Oscar Watch: The White Tiger

In the 2020 Oscar season that is spilling over to January and February of 2021, Netflix has an abundance of serious contenders in the major races. That includes everything from The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to Da 5 Bloods to Mank to name just four. On January 22nd, Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger debuts on the streaming service. Will it be added to the lengthy list of contenders?

I have doubts with the exception of one category. Based on the 2008 novel by Aravind Adiga, the rags to riches drama set in India stars Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jones, and Rajkummar Rao. Reviews are stellar and it currently sports an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Netflix would need to mount a major push for Picture, Directing, or any acting slots and their attention may simply be elsewhere with entities that could potentially win.

The possible exception is Adapted Screenplay. The conventional wisdom is that four slots are filled with Nomadland, One Night in Miami, The Father, and Ma Rainey. For the last couple of weeks, I have put First Cow (which is doing well on the critics awards circuit) in spot #5. Netflix’s own I’m Thinking of Ending Things has a shot as does News of the World. Yet it’s not unrealistic that The White Tiger could sneak in as a surprise pick to round out the competition.

Bottom line: it’s more feasible that Tiger comes up empty-handed on nominations morning, but it could achieve one mention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Malcolm & Marie

As if Netflix doesn’t have enough competitors this Oscar season, a new one comes into the fold in the form of Malcolm & Marie. The drama comes from director Sam Levinson, who’s best known for creating the acclaimed HBO series Euphoria. Shot this year in COVID-19 times and hitting Netflix on February 5, the title characters are played by John David Washington and Euphoria star Zendaya (who earned a surprise Emmy last year for the series).

While the official review embargo is not up, social media reactions are out and they’re encouraging. Most of all, the buzz suggests a first Oscar nod could be coming for Zendaya. The general feeling (and one I concur with at press time) is that four slots could be filled already: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman). We now have another strong contender in the mix. I had yet to list her even in my top ten thus far and that will certainly change when my new estimates hit on Monday.

As for Washington, I’m far less certain. It all depends on just how hard Academy voters fall for the picture as a whole. If they do, Picture, Director, and especially Original Screenplay could be possibilities. If they don’t, the attention could focus solely on Zendaya. And there’s time for the chatter to increase with the extra two months before nominations are revealed.

Bottom line: Malcolm & Marie has immediately established itself as a player in Best Actress and maybe more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020: The Year of Chadwick Boseman

Prior to 2018, Chadwick Boseman was known primarily for his acclaimed turns as real life historical figures like Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. It was the title role as Black Panther in the MCU juggernaut where he created his own history in the only superhero flick to nab a Best Picture nomination.

2020 is shaping up to be the year where awards voters recognize Mr. Boseman. It is, of course, also the year in which the world mourned his passing on August 28 after a previously undisclosed battle with colon cancer at age 43. His turns in two Netflix pictures – Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – have him in the running for Oscar nods and he could very conceivably get two. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named him Best Actor for Rainey and the Academy may well follow suit. The New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their Supporting Actor prize for his work in Bloods and he could make his way to that Oscar shortlist.

In a year where the world of cinema lost legends such as Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Ennio Morricone, and Max Von Sydow, Boseman’s came as the most unexpected with an outpouring of grief and appreciation. His final year onscreen appears destined to come with the Academy’s recognition of the man who embodied real life heroes and created his own iconic one.

 

Oscar Watch: The Midnight Sky

Netflix’s slew of December releases that are potential Oscar contenders continues with George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky. The sci-fi drama stars its director as an Arctic scientist attempting to prevent a group of astronauts from their return to Earth due to environmental hazards. The roughly $100 million budgeted pic hits theaters in a limited fashion this Friday though most viewers will see it when it materializes on the streaming service on December 23rd. Costars include Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, and Caoilinn Springall.

The review embargo lifted today and it is most certainly a mixed bag. The Rotten Tomatoes rating is at only 54%. Numerous critics have brought up recent and similar genre fare in comparison, including Gravity (which also featured Clooney), Interstellar, The Martian, and Ad Astra. Several of them say that Sky doesn’t measure up.

It has been 15 years since Clooney’s work behind the camera has significantly attracted Oscar attention with Good Night, and Good Luck. His last two directorial efforts, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon, were both critical and commercial disappointments. With a number of write-ups skewing so-so or even negative, it’s hard to envision Sky aiming for a Picture nod or for any of the actors involved to contend.

