The Card Counter Review

For a filmmaker who always focuses on loners, it stands to reason that Paul Schrader’s newest picture is about playing cards. That’s not really what The Card Counter is ultimately about as the emotional damage inflicted upon the man at the poker and blackjack table is the real story.

William Tell (Oscar Isaac) follows the archetype of many a Schrader creation. Emotionally distant and more comfortable on his own, he spends considerable time in casinos across the nation. Tell, as the title suggests, knows how to count them. He also knows when to fold them. Tell could cash in big, but prefers modest winnings and even more modest motels (where he covers all the room’s decor in plain white sheets that he provides). His existence seems to suggest not wanting to be noticed at all.

William’s orbit expands when he happens on a global security convention during a gambling spree and meets Cirk (Tye Sheridan). They share a connection. Cirk’s father is deceased ex-military who was present at Abu Ghraib. So was Tell. The speaker at the conference is Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe), who’s now a private contractor. He escaped any blame for the horrific actions overseas. Tell did not and flashbacks show us the subhuman conditions he witnessed, participated in, and was incarcerated for. In Cirk, our card counter attempts to help a troubled soul by winning him some some cash and paying off debts. Tell enlists La Linda (Tiffany Haddish, going for no laughs), a players manager on the mission.

From Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver to Ethan Hawke’s pastor in First Reformed, Isaac’s Tell fits the mold of the auteur’s central figures. These are damaged figures tired of what the world have to offer while making last ditch attempts to help another troubled soul. The problem with The Card Counter is that there’s not much in this example that we haven’t witnessed before from the same author. Most distressing is that the players around Tell simply aren’t compelling. In Schrader’s Light Sleeper (see that one), Susan Sarandon provided a captivating counterpart to Willem Dafoe’s lonesome drug dealer. Haddish’s character is barely written and her late inclusion as a love interest seems forced. So too is the case with Sheridan’s mopey apprentice. Dafoe’s character here hints at a fascinating backstory that’s unexplored.

Isaac’s performance, as we’ve come to anticipate, is quite good. Yet his tale isn’t nearly as gripping as others in the director’s previous works. We catch a glimpse of Tell’s training as a torturer and it is riveting and brief. With First Reformed, Schrader is righteously angry at political events. In that predecessor, it involved the Earth’s destruction via environmental means. In The Card Counter, it’s the hell on Earth that Tell witnessed in an Iraqi prison.

The screenplay offers not enough exploration of its universe. Had Schrader delved into the redundant and seedy world of casino dwellers more deeply, perhaps it could have paid off. After all, few writers have succeeded better in their other scripts penning depraved figures. The plot just never seems to properly call its ideas to fruition and the result feels unfinished. That’s rare when Schrader is at the table and it makes The Card Counter all the more disappointing.

** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: The Card Counter

Writer/director Paul Schrader experienced a career resurgence three years ago with First Reformed. The critically acclaimed work nabbed the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull a Best Original Screenplay nod. However, the Academy ignored the heralded lead performance from Ethan Hawke and it didn’t grab any other nominations.

Schrader’s latest is The Card Counter and it has premiered in Venice. Out September 10, the crime drama mixes political intrigue with the game of poker. The title character is portrayed by Oscar Isaac, who’s seeking his first nod despite lauded roles in Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year, and Ex Machina. 

Early word-of-mouth from Italy suggests Schrader has another winning hand, though not all reviews are totally flush with praise. The lead is unsurprisingly being singled out, but if Hawke couldn’t get in for Reformed, I really question whether Isaac could. Whether he may contend in supporting for Dune is a question that will be answered in the next 24 hours. As far as all actors involved, he’s the only one that stands a remote chance and not costars Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, or Willem Dafoe.

I feel the same for its Picture and Director prospects. Original Screenplay is not out of the question though this doesn’t seem quite as highly regarded as Schrader’s predecessor. Bottom line: I wouldn’t count Card as much of an awards player. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Venice Film Festival: A Preview

The Venice Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday this week. For this blogger, it means my Oscar speculation will kick into overdrive. You can anticipate a flurry of Oscar Watch posts starting September 1st and continuing throughout the month as the Telluride fest transpires over Labor Day weekend. Toronto is right behind beginning September 9th.

