Oscars 2020: The Case of Chadwick Boseman

My Case Of posts have reached the second performer for Best Actor at the Oscars and that’s the late Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. If you missed my first post focused on Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/28/oscars-2020-the-case-of-riz-ahmed/

The Case for Chadwick Boseman

Despite acclaimed work in 42, Get On Up, Marshall, and Black Panther, his role as Levee Green in the Netflix drama marks Boseman’s first Academy nod. Premiering three months after his passing, critics hailed this as a career best performance. Boseman has swept the key precursors thus far such as the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. If he wins the SAG Award this evening, that’s a clean sweep. One could even argue that his omission in Supporting Actor for Da 5 Bloods is a sign that voters will honor him here.

The Cast Against Chadwick Boseman

You have to go back 11 years since a Best Actor winner’s movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture (Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart). All four of his fellow nominees are appearing in BP contenders. Of those four, Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) have their ardent supporters.

The Verdict

Best Actor is not a race in which upsets often happen. Anyone other than Boseman taking the gold would constitute one. He is likely to become the first posthumous winner in this category since Peter Finch in Network.

My Case Of posts will continue with Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy…

Chadwick Boseman’s Oscar Road

Despite a trio of performances playing well-known figures in 42, Get On Up, and Marshall and creating an iconic superhero in Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman had never been nominated for an Oscar when he passed last summer. That will change come Monday when nominations are announced. The only question is: will it change twice?

In the Best Actor field, Boseman is the frontrunner for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It is a given that his name will be called and it is very likely that the envelope in that race will contain his name. If and when that happens, he will be the first posthumous winner in the lead actor competition since Peter Finch in Network 44 years ago.

Up until very recently, I had consistently listed Boseman at #4 in the Supporting Actor derby for Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Yet when I released my Oscar predictions on Thursday (which you can find linked below), I decided to drop him to the runner-up slot. There are a couple of reasons.

First, Da 5 Bloods has simply not performed well in the precursors. My final predictions have the Netflix drama garnering precisely zero nods. Delroy Lindo was once seen as a competitor to Boseman in Best Actor, but he drew a blank at the Globes and SAG. If Bloods were still in the mix for Best Picture or for his costars, it might be easier to see Boseman getting in. The lack of buzz for the picture itself complicates things.

Second, an argument could be made that because Chadwick is such a favorite for Actor, voters will focus on that and not feel obligated to write his name for the supporting field. There are only 3 shoo-ins for nods in the category in my view: Boseman’s Black Panther costar Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), and Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami). The four and five slots could be filled by Boseman, Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), David Strathairn (Nomadland, who could ride its projected Best Picture winner momentum), or even a latecomer like young Alan Kim in Minari. I ultimately went with Raci and Strathairn.

Bottom line: Chadwick Boseman is well on his way to his first Oscar nod and probable win. A double nomination is trickier.

FINAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/11/2020-final-oscar-predictions/

Money Monster Movie Review

A few years back, George Clooney revealed a list of his top 100 films released between 1964 and 1976. It’s an era he considers the best in the history of the medium and that’s certainly a valid hypothesis. In his impressive career, Clooney has appeared in movies that could have come out in that time frame. Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March deal with themes of corporate corruption and dirty politics in ways that entries on his list did more often forty to fifty years ago. Titles like 1976’s Network and George’s all-time #1 All the President’s Men. Both of those features also deal with the positive and negative aspects of journalism and so does Money Monster. In 1976, 24 hour cable news didn’t exist yet. There were no programs like the one in the title where over-the-top host Lee Gates (Clooney) tells viewers how to invest their cash. Think Jim Cramer… except he looks like George Clooney.

Lee is set to tape his Friday show with his trusty director Patty (Julia Roberts) in his ear. Shortly after the cameras roll, Kyle (Jack O’Connell) crashes the set with a gun and explosive laden vest for Lee to don. His beef? He lost his life savings in a company that his now bomb strapped captive heartily endorsed. As millions of ciewees watch the situation live on TV, Monster becomes a rumination on the themes mentioned earlier.

That list Clooney made also correctly included 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon. Like that excellent effort, this is a real-time New York City hostage drama with humor frequently injected. Al Pacino gave one of his richest performances of his filmography in Afternoon and his riveting character made the tension substantial in it. That’s a problem here as the character of Kyle is neither fleshed out enough or believable enough to create any significant suspense. It’s not O’Connell’s fault really. He’s just written that way. And therein lies the film’s biggest drawback.

Often, Monster manages to coast on the considerable charms of its two leads and their nice rapport. We’ve seen plenty of pictures with this one’s “Wall Street is bad” theme but few with the star wattage. The quick running time (99 minutes) is a plus. This is never boring, though it’s credibility does dip in the third act.

The director, by the way, is an actress you may have heard of named Jodie Foster. She appeared in 1974’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and 1976’s Taxi Driver. They both also made that Clooney list. Money Monster probably won’t be listed on anyone’s all-time top 100 of anything. You may not regret investing a short amount of time in it, but there’s lists of similarly themed fare that’s far superior. Even this movie’s star did one.

**1/2 (out of four)