On the other hand, reviews do suggest this could be a factor in some technical races. Most notable of them is Visual Effects, Production Design, and Sound. There is also plenty of praise for the Original Score by Alexandre Desplat, a two-time winner for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water. 

Bottom line: it will be a struggle for The Midnight Sky to reach the attention of voters in the major races, but it could still end up with close to a handful of nominations. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Mank Review

David Fincher’s Mank is only about the making of one cinema’s greatest achievements Citizen Kane in a limited fashion. Its plot line is a disputed one in which the picture’s cowriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) takes the vast lions share of the credit for creating the masterpiece. This falls in direct contradiction with what some historians have said. There has been a decades long debate as to whether Mankiewicz or director/producer/star Orson Welles was the magic behind the scenes. And there’s no doubt that some viewers could be upset with what Mank is and is not about.

As for this viewer, I often marveled at it. This is David Fincher’s first feature in over six years and it’s a pleasure to have him back behind the camera. The screenplay is from the director’s late father. While it certainly falls more on the side of Mank being the force behind the landmark 1941 production, I found myself wrapped up in its stunning production values and dynamic performances. In other words, the debate of Kane‘s credit can be left to scholars. I was left mostly enthralled by the overall experience.

To say Mank is a movie for cinephiles is not inaccurate. A passing knowledge of the history of Citizen Kane is helpful. An understanding of California politics in the 1930s doesn’t hurt either. Oldman’s Mank is a rather young man when we first see him in 1940. The actor playing him is in his sixties while his subject is about 20 years younger. For those who believe that’s a stretch, I invite you to look at photos of Mankiewicz at that time period. He looked beyond his years due to severe alcoholism as he was climbing the Tinsel Town ladder with his brilliant words.

By 1940, he’s known around town as much for his boorish behavior as his screenplays. He’s laid up due to an auto accident when the new boy wonder from Hollywood Orson Welles (Tom Burke, nailing the legend’s vocal patterns) calls him with an offer. Mank gets working on a massive manuscript that draws on his past experiences. The caveat is that Mank will not receive credit for his contribution. The writer dictates his words to two assistants at a California ranch with his leg in cast. One is Rita Alexander (Lily Collins) and part of her duties is keeping Mank away from the hard liquor that serves as his liquid fuel. This job also falls to Orson’s right hand man John Houseman (Sam Troughton) and, less occasionally, to Mank’s wife (Tuppence Middleton). Everyone refers to her as “Poor Sara” (including her spouse) because just dealing with his personality is a full time occupation.

As he toils away at his pages, the flashbacks begin a decade earlier. In 1930, Mank makes the acquaintance of starlet Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). They hit it off and she soon brings him into the uber-wealthy universe of her older flame, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance). Hearst takes a liking to our title subject partly because he’s good entertainment to be around and always has a witty quip at the ready.

In 1934, Mank’s connections with the titans of industry coincide with the political scene. The gubernatorial campaign of Upton Sinclair and his socialist Democratic policies has studio head Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard, in a memorable performance) spooked. Hollywood was far less liberal in these days, you see. MGM implements extraordinary measures to get their candidate elected and that involves their massive make believe factory usually dedicated to Civil War epics and Munchkins. Mank does not approve of these tactics that are ultimately green lit by Mr. Hearst.

These developments are what shape Mank’s screenplay years later as the characters in the eventual Kane treatment resemble both Hearst and Marion. Mank, more than anything, is about what drives the writing process. It’s about how one’s demons and one’s tragedies and shortcomings can result in something special on the page. As we watch the events unfold that result in Kane, we do so in sumptuous black and white with gorgeous cinematography from Erik Messerschmidt. Fincher has fashioned this to look like it was made in early 1940s and he certainly succeeds.

Mank is the latest reminder of Oldman’s ability to disappear into a performance. When he finally works up the nerve to (very) drunkenly confront Hearst at a lavish dinner party concerning the political drama, it’s a sight to behold. This is due to the acting of its lead, as well as Dance’s Hearst and Seyfried’s Marion. Any sequence with Mank and Marion is a fascinating one with their complicated relationship. It might be the most honest one he has.

Returning to historical accuracy, I’m reminded that it’s not particularly my business. Whether Mankiewicz or Welles raised Kane from the start is an enduring mystery. The director and his father present a side here. It’s certainly one Mank would cheers to. It is one that hardcore movie lovers also should.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Let Them All Talk

HBO Max (which is certainly in the news today for other reasons involving Warner Bros) has teamed with Steven Soderbergh and Meryl Streep for the streaming debut of Let Them All Talk on December 10th. The dramedy casts 21-time Oscar nominee Streep as an author taking a cruise with friends including Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest. Lucas Hedge and Gemma Chan round out the supporting cast.