To put it all in perspective, the eventual Best Picture winner has premiered at this trio of festivals more often than not lately. Nomadland (last year’s victor) started off in Venice and won the Golden Lion, which is the equivalent to BP. The same narrative holds true for 2017’s The Shape of Water. 2018’s Green Book debuted at Toronto. 2016’s Moonlight premiered at Telluride. 2015’s Spotlight rolled out at Venice and 2014’s Birdman opened that festival. You get the idea.

So what are the highest profile titles jockeying for position? What are the movies that could become instant hopefuls for the Academy’s attention? I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Power of the Dog

In 1993, director Jane Campion had her last major Oscar contender with The Piano. It won Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Supporting Actress for Anna Paquin, and Original Screenplay for Campion. She became the first female ever to be nominated for Best Director (losing that race and Picture to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List).

Her latest is The Power of the Dog and it will be a mainstay on the festival circuit before its theatrical release in November that’s followed by an early December Netflix bow. Dog is, on paper, the film that prognosticators like me are looking at as an early favorite.

In my previous weekly rankings, I have Dog listed at #1 in Picture, Director, Actor (Cumberbatch), and Adapted Screenplay. Dunst and Plemons are, respectively, ranked second in Supporting Actress and Actor.

We will know quite soon whether it lives up to the hype.

Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almodovar’s latest will open the proceedings on Tuesday. The Spanish language drama stars Penelope Cruz and she could be a factor in what appears to be a potentially crowded Best Actress derby. Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film could also be races where it contends. Just two years back, the auteur’s previous work Pain and Glory was nominated in the international competition and it nabbed Antonio Banderas a Best Actor nod.

Additionally, Cruz and Banderas star in the comedy Official Competition, which is also premiering here. It may also be one to keep an eye on.

Spencer

Speaking of that Best Actress race which features numerous players, that holds true with Spencer. Pablo Larrain’s biopic about Princess Diana may propel Kristen Stewart to her first nomination. Larrain directed Natalie Portman and she made the final five as Jackie from 2016. Will Stewart break through on the awards front after a series of post Twilight acclaimed roles? The answer is coming.

The Hand of God

Another Netflix property is this Italian drama from Paolo Sorrentino, whose 2013 effort The Great Beauty dominated the foreign language races at the Oscars and Globes. His latest could be another contender and I will be keeping an eye on whether it could branch out to Best Picture (like Roma and Parasite recently did).

The Card Counter

Paul Schrader’s last pic First Reformed received an Original Screenplay nod for its filmmaker. His latest crime drama features Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, and Willem Dafoe. I haven’t had this featured at all in my weekly predictions, but a splashy Venice rollout could alter that.

Dune

The Card Counter cannot claim the title of being Oscar Isaac’s most breathlessly awaited arrival. That would be Dune from Denis Villeneuve as the sci-fi epic is debuting out of competition. Originally slated for 2020, Dune could be a major awards threat in lots of categories (especially the technical ones). Whether it is Best Picture material will soon be established.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal directs Olivia Colman in the Netflix drama slated for late December. Colman has been nominated in two out of the three years at the big show. She won in 2018 for The Favourite in Best Actress and got a mention in supporting last year for The Father. 

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright psychological horror experience features Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy (coming off her heralded role on The Queen’s Gambit). The genre is not one usually geared to Oscar love, but you never know.

The Last Duel

Ridley Scott has not one, but two competitors seeking awards attention in 2021. The most obvious is House of Gucci. The other is this historical drama with Jodie Comer (another possibility in Actress), Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Ben Affleck. We will soon know whether Scott has two pics in the mix.

And that’s just some of what I’m watching out for, folks! Get ready as the Oscar picture should become clearer in the coming days and I’ll be here to cover it…

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 26th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions as we close out August have a bit of a Christmas Eve feel to them. Better yet, Film Festival Eve as Venice kicks off next week where cinematic presents will be laid out for consideration. The first 2021 Oscar predictions of September will come with reviews out for major contenders, most notably Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog which currently stands at #1 in Picture and Director.

That’s not all. When I post next Thursday, there should be buzz for Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers and Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will follow shortly after that.

Same goes for Pablo Larrain’s Spencer. That could make Best Actress a little clearer due to Kristen Stewart’s work as Princess Diana. Miss Stewart makes her first appearance in my five hopefuls in that race. This is partly due to taking Kirsten Dunst from lead to supporting. It remains to be seen where Dunst ends up. That move and her inclusion in Supporting Actress knocks out Toni Collette in Nightmare Alley.

There are other changes:

    • In Best Picture, I continue to tinker with the 10 spot. This week, I have vaulted Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God up 12 spots to get in the mix. Falling out is Stephen Karam’s The Humans. The switch-up also puts God in Original Screenplay over A Hero.
    • We have changes at #1 in both Actor and Supporting Actor. Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog tops lead and that slides Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) to 2nd. Bradley Cooper returns to first position in supporting for Soggy Bottom over Dog’s Jesse Plemons.

You can peruse all the activity below as Venice looms!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

6. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

7. Dune (PR: 6)

8. West Side Story (PR: 9)

9. CODA (PR: 8)

10. The Hand of God (PR: 22)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10)

12. The French Dispatch (PR: 13)

13. Mass (PR: 11)

14. Belfast (PR: 14)

15. A Hero (PR: 12)

16. Flee (PR: 15)

17. Spencer (PR: 17)

18. Last Night in Soho (PR: 19)

19. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 16)

20. The Last Duel (PR: 25)

21. King Richard (PR: 18)

22. Parallel Mothers (PR: 21)

23. Passing (PR: 20)

24. Being the Ricardos (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cyrano 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 8)

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

12. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 11)

13. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 12)

14. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 10)

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Stephen Karam, The Humans

Fran Kranz, Mass

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

7. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 12)

8. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 9)

9. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 11)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 8)

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 10)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 13)

13. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 14)

14. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15)

15. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 1)

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 11)

7. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

8. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 7)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10)

10. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 8)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 12)

12. Steven Yeun, The Humans (PR: 9)

13. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 14)

14. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead Actress)

3. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 3)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

7. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

8. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

10. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8)

11. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 12)

12. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 11)

13. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

14. Rebecca Ferguson, Dune (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

Salma Hayek, House of Gucci

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 3)

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

3. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 2)

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 7)

7. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

8. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

9. Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 9)

11. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 13)

12. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall (PR: 10)

13. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 12)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Bradley Whitford, Tick, Tick… Boom!

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

3. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

4. Mass (PR: 3)

5. The Hand of God (PR: 13)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Belfast (PR: 7)

8. A Hero (PR: 5)

9. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

10. Being the Ricardos (PR: 8)

11. Spencer (PR: 12)

12. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 11)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. King Richard (PR: 15)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)

5. The Humans (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA (PR: 6)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. The Last Duel (PR: 10)

9. Passing (PR: 9)

10. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8)

11. West Side Story (PR: 12)

12. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

13. Cyrano (PR: 11)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 15)

15. Dear Evan Hansen (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

In the Heights

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: January 17th Edition

It’s been two weeks since I’ve made Oscar predictions and it’s fair to say a lot has happened since then. The show never did find a host, but a host of significant precursors happened. There were the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. The Directors Guild named their five nominees and they typically nail four of the five eventual nominees in that race. The last 14 days of action have changed my #1 rankings in some very big categories:

  • After consistently being ranked at #1, A Star Is Born now falls to second behind Roma.
  • Keeping with the theme, Christian Bale’s work in Vice vaults to first in Actor ahead of Bradley Cooper in Star.
  • Once again, a Star dips from the top spot as Glenn Close (The Wife) is first in Actress above Lady Gaga.
  • After Globe and Critics victories, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse is #1 in Animated Feature instead of Pixar’s Incredibles 2.

