Cannes Do Spirit

The Cannes Film Festival, originally scheduled for May in the French Riviera, was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an announcement today confirmed that the long running fest will exist in some form. And like everything in 2020… it’s a little confusing. A lineup announcement of 56 pictures was put out as being in the Cannes fold. However, these titles will premiere at various other events scheduled later in the year such as the Toronto and Telluride festivals, among others.

Awards watchers know that Cannes is a fertile breeding ground for Oscar hopefuls. Just last year, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite won top Cannes prize the Palme d’or and eventually won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Some other titles (among many) that premiered at Cannes and got Oscar attention include Apocalypse Now, The Piano, Pulp Fiction, and The Pianist. 

So what are some significant 2020 Cannes contenders that could vie for Oscar gold? I’ll give you a quintet and we start with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. The latest effort from the acclaimed filmmaker is his live-action follow-up to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which nabbed a leading nine nominations at that year’s Oscars. The cast is filled with familiar faces and many Anderson regulars including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, and Anjelica Huston. It is obviously high on the list for potential players throughout awards season.

Ronan also costars in Ammonite, a period drama from director Francis Lee. Her costar is Kate Winslet and between the two of them they have 11 Academy nominations. Expect plenty of chatter as to their viability in the performance races.

Steve McQueen is premiering not one, but two pictures with the Cannes label – Lovers Rock and Mangrove. The director saw his 2013 pic 12 Years a Slave awarded Best Picture. Both of his new titles focus on race relations in the United Kingdom.

Finally, Pixar is in the mix with Soul. Originally scheduled for summer, it was pushed back to November and is rightfully seen as a top tier contender in the Animated Feature derby. Featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, Soul is directed by Pete Docter. He’s responsible for two of the studio’s most acclaimed entries and Oscar winners – 2009’s Up and 2015’s Inside Out.

I would suspect that the 51 other Cannes selections could wind up in the mix as well (especially in the International Feature Film race). Time will tell, but the Cannes label will carry on in 2020 (albeit under unforeseen and unique circumstances).

Wonder Movie Review

Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder is a film, based on description, that might have you fretting it will attempt to bludgeon you into tears with sentimentality. A child with a facial deformity entering public school for the first time could be a recipe for mawkish overload. Yet I’ll be darned if Wonder doesn’t earn its tears (both sad and happy) at a rather astonishing percentage.

The child is Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), born with Treacher Collins syndrome. Going into the fifth grade, Auggie has been home schooled by mom Isabel (Julia Roberts) thus far and been somewhat sheltered from the inevitable bullying and strange looks that greet him. This all changes when he attends a Manhattan middle school. He finds the bullies, but he also finds many kind hearts in the children and adults who populate it.

In Auggie’s story, we do find similarities to 1985’s similarly effective Mask with Eric Stoltz as the outsider kid and Cher as the strong mom. What I didn’t expect here is the number of subplots involving other characters and how powerful they are.

Auggie’s older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) has the opposite emotional issues as her cherished brother. While Auggie often wishes to just be invisible (his favorite holiday is Halloween because his mask lets him at last be just another kid), Via wishes to be seen. Her mom and dad (Owen Wilson) are consumed with her sibling and his struggles. Her best friend (Danielle Rose Russell) isn’t paying attention to her. Via’s story line is often just as touching as her brother’s.

That’s a testament to a well constructed screenplay based on R.J. Palacio’s bestselling novel. The picture takes time to explain the actions of those around Auggie, including the school children who befriend him and those that choose not to. A weaker script would have turned his classmates into caricatures, but this one knows better.

As he proved in 2015’s Room, Tremblay is a one heck of a child actor. He’s unrecognizable here and he gives another powerhouse performance. Roberts and Wilson provide solid support, as does Mandy Patinkin as the wise principal of the school. And as mentioned, Vidovic shines in the big sister role that a lesser movie wouldn’t have even paid attention to.

It’s a thin line between a film trying to guilt you into throat lumps over warranting them. Wonder has a message of kindness that we could all use from time to time. That messages comes across well and this viewer felt the screenplay more than justified the several occasions of mistiness it caused.

