Oscars – The Case of Top Gun: Maverick

Will Academy voters feel the need? The need for recognizing the year’s biggest domestic grosser in the Best Picture race at the 95th Academy Awards? It’s the eighth film up for consideration in my Case Of posts.

The Case for Top Gun: Maverick:

This would represent the People’s Choice. Tom Cruise’s summer sequel rode a wave of sizzling buzz to towering business ($718 million stateside) while critics raved (96% on Rotten Tomatoes). It nabbed six nominations including some key ones for a BP victory like Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing.

The Case Against Top Gun: Maverick:

It also missed in some important precursors. Despite a DGA spot, director Joseph Kosinski was omitted from the Oscar five. Maverick was considered a threat to take Cinematography gold (as it did at the Globes), but was snubbed. Mega-blockbusters don’t usually take the grand prize (it’s been almost 20 years since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King rose above its competitors).

Other Nominations:

Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Song, Sound, Visual Effects

The Verdict:

The sound of a Maverick win may be likeliest in Sound. The preferential ballot could lend itself to an upset in BP. It has a better shot than the other sequel in contention Avatar: The Way of Water. However, the odds are slightly against it.

My Case Of posts will continue with Triangle of Sadness!

If you didn’t catch my previous write-ups on BP contenders, click here:

Oscars: The Case of Tár

Todd Field’s Tár is next up in my Case Of posts for the ten Best Picture nominees. Time to weigh the pros and cons…

The Case for Tár:

Auteur Field has a knack for attracting the Academy’s attention with his trilogy of pictures. In 2001, In the Bedroom received five nods (including BP and Field’s Adapted Screenplay). Five years later, Little Children nabbed three and that once again included its maker’s adapted screenplay. Tár, with a towering lead performance from Globes and Critics Choice victor Cate Blanchett, saw him emerge from a long break and it received six Oscar mentions (including directing and original screenplay for Field).

The Case Against Tár:

Despite Blanchett being at least a co-frontrunner in Actress, she marked the only Globes win. At Critics Choice, its additional award was for Original Score. While this is a critical darling that generated some regional groups victories, the box office office was quiet at $10 million. Both Bedroom and Children went home empty-handed on Oscar night.

Other Nominations:

Director (Field), Actress (Blanchett), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing

The Verdict:

As with the aforementioned precursors, Tár‘s strongest shot at gold is with Blanchett and not Best Picture.

My Case Of posts will continue with Top Gun: Maverick!

To access my previous Case Of posts, click here:

Oscars: The Case of The Fabelmans

My Case Of posts will for the ten Best Picture hopefuls is past the halfway point as we consider the pros and cons of our sixth competitor The Fabelmans.

The Case for The Fabelmans:

Steven Spielberg’s 13th movie to be nominated for BP (only Schindler’s List won) is his most personal as arguably today’s most iconic director gets autobiographical. It was first seen at the Toronto Film Festival where it took the People’s Choice Award. That’s a prize shared by later Oscar winners such as The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, and Nomadland. At the Golden Globes, it had a big night as it was bestowed Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Spielberg nabbed the directorial trophy. A victory here could be seen as a genuine thank you for its maker’s cinematic contributions.

The Case Against The Fabelmans:

That genuine thank you could just as easily come with Spielberg being Best Director and BP going to something else. Despite the Globes love, BAFTA was shockingly dismissive as its sole nomination is for screenplay. At Critics Choice, it went a mere 1/11 with Gabriel LaBelle as Best Young Actor (a non-existent Academy race). While the seven nominations are decent, there were notable omissions including Film Editing and Cinematography. It’s also undeniably a box office dud with $16 million at press time.

Other Nominations:

Director (Spielberg), Actress (Michelle Williams), Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design

The Verdict:

There is a universe in which The Fabelmans gets BP and Director, but I would put it behind Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin right now. An Ensemble win at SAG could help momentum. It may be behind the aforementioned at that ceremony too.

My Case Of posts will continue with Tár!

If you missed my previous posts in the series, you can access them here:

Oscar Predictions: Knock at the Cabin

Nearly a quarter century ago, M. Night Shyamalan’s phenom The Sixth Sense scared up six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director. It didn’t win any, but it established the filmmaker as a force at the box office. His fortunes have certainly ebbed and flowed in the 21st century with financial hits and misses. As far as awards attention, only 2004’s The Village achieved another Academy nod for its score.

Shyamalan’s latest is the apocalyptic thriller Knock at the Cabin with Dave Bautista headlining the cast. Based on Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 novel, Knock‘s embargo is up today ahead of its Friday release. The results are pretty encouraging with a 71% Rotten Tomatoes score. At the low point in his filmography, he had a string of flops and critical bombs (Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth) that racked up plenty of Golden Raspberry mentions.

Cabin is ahead of Shyamalan’s two predecessors Glass and Old as far as the RT meter. It isn’t as high (77%) as comeback vehicle Split from 2017. While Bautista is being complimented for his performance, I don’t see this being welcomed in any of the Academy races a year from now. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars: The Case of Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once is fifth on the docket in my Case Of posts for the 10 Best Picture nominees. Let’s plead the case for and against it!

The Case for Everything Everywhere All at Once:

The sophomore feature from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as the Daniels) debuted at South by Southwest on March 11th and will have been a legit contender for over a year when the Oscars air March 12th. A critical darling with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it has been nominated in every major precursor. This includes 10 BAFTA nominations, 14 Critics Choice mentions with 5 wins (including Picture, Director and Screenplay), 6 Golden Globe nods with two wins for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, and 5 pending SAG noms. While some have griped that recent BP recipients didn’t break through with mass audiences, Everything was a box office success with $71 million domestically. Its 11 Academy nods are the most of any picture and that includes four for its ensemble (Yeoh, Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu).

The Case Against Everything Everywhere All at Once:

In the last 10 ceremonies, only two films that led or tied in total nominations (Birdman and The Shape of Water) ended up winning BP. One could argue Everything is the frontrunner. In recent years, ask how that worked out for La La Land, Roma, and 1917. The Academy could follow the Globes suit and skew toward The Banshees of Inisherin. There are some prognosticators who feel it’s too strange for the Academy.

Other Nominations:

Director (the Daniels), Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Supporting Actress (Stephanie Hsu), Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song

The Verdict:

I’ve never bought the “too weird for the Academy” or not traditional enough argument. You could say the same for Birdman or The Shape of Water and Everything is looking to model them on the road to victory. It is risky to be out front, but I do feel this is the odds on favorite. A SAG Ensemble loss on February 26th (especially if it’s to Banshees or The Fabelmans) could cause more intrigue. If it wins, look for this to enter March 12th as even more of a probable BP.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Fabelmans!

If you missed my previous posts in this series, you can find them here:

Oscars: The Case of Elvis

Baz Luhrmann’s flashy musical biopic Elvis is the fourth Case Of post for the ten Best Picture nominees at the 95th Academy Awards. Will it shake up the race with a victory? I present the pros and cons.

The Case for Elvis:

Over the summer, Elvis captured the attention of moviegoers to the tune of $151 million domestically. That makes it the highest grosser of the contenders that’s not a gigantic sequel (Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick). It performed well at precursors including 9 BAFTA nods, 7 Critics Choice nods (winning Hair and Makeup), and 3 Golden Globe mentions with Austin Butler taking Actor in a Drama. The 8 nominations are right where this was expected to be.

The Case Against Elvis:

Best Picture victories among precursors and critics groups are nowhere to be found. The 77% Rotten Tomatoes meter is one of 3 hopefuls below the 80% mark. Omissions in the directing and screenplay races are significant misses.

Other Nominations:

Actor (Austin Butler), Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound

The Verdict:

Elvis could leave the building on Oscar night with Butler holding gold and various tech wins. It won’t leave as the Best Picture winner.

My Case Of posts will continue with Everything Everywhere All at Once!

If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

Oscar Predictions: 80 for Brady

The four leads in 80 for Brady – Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Sally Field – can tout a combined 12 Oscar nods for their performances and five victories. That hardware rivals the seven Super Bowls won by Tom Brady (who is also in the sports farce opening Friday).

That said – can an early February comedy contend for awards attention? The 63% Rotten Tomatoes score, while not bad, doesn’t inspire confidence. Perhaps if the main actress category in Musical or Comedy is weak at the Golden Globes, Tomlin could sneak in (she’s being singled out by some as best of the quartet). Even that is unlikely.

Yet there is one race where 80 for Brady could play and that’s Original Song. Diane Warren is the writer of “Gonna Be You” which is sung by the quintet of Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, and Debbie Harry. Between those five crooners, that’s over 80 Grammy nominations. Then there’s Diane Warren. She rather famously has received 13 Academy mentions without a trip to the stage. This includes ballads such as “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close & Personal and “How Do I Live” from Con Air. She received her 14th nod last week for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman where it’s doubtful the 14th time will be the charm. Warren is receiving a lifetime achievement prize so she will be an Oscar winner. With the star power involved in the “Gonna Be You”, the chances of 80 for Brady being a nominee are actually solid. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars: The Case of The Banshees of Inisherin

My Case Of posts explaining the merits and demerits for the ten Best Picture nominees arrives at our third contender and that’s The Banshees of Inisherin from Martin McDonagh. Let’s get right into it!

The Case for The Banshees of Inisherin:

On nominations morning, the nine nominations were at or even slightly above expectations. Banshees is tied with All Quiet on the Western Front for the second most nods after the 11 received by Everything Everywhere All at Once. Its quartet of main performers (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, Kerry Condon) are all up. That matches the four acting mentions garnered by, yep, Everything Everywhere. At the Golden Globes, Banshees was a big winner in three contests: Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Actor in a Musical or Comedy (Farrell), and Screenplay. The precursor run, beyond the Globes, has been impressive. There’s a case to be made that it could win around half of its noms, including Picture, Actor, and Original Screenplay.

The Case Against The Banshees of Inisherin:

There’s also a case to be made that it could go 0 for 9. Despite the Globes love, it was Everything Everywhere that dominated the Critics Choice Awards. At that ceremony, this did go for 0 for 9. In the history of Critics Choice, which began in 1995, exactly zero films that won none of their awards ended up winning Best Picture at the Oscars.

Other Nominations:

Director (Martin McDonagh), Actor (Colin Farrell), Supporting Actress (Kerry Condon), Supporting Actor (Brendan Gleeson), Supporting Actor (Barry Keoghan), Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score

The Verdict:

If the Academy isn’t all in on Everything Everywhere, it could be a very good evening for Banshees. If they are, it could go home empty-handed. This logic certainly applies to the Best Picture race.

My Case Of posts will continue with Elvis!

If you missed my posts covering All Quiet on the Western Front and Avatar: The Way of Water, you can peruse them here:

Oscar Predictions: The Eternal Memory

Two years ago, documentarian Maite Alberdi saw her nursing home expose The Mole Agent nominated for Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Agent was originally unveiled at Sundance and her latest project The Eternal Memory has followed suit. It too deals with aging issues as it’s centered on a Chilean couple and a husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

MTV’s documentary film branch quickly snatched up the distribution rights. Based on early reviews, it stands at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics are hailing it as a powerful experience. At the last Academy Awards, MTV received their first nod in the competition with Ascension. With a boisterous campaign (which is to be expected), Memory could be a player. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Theater Camp

Sundance premiered Theater Camp, the feature-length version of a 2020 short film of the same name. The comedy comes from directors Molly Gordon (who can be seen as Jonah Hill’s sibling in this weekend’s You People on Netflix) and Nick Lieberman. They cowrote the screenplay with Ben Platt (originator of the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway) and Noah Galvin (who would later play Hansen onstage). Gordon, Platt, and Galvin are included in the cast along with Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, and Alan Kim.

Set at an upstate New York camp for aspiring musically inclined stage stars, critics are mostly saying Theater has limited but charming appeal. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a decent 80%. Searchlight believes the breakout potential is enough that they bought it for $8 million and plan a theatrical distribution later this year.

Perhaps some Academy voters went to the kind of camp that’s both celebrated and lampooned here. I don’t believe the reviews are there for it to make any sort of Oscar push. Perhaps the Golden Globes will take a gander for Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, but even that could be a reach. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…