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…

Oscar Predictions: Holy Spider

Ali Abbasi’s 2018 fantasy Border won plenty of acclaim and was Sweden’s designee for International Feature Film. It didn’t end up making the final cut, but it did score a nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling (coming up short to Vice).

The filmmaker’s latest is the crime thriller Holy Spider and its Cannes premiere is drawing plenty of solid critical attention. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is 88%. Zar Amir Ebrahimi is a reporter tracking Mehdi Bajestani’s serial killer. Said to be dark and gruesome, it would need a spirited Oscar campaign to contend for International Feature Film. My hunch is it ends up on the outside looking in like Border did. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Stars at Noon

From acclaimed French titles like 1999’s Beau Travail to the recent Robert Pattinson horror pic High Life, filmmaker Claire Denis has her ardent admirers. Based on the 1986 novel by Denis Johnson, her latest is Stars at Noon. It has made its premiere at Cannes.

The romantic thriller features Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn in the lead roles with Danny Ramirez, Benny Safdie, and John C. Reilly providing support. The reviews are decent though not overwhelmingly positive and the Rotten Tomatoes rating is 78%.

I suspect the stars won’t align for this to receive any sort of significant awards push in the coming months. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Broker

Had it not been for Roma in 2018, Hirokazu Kore’eda’s Shoplifters might have been the winner for the international competition at the Oscars. His latest is Broker and it has debuted at Cannes. Said to be a crowdpleaser, the drama focused on abandoned babies stars Song Kang-Ho of Parasite fame.

Early critical write-ups put this at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the reviews say it isn’t quite  in Shoplifters territory. That said, if South Korea selects this as the hopeful in International Feature Film, it would stand an excellent shot at making the cut. However, that is a big if because the nation also has Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed Decision to Leave (also a Cannes player) in the mix.

At the moment, I’m giving Broker the slight edge to be the pick. If so, it’s one to remember come picking time (and perhaps in Original Screenplay too). My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Decision to Leave

South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook is highly acclaimed for features including Oldboy and The Handmaiden. His latest is the romantic thriller Decision to Leave, which has premiered at Cannes.

Starring Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, critics are praising Chan-wook’s effort with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. As is often the case with the director, the cinematography by Kim Ji-yong is drawing particular raves. Oscar voters have yet to honor its maker’s filmography. Despite the positive buzz, Leave could face an uphill battle for the Academy’s attention.

The primary reason is the country of origin. I have a feeling South Korea may select another pic from one of its best known directors – Hirokazu Kore’ada’s Broker – as their contestant for International Feature Film. It also premiered in France and its kudos are arguably louder. That would leave Decision out of the running. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Ray Liotta in GoodFellas

Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas is one of the greatest motion pictures of all time (it’s in my top ten) and the Academy recognized that with six Oscar nominations in 1990. It won Best Supporting Actor for Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco received a Supporting Actress mention for Supporting Actress as the wife of Henry Hill. That’s in addition to the superb acting from Robert De Niro and Paul Sorvino and others. The Best Picture and Director nods should’ve been victories over Dances with Wolves. 

Furthermore, we ought’ve seen at least a seventh nomination for Best Actor with Ray Liotta as the main character. Henry Hill’s onscreen journey from a naive kid learning the ropes of Mob life to that riveting, unforgettable and coke addled last half hour of paranoia complete with black helicopters is cinema at its most addictive. And it’s Liotta’s performance that fuels it. Through the course of Scorsese’s mastery, we witness its lead shift from tender to menacing with total believability. It’s a star making role for a man who turned out to be an ace character actor.

I should’ve written this post a while ago. It’s unfathomable that the film’s central performance went unrecognized. Liotta had just achieved his biggest exposure a year earlier as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the beloved Field of Dreams. GoodFellas announced him as a leading man and he would continue on with more memorable roles with above the title credits and supporting parts. For those seeking out worthy titles, check out Something Wild and Unlawful Entry. Watch his descent into madness in Cop Land or his acclaimed role in Narc. There’s his recent turn in the Oscar nominated Marriage Story as a divorce lawyer (his costar Laura Dern won a gold statue).

