Oscar Predictions: Encounter

Venice isn’t the only film festival happening as Telluride has kicked off today. It’s got its own slate of high-profile debuts: King Richard, C’Mon C’Mon, Belfast, and Cyrano among them.

The picture selected to open the festivities is a curious one: Michael Pearce’s Encounter. The sci-fi drama is headlined by Riz Ahmed, who made an awards splash last year in Sound of Metal (resulting in a Best Actor nomination). Costars include Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, and Rory Cochrane.

Initial word-of-mouth suggests this will get some acclaim (the sound and score are being singled out too). However, this simply doesn’t appear to be the kind of effort that the Academy will recognize. Some reviews say it contains similar plot elements to Sean Penn’s recent Flag Day – minus the science fiction stuff. They have something else in common. Neither should be a factor in the Oscar season. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Summer 2011: The Top 10 Hits and More

We have arrived at part III of my recaps of the summer seasons that came 30, 20, and 10 years ago. That means 2011 is upon us. If you missed my sizzling throwbacks to 1991 and 2001, you can find them here:

Summer 1991: The Top 10 Hits and More

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

As is tradition, I will recount the top 10 hits as well as other notable features and some flops in a season where moviegoers bid a fond farewell to their iconic wizard:

Let’s get to it, yes?

10. Bridesmaids

Domestic Gross: $169 million

Kristin Wiig made one of the most successful jumps from SNL to movie stardom in this critically hailed pic that also earned Melissa McCarthy her silver screen breakout and even an Oscar nomination. It might not be the highest grossing comedy on here, but it’s definitely still the most talked about.

9. The Help

Domestic Gross: $169 million

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller, the 1960s set period piece from Tate Taylor brought the book’s readers and many others to the multiplex. Four Oscar nods followed including Best Picture and a Supporting Actress victory for Octavia Spencer.

8. Captain America: The First Avenger

Domestic Gross: $176 million

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first big branch out occurred during this summer where we would get our first glimpse at this OG avenger in the form of Chris Evans and another one who sits at the throne of spot #6. The sequels actually improved on what we see here, but the Captain gets rolling with this.

7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $176 million

Rupert Wyatt’s reboot of the franchise is deservedly better regarded than Tim Burton’s re-imagining that transpired in 2001. Debuting the fantastic motion capture work of Andy Serkis, this would spawn two follow-ups that also pleased audiences and critics and did considerable monkey business.

6. Thor

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Chris Hemsworth’s Asgardian heartthrob hammered into the public consciousness alongside Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins and managed $5 million more box office bucks than the Captain. The third sequel is currently in production.

5. Cars 2

Domestic Gross: $191 million

Despite grossing nearly $200 million, this Pixar sequel is not one of the studio’s most fondly remembered vehicles with just a 40% Rotten Tomatoes rating. A third Cars did zoom into theaters six years later.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Domestic Gross: $241 million

With a reported budget of $379 million, Johnny Depp’s fourth headlining of the franchise still sports the largest price tag of all time. The actor’s final participation in the series would come in 2017 with Disney still looking to reboot it without their signature player.

3. The Hangover Part II

Domestic Gross: $254 million

Crowds were still clamoring for the drunken exploits of Bradley Copper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. Critics weren’t near as kind to part II, but audiences didn’t begin to tire of the hijinks until part III two years later.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Domestic Gross: $352 million

Michael Bay’s third saga of the Autobots and Decepticons marks Shia LaBeouf’s last appearance in the franchise and includes drop-ins from acting heavyweights John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. Mark Wahlberg would take over starring duties three years later.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Domestic Gross: $381 million

After nearly a decade of enchanting kids and their parents alike, the franchise stemming from J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels received a fittingly massive send-off with this billion dollar plus worldwide earner.

Now for other noteworthy titles from the summer:

X-Men: First Class

Domestic Gross: $146 million

Bryan Singer’s handed over directorial reigns to Matthew Vaughn for this reinvigorating reboot of the series that introduced the younger versions of Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique in the bodies of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. Numerous sequels of varying quality followed.

The Smurfs

Domestic Gross: $142 million

Sony Pictures wasn’t blue about the financial returns for this half live-action/half animated adaptation of the popular comics and animated series. A sequel came in 2013.

Super 8

Domestic Gross: $127 million

In between Star Trek pics and before rebooting Star Wars, J.J. Abrams helmed this sci-fi original which paid tribute to the Spielberg efforts of the 1980s. Critics gave it their stamp of approval and it’s notable for one heckuva train crash sequence.