You can can read all the rankings below and on Sunday, I will reveal my final picks for nominees ahead of Tuesday morning’s announcements!

Best Picture

1. Roma (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Green Book (PR: 4)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

5. Black Panther (PR: 6)

6. The Favourite (PR: 3)

7. Vice (PR: 8)

8. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 10)

9. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

10. First Man (PR: 9)

11. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 11)

12. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

13. First Reformed (PR: 15)

14. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Eighth Grade

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 3)

4. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 6)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 9)

7. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 5)

8. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

9. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 8)

10. Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Actor

1. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 4)

4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 3)

5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

8. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 8)

9. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 10)

10. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

Best Actress

1. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

2. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 2)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

7. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 8)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

10. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 7)

7. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 6)

8. Steven Yeun, Burning (PR: 10)

9. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 8)

10. Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

5. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

7. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

8. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Marina De Tavira, Roma (PR: 10)

10. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

3. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leave No Trace (PR: 7)

7. Black Panther (PR: 5)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Widows (PR: 9)

10. The Death of Stalin (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Hate U Give

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Green Book (PR: 3)

3. Roma (PR: 2)

4. First Reformed (PR: 4)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Cold War (PR: 10)

9. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 9)

10. Private Life (PR: 8)

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. Cold War (PR: 2)

3. Shoplifters (PR: 3)

4. Burning (PR: 4)

5. Never Look Away (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Capernaum (PR: 5)

7. The Guilty (PR: 6)

8. Birds of Passage (PR: 8)

9. Ayka (PR: 9)

Best Animated Feature

1. SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse (PR: 2)

2. Incredibles 2 (PR: 1)

3. Isle of Dogs (PR: 3)

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (PR: 4)

5. Mirai (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Early Man (PR: 6)

7. Smallfoot (PR: 8)

8. The Grinch (PR: 7)

9. Ruben Brandt, Collector (PR: 10)

10. Lu Over the Wall (PR: 9)

Best Documentary Feature

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PR: 1)

2. Free Solo (PR: 2)

3. RBG (PR: 6)

4. Three Identical Strangers (PR: 4)

5. Shirkers (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Minding the Gap (PR: 3)

7. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PR: 7)

8. On Her Shoulders (PR: 10)

9. Crime + Punishment (PR: 8)

10. Of Fathers and Sons (PR: 9)

Best Film Editing

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

4. Vice (PR: 6)

5. The Favourite (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther (PR: 4)

7. Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

8. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

10. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Widows

Mary Poppins Returns

Best Cinematography

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 5)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 4)

5. Cold War (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

7. Black Panther (PR: 7)

8. The Rider (PR: 9)

9. Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Mary Poppins Returns

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 5)

4. First Man (PR: 4)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 9)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 8)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 7)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

10. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 3)

3. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 2)

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

5. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 5)

7. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

8. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PR: 10)

9. A Star Is Born (PR: 7)

10. Colette (PR: 9)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Vice (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

4. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

5. Border (PR: 3)

6. Suspiria (PR: 7)

7. Stan & Ollie (PR: 5)

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 3)

3. A Quiet Place (PR: 2)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

5. Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mission: ImpossibleFallout (PR: 6)

7. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 8)

8. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 7)

9. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

Best Sound Mixing

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Black Panther (PR: 3)

4. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

5. A Quiet Place (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

7. Roma (PR: 8)

8. Mission: ImpossibleFallout (PR: 7)

9. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

10. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

Best Visual Effects

1. Black Panther (PR: 3)

2. Avengers: Infinity War (PR: 2)

3. First Man (PR: 1)

4. Ready Player One (PR: 4)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 6)

7. Welcome to Marwen (PR: 8)

8. Christopher Robin (PR: 10)

9. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PR: 7)

10. AntMan and the Wasp (PR: 9)

Best Original Score

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

3. Black Panther (PR: 4)

4. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 2)

5. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Isle of Dogs (PR: 5)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

9. Annihilation (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Vice (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Ready Player One

Best Original Song

1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther

3. “I’ll Fight” from RBG (PR: 4)

4. “Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin (PR: 5)

5. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

7. “Revelation” from Boy Erased (PR: 7)

8. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 9)

9. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give (PR: 10)

10. “OYAHYTT” from Sorry to Bother You (PR: 8)

And that equates to the following movies getting these numbers when it comes to nominations:

10 Nominations

A Star Is Born, The Favourite

9 Nominations

Black Panther, First Man, Roma

5 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Vice

3 Nominations

Bohemian Rhapsody, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2 Nominations

Cold War, First Reformed, Mary Queen of Scots, A Quiet Place, RBG

1 Nomination

Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Burning, Crazy Rich Asians, Dumplin, Eighth Grade, Free Solo, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Never Look Away, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ready Player One, Shirkers, Shoplifters, SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse, Three Identical Strangers, The Wife, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The Critics Choice Is Roma

The Critics Choice Awards aired last night and the ceremony has been a harbinger at times for the Oscar race ahead. Notably the show in 2017 ended up matching the Academy’s winners in all major races. So what message did reviewers send yesterday? Well some of it was mixed and some of it solidified certain selections in their positions come gold statue time.

It was a very good evening for Roma. The Mexican drama won Best Picture and its filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron won for his direction and cinematography. In those latter two races, Cuaron is the strong favorite to take the Oscar. Picture is still not assured as it faces competition from A Star Is Born and maybe BlacKkKlansman (which did go home empty-handed yesterday). I’ve had Star placed at #1 consistently in my Oscar rankings. Don’t be surprised if Roma grabs that slot this week when I update my predictions.

Christian Bale was victorious in Actor for Vice. Coupled with his Golden Globe win the week prior, it could give him a slight edge over Bradley Cooper in Star and Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody. Yet it’s competitive.

So is Best Actress and last night proved it. There was the rare tie and it was between Lady Gaga in Star and Glenn Close as The Wife. I’d say it’s a coin flip between them at the Oscars and I wouldn’t totally count out Olivia Colman in The Favourite.

The supporting winners matched the Golden Globes with Mahershala Ali (Green Book) and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk). Even though King was surprisingly not nominated at the upcoming SAG Awards, both actors look like front-runners in their respective categories.

Beale Street also took Adapted Screenplay, giving it a boost in that race over the slightly more favored BlacKkKlansman. In Original Screenplay, Paul Schrader notched a big win for First Reformed. I’m feeling more confident it makes the final five for the Academy.

The Critics Choice voters also chose SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse over Pixar’s Incredibles 2 in Animated Film like the Globes did. That’s more fuel to the fire that Spidey could get that Oscar win and give Pixar a rare loss in that race.

Finally, Black Panther had a solid showing – winning Visual Effects, Production Design, and Costume  Design. First Man took Editing while Vice was honored for its Makeup.

I’ll have my updates Oscar predictions up later this week with final estimates up on Sunday prior to Tuesday’s announcement. Stay tuned!

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: January 3rd Edition

We are now 19 days away from Oscar nominations as the major precursors are set to air in short order. It begins with the Golden Globes on Sunday (look for my winner predictions for that ceremony on the blog tomorrow). My updated rankings this week reflect the following changes:

  • Emily Blunt’s starring role in Mary Poppins Returns is back in my predicted top five, ousting Yalitza Aparicio from Roma
  • In Documentary Feature, RBG falls out of my nominees for the first time and makes way for Shirkers
  • In Editing, it’s Black Panther in for BlacKkKlansman. This contributes to my tally of Panther getting the most nominations of any picture for the first time (over A Star Is Born)
  • In Makeup and Hairstyling, Border crosses the top 3 with Mary Queen of Scots on the outside looking in

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 4)

5. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

6. Black Panther (PR: 6)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Vice (PR: 8)

9. First Man (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 10)

11. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 11)

