Oscar Watch: French Exit

French Exit closed the New York Film Festival last night ahead of its planned February 2021 debut and that keeps it in line for awards consideration in this altered Oscar season. The eccentric comedy from Azazel Jacobs is based on the 2018 novel by Patrick deWitt, who adapts his own work (he’s also responsible for the source material for 2018’s The Sisters Brothers).

To say Exit is experiencing mixed reviews and social media reaction is an understatement. The focus of most Academy chatter is whether or not Michelle Pfeiffer will land her fourth nomination and her first in nearly 30 years. The star garnered nods for 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons for Supporting Actress and lead for 1989’s The Fabulous Baker Boys and 1992’s Love Field. 

First things first: the wildly divergent critical notices probably keep this out of contention for anything and anyone other than Pfeiffer. That leaves her costars Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Danielle Macdonald, and Imogen Poots out of the conversation. Yet even some of the negative reviews point to sterling work from Pfeiffer as a down on her luck socialite widow who relocates to Paris. Variety called it the “role she’ll be remembered for” in a likely bit of hyperbole. Several other publications were far less kind, but kinder to its lead.

Best Actress currently looks more crowded than Best Actor. Already screened performances like Frances McDormand in Nomadland and Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman appear headed for the final five (with McDormand as a near shoo-in). There are major hopefuls waiting in the wings including Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), and Jennifer Hudson (Respect) among others.

I have had Pfeiffer listed in fifth place for some time in my weekly estimates (ahead of Adams and Hudson). Whether that changes with my update on Thursday is something I’ll need to ponder. I believe she could absolutely still make the cut, but I don’t think this weekend’s showing guarantees her a spot. Some soft reviews could be a detriment, but that didn’t prevent Renee Zellweger from taking gold last year as Judy. Bottom line: Pfeiffer may need to play the waiting game as the verdict comes down for other possible nominees. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 24th Edition

It’s a new week for Oscar predicting and there’s been some significant developments over the past seven days!

Of particular note is the news that Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has been pushed back to December 2021. You will see it drop off all the categories where I had it as a possibility and that includes Picture (where I had it the final 9), Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.

I am also jumping off the Dune train for now. Part of this is uncertainty as to whether it will be released by the February deadline. The other part is general uncertainty if it’s Oscar material. Hopefully we will find out sooner than later. I still have it listed as a possibility in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I’m holding judgment on having it make the final cut.

Now to the pictures that look like they will be released and we begin with The Trial of the Chicago 7. The Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama held industry screenings this week and the verdict is quite positive. It appears to be a shoo-in for a Picture nomination. I’m still listing it at #3 behind the unscreened Mank and Nomadland, but Trial is a threat to win the whole thing as I see it. Sorkin moves into the top five in directing. He replaces Dune maker Denis Villeneuve.

As for the actors in Trial, early reaction appears focused on four of them in the sprawling cast: Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, and Mark Rylance. I’m currently assuming everyone will be campaigned for in Supporting Actor, but that could always change. For the moment, I have Cohen and Rylance getting in (I struggled with this). In my Oscar Watch post, I even mentioned that three actors could make it. If that were to occur, we would see the first Supporting Actor competition with three performers from the same feature since The Godfather Part II in 1974. My shift to thinking it’s all a supporting play by Netflix takes Eddie Redmayne out of contention in the lead derby.

My Dune drop and the West Side delay means there are two new pics in my estimated nine Best Picture nominees. The risers are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pixar’s Soul.

In other developments:

  • Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, which reunites the director with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray, opened the New York Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive. If Supporting Actor weren’t so potentially crowded, I may have put Murray in my five (he sits in 8th). He could get in, but I also posited the theory that Apple TV might be wise to compete for him in lead actor because the Golden Globes would likely take notice in their Musical/Comedy race.
  • I wrote an Oscar Watch post for the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, which could absolutely be a factor in Documentary Feature. You can find my Watch write-ups for Trial, Rocks, and Trouble all linked below.
  • My Best Actress and Actor five remain the same from last week. Same with Supporting Actress.
  • In Supporting Actor, the aforementioned Rylance rises and that takes out his costar Mateen II for Trial.
  • In Original Screenplay, it’s Minari in and Judas and the Black Messiah out. The Adapted Screenplay five stays intact.

Finally, you will see big changes next Thursday with my predictions! First off – all categories covering feature films will be added from Animated Feature to Documentary Feature and International Feature to the tech races.

There will also be a dwindling of the numbers. My 25 Picture estimates will drop to 15 with all other races shrinking to ten predictions. It’s gettin’ serious, folks!