Horrible Bosses

Domestic Gross: $117 million

This raunchy comedy about workers exacting revenge on their wretched superiors showed us a whole different side to Jennifer Aniston and spawned a 2014 sequel.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Before their collaboration on La La Land earned lots of Oscar nods five years later, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling teamed up for this rom com with Steve Carell and Julianne Moore that exceeded expectations with audiences and many critics.

Midnight in Paris

Domestic Gross: $56 million

It was a different time 10 years ago for Woody Allen, who scored his last big hit with this fantastical comedy starring Owen Wilson. Woody would win the Oscar for Original Screenplay and it landed three additional nominations including Picture and Director.

The Tree of Life

Domestic Gross: $13 million

Terrence Malick’s epic philosophical drama won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography at the Academy Awards. Not your typical summer fare, but it certainly had reviews on its side.

And now for some titles that didn’t meet expectations commercially, critically, or both:

Green Lantern

Domestic Gross: $116 million

Five years before he entered the comic book flick pantheon with Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds didn’t have as much luck with this critically drubbed flop. Even the star himself has taken to calling it a waste of time for viewers.

Cowboys & Aliens

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Coming off the huge Iron Man pics, Jon Favreau cast James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in this space western that didn’t impress crowds or critics and earned considerably less than its budget domestically.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Domestic Gross: $68 million

Audiences were mostly cool to Jim Carrey’s treatment of the popular late 30s children’s book though it did manage to top its $55 million budget. It probably would have made far more during the star’s box office heyday.

Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World

Domestic Gross: $38 million

A decade after Robert Rodriguez kicked the kiddie franchise off to great results, part 4 marked a low mark for the series.

Larry Crowne

Domestic Gross: $35 million

The star power of Tom Hanks (who also directed) and Julia Roberts couldn’t elevate this rom com from a subpar showing (critics weren’t kind either). This is largely a forgotten entity on both actor’s filmographies.

Conan the Barbarian

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Before becoming known to the masses as Aquaman, Jason Momoa couldn’t fill the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger in this bomb that couldn’t swim close to its $90 million budget.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have recaps of the summers of 1992, 2002, and 2012 up for your enjoyment next season!

Onward Box Office Prediction

The 22nd Pixar pic in the past quarter century debuts next weekend with Onward. The fantasy flick comes from director Dan Scanlon, who also made the sequel Monsters University in 2013. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lead a voice cast that includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Mel Rodriguez, Wilmer Valderrama, Tracey Ullman, Dave Foley, and John Ratzenberger.

Per usual for Pixar, reviews are strong with a current 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. Some critics have said this isn’t quite in the league of their classics. Interestingly, this is the first selection from the studio not to open in either summer or fall (with the vast majority having premiered in June or November).

That could have the effect of making Onward not seem like the event debut that most Pixar offerings are. There is also some family competition from holdovers Sonic the Hedgehog and The Call of the Wild. Still, Disney knows how to market their product. Only three of the Pixar titles that had wide releases have made under $50 million out of the gate. I expect this will top that, but $60 million could be a slight reach. I’ll say mid 50s is the likely scenario – on par with non-Pixar Mouse Factory pictures such as Big Hero 6 and Ralph Breaks the Internet. 

Onward opening weekend prediction: $54.3 million

For my The Way Back prediction, click here:


Oscar Watch: Onward

Pixar Studios is booking box office real estate early in 2020 with the release of next weekend’s Onward, which had its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. The animated adventure follows two elf brothers voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Early reviews have been mostly positive with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 81%.

That said, many critics are saying that it’s not in the same league as other Pixar classics. And several of them have managed to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. So where will Onward stack up?

Since the inception of the category in 2001, Pixar has seen 13 of its 18 titles nominated for the award. 10 have emerged victorious, including Toy Story 4 two weeks ago. There have been two years where the studio has put out more than one feature. In 2015, Inside Out took the Oscar while The Good Dinosaur went without a nomination. The same happened in 2017 with Coco winning and Cars 3 missing a nod.

I say this because 2020 will also see a double release with Onward next weekend and Soul in June. It’s certainly possible that Pixar will save its awards campaigning for the latter instead. However, reviews for the former are decent enough that it could nab a slot among the five (depending on competition over the next ten months). Also worth mentioning is that Dan Scanlon, who directs here, made one of the other titles to go without a nomination with 2013’s Monsters University. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Dolittle Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (01/15): Revising prediction down to $22.3 million

Robert Downey Jr. can speak to animals in Dolittle, but will the film speak to family audiences when it opens next weekend? The pic takes the well known character (previously played by Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy) and places him in a pricey $175 million budgeted adventure. Stephen Gaghan, known for directing the 2005 political thriller Syriana, is the rather surprising choice for behind the camera duties. Our marvelous cinematic Iron Man leads the human cast that also includes Harry Collett, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jessie Buckley, and Jim Broadbent. Many familiar faces are responsible for voicing the animal cast. That list includes Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, and Marion Cotillard (four Oscar winners among them!).

