Oscar Watch: Four Good Days

The substance abuse drama Four Good Days has debuted at Sundance and the subject matter sure seems potentially Oscar friendly. Glenn Close plays the mother to Mila Kunis’s addicted daughter. Rodrigo Garcia is behind the camera and he’s already directed Close to one Academy nomination in 2011 for Albert Nobbs.

Yet the buzz emanating from Utah suggests Days could fall short with awards voters. Reviews are decent, but nowhere near the level they need to be for Picture consideration. So let’s discuss the two leads. In 2018, Close was the front runner for Actress with The Wife until Olivia Colman (The Favourite) scored an upset victory. Having never won, there’s probably a feeling more than ever that Close is overdue. Kunis likely just missed a Supporting Actress nod for 2010’s Black Swan and any hailed performance could vault her to the top of voters minds.

However, this simply might not be the movie to make it happen for either. In that sense, Days reminds me of two 2018 titles with similar themes that also failed to garner Academy attention: Beautiful Boy and Ben is Back. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Directors Go To 1917

When it comes to precursors correctly picking what the Academy voters will do on Oscar night, none is more reliable than the Directors Guild of America and their choice for Best Director. That’s why last night’s DGA ceremony was so anticipated among prognosticators like me. The narrative went like this: the 2019 nominees had become a showdown between Sam Mendes (1917) and Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite). It appeared unlikely that the three other nominees – Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) had much of a shot.

Sam Mendes took the award and this sets up the filmmaker for his second directorial Oscar two decades after he won for American Beauty. To give you some context as to how accurate DGA is – 17 of the 19 previous victors in the 21st century have gone on to win Oscar. The two that didn’t are Ang Lee for 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ben Affleck for 2012’s Argo. 

When it comes to that victorious director’s movie winning Best Picture, that’s happened on 13 out of 19 occasions. That’s where it gets interesting. There is no doubt that the Mendes DGA prize (he also won the Golden Globe) puts him in definite front runner status for Best Director two weeks from today. Yet the possibility of a Picture/Director split is still quite possible with Parasite and Hollywood as the strongest competitors. That said, 1917 is certainly picking up the right awards at the right time and has to be considered the soft favorite for the biggest prize.

Oscars 2019: The Case of Tom Hanks

The Case of posts for the pictures, directors, and performers nominated for this year’s Oscars brings us to our first Supporting Actor player – Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Let’s look at the pros and cons for the legendary actor:

The Case for Tom Hanks

Well, he’s Tom Hanks. His work as beloved TV host Mister Rogers in Neighborhood brings him his sixth Oscar nod. He famously won back to back for Best Adtor in the 1990s with Philadelphia and Forrest Gimp, in addition to being nominated for Big, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away. Hanks is one of the most recognizable and appreciated movie stars in the world. Voters just witnessed him giving a touching and funny lifetime achievement speech at the Golden Globes.

The Case Against Tom Hanks

You might be surprised to learn that his nomination from the Academy is his first in 19 years. He was bypassed for such performances as Road to Perdition, Charlie Wilson’s War, Captain Phillips (I’m still salty about that snub), Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, Sully, and The Post. In other words, Oscar voters may feel the two gold statues on his mantle are sufficient. As for the picture itself, Hanks’s inclusion in Supporting Actor is the sole nomination as Neighborhood couldn’t break out anywhere else with the Academy. While he snagged Globe and SAG mentions, he lost both to Brad Pitt from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The Verdict

While it’s good to see Hanks back in the mix, all signs point to this award winding up in Pitt’s neighborhood this year.

Up Next in my Case of posts… Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell!

Oscar Watch: Herself

Phyllida Lloyd, a veteran theater director, burst onto the film scene just over a decade ago with the giant hit Mamma Mia! In 2011, she helmed Meryl Streep to an Oscar win as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. After a long hiatus in which she returned to the stage, Lloyd is back and at Sundance with the domestic violence drama Herself.