Here are the links to this week’s individualized Oscar Watch posts:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-on-the-rocks/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/21/oscar-watch-john-lewis-good-trouble/

Give me a follow on Twitter @tthizz as I’m posting Oscar related polls. For example, 90% of respondents agree with me that Trial will nab a Best Picture nod. 59% believe Bill Murray will not be nominated for Supporting Actor.

And here we go with this Thursday’s estimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

6. The Father (PR: 9)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Soul (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

10. Dune (PR: 4)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

12. Minari (PR: 16)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)

14. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Ammonite (PR: 13)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

18. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 19)

19. Respect (PR: 20)

20. The Midnight Sky (PR: 23)

21. Annette (PR: 18)

22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 21)

23. Red, White and Water (PR: 22)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 7)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)

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

11. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 12)

13. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

14. Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story 

Francis Lee, Ammonite

Best Actress 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

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

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 11)

10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

11. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 13)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zeller, West Side Story 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

9. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: 12)

10. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 11)

11. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

12. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 15)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 10)

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

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 11)

11. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 12)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 13)

14. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Ariana Debose, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 14)

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 13)

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

11. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

12. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 11)

13. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

14. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 9)

15. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Soul (PR: 4)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

8. Stillwater (PR: 8)

9. Ammonite (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

11. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

12. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Promising Young Woman

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

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

8. Dune (PR: 6)

9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

10. French Exit (PR: 12)

11. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 11)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

The Prom 

Oscar Watch: On the Rocks

Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks has premiered at the New York Film Festival and it marks a reunion with Oscar history in tow. The comedy reunites the filmmaker with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray. That 2003 pic earned 4 Oscar nods including Picture, Director, and the sole acting nomination for the iconic Murray. In fact, Murray may well have come in second in lead Actor to Sean Penn in Mystic River. It won Best Original Screenplay.

Ahead of its October Apple TV streaming premiere, it’s natural that Rocks would be looked at as a potential contender. While early buzz is mostly solid (82% on Rotten Tomatoes), I don’t think the reviews are strong enough that this will make any play for Picture, Director, or Screenplay.

This leaves the legendary comic performer as I don’t see costars Rashida Jones or Marlon Wayans garnering any attention. Supporting Actor has been seen as the likely placement and that race is already looking super crowded (you’ll hear about a number of contenders from The Trial of the Chicago 7 shortly on this blog). Murray appears iffy to make the cut and I have the same feeling for Best Actor if Apple goes that route with their campaign. However – they might be smart to do the latter as the Golden Globes could certainly nominate him for lead in the Musical/Comedy category.

Bottom line: don’t look for this to be an Academy player save for possibly Murray. The Globes could be another story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2019 Oscar Predictions: October 3rd Edition

Going into this week’s predictions, there was no question that Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman would be the headline. The gangster epic premiered last Friday at the New York Film Festival to overwhelmingly glowing reviews. That reaction has propelled it to the #1 spot in Picture, Director, and kept it there in Adapted Screenplay.

Additionally, the festival greatly increased the chances for Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to land nominations. De Niro makes an appearance in lead for the first time, pushing out Antonio Banderas. Pacino enters Supporting Actor, displacing Willem Dafoe. And Pesci rises to the #6 slot in that category.

Yet the movement this Thursday extends beyond Irishman. Renee Zellweger’s title performance in Judy is now #1 in Actress. In Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers vaults to first position.

In Picture, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood makes its inaugural showing in my top ten projections. That pushes out Little Women, as we await reaction for it.

Finally, it was revealed (fairly unsurprisingly) that Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell will be released in December for awards consideration. I have the film, Clint, Paul Walter Hauser, Kathy Bates, and its Adapted Screenplay mentioned as possibilities.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Irishman 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Lighthouse 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (Previous Ranking: 3)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

4. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

5. Parasite (PR: 6)

6. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

7. 1917 (PR: 7)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. The Farewell (PR: 10)

10. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

11. Joker (PR: 12)

12. Little Women (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 13)

14. Just Mercy (PR: 18)

15. Pain and Glory (PR: 14)

16. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

17. Judy (PR: 23)

18. Booksmart (PR: 21)

19. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

20. Bombshell (PR: 16)

21. The Report (PR: 20)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 22)

23. Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 25)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 17)

Dropped Out:

The Lighthouse 

Knives Out 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 2)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

3. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 4)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 3)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

10. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 12)

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 14)

14. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 13)

15. Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

4. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 4)

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 7)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 9)

10. Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

12. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

14. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 12)

15. Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 3)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 4)

5. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 5)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 8)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

11. Isabelle Huppert, Frankie (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

13. Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love 

Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

3. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

5. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

8. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: 11)

9. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

10. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: 13)

14. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Laundromat 

Anna Paquin, The Irishman 

Octavia Spencer, Luce 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 10)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 7)

8. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 9)

10. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 8)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 11)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

13. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 14)

14. Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sam Rockwell, Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari 

Chris Evans, Knives Out 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Pain and Glory (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 5)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. Booksmart (PR: 9)

9. Bombshell (PR: 10)

10. The Report (PR: 8)

11. 1917 (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

13. Ad Astra (PR: 13)

14. Dolemite Is My Name (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Lighthouse (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Knives Out

Uncut Gems 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 5)

5. Little Women (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 6)

7. Downton Abbey (PR: 9)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 7)

9. Judy (PR: 8)

10. Richard Jewell (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Dark Waters (PR: 10)

12. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

13. Luce (PR: 12)

14. Hustlers (PR: 13)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Laundromat 

Oscar Watch: The Irishman

The biggest Oscar domino not yet fall screened has been Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the three and a half hour gangster drama headlined by genre legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. That changed today. The epic opened the New York Film Festival exactly two months ahead of its Netflix debut. And – no real surprise here – it appears to be a serious contender.

The Irishman is said to be both a humorous and contemplative piece with De Niro and Pacino providing their best performances in years. Same goes for Pesci as he’s been away from the silver screen for nearly a decade.

While nearly all reviews are positive, they’re not all raves. My early hunch is that this will earn Picture and Director nods. Winning is another story and that is one still left to play out. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 100%. This will likely mark Scorsese’s ninth nomination (he’s won once for 2006’s The Departed). That’s also his only effort to be named Best Picture. The Adapted Screenplay from Steve Zaillian should also make the final cut.

Down the line recognition presents many chances including Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, and Visual Effects. For the latter, the de-aging technology that allows its stars to look younger could attract the notice of that branch. The pic would actually be the second Scorsese title to get a Visual Effects nod after 2011’s Hugo (which won).

Now to the thespians. The thinking is that De Niro will be in lead actor with Pacino and Pesci in supporting. It sounds as if they will be the trio in contention. De Niro would gunning for his eighth appearance as a nominee. He won Supporting for 1974’s The Godfather Part II and lead in Scorsese’s 1980 masterwork Raging Bull. I’ve had him listed in spot #6 for some time in my weekly rankings. I could still see him missing the cut as his role is said to be less flashy than his costars, but I think his chances are better today. Numerous critics have stated that Pacino steals the show and he’s going for nomination #9 (his sole win is 1992’s Scent of a Woman). Like De Niro, I’ve had him slotted sixth and I expect him to enter the top five in a supporting actor race that is already jam packed. As for Pesci (who won for 1990’s Scorsese classic GoodFellas), other reviewers are singling him out. That opens the door for two men to be nominated in the supporting race for the second time since 1991 when Harvey Keitel (who’s also in this) and Ben Kingsley were recognized for Bugsy. This occurred again two years ago with Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Pesci is not the near sure thing Pacino is, but it could happen.

Bottom line: The Irishman did what it needed to do in the Big Apple to establish itself as a player in awards chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2019 Oscar Predictions: September 27th Edition

When it comes to Oscar prognosticating, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend without any festivals or particularly high profile screenings. Yet that’s bound to change tomorrow because The Irishman cometh.

Two months ahead of its Netflix debut, Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster drama with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci will open the New York Film Festival. There are a few notable Academy hopefuls that haven’t screened like 1917, Bombshell, Little Women, and Dark Waters. Mr. Scorsese’s latest is the most eagerly awaited and we will know its potential Oscar viability in just a few hours (expect my individual post for it no later than Saturday).

So as we await that verdict, there were some developments in the past week:

  • I have moved Christian Bale from lead actor to supporting and that means he’s in for the first time, replacing Jamie Foxx.
  • Awkwafina gets the Best Actress #5 spot over Alfre Woodard.
  • The Two Popes has shifted to Adapted Screenplay and that takes Joker out.
  • The misfortune for Joker continues as I’ve moved it out of my top ten Picture projections in favor of The Farewell. 
  • With Popes removed from Original Screenplay, Waves takes its slot.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Farewell 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Joker 

Let’s get to it!