***1/2 (out of four)

Father Figures Box Office Prediction

Looking to tickle the funny bones of audiences over the long holiday weekend, Father Figures debuts next Friday. The pic casts Owen Wilson and Ed Helms as brothers searching for their biological pops after mom Glenn Close informs them it could be several men. J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames, and Terry Bradshaw (playing himself) are among them. Katt Williams, June Squibb, and Harry Shearer are included in the supporting cast with Lawrence Sher directing.

Originally titled Bastards, the comedy was originally slated by Warner Bros. for a November 2016 opening before a delay until January 2017 and finally this Christmastime release. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with the multiple push backs.

Figures has plenty of competition and of the five wide releases premiering over the weekend, it will likely place fifth among them. Its best hope would be to replicate what Why Him? (last year’s Christmas entry in the genre) did with $15.5 million over the four-day frame.

That could be wishful thinking. I’ll predict this only reaches high single digits to low double digits for its roll out.

Father Figures opening weekend prediction: $8.6 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/11/jumanji-welcome-to-the-jungle-box-office-prediction/

For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/pitch-perfect-3-box-office-prediction/

For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/the-greatest-showman-box-office-prediction/

For my Downsizing prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/13/downsizing-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Wonder

Stephen Chbsoky’s Wonder opens on Friday and reviews out today reveal that it could be more than the umpteenth film to feature the word “wonder” in the title. Seriously, there’s been five.

The pic is adapted from a R.J. Palacio novel and casts Jacob Tremblay as a young boy with a facial deformity in public school. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play his parents. Truth be told, I kind of assumed Wonder wasn’t much of a candidate for positive reviews. Yet it’s getting them. Variety went as far to say it deserved to be in the same company as 1980’s The Elephant Man and 1985’s Mask, which both had similar themes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering Chbsoky’s previous directorial effort, 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, received critical praise.

How will this translate to Oscar attention? It most likely won’t, but its chances look better today than yesterday at least. That said, a Best Picture nod is unlikely. Lionsgate could push Tremblay in Supporting Actor and there’s plenty who feel the youngster should have been nominated for 2015’s Room, in which his costar Brie Larson won Actress.

That’s probably a long shot, too. The best hope for Wonder is that its solid reviews thus far will translate to a nice box office showing. And just maybe it could factor into Adapted Screenplay, which is looking less crowded than Original Screenplay right now.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Wonder Box Office Prediction

Jacob Tremblay made quite an impression on audiences and critics two years ago as an abducted child in the Oscar nominated Room. Next weekend, he headlines the drama Wonder, portraying a child with a facial deformity trying to fit into a new school. The film is based on a 2012 novel by R.J. Palacio and is directed by Stephen Chbosky, best known for making the adaptation of his own novel – 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are cast as Tremblay’s parents.

Wonder will attempt to bring in both female and family audiences. For family audiences, there is the animated The Star opening against it (though that should skewer younger) and a little something called Justice League that lots of kids may want to see (though that should skewer more to younger males).

As I see it, I don’t look for Wonder to necessarily have an impressive opening. Low double digits to possibly lower teens seems about right. That said, if audiences like it and if it achieves solid word-of-mouth, it could play well into the Thanksgiving weekend that follows and beyond.

Wonder opening weekend prediction: $12.9 million

For my Justice League prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/11/07/justice-league-box-office-prediction/

For my The Star prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/11/08/the-star-box-office-prediction/

Cars 3 Box Office Prediction

Pixar has its entry in the summer box office derby as Cars 3 opens next weekend. The threequel will have the honor of being the highest grossing animated sequel of the season for two weeks until Despicable Me 3 arrives.

Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Bonnie Hunt, Kerry Washington, and Nathan Fillion are among the actors lending their voices to the project. Reportedly, the late Paul Newman (who contributed to the original) will also be heard in flashback sequences.

The auto themed comedy franchise is not considered among the best that Pixar has produced. The 2006 original opened to $60 million with an eventual $244 million domestic haul. The 2011 sequel premiered a bit higher at $66 million, but earned considerably less overall at $191 million. That’s rather low compared to what Pixar has done in recent years. It’s also worth noting that Cars 2 is generally considered the worst of the 17 pictures the studio has produced thus far.

Bottom line: summer ’17 Pixar will be nothing compared to summer ’16 Pixar when Finding Dory opened to $135 million and ended up being the season’s highest grosser at $486 million. I’ll predict Cars 3 does manage to make just under what the first did 11 years ago and eventually struggles to make $191 million made by its predecessor.

Cars 3 opening weekend prediction: $57.8 million

For my Rough Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/08/rough-night-box-office-prediction/

For my All Eyez on Me prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/all-eyez-on-me-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/47-meters-down-box-office-prediction/

 

Who Should Play Donald Trump?

This news should come as no surprise as HBO has announced they will be producing a miniseries in the near future focusing on the 2016 Presidential Election. The effort will come from the team behind Game Change, which told the tale of Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in her quest to become John McCain’s (Ed Harris) VP in 2008. Game director Jay Roach will be behind the camera.

There is little doubt the project will heavily focus on the man who became the 45th President of the United States. So that begs the question: who will play Donald Trump? I imagine this will be the focus on much speculation until an announcement is made, so I’ll get in on it too. I’ve come up with a dozen interesting choices outlined in this here post. However, before we move to that, let’s discuss some choices that are sure to bandied about.

Name one: Alec Baldwin. Of course, he may be the first actor people think of due to his portrayal of the President on SNL. Yet I find it extremely unlikely that Baldwin would be interested (he’s already announced his impression of POTUS on SNL is soon coming to an end). The filmmakers themselves also might not be wild about casting the performer only known for an exaggerated comedic take on Trump.

Then there’s some big names that might be given the role if they’re interested. Two that spring to mind immediately: Kevin Spacey and Bryan Cranston. Here’s another – Matthew McConaughey. After all, he’s worked with HBO before on “True Detective”.

Yet I wish to delve a bit deeper into Hollywood’s rolodex for some other names. Here’s a dozen of them for your consideration:

Tom Berenger

This choice seems unlikely as he’s probably not a big enough name anymore, but he’s the right age (67) and he does kind of bear a resemblance to POTUS. It’s been over three decades since Berenger was Oscar nominated for Platoon, but he’s popped up occasionally in recent years in pics like Training Day and Inception. 

Kenneth Branagh

The Irish actor has been known more lately for his work behind the camera, including 2015’s Cinderella. Later this year, he directs and stars in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express. That should be a high-profile project and could dovetail well into this very high-profile experience.

Kevin Costner

Coming off a supporting role in the blockbuster Hidden Figures, I question whether Costner could get the look down. Yet he’s a big star who HBO would probably consider.

Russell Crowe

This is a possible example of HBO going with the Oscar winner if he wants to do it. Crowe would be a huge actor to cast in the part and he could potentially add Emmy winner to his award shelf.

Thomas Haden Church

The Oscar nominee for 2004’s Sideways is currently on HBO right now alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce”. I could see him pulling off the look for Trump and see him as an intriguing prospect. Possible issue: big enough name?

Greg Kinnear

Another Academy Award nominee for 1997’s As Good As It Gets, it’s been awhile since Kinnear has had a major showcase role. I could see him totally pulling this off and he’s near the top of my choices.

Viggo Mortensen

Mr. Mortensen could be a fascinating pick and he’s coming fresh off an Oscar nod for Captain Fantastic. Like Kinnear, this pick would fascinate me.

Edward Norton

Like Crowe, this would be an example of a major movie star taking on the part. Norton can be a chameleon and I like this idea.

Bob Odenkirk

The Emmy winner for “Better Call Saul” could nail this part, I suspect. He’s shown both dramatic and comedic chops in his body of work.

Kurt Russell

Russell is simply one of my favorite actors period. He’s more versatile than he gets credit for and I totally buy him making this work.

James Spader

Another high-profile choice due to his exposure on “The Blacklist”, he’s toward the top of my personal choices.

Owen Wilson

Of all the choices here, I could really see him getting the look down. The big question: could his very distinctive voice pull off the tones of The Donald?

So there you have it! What actors not mentioned do you feel could step into the President’s shoes? And how about this question: how will Donald Trump react to his casting on Twitter??

 

Masterminds Box Office Prediction

At long last, the heist comedy Masterminds hits theaters next weekend after much delay. Whether or not it’s able to steal some box office dollars is very much in question. Director Jared Hess broke through in a big way 12 years ago with his sleeper hit Napoleon Dynamite. His follow-up, 2006’s Nacho Libre with Jack Black, was a critical letdown which still managed to make $80 million domestic.