The review embargo is up today and based on a dozen write-ups, it actually sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, its Oscar chances seem iffy and that’s probably being generous. While some critics are quite positive, many of their takes do not indicate this will be any sort of awards hopeful. In fact, Streep’s 22nd nod is more likely to be in Netflix’s The Prom, which debuts just one day after Talk. 

Soderbergh and Streep had another collaboration in 2019 with The Laundromat. It was long thought of as a potential Academy player until mixed reviews sunk its prospects. With this teaming, it was never really thought of as a contender and that should hold true. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Prom

Prior to its December 11th bow on Netflix, the musical romantic comedy The Prom has screened for critics and the general consensus is that it’s a crowd pleaser that should see plenty of streams in a few days. An adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical, super producer Ryan Murphy handles directorial duties with an impressive cast including Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington, and Jo Ellen Pellman.

The current Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 75%. Plenty of reviews praise its feel good vibes and that could be especially welcome in this thing we call 2020. On the other hand, the negative reaction is quite negative and that includes some pretty high profile publications that include EW and The AV Club. Netflix has plenty of major Oscar contenders this year and I wonder how hard they’ll press for inclusion here. While it should nab some Golden Globe nods (including the Musical/Comedy Picture race), the Academy’s love is far less certain.

If audiences sing its praises and it’s a runaway hit, I believe The Prom has an outside shot at Picture. As for its performers, Streep should never be counted out and this would mark her 22nd nomination. I feel her chances in the final five are better than they were a couple weeks back, but I’m currently reluctant having her make the cut. Same goes for Nicole Kidman in Supporting Actress or anyone else.

The best shot could be in down the line categories such as Costume Design, Sound, or one of its songs (though the recently released “Wear Your Crown” with Streep rapping has drawn plenty of eye rolls). Bottom line: don’t discount The Prom‘s ability to make it into the dance in Picture or Actress, but it’ll need lots of goodwill to get there.

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 21st Edition

We have new #1’s in three of the four acting derbies in my weekly Oscar prediction updates! Let’s break it down:

  • The reviews for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom have gone out of their way to praise the work of Chadwick Boseman. Best Actor now appears to be a race between the late performer and Anthony Hopkins in The Father. I have had Hopkins listed in first place for months at this point, but this changes today. That said, this is a competition that could come down to the wire.
  • In Best Actress, I have kept Viola Davis atop the list. However, while critics have lauded her in the title role of Ma Rainey, Vanessa Kirby’s work in Pieces of a Woman seems to gathering buzz. I thought about putting her in the pole position and we’ll see how this plays out in the coming weeks.
  • Ironically, the placement of Boseman at #1 in Best Actor drops him from 1st to 6th in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods. This currently puts Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7) on top for the first time in a seemingly wide open field. I have also dropped David Strathairn (Nomadland) from the five. Additionally, while I am waiting for Warner Bros to confirm, I am putting Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) back in this field as opposed to lead. So it’s him and Bill Murray (On the Rocks) back in the fold.
  • Last week, the poor reviews for Hillbilly Elegy caused me to take Glenn Close from #1 to #4. Like Supporting Actor, this race looks like anyone’s for the taking. I am elevating the veteran actress back to 1st as I could envision her overdue factor overtaking the bad critical reaction to the film itself. Also I’ve put Helena Zengel (News of the World) back in over Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari).

There’s also a change in Best Director with Florian Zeller (The Father) in for the first time over Lee Isaac Chung (Minari). Finally, there’s some release date news. Amazon Prime has moved Coming 2 America from December 2020 to March 2021. That takes it out of contention (where it could have played in Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling). And Warner Bros confirmed that Wonder Woman 1984 will receive a Christmas Day HBO Max streaming premiere. I don’t yet have it in the final five, but it could show up in Visual Effects.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. The Father (PR: 5)

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. Minari (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 8)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 10)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 12)

13. The Midnight Sky (PR: 14)

14. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

15. First Cow (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

7. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 5)

8. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 7)

9. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

3. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

4. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 5)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

7. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

8. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 6)

10. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 8)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 6)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

8. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

9. Colin Firth, Supernova (PR: 10)

10. Tom Holland, Cherry (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (moved to Supporting)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 4)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 3)

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 5)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Nicole Kidman, The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Swankie, Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

2. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Best Actor)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 6)

5. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 1)

7. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 8)

8. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 5)

9. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

10. Shia LaBeouf, Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

8. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Sound of Metal (PR: 10)

10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

8. First Cow (PR: 9)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

10. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Connected (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

7. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 7)

8. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

9. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

10. Lupin III: The First (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 2)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 3)

4. Time (PR: 4)

5. The Dissident (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Boys State (PR: 7)

8. 76 Days (PR: 9)

9. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 3)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 7)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. The Disciple (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m No Longer Here (PR: Not Ranked)

7. My Little Sister (PR: 6)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 8)

9. Atlantis (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Charlatan (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

New Order

True Mothers

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 5)

5. Mulan (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 7)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ammonite (PR: 10)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Coming 2 America

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Tenet (PR: 8)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 4)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 3)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

7. Mulan (PR: 5)

8. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

10. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Coming 2 America

Emma

Ammonite

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 4)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 7)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

8. Minari (PR: 5)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

10. Ammonite (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

7. “Hear My Voice” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

10. “Carried Me with You” from Onward (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Love Myself” from The High Note

“Never Break” from Giving Voice 

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Mulan (PR: 3)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 8)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 9)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

8. Rebecca (PR: 5)

9. Emma (PR: 4)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Soul (PR: 5)

4. Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

8. News of the World (PR: 6)

9. Greyhound (PR: 7)

10. Da 5 Bloods (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. The Invisible Man (PR: 4)

4. Greyhound (PR: 3)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

7. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Mulan (PR: 6)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 9)

10. Mank (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Dolittle 

And that breaks down to the following number of nominations for these pictures:

12 Nominations

Mank

10 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

News of the World

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

Soul

3 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, Mulan, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Connected, Crip Camp, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, Emma, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, Night of the Kings, On the Rocks, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Oscar Watch: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

For Oscar prognosticators, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has looked to be a major hopeful for some time. Based on the August Wilson play and directed by George C. Wolfe, the 1920s set musical drama hits Netflix in December. The social media reaction embargo lapsed this weekend and confirmed hunches that it will be such a thing in various races.

When I began my weekly prediction posts in late August, it was assumed that Chadwick Boseman would compete for Supporting Actor here. At first, I had him ranked #2. Just days after my first estimates, the actor passed away. He rose up to #1 in Supporting Actor and stayed there until Netflix confirmed that he would vie for Best Actor. Early buzz suggests that he is unquestionably a lead and this sets up a real battle which I’ll get to momentarily. Critics are also calling it his finest performance and his inclusion in the category is a given now.

As for his costar Viola Davis, word of mouth suggests her part is a little smaller than expected. Yet the general consensus is that she’ll still stay in Best Actress. If Netflix chose to make a switch to Supporting, she would probably be the front runner (she won the race four years ago for Fences). However, by staying in the crowded Actress field, I question whether she remains in first place when I update my picks on Friday. The competition could be steep with the likes of Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman).

Back to Boseman. Not withstanding any unseen performances, Best Actor is shaping up to be a real showdown between Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Boseman. This appears bound to play out over the next several months. That said, a development could occur to shift the narrative. In Supporting Actor, Boseman is also expected to contend for Da 5 Bloods. If he gains favorite status in that field, it could help Hopkins remain the anticipated victor. As for Rainey‘s own supporting actors (Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo), the pair are long shots due to that category’s packed nature.

Could Rainey get a Best Picture nomination? Yes, but I think it’s far from guaranteed and I don’t expect Wolfe to make it in the final five for his direction. Adapted Screenplay is also a question mark while tech races like Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Production Design are surely on the table.

Bottom line: Boseman has absolutely established himself as a threat to posthumously take Best Actor with Hopkins as the significant competitor. Davis looks mostly safe in Actress, but a win is much more questionable. And my Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: November 13th Edition

Back at it again with another round of weekly Oscar predictions and there are changes to be discussed in every major category! We begin with the grand prize – Best Picture. For the third week in a row, we have a new #1 as I’m elevating The Trial of the Chicago 7 to front runner status for the first time. It displaces Nomadland, which falls to 2nd position while Mank goes from 2nd to 3rd.

While Trial gets top billing, I am still placing David Fincher at #1 for director as I believe that could be a bit of a career achievement recognition. As stated last week, I do think Chloe Zhao could be hot on his heels. It does feel a bit strange to have Trial as the Picture favorite while not believing Aaron Sorkin will take Director, but here we are in this strange 2020 Oscar season. Speaking of that race, I now have Lee Isaac Chung for the fast rising Minari over Paul Greengrass for News of the World. 