Sadly – I write this post today as we learn of Ray Liotta’s passing at the age of 67. He was on location shooting his latest effort with at least 2 pictures in the can. For GoodFellas alone, he will forever be a part of the history of this medium we love. Yes, he should’ve been a contender for it. Ray Liotta, through decades of impressive performances, won us over time and again.

Oscar Predictions: Elvis

Will Elvis be in the building when the Oscars air next year? The eagerly anticipated Baz Luhrmann biopic has debuted at Cannes prior to its June 24th stateside bow. The splashy musical casts Austin Butler as The King with Tom Hanks (in some apparently memorable makeup) as Colonel Parker. Costars include Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia DeJonge, and Kelvin Harrison, Jr.

Luhrmann’s movies can attract wildly divergent opinions. Elvis is currently at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet it’s worth noting that the negative reviews are quite negative and the positive ones point out plenty of flaws. It’s not often you’ll read this, but Hanks’s work is drawing mixed buzz. He’ll need some coattail action to be a factor in Supporting Actor.

On the flip side, Luhrmann’s pictures also generate Academy mentions. His last four have done so. 1996’s Romeo + Juliet was nominated for Art Direction. 2001’s Moulin Rouge! was his most acclaimed title with 8 nods including Picture (though not Director). It was victorious in Art Direction and Costume Design. His less regarded 2008 follow-up Australia received a Costume Design nod while 2013’s The Great Gatsby landed wins for Costume Design and Production Design.

We are talking about Elvis so you have to assume Costume Design is easily in play. So are Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Sound. And, yes, Best Picture is a possibility. Whether or not it hits at the box office could move the needle one way or the other on the big race. If he couldn’t do so for Rouge!, I doubt Luhrmann gets his first behind the camera recognition.

One consistent thread in most of the reaction thus far compliments the performance of Butler. He is absolutely in the mix for Best Actor. Butler’s best hope is to follow in the footsteps of Rami Malek, who took home the gold stature for 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody as rock legend Freddie Mercury. Or he could end up like Taron Egerton, who surprisingly was left off the final five in 2019 as Elton John in Rocketman. 

Bottom line: despite some grumbling, Elvis has at least established itself as a mover and shaker for the awards season. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Aftersun

Irish thespian Paul Mescal has received an Emmy nod and plenty of critical praise for his role on Hulu’s Normal People and he recently made his cinematic debut in Netflix’s The Lost Daughter. 

More kudos are coming his way via Cannes for Aftersun, a family drama currently holding at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first feature from Charlotte Wells and produced by Moonlight auteur Barry Jenkins, the A24 acquisition is potentially the type of project that could generate awards chatter with the right campaign.

The issue could be that A24 will have other pics to focus on and there’s only so much promotion to go around. Time will tell, but there’s no doubt Mescal is an actor on the upswing. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Top Gun: Maverick isn’t the only Memorial Day weekend release currently holding at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The other is The Bob’s Burgers Movie, the cinematic version of the long running animated series. The Emmy winning series hopes that the big screen rendering serves up meaty box office numbers over the holiday.

Will Oscar voters take notice? Even with the impressive score, most reviews indicate it’s a generally pleasing Burgers episode with a longer runtime. If 2007’s The Simpsons Movie (which was a massive hit) couldn’t manage a Best Animated Feature nod, I doubt this will. However, if future animated titles for 2022 don’t meet expectations, that narrative could shift. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg came to prominence over four decades ago with his wild mix of gore and sci-fi that resulted in such notable pics as Scanners, Videodrome, and The Fly. In the 20th century, his crime thrillers A History of Violence and Eastern Promises were met with acclaim and acting nominations for William Hurt in Supporting Actor and Viggo Mortensen in lead, respectively.

At the Cannes Film Festival, the 79-year-old auteur returns to the body horror genre that made him known with Crimes of the Future. Like his earlier fare, critics indicate this may not be for everyone (including those with weak stomachs). Yet the Rotten Tomatoes score is currently a sturdy 90%.

Starring frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart (fresh off her Spencer nomination), I don’t see this staying fresh in awards voters brains after its stateside debut on June 3rd even as it may satisfy admirers of Cronenberg’s early work. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…