Since then, Mr. Hess’s efforts have been little-seen and poorly reviewed efforts. 2009’s Gentlemen Broncos? 2015’s Don Verdean? Anyone? Masterminds had the whiff of a return to form, but it’s been mired in the financial distresses of its studio, Relativity. The pic was originally scheduled for release in August of last year and then October (hence its trailer having been around for quite some time).

The talent involved here is serious – Zach Galifianakis, Kristin Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. That’s three new Ghostbusters by the way – even though the ladies shot that reboot after this. Recognizable stars aside, I have a feeling that all of the delays and a fairly quiet marketing campaign will hurt Masterminds immensely.

I’m tempted to go really low — like $4 million, folks. I believe this may manage to reach a bit beyond that. Double digits seems like a reach, however.

Masterminds opening weekend prediction: $6.3 million

For my Deepwater Horizon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/21/deepwater-horizon-box-office-prediction/

For my Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/21/miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-box-office-prediction/

For my Queen of Katwe prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/09/23/queen-of-katwe-box-office-prediction/

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

2001’s Zoolander was an often uproarious novelty of a pic that showed Ben Stiller’s ability to essentially take a sketch character and stretch the premise out successfully for 90 minutes. The original took us into the incredibly narcissistic and dumb world of male modeling coupled with nonsensical international intrigue involving the attempted assassination of the Malaysian prime minister. It worked because of its star/director’s enthusiasm behind it and the fact it was a pretty original comedy at the time.

Most movies in this genre don’t need sequels. This is one of them. The novelty has worn badly. Zoolander 2 brings back almost everything and everyone that made us laugh fifteen years ago and has no clue what to do with them. Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is now a has been model living as a recluse. This is following a tragic accident involving his Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good that was erected in the predecessor’s conclusion. His family life is shattered as is his ability to lock down his iconic facial expressions at opportune moments.

Derek soon finds himself recruited (by Billy Zane no less) to return to the real world when gorgeous celebrities start being offed. An Interpol agent (Penelope Cruz) believes both he and Hansel (Owen Wilson) can be of service. The bonkers plot (so was Zoolander’s, to be fair) finds a way to bring back Mugatu (Will Ferrell), in addition to scores of celeb cameos from the music and fashion world. The Fountain of Youth is involved. Derek finds himself trying to connect with his estranged son. Oh and Sting plays himself as a somewhat mythical figure, which isn’t much of a stretch. And there’s Kristin Wiig in unrecognizable makeup as a designer.

Any picture with these performers will have a few funny moments just based on the odds. I will admit that Kiefer Sutherland (playing himself) and his relationship status with Hansel provided a smile. And yet they are truly few and far between. Zoolander 2 is a title in search of a reason to exist that doesn’t find it. It feels lazy, unneeded, and desperate. For a director like Stiller that has shown so much ability with part one and Tropic Thunder and others, it’s surprising to find No. 2 even looking and feeling drab. I was satisfied at the original when Derek flashed Blue Steel, that magical look. It’s here, but my advice is look away. There’s little magic around.

*1/2 (out of four)

 

Zoolander No. 2 Box Office Prediction

Coming to screens nearly 15 years after the cult favorite original, Zoolander No. 2 debuts next weekend with Ben Stiller in front and behind the camera. Stars of the original Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Christine Taylor are back as well as newbies Penelope Cruz, Kristin Wiig, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a whole bunch of cameos including Kim/Kanye and Justin Bieber.

2001’s Zoolander opened to $15.5 million and provided some comic relief to audiences when it premiered just two and a half weeks after 9/11. Its total domestic haul was a fair $45 million. However, the film has undoubtedly taken on considerable cult status over the last decade and a half and expectations are understandably higher for the long gestating sequel.

Having said that, one wonders if younger audience members will turn out in force as this faces serious competition from superhero flick Deadpool, which looks poised to easily rule the weekend. I would maintain that this is unlikely to reach the heights of Dumb and Dumber To, another long delayed sequel to a well regarded 90s comedy that managed $36 million out of the gate. As I see it, Zoolander No. 2 is more likely to score a decent debut in the low to possibly mid 20s and be in the runner-up position (as long as How to Be Single doesn’t overperform).

Zoolander No. 2 opening weekend prediction: $20.9 million

***Please note this prediction is for the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and not the full Friday to Monday President’s Day Weekend

For my Deadpool prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/03/deadpool-box-office-prediction/

For my How to Be Single prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/02/04/how-to-be-single-box-office-prediction/