12. Eighth Grade (PR: 14)

13. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

14. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 12)

15. First Reformed (PR: 15)

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 3)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 6)

7. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 9)

9. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

10. Paul Schrader, First Reformed (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 4)

4. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 3)

5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 8)

8. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 7)

9. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 10)

10. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 9)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 2)

3. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 8)

9. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Viola Davis, Widows

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 2)

3. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

5. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 6)

7. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 7)

8. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 8)

9. Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give (PR: 9)

10. Steven Yeun, Burning (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Brian Tyree Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 6)

7. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

9. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: 9)

10. Marina De Tavira, Roma (PR: 10)

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Black Panther (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man (PR: 7)

7. Leave No Trace (PR: 6)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

9. Widows (PR: 10)

10. The Hate U Give (PR: 9)

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 3)

4. First Reformed (PR: 5)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. Private Life (PR: 9)

9. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 8)

10. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. Cold War (PR: 2)

3. Shoplifters (PR: 3)

4. Burning (PR: 4)

5. Capernaum (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Guilty (PR: 6)

7. Never Look Away (PR: 7)

8. Birds of Passage (PR: 8)

9. Ayka (PR: 9)

Best Animated Feature

1. Incredibles 2 (PR: 1)

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PR: 2)

3. Isle of Dogs (PR: 4)

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet (PR: 3)

5. Mirai (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Early Man (PR: 6)

7. The Grinch (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Smallfoot (PR: 7)

9. Lu Over the Wall (PR: 8)

10. Ruben Brandt, Collector (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Best Documentary Feature

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PR: 1)

2. Free Solo (PR: 2)

3. Minding the Gap (PR: 4)

4. Three Identical Strangers (PR: 3)

5. Shirkers (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. RBG (PR: 5)

7. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PR: 6)

8. Crime + Punishment (PR: 8)

9. Of Fathers and Sons (PR: 9)

10. On Her Shoulders (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dark Money 

Best Film Editing

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 3)

3. Roma (PR: 2)

4. Black Panther (PR: 7)

5. The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Vice (PR: 6)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

8. Widows (PR: 10)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

10. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Green Book

Best Cinematography

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

5. The Favourite (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Cold War (PR: 6)

7. Black Panther (PR: 7)

8. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 10)

9. The Rider (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

BlacKkKlansman

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

4. First Man (PR: 4)

5. Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

7. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

8. A Star Is Born (PR: 6)

9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 9)

10. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 3)

3. Black Panther (PR: 2)

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 7)

7. A Star Is Born (PR: 9)

8. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 6)

9. Colette (PR: 10)

10. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

If Beale Street Could Talk

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Vice (PR: 2)

2. Black Panther (PR: 1)

3. Border (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

4. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 3)

5. Stan & Ollie (PR: 5)

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

7. Suspiria (PR: 7)

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man (PR: 1)

2. A Quiet Place (PR: 2)

3. Black Panther (PR: 3)

4. A Star Is Born (PR: 5)

5. Roma (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (PR: 6)

7. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

8. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 9)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 7)

10. Incredibles 2 (PR: 10)

Best Sound Mixing

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. First Man (PR: 2)

3. Black Panther (PR: 5)

4. A Quiet Place (PR: 3)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 7)

7. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (PR: 10)

8. Roma (PR: 6)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 9)

10. Incredibles 2 (PR: 8)

Best Visual Effects

1. First Man (PR: 4)

2. Avengers: Infinity War (PR: 1)

3. Black Panther (PR: 2)

4. Ready Player One (PR: 3)

5. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (PR: 6)

7. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PR: 8)

8. Welcome to Marwen (PR: 7)

9. Ant-Man and the Wasp (PR: 9)

10. Christopher Robin (PR: 10)

Best Original Score

1. First Man (PR: 2)

2. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 5)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

4. Black Panther (PR: 3)

5. Isle of Dogs (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

7. A Quiet Place (PR: 7)

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

9. Ready Player One (PR: 10)

10. Vice (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther (PR: 2)

3. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 4)