Dolittle was slated to be released last spring before it underwent reportedly extensive reshoots. The release of a property like this with its budget and leading man in late January is a bit curious and perhaps concerning.

Opening over the long MLK weekend, Dolittle will be in a battle for first place with Bad Boys for Life. Gauging the box office prowess of Downey is tricky nowadays since he’s pretty much only been Tony Stark over the past several years (those movies sell themselves).

Family audiences have had plenty of titles to choose from in the past month including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Spies in Disguise, and Jumanji: The Next Level. All three should bring in decent amounts of cash over the long frame. However, even with shaky buzz, Dolittle should hit mid to high 20s over the four days and north of $30 million is feasible. That puts it in second position based on my Bad Boys forecast or perhaps even third behind the second frame of 1917.

Dolittle opening weekend prediction: $22.3 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Bad Boys for Life prediction, click here:


Luce Movie Review

The name Luce (sounds like loose) was given to its title character after being adopted from the war-torn nation of Eritrea at the age of ten. As he tells it, his adoptive mother Amy (Naomi Watts) couldn’t pronounce his birth name – unable to master the various syllables involved. Like Amy, we never do learn it. So Luce it is, which means light. In the context of the film Luce, this strikes me as a not insignificant detail. From the moment he comes to the United States, he’s accustomed to others defining him and believing what they see. In their eyes, there is no darkness. Only light.

Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a high school senior, raised by upper class Amy and Peter (Tim Roth). He is looked at as the model student. An all-star athlete and debate club standout, Luce can apparently do no wrong. When history teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer) begins poking holes at his impenetrable facade, his status is challenged. As is her reputation.

What unfolds is a tale of race relations and, more significantly, racial expectations. No one in Luce is all that innocent. The picture often plays like a thriller where you expect a core player to snap. You’re just not sure who it will be. I’ll add that the tightly wound score from Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury is a contributor to the feeling.

Harrison Jr. has a complicated character to portray and he succeeds in keeping the audience off-kilter. He’s charming, but there’s no doubt that another layer is bubbling not far under the surface. Spencer may have the trickiest role as Harriet navigates the repercussions of her discoveries about Luce. As always, she’s up to the challenge.

Julius Onah directed and co-wrote with JC Lee and Luce is an exercise clearly meant to spark discussion. The screenplay often allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions about who to root for and against or perhaps feel ambivalent about. There’s also the odd sensation of some themes being redundant. If you’re searching for a pat ending to fill in every blank, ambivalence may be your overarching reaction. The overall thesis to this story, like Luce’s original name, is unpronounced or at least left for speculation. I found Luce, for the most part, successful in creating a sense of tension before the conversations start after fade out.

*** (out of four)

Will The Indie Spirits Nominees Showcase Oscar Gems?

This afternoon, the nominations for the 35th Independent Spirit Awards were released as we prepare for the onslaught of Oscar precursors to follow. And make no mistake – the Indie Spirits are indeed a precursor. In this decade from 2010-2018, five of the nine Best Feature winners emerged victorious with the Academy for Best Picture: 2011’s The Artist, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, 2014’s Birdman, 2015’s Spotlight, and 2016’s Moonlight. Some of these years have three or four of the five nominees get Oscar nods in the big race.

However, 2018 marked the first year of this decade when none of the five nominated pictures at the Indies garnered any Academy love. I don’t expect that to occur for a second year in a row.

In this post, I’ll break down Feature, Director, and the four acting races and what it might mean for Oscar:

Best Feature

Nominees: A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story, Uncut Gems

First things first: Marriage Story is going to get a Best Picture nomination and probably wins here. And it might be the only one here that does. The Farewell has a decent shot and Uncut Gems is a potential sleeper (though I wouldn’t bet on it).

That said, Gems did tie The Lighthouse for most Indie mentions (5). And that brings us back to Marriage Story. The voters here chose to give it a special Robert Altman award honoring the team behind it. That includes cast members Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Alan Alda. They all probably would’ve heard their names here had that not occurred and same goes for director Noah Baumbach. If that seems like a bit of a cheat (taking out probable winners like Driver and Baumbach), I wouldn’t argue. The silver lining is that it does make some of these categories more interesting.

Best Director

Nominees: Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), Alma Hor’el (Honey Boy), Julius Onah (Luce), Ben and Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers)

Like Best Feature, 2018 saw no directors recognized get Academy attention. With Baumbach getting his Altman award and out of the running, that could certainly happen again as I don’t even have any of these directors in my top ten Oscar possibilities. Perhaps this could help spur chatter for the Safdies or Scafaria. Again… I wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Female Lead

Nominees: Karen Allen (Colewell), Hong Chau (Driveways), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Mary Kay Place (Diane), Alfre Woodard (Clemency), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Six out of nine winners here from 2010-2018 went onto win the Best Actress statue: Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Brie Larson (Room), and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

Even with Johansson not included, it could be 7/10 as Zellweger is my current Oscar front runner. Woodard and Moss stand shots at nods. The other three need not shop for red carpet dresses.

One noticeable omission is Awkwafina in The Farewell, who many are predicting for Oscar attention. I currently had her on the outside looking in at sixth. That could slide when I update my estimates on Monday.

Best Male Lead

Nominees: Chris Galust (Give Me Liberty), Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Luce), Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems), Matthias Schoenarts (The Mustang)

Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) are the three Indie/Oscar recipients. Only in 2015 and (yes) 2018 did no nominees get Oscar nods…

I expect that to occur again. I believe only Sandler stands a chance, but it’s a reach based on severe competition.

Best Supporting Female

Nominees: Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Taylor Russell (Waves), Lauren Spencer (Give Me Liberty), Octavia Spencer (Luce), Shuzhen Zhou (The Farewell)

Four winners here have picked up Academy trophies – Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), and the past two winners Allison Janney (I, Tonya) and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk).

With soft front runner Laura Dern in the Marriage Story special category thing, we could still see a third year in a row match with Lopez. Zhou and Spencer (to a lesser degree) may also find themselves in the Oscar mix.

And with Taylor Russell’s nod here, it’s a good time to mention that Waves really came up short with the Indies today. That doesn’t help its Oscar viability.

Best Supporting Male

Nominees: Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Noah Jupe (Honey Boy), Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy), Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Wendell Pierce (Burning Cane)

This category is another ultra crowded one for Oscar attention, but Dafoe and LaBeouf are legit contenders for nods. Not so with the other three. The omission of Sterling K. Brown in Waves is a surprise.

There have been four Indie/Oscar victors this decade: Christopher Plummer (Beginners), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). With Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Al Pacino (The Irishman) as likely favorites for the Academy, I wouldn’t expect a fifth match.

And there you have it, folks! My take on the Indies and which Oscar gems they could produce…

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.


LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Lighthouse 

Let’s get to it!


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 


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 


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


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 

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.



Let’s get to it!


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 


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 


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 


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)


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 


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 


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 


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)


Ma Movie Review

The more I thought about it, Ma shares a bit in common with Tate Taylor’s predecessor  The Girl on the Train in positive and negative ways. They’re both headlined by impressive female performers – Emily Blunt in Train and Octavia Spencer here. And both are hindered by serious messaging tones in a genre that should celebrate its own trashiness. That problem is less pronounced in Ma, but it rears its head enough to make an impact.

The opening finds high school student Maggie (Diana Silvers, recently seen as an object of Kaitlyn Dever’s affection in Booksmart) transplanted to a sleepy small town. Her single mom (Juliette Lewis) is frequently off working at a casino. There’s nothing much to do except find fields to guzzle beer and smoke weed. Maggie finds some friends, including the dreamy Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) and party monster Haley (McKaley Miller). There’s a couple underwritten others who fit various stereotypes. The group needs town elders to buy them the booze and that’s where Spencer’s Sue Ann comes in.

She’s a veterinary technician who’s quite bad at her job. Her boss is played in a small role by Allison Janney, a staple of Taylor’s filmography. Luckily for the kids, she’s skilled at buying their intoxicants. Sue Ann, deemed Ma by the youngsters, befriends them and allows her basement to be the drinking spot. It doesn’t take long for Maggie and company to realize she’s a little too creepily eager to play a part in their lives.

Ma works best early when the motives of Ma are unclear. Her fascination with Andy, her zeal for bumping 70s funk hits amongst a swarm of underage students, and her endless texts and Insta videos to her new buddies set up an effective and pending sense of doom. Without going into serious spoiler territory, Ma’s bizarre behavior is based in her own upbringing and it’s told in flashback sequences. This is where explanatory content didn’t feel totally necessary. The screenplay by Scotty Landes rather clumsily attempts to insert commentary on bullying and harassment. It’s a delicate balance that never quite levels out.

Spencer is great as always and it is fun (again, especially early) to see her play against type. We also have Luke Evans as Andy’s smarmy father who plays a key role in Sue Ann’s past and Missi Pyle as his tawdry girlfriend. Despite some freaky moments, Ma is a mixed bag as we watch this girl on the crazy train go off the rails.

**1/2 (out of four)