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. The Irishman (PR: 3)

4. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 4)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

6. Parasite (PR: 5)

7. 1917 (PR: 6)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

9. Little Women (PR: 10)

10. The Farewell (PR: 13)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

12. Joker (PR: 9)

13. Waves (PR: 12)

14. Pain and Glory (PR: 18)

15. A Hidden Life (PR: 15)

16. Bombshell (PR: 16)

17. Ad Astra (PR: 23)

18. Just Mercy (PR: 14)

19. The Lighthouse (PR: 17)

20. The Report (PR: 21)

21. Booksmart (PR: 19)

22. Dark Waters (PR: 20)

23. Judy (Not Ranked)

24. Rocketman (PR: 24)

25. Knives Out (PR: 22)

Dropped Out:

The Good Liar 

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 3)

3. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

5. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 9)

10. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 10)

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 12)

12. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 14)

13. Trey Edward Shults, Waves (PR: 15)

14. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

15. James Gray, Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Todd Phillips, Joker 

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 2)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 4)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 3)

5. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

7. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

8. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 10)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

11. Lesley Manville, Ordinary Love (PR: 9)

12. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 12)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 13)

14. Kristen Stewart, Seberg (PR: 14)

15. Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Elle Fanning, Teen Spirit 

BEST ACTOR 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 9)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 8)

9. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 13)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 10)

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 12)

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 11)

14. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: 15)

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (moved to Supporting)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 4)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

Other Possibilities:

6. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 6)

7. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 5)

8. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 7)

9. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

10. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 9)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 10)

12. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 11)

13. Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 13)

14. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 12)

15. Chris Evans, Knives Out (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Bell, Rocketman 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 2)

3. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 3)

4. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 7)

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 6)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 8)

9. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

10. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat (PR: 11)

11. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 9)

13. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Anna Paquin, The Irishman (PR: 13)

15. Octavia Spencer, Luce (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory 

Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters 

Ana de Armas, Knives Out 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Original)

4. Little Women (PR: 3)

5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker (PR: 5)

7. Just Mercy (PR: 6)

8. Judy (PR: 10)

9. Downton Abbey (PR: 8)

10. Dark Waters (PR: 7)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 11)

12. Luce (PR: 12)

13. Hustlers (PR: 13)

14. The Laundromat (PR: 9)

15. Toy Story 4 (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Motherless Brooklyn 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 5)

5. Waves (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pain and Glory (PR: 8)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 9)

8. The Report (PR: 10)

9. Booksmart (PR: 7)

10. Bombshell (PR: 12)

11. The Lighthouse (PR: 13)

12. Knives Out (PR: 11)

13. Ad Astra (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Uncut Gems (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Honey Boy (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Two Popes (moved to Adapted)

1917

2019 Oscar Predictions: August 29th Edition

Welcome to my first edition of my weekly Oscar predictions where I’ll be ranking my top 25 Best Picture possibilities and 15 contenders in the directing, acting, and screenplay categories!

The dawn of my rankings coincides with the start of film festival season as Venice is in full swing with Telluride and Toronto on deck. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has already screened in Italy and solidified its status as a serious contender in numerous races. There’s a whole bunch of movies premiering in the coming days so expect the picture to become a wee bit clearer. That said, I’ve learned a lot of things from years of past predicting when it comes to this time of the year:

  • Movies thought to be contenders will fail to live up to their buzz
  • Movies will be pushed back to 2020 and render them ineligible
  • Leading actor and actress candidates will be moved to supporting and vice versa
  • Screenplays considered Adapted will become Original and vice versa
  • Sleepers not currently on the radar will rise up… think last year’s Best Picture winner Green Book

With all those caveats, let’s get to it! And expect updates every Thursday on the blog…

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. Marriage Story

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4. 1917

5. Little Women

6. The Farewell

7. Parasite

8. The Laundromat

9. The Report

Other Possibilities:

10. Jojo Rabbit

11. Ford v Ferrari

12. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Bombshell

14. Harriet

15. Joker

16. Pain and Glory

17. Dark Waters

18. Booksmart

19. A Hidden Life

20. Just Mercy

21. The Lighthouse

22. Rocketman

23. Ad Astra

24. Avengers: Endgame

25. The Goldfinch

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Sam Mendes, 1917

4. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

5. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Greta Gerwig, Little Women

7. Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

8. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

9. Lulu Wang, The Farewell

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

11. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

12. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

13. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

14. Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

15. Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

4. Robert DeNiro, The Irishman

5. Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

8. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari

9. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

10. Adam Driver, The Report

11. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

12. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters

13. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar

14. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

15. Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

2. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

3. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women

4. Awkwafina, The Farewell

5. Renee Zellweger, Judy

Other Possibilities:

6. Charlize Theron, Bombshell

7. Alfre Woodard, Clemency

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim

11. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

12. Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky

13. Felicity Jones, Aeronauts

14. Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart

15. Kristen Stewart, Seberg

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

3. Gary Oldman, The Laundromat

4. Al Pacino, The Irishman

5. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell

10. Jamie Bell, Rocketman

11. Ray Liotta, Marriage Story

12. Matthew Rhys, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

13. Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

14. Leslie Odom, Jr., Harriet

15. Timothee Chalamet, Little Women

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Nominees:

1. Annette Bening, The Report

2. Laura Dern, Marriage Story

3. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

5. Meryl Streep, The Laundromat

Other Possibilities:

6. Anne Hathaway, Dark Waters

7. Meryl Streep, Little Women

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women

9. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell

10. Janelle Monae, Harriet

11. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit

12. Anna Paquin, The Irishman

13. Jennifer Hudson, Cats

14. Catherine Deneuve, The Truth

15. Nicole Kidman, The Goldfinch

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. The Laundromat

3. Little Women

4. Jojo Rabbit

5. Dark Waters

Other Possibilities:

6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

7. Joker

8. Toy Story 4

9. Just Mercy

10. Ford v Ferrari

11. The Goldfinch

12. The Good Liar

13. Judy

14. Motherless Brooklyn

15. Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

3. The Farewell

4. The Report

5. Parasite

Other Possibilities:

6. Booksmart

7. Pain and Glory

8. 1917

9. Bombshell

10. Dolemite Is My Name

11. Harriet

12.  The Lighthouse

13. Ad Astra

14. Us

15. Queen and Slim

And that does it for my inaugural ranked predictions! Keep an eye on the blog daily for ongoing developments…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We’ve arrived at the biggest contest of all in my inaugural Oscar predictions for 2019 – Best Picture! If you missed my first takes on director and the acting categories, you can read them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/26/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-director/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

As a reminder, Picture is the only race where the number of nominees can fluctuate anywhere from 5 to 10. In recent years, the magic number is normally 9. However, there were 8 movies up in 2018. My initial late August projections last year yielded three of the eventual 8: BlacKkKlansman, A Star Is Born, and Roma. Three other flicks nominated were mentioned in my other possibilities: Black Panther, The Favourite, and Vice. Interestingly, eventual winner Green Book wasn’t quite on my radar screen at that time.

I’ll go with nine for the time being. The multitude of film festivals starting Thursday and over the coming weeks will shape all races tremendously. My first ranked predictions in the top 6 categories will start this Thursday and be updated weekly.

Let’s get to it!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

1917

Bombshell

The Farewell

The Irishman

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

The Report

Other Possibilities:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Ad Astra

A Hidden Life

Avengers: Endgame

Dark Waters

Ford v Ferrari

The Goldfinch

Harriet

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Just Mercy

The Laundromat

The Lighthouse

Pain and Glory

Rocketman

The Two Popes

And there you have it! Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts stemming from Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and New York in the near future…

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

My initial Oscar predictions for the 2019 season continues with Best Director with Picture on the horizon! If you missed my first takes on the acting categories, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actor/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

In 2018, my inaugural projections yielded 2 out of the 5 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Alfonso Cuaron for Roma and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman. My ten other possibilities section a year ago called out two additional nominees – Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) and Adam McKay (Vice).

Here we go:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Other Possibilities:

Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Todd Haynes, Dark Waters

Kasi Lemmons, Harriet

Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari

Jay Roach, Bombshell

Steven Soderbergh, The Laundromat

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Lulu Wang, The Farewell

Best Picture tomorrow!

Early 2019 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

My run through of the first 2019 Oscar predictions on the blog continues with Best Actor! If you happened to miss my calls on the lead Actress and supporting races, you can peruse them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/25/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actress/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/24/early-2019-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

As mentioned before, these are the pre festival projections. When dozens of anticipated titles begin to screen starting later this week, expect everything to come into a considerably sharper focus. In my Supporting Actor entry, I pointed out that there is uncertainty as to whether Tom Hanks will be placed there or in lead for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I am listing the two time winner as a possibility in both.

In 2018, these initial estimates for Actor yielded 2 out of the eventual 5 nominees – Bradley Cooper for A Star Is Born and Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate. In my ten other possibilities, I correctly named Christian Bale in Vice and eventual winner Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Let’s see those first predictions, shall we?

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTOR

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

Robert De Niro, The Irishman

Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Other Possibilities:

Timothee Chalamet, The King

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari

Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy

Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim

Ian McKellen, The Good Liar

Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters

Best Director is up next!