4. “I’ll Fight” from RBG (PR: 3)

5. “Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 6)

7. “Revelation” from Boy Erased (PR: 7)

8. “OYAHTT” from Sorry to Bother You (PR: 10)

9. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 8)

10. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give (PR: 10)

And that breaks down to these movies getting the following number of nods:

12 Nominations

Black Panther

11 Nominations

A Star Is Born

10 Nominations

The Favourite

9 Nominations

First Man

8 Nominations

Roma

7 Nominations

Mary Poppins Returns

5 Nominations

If Beale Street Could Talk

4 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Vice

3 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2 Nominations

A Quiet Place, First Reformed, Isle of Dogs

1 Nomination

Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Bohemian Rhapsody, Border, Burning, Capernaum, Cold War, Dumplin, Eighth Grade, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Free Solo, Incredibles 2, Mary Queen of Scots, Minding the Gap, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, RBG, Ready Player One, Shirkers, Shoplifters, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Three Identical Strangers, The Wife, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Roma Takes New York

One of the oldest critics group weighed in on the best of the year this morning as the New York Film Critics Circle bestowed their honors. And the writers of the Big Apple clearly took to Roma, which was victorious for Best Picture, Director (Alfonso Cuaron), and Cinematography.

There’s little doubt the Mexican drama will get a nomination at the Oscars. However, the NYFCC top prize certainly doesn’t ensure a win at the big race. Far from it. You have to go back to 2011 since the Oscar and NYFCC recipients matched – The Artist. 

Roma has held the #2 spot in my estimated nominees for weeks behind A Star Is Born. For now, I don’t see that changing.

For Best Actor, Ethan Hawke won for First Reformed and I don’t expect that will be the last of his critics group trophies. Hawke has established himself as a real threat to make the final 5 for the Academy. Additionally, the Screenplay award went to Reformed, furthering boosting the prospect of Paul Schrader getting his first Oscar nod in Original Screenplay.

The NYFCC is known for throwing a surprise in the acting categories (think Tiffany Haddish for Girls Trip) and this year was no different. Best Actress went to Regina Hall for the acclaimed indie dramedy Support the Girls. While the exposure here only helps, the Actress race is very crowded and Hall’s inclusion seems quite unlikely at the moment.

Richard E. Grant took Supporting Actor for Can You Ever Forgive Me? in what is shaping up to be a genuine three-person race between him, Mahershala Ali (Green Book), and Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born). Regina King got Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk as she appears to be the soft front-runner, with Amy Adams (Vice) and the women of The Favourite (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz) lurking.

In down-the-line categories, Animated Feature went to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (which may just establish itself as a threat to Incredibles 2). Minding the Gap got the Non-Fiction race and Cold War took Best Foreign Language Film.

Other groups will be weighing in soon and I’ll have all the coverage right here!

NBR Goes Green

The National Board of Review bestowed its annual honors today for the pictures of 2018 and they went green. That means it was a very good day for Peter Farrelly’s race relations drama Green Book and it might have come at just the right moment. It won Best Film at a time when its box office performance has been lackluster and lead Viggo Mortensen got into hot water for remarks at a recent event. The last three winners of the NBR top prize (Mad Max: Fury Road, Manchester by the Sea, The Post) all received Picture nominations at the Oscars (it’s worth pointing out that none of them won).

I don’t expect Green Book to emerge victorious at the Academy Awards, but this does help its case for a nomination. The NBR is also unique in that it names 10 other movies as their favorites beyond the big recipient. The list this year is as follows:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Black Panther

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Eighth Grade

First Reformed

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary Poppins Returns

A Quiet Place

Roma

A Star Is Born

Over the past decade or so, usually 5-7 of those 11 honorees go on to Oscar recognition. In addition to Green Book, I’m currently assuming Black Panther, If Beale Street Could Talk, Roma, and A Star Is Born are in. That’s five. I’m also growing more confident that Mary Poppins Returns could manage to reach the final nine or ten nominees. The rest remain question marks. Eighth Grade and First Reformed seem to be gaining steam, but I’m uncertain they’ll get all the way to the top. The three that I believe are least likely are Can You Ever Forgive Me?, A Quiet Place, and Buster Scruggs. 

