to a break-in at their research facility and one of those nasty and gooey extraterrestrials attaching themselves to Eddie. It turns out these visitors intend to destroy Planet Earth.

Yet we also find out that Eddie’s new inhabitant of his vessel has a sense of humor. And Hardy’s performance filled with strange noises, facial tics, and general bizareness makes for an often memorable duo. Venom himself is inside Eddie’s head constantly with what sounds like Christian Bale’s basement octave range from The Dark Knight series. I’m really not sure if Hardy’s work here is what you’d call good, but it’s definitely not forgettable. He seems committed to whatever the heck he’s decided Brock/Venom is and that itself is fun.

Unfortunately there’s lots of other forgettable aspects to the movie itself. This would include lots of the dialogue, the action sequences, Williams as the love interest, and Ahmed as the bad guy. Important stuff generally. It’s also amusing how crystal clear it is that director Ruben Fleischer (who’s done better with Zombieland) and the screenwriters so want this to be rated R. I assume Sony said otherwise, but the script has to reach the absolute highest level of profanity and heads being bitten off without achieving the restricted tag. I will give the writers a thumbs up for setting this in San Francisco and avoiding the umpteenth climactic battle at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I can’t deny that Hardy’s bewildering and bewitching and sometimes annoying acting nearly make this worth of the price of admission. There’s just a bit too much muck attached to it.

**1/2 (out of four)