The pic has no stars to speak of with a cast led by Clare Dunn. Variety‘s review suggests it’s a breakout at the Utah festival while Hollywood Reporter is not as effusive. Some buzz suggests this could be an awards player with the right kind of campaign. This is also the type of smallish feature that could disappear from the radar screen altogether. Sundance has at least opened up the possibility that it might not be.

Clare Dunne and Molly McCann appear in Herself by Phyllida Lloyd, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Oscar Watch: Falling

As the Oscars honoring the best of 2019 are set to air in two weeks, today brings the first of many Oscar Watch posts for 2020. Does that seem impossibly early? Not when the Sundance Film Festival is in full effect this weekend in Utah. For decades, the fest has served as a launching pad for Oscar contenders such as Little Miss Sunshine, Precious, Boyhood, Whiplash, Manchester by the Sea and Get Out, to name a few. It is worth noting that last year’s selections (with the exception of some documentaries) failed to get Academy attention. This included such high profile titles as The Farewell, Luce, and The Report. 

We begin with Falling, a family drama that marks the directorial debut of Viggo Mortensen (who also cowrote the screenplay). The actor has been nominated for three acting Oscars in the past for Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic (which also debuted at Sundance), and Green Book. Early reviews suggest he’s got a winner on his hands. With the right distribution and campaign, Mortensen could find himself in the awards mix again.

Interestingly, critical reaction seems more focused on Mortensen’s costar Lance Henriksen. The 80-year-old character actor has appeared in hundreds of films. Some of those notables include The Terminator and Aliens. Perhaps a spirited campaign could materialize to nab Henriksen a Best Actor nomination.

Bottom line: it’s too early to know for sure, but Falling looks like a potential player a year for now with Henriksen’s work in particular. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen appear in Falling by Viggo Mortensen, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Brendan Adam-Zwelling.nnAll photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

 

Oscars 2019: The Case of Cynthia Erivo

My Case of posts for nominees in the major categories at the Oscars brings us to our first Best Actress contender – Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. Let’s break down the pros and cons for the performer:

The Case for Cynthia Erivo

If she wins the Oscar in the title role of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Erivo would be in the rare space of achieving an EGOT. That’s an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and Oscar recipient. Only 15 individuals have done so and Erivo would be the 5th female. She garnered early acclaim for her Broadway work in The Color Purple and transitioned into film in 2018 with a well-received supporting turn in Widows. Erivo is also a double nominee as she penned the nominated original song “Stand Up”. Harriet, despite mixed reviews, was a decent box office performer with stateside earnings of just over $40 million.

The Case Against Cynthia Erivo

Despite Golden Globe and SAG nods, Erivo has seen no precursor victories at those ceremonies or with the critics groups. It was uncertain whether she would even make the final five cut. At 33, voters might feel she’ll have other chances.

The Verdict

The “O” in EGOT is going to have to wait for Erivo. She stands a slightly better chance in Original Song, but that’s iffy too.

My Case of posts will continue with the first Supporting Actor contender… Tom Hanks!

Gretel & Hansel Box Office Prediction

Another film version of the grim German fairy tale hits theaters next weekend with Gretel & Hansel. The fantasy horror flick comes from director Oz Perkins and he’s the son of Norman Bates himself – the late Psycho star Anthony Perkins. Sophia Lillis, Sam Leakey, Charles Babalola, and Alice Krige lead the cast.

This offering comes six years after Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton bowed in late January to a $19 million premiere. The inversely titled 2020 interpretation is not anticipated to get anywhere near that. For one thing, we just saw a version of the this in 2013. There’s also been plenty of horror pics for audiences to choose from recently.

Considering that, I believe double digits is highly unlikely and mid single digits is most probable.

Gretel & Hansel opening weekend prediction: $5.1 million

For my The Rhythm Section prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/23/the-rhythm-section-box-office-prediction/