Bradley Cooper took Directing honors for A Star Is Born and he’s already a safe bet for Academy inclusion. His costars Lady Gaga and Sam Elliot took the Actress and Supporting Actor races. All in all, it was a fine day for A Star Is Born. Elliot’s win is a boost for him and it’s a little surprising they didn’t name Green Book costar Mahershala Ali, considering the film’s other successes today.

Speaking of Green Book, the aforementioned Mr. Mortensen took Best Actor. He’s looking good for an Oscar nod, but I still put him behind Cooper and Christian Bale (Vice) when it comes to winning possibilities.

Regina King’s work in If Beale Street Could Talk earned her Supporting Actress and she’s a lock for Oscar inclusion.

Paul Schrader’s original screenplay for First Reformed was honored for the second day in a row after its Gotham Award. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had Reformed just on the outside of my nominated predictions in that category. I foresee that changing on Thursday when I update them… though I’m uncertain which entry falls out between The Favourite, Roma, Vice, and Eighth Grade. Barry Jenkins took Adapted Screenplay for Beale Street and he’s got a real shot at the gold statue.

The notable snubs on the list are primarily BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, First Man and Vice. However, it’s worth noting again that plenty of movies have missed the NBR cut and managed Oscar glory.

As for some down the line honorees – Incredibles 2 won Best Animated Film, RBG took Best Documentary, and Cold War got Best Foreign Language Film. All seem bound for the final five a couple of months from now.

And there’s your NBR report, folks! The New York Film Critics are on deck next and I’ll have a recap of that one Thursday!

Gotham Takes a Ride

The Gotham Awards were held this evening in the Big Apple and the annual ceremony honoring the year’s best in independent filmmaking provided a couple of legitimate surprises. Chloe Zhao’s Western The Rider was a surprise winner for Best Feature, beating out the favored The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk. The Rider premiered all the way back in April after originally screening at Cannes in May 2017. The acclaimed film from director Chloe Zhao has not been on my Oscar radar screen whatsoever.

Should it be? If you look at Gotham’s winners for the last few years, you may deduce that the answer is yes. From 2014-2016, the honored feature (Birdman, Spotlight, Moonlight) went on to win Best Picture in the biggest race of all. Call Me by Your Name from last year got a nomination. On the flip side, the recipients from 2012 and 2013 (Moonrise Kingdom and Inside Llewyn Davis) failed to garner Academy recognition. The Rider will more than likely fall in that camp, unlike fellow nominees The Favourite and Beale Street. The other two features nominated were Madeline’s Madeline (an Oscar non-factor) and First Reformed (more on that in a minute).

The Actress race also provided an unexpected winner in the way of Toni Collette for Hereditary. She won out over Glenn Close, who seems bound for an Oscar nod in The Wife. Best Actress is crowded this year, but the fourth and fifth slots seem open to several leading ladies. If Collette can manage some critics awards (which are coming very soon), expect her name to earn more chatter. For the time being, I still believe a nomination is a reach. That could change.

For Actor, Ethan Hawke was a victor for First Reformed. Unlike Actress, this year’s crop of potential Actors at the Oscars is a little weaker. Hawke seems to be gaining momentum at the right time. Last week, I included him in my predicted five for the first time. I feel better and better about it.

Speaking of First Reformed, Paul Schrader (who also directed it) picked up the Screenplay award. Somehow he has never been Oscar nominated… not even for his Taxi Driver screenplay over four decades ago. In order to get his first, his original script would need to knock out one of the following contenders in that race: The Favourite, Roma, Green Book, Eighth Grade, or Vice. That could be a tall order, but it’s certainly possible.

Check back tomorrow as the National Board of Review (a significant precursor) unveils their winners. I’ll have reaction to that with updated Oscar predictions on Thursday!