Moving on, the review embargo lifted this week for Hillbilly Elegy and the results weren’t pretty. The Netflix title stands at just 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and that takes it out of my top 15 for Picture and top 10 in Adapted Screenplay. It also hurts the chances of its leads. Amy Adams drops out of the top 5 for Actress and that’s to the benefit of another Netflix entry with Sophia Loren in The Life Ahead. Glenn Close has been listed at #1 in Supporting Actress since I began these posts in late August. This too has changed in a currently wide open Supporting Actress field. She drops from #1 to #4, but the irony is I still think she could win. However, it’s Amanda Seyfried in Mank that vaults to #1 with Olivia Colman (The Father) and Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman) following. There’s another move in Supporting Actress with Yuh-Joun Youn for Minari in over Helena Zengel for News of the World. 

In Best Actor, it’s Riz Ahmed back in the final five and that takes out Kingsley Ben-Adir in One Night in Miami. In Supporting Actor, I have David Strathairn (Nomadland) back in the predicted quintet and that drops Bill Murray (On the Rocks) to sixth. And I am starting to buy into the theory that Chadwick Boseman could be victorious in that race for Da 5 Bloods with Anthony Hopkins a seeming favorite in Best Actor for The Father. Boseman is now #1 for supporting.

Finally, it was announced that Supernova will campaign Colin Firth for Best Actor with Stanley Tucci in supporting. They are both listed in the top ten, but I believe it’s Tucci that could potentially see a rise from his #8 spot.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 3)

2. Nomadland (PR: 1)

3. Mank (PR: 2)

4. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

5. The Father (PR: 7)

6. Minari (PR: 8)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. News of the World (PR: 5)

9. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Soul (PR: 12)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

12. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

13. The White Tiger (PR: 14)

14. The Midnight Sky (PR: 15)

15. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Hillbilly Elegy

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

5. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 6)

7. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 4)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

9. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

5. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 7)

8. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

9. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

9. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

10. Colin Firth, Supernova (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

George Clooney, The Midnight Sky 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 3)

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 5)

4. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

5. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 6)

7. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 4)

8. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 8)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United State vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Swankie, Nomadland (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nicole Kidman, The Prom

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 5)

7. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

8. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

10. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Charles Dance, Mank 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Soul (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 6)

7. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Promising Young Woman (PR: 8)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 7)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

8. The White Tiger (PR: 9)

9. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Midnight Sky (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Hillbilly Elegy

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 8)

7. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 10)

8. Connected (PR: 6)

9. Lupin III: The First (PR: 7)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 2)

2. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 1)

3. Crip Camp (PR: 3)

4. Time (PR: 7)

5. The Dissident (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Boys State (PR: 5)

8. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 8)

9. 76 Days (PR: 9)

10. MLK/FBI (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 1)

2. New Order (PR: 2)

3. Another Round (PR: 3)

4. The Life Ahead (PR: 4)

5. The Disciple (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: 5)

7. Night of the Kings (PR: 7)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 9)

9. Charlatan (PR: Not Ranked)

10. True Mothers (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Atlantis

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 4)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rebecca (PR: 5)

7. News of the World (PR: 8)

8. Coming 2 America (PR: 6)

9. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 4)

5. News of the World (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

7. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Tenet (PR: 7)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 3)

3. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

4. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

5. Mulan (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Coming 2 America (PR: 5)

7. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

9. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Soul (PR: 2)

3. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. Tenet (PR: 4)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

9. Ammonite (PR: 5)

10. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: 6)

7. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 7)

8. “Love Myself” from The High Note (PR: 8)

9. “Never Break” from Giving Voice (PR: 9)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 3)

4. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Rebecca (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 8)

7. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

8. News of the World (PR: 4)

9. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 2)

3. Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

4. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

5. Soul (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 3)

7. Greyhound (PR: 8)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

10. The Prom (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Greyhound (PR: 3)

4. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mulan (PR: 4)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

8. Mank (PR: 6)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 9)

10. Dolittle (PR: 10)

And that shakes out to these features nabbing the following number of nominations:

12 Nominations

Mank

7 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, The Father, Minari, News of the World, One Night in Miami

4 Nominations

The Midnight Sky, Soul

3 Nominations

The Life Ahead, Mulan

2 Nominations

Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Birds of Prey, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Crip Camp, The Croods: A New Age, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Disciple, The Dissident, French Exit, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, New Order, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Rebecca, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers