Oscar Watch: The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher premiered way back in January at the Sundance Film Festival and Maggie Gyllenhaal received raves for her role. Netflix snatched it up and it premiered on the streaming service October 12th. Sara Colangelo directs with a supporting cast including Parker Sevak, Anna Baryshnikov, and Gael Garcia Bernal. Any awards focus, however, will solely be on its star.

With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 89%, the film is garnering greater exposure now with its release. Could Gyllenhaal be a nominee in the Best Actress race? Despite heralded performances in Secretary and Sherrybaby, she has yet to be nominated in the lead category. Gyllenhaal did receive a Supporting Actress nod in 2009 for Crazy Heart. Coupled with her acclaimed work in HBO’s “The Deuce”, it’s been a good year for the actress. Yet I still suspect she’ll be on the outside looking in considering competition.

That said, Gyllenhaal is likely to appear in the bottom portions of my top 15 projections in my weekly Oscar predictions on Thursday. It would mark her first appearance thus far.

Bottom line: despite high marks, it would be a surprise to see Gyllenhaal score her first nomination in Best Actress. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Private Life

This Friday on Netflix, Private Life debuts. The comedic drama marks the first directorial effort from Tamara Jenkins in over a decade since her acclaimed The Savages in 2007. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn star as a couple dealing with infertility. Costars include Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, Denis O’Hare, and John Carroll Lynch.

Life premiered at Sundance way back in January and warm reviews followed. It currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t expect this to be a player in Best Picture or any of the acting races. However, it stands at least a shot at Best Original Screenplay. It could, however, be a long shot.

That category currently has three near sure things (The Favourite, Roma, Green Book), an unseen possibility on the horizon (Vice), and other contenders like Eighth Grade and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In its favor is that Jenkins was recognized here before for The Savages.

Bottom line: the only chance at a nod for Private Life is Original Screenplay. It’s unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Quincy

Focused on the legendary life of musical composer Quincy Jones, a documentary about him has premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones, the pic about the man behind classic film scores and unforgettable music from Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and many more has garnered respectable reviews.

That said, I’m not sure that will be enough for Quincy to warrant attention this Oscar season. The Documentary category is already crowded with titles such as RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, and Fahrenheit 11/9 all vying for spots.

Bottom line: this doc about a man who has won 27 Grammys and been nominated for 7 Academy Awards might come up short come nomination time.

Quincy premieres on Netflix on September 21. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Outlaw King

The historical action drama Outlaw King might not immediately strike one as an Oscar hopeful. Yet it’s considered a bit of a thematic sequel to Braveheart, the Mel Gibson epic that also focused on the Scottish battle for independence. That film won Best Picture in 1995. This is also director David Mackenzie’s follow-up to Hell or High Water, which earned a Best Picture nod two years ago. And it was selected to open the Toronto Film Festival, which has kicked off today.

Even with that considerable pedigree, critical reaction suggests this won’t be a major player on the Oscar scene. Mackenzie reunites with Hell star Chris Pine with a supporting cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, and Stephen Dillane. Early reviews haven’t been too kind thus far, though they have praised its epic scope. Perhaps some down the line tech recognition is possible, but even that could be a reach.

Bottom line: don’t expect Academy voters to crown King with love.

The pic is slated to debut on Netflix on November 9. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: July 22

In addition to the Bourne franchise, director Paul Greengrass is best known for making thrillers based on well-known events. This includes Bloody Sunday, United 93 (for which he received a Best Director nomination), and Captain Phillips (which nabbed a Best Picture nod). His latest is July 22 and it focuses on the 2011 Norwegian terrorist attacks.

The film has debuted at the Venice Film Festival and reviews out today are solid. However, I’m not sure the critical reaction is strong enough for Greengrass or his picture to receive Academy acknowledgment. I’m also not seeing any technical nominations at this juncture. It also may not help that the production is scheduled to debut on Netflix and the voters still may not be overly enthusiastic about recognizing the subscription service.

Bottom line: Barring a greater amount of festival love, don’t expect this to achieve the level of attention that previous Greengrass movies United 93 and Captain Phillips got.

July 22 is out on Netflix on October 10. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Just over a decade ago, Joel and Ethan Coen finally broke through with Academy voters via No Country for Old Men. Premiering in Venice today is their latest effort The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Originally conceived as a six-part Netflix series, the brothers Coen chose to combine this tale of violent Western vignettes into a feature film. Its cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson.

Reviews overseas indicate that Ballad contains great moments and some uneven ones. I wouldn’t expect this to be a contender in Picture or Director. As for its actors, Neeson and Waits have been singled out. Yet again, their inclusion is Supporting Actor could be a reach.

Ballad does stand a better chance at possible recognition for Original Screenplay (depending on strength of competition) and its cinematography.

Bottom line: Ballad could factor into down the line races, but don’t expect this to play in the largest prize pool.

Following an expected theatrical release, Scruggs debuts on Netflix on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Roma

One day after First Man landed raves at the Venice Film Festival, another Oscar-winning director’s latest has proven itself a contender as well. Roma from Alfonso Cuaron has screened and critical reaction has been glowing.

Five years ago, Cuaron took home the Best Director prize for Gravity. This follow-up is more personal and was made on a smaller scale. The autobiographical feature is set in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Reaction from Venice indicates this is one to watch for Best Picture and Director. Cuaron could also be recognized in other categories, including his Original Screenplay, Cinematography (alongside Galo Olivares), and Editing (with Adam Gough).

If Roma really catches on with Oscar voters, the film’s lead actress Yalitza Aparicio could warrant attention. This is her first feature film.

Bottom line: the second day of Venice has produced yet another serious awards title with Roma.

After an anticipated theatrical run, Roma is scheduled to debut on Netflix on December 14. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Come Sunday

Joshua Marston’s Come Sunday premiered on Netflix over the weekend after first being screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The pic casts Chiwetel Ejiofor as real life bishop Carlton Pearson, who was deemed a heretic for his beliefs. Costars include Danny Glover, Martin Sheen, Jason Segel, Lakeith Stanfield, and Condola Rashad. Director Marston is most known for his acclaimed 2004 feature Maria Full of Grace.

Critical reaction for Sunday has been mixed and it currently stands at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. Considering the Academy’s curiosity on how to even handle Netflix premieres, this was at best a long shot for recognition for Picture. The rather lukewarm reviews only solidify that.

That said, most critics have raved about Ejiofor, who would be going for his second nod following 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Some notices have gone as far to say it’s his finest performance. Yet the likelihood is that come nomination time, any buzz will have waned for Ejiofor and he won’t be attending the Oscars for his work here on that particular Sunday.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: First They Killed My Father

Three years ago, Angelina Jolie’s war drama Unbroken was looked at as a major awards contender until it screened for critics. While it performed well at the box office, her second directorial effort received three technical nominations outside of the major categories.

Now, First They Killed My Father (her fourth feature behind the camera) could be looking at a Best Picture nod, but in a different manner. The pic, which played at the Telluride and Toronto fests and is currently available on Netflix, has received the best reviews of the director’s career (89% on Rotten Tomatoes).

The 1970s set dramatic thriller will be Cambodia’s official entry into the Best Foreign Language Film race and it stands a very real shot at recognition. I don’t see it getting into the conversation for Picture itself, but Jolie could still find herself in the Oscar mix in a way that fell through in 2014.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Summer 2007: The Top 10 Hits and More

Well it’s Throwback Thursday and I’m giving you the culmination of my three-part series recounting the movie summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago. We’ve already gone back to memory lane in 1987 and 1997. If you missed either of those posts, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/01/summer-1987-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/04/summer-1997-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

That means I’m traveling back a decade ago to 2007 and it’s a summer where threequels were majorly in vogue, accounting for four of the top six grossing pictures. Sequels were pervasive in general in this particular season and it was a breakout summer for one Seth Rogen.

As I have with these previous entries, I’ll count down the top ten hits as well as other notable pics and some flops.

Let’s get to it!

10. Rush Hour 3

Domestic Gross: $140 million

The third and final pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in this action comedy franchise is our first threequel on the list. It fell a steep $86 million short of what Rush Hour 2 accomplished six seasons earlier.

9. Knocked Up

Domestic Gross: $148 million

The comedic summer breakout continued Judd Apatow’s hit streak after The 40 Yr. Old Virgin from two previous summers and gave Seth Rogen his first big leading role. Katherine Heigl may have inexplicably trash talked it later, but audiences disagreed.

8. The Simpsons Movie

Domestic Gross: $183 million

Arriving nearly two decades after the still going FOX animated series debut, The Simpsons Movie surpassed all expectations with its gargantuan gross. Just last month, producers announced there’s been traction on a planned sequel.

7. Ratatouille

Domestic Gross: $206 million

Our second animated entry comes from the Pixar conglomerate. The critically hailed rat tale actually experienced one of the lowest openings for Pixar, but it still managed to top $200 million and its reputation has only grown.

6. The Bourne Ultimatum

Domestic Gross: $227 million

Matt Damon’s third go-round as the title character is still the highest grossing entry of the franchise and the only to pass $200 million. The star returned to the series just last summer.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Domestic Gross: $292 million

The fifth installment of the $2 billion plus franchise marks the first one directed by David Yates, who would make the following three pics as well. It stands #5 of the 8 Potter pics in domestic gross.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Domestic Gross: $309 million

The third Pirates flick is when critics really started to turn on the series. Getting past $300 million is nothing to sneeze at, but it is nearly $115 million lower than its predecessor Dead Man’s Chest just one summer before.

3. Transformers

Domestic Gross: $319 million

Michael Bay’s bot series started a decade ago and it’s still going. The original ranks third of the five in grosses as its two sequels topped it, but the last two have fallen under it.

2. Shrek the Third

Domestic Gross: $322 million

Much like Pirates, this is when reviewers started to sour on this series. It was still chugging along, but it did fall $120 million below Shrek 2.

1. Spider-Man 3

Domestic Gross: $336 million

Anyone noticing a pattern here? Once again – a third franchise entry where critics started sharpening their knives. This end to the Sam Raimi Spidey trilogy was considered a big letdown in quality, yet it still topped the summer while earning less than its two predecessors.

And now for some other notable pictures of summer 2007:

Live Free or Die Hard

Domestic Gross: $134 million

From a pure numbers standpoint, it’s the highest grossing pic to feature Bruce Willis in his signature role of John McClane (though that changes when adjusting for inflation). From a pure entertainment standpoint, the decision to make this the only PG-13 Die Hard film was a bit puzzling.

Superbad

Domestic Gross: $121 million

Mr. Rogen’s big summer kept rolling along with this acclaimed comedy in which he costarred and co-wrote. Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and McLovin became household names due to this.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Before his movies moved to Netflix, Adam Sandler could still crank out $100M+ earners just a decade ago, even if it was this stale comedy co-starring Kevin James.

Hairspray

Domestic Gross: $118 million

Based on both the John Waters 1988 pic and the Broadway musical that followed it, Hairspray featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken performed above expectations.

Ocean’s Thirteen

Domestic Gross: $117 million

Worth mentioning because it’s yet another threequel that couldn’t quite match the grosses of the first two. An all female version of the Ocean’s franchise is soon coming to a theater near you.

Once

Domestic Gross: $9 million

That may be appear to a small gross, but this little Irish romantic musical came out of nowhere stateside and has achieved a devoted following. It’s even been adapted into a Broadway play.

And now for some of the flops of summer 2007:

Evan Almighty

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Yes, it may have crossed the century mark, but this spin-off of 2003’s Bruce Almighty was considered the flop of the season. Starring Steve Carell fresh off the acclaimed 40 Yr. Old Virgin, this family feature came with a reported $175 million budget. Audiences and critics weren’t impressed.

Stardust

Domestic Gross: $38 million

This fantasy flick with Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, and Michelle Pfeiffer only earned a bit more than half its $70 million budget domestically. However, director Matthew Vaughn has bounced back in a significant way with Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. 

The Invasion

Domestic Gross: $15 million

Another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, bad reviews sunk this pic that featured Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, fresh off his heralded debut as James Bond.

I Know Who Killed Me

Domestic Gross: $7 million

Lindsay Lohan was a long way from Freaky Friday and Mean Girls with this panned psychological thriller that featured the starlet as a stripper. Audiences turned away.

And that does it, folks! You can rest assure you’ll see summer posts recounting 1988, 1998, and 2008 in a year’s time…