Oscars 2021: The Case of Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz’s performance in Parallel Mothers is the third Best Actress entry in my Case Of posts. If you missed the ones covering the other C’s (Jessica Chastain and Olivia Colman), they’re here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Jessica Chastain

Oscars 2021: The Case of Olivia Colman

The Case for Penelope Cruz:

More than any other high profile race, Best Actress looks wide open. Spain inexplicably didn’t name Mothers as its International Feature Film selection (it probably would’ve been nominated). Instead it settled for this nod and Original Score. This could provide a way for the Academy to honor it.

The Case Against Penelope Cruz:

If Cruz were to take this, she would do so without mentions from the Globes, SAG, BAFTA, or Critics Choice. That just doesn’t happen.

Previous Nominations: 3

Volver (2006 – Actress); Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008 – Supporting Actress, WON)Nine (2009 – Supporting Actress)

The Verdict:

When Cruz won Supporting Actress 13 years ago for Vicky Christina Barcelona, she was the favorite. For her other two nominations in 2006 and 2009, she was a major long shot. That is once again the case and of the five women up, I believe she’s got the lowest chance to emerge victorious.

My Case Of posts will continue with the third Best Actor competitor – Andrew Garfield in Tick Tick… Boom!

The Lone Screenplay Nominee: An Oscar Prediction Analysis

We are getting the nitty gritty on nailing down Oscar predictions on this blog and it’s time to consider a prevailing trend in the 21st century when it comes to the Adapted and Original Screenplay contests. That would be The Lone Screenplay Nominee.

What’s that you ask? For the last 20 award ceremonies, at least one movie has been nominated in its screenplay race and in no other additional category. That’s a rather startling statistic, but it’s true. You have to go all the way to 2000 to find a year in which the ten nominated films in those two derbies didn’t get a nod elsewhere.

Here’s the list from 2001-2020 of pictures that got The Lone Screenplay nomination (abbreviation are AS for Adapted and OS for Original):

2001 – Ghost World (AS), The Royal Tenenbaums (OS)

2002 – About a Boy (AS), My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mama Tambien (OS)

2003 – American Splendor (AS), Dirty Pretty Things (OS)

2004 – Before Sunset (AS)

2005 – Match Point, The Squid and the Whale (OS)

2006 – Borat (AS)

2007 – Lars and the Real Girl (OS)

2008 – Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges (OS)

2009 – In the Loop (AS)

2010 – Another Year (OS)

2011 – The Ides of March (AS), Margin Call (OS)

2012 – Moonrise Kingdom (OS)

2013 – Before Midnight (AS)

2014 – Nightcrawler (OS)

2015 – Straight Outta Compton (OS)

2016 – 20th Century Women, The Lobster (OS)

2017 – The Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly’s Game (AS), The Big Sick (OS)

2018 – First Reformed (OS)

2019 – Knives Out (OS)

2020 – The White Tiger (AS)

Clearly the writing branch of the Academy enjoy singling out a pic or two that doesn’t get any love elsewhere. And it’s a tradition that I haven’t really factored into my predictions for 2021’s hopefuls. That changes today.

My latest round of predictions from last week were the following for Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay:

Adapted – CODA, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Original – Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza

Here’s the problem – all ten of those pictures are highly likely to find nominations elsewhere.

So… what’s vulnerable and what are the movies that could fit the Lone Screenplay Nominee mold when the announcement is made on February 8?

Glad you asked. In Adapted, Dune could absolutely miss. The voters in the screenplay race could decide that it’ll get plenty of tech nods (it will) as well as Picture and Director mentions (highly probable). Its screenplay nod could  wait until its sequel.

So what are the contenders in Adapted that may not get nods elsewhere? There’s The Last Duel, which could get points for its unique script that tells its medieval tale from three differing perspectives. It appears to have little chance at Picture or even Jodie Comer’s acclaimed performance in lead actress.

There’s also Passing, but that’s assuming Ruth Negga misses out in Supporting Actress (and I’ve got her in). Other possibilities are Nightmare Alley (though it should at least be recognized for Production Design) and Tick, Tick… Boom! (which could be in line for Picture but especially for Andrew Garfield in lead actor). The Lost Daughter could be the one. However, I have a hard time seeing Olivia Colman not getting in for Best Actress.

Moving to Original Screenplay, my five current nominees all seem destined to achieve mentions elsewhere. I look at King Richard and Being the Ricardos as potentially being two that could miss the screenplay cut.

There are three pictures with original scripts that could fill the slots and be The Lone Nominee and they are:

    • C’Mon C’Mon. And there’s history here. Mike Mills was the writer/director for the aforementioned 20th Century Women from 2016. With Joaquin Phoenix as a long shot for Best Actor inclusion, this is the type of nominee that the writers might celebrate.
    • Mass. It looked like a potential BP nominee for some time but it has fallen (it’s not even in my top 15). Ann Dowd could score a Supporting Actress nomination, but I currently have her ranked 7th. It’s a pic that’s all dialogue between four actors and that could strike the voters fancies.
    • Parallel Mothers. The Pedro Almodovar pic was not Spain’s selection for International Feature Film and is therefore not eligible. Penelope Cruz is a possibility for Actress, but I have her outside the top five.

When I update my estimates for all categories this weekend, expect to see one of these titles (either in Adapted or Original or maybe both) selected. History says it’s the right call. Stay tuned!

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

After four posts focusing on the acting races at the 2021 Oscars, it’s time to turn to Best Director. If you missed those entries on the lead and supporting performer derbies, you can find them here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

With the directing category, I do believe there’s three filmmakers that have likely punched their ticket to a nomination. Before we get there, let’s take a look at how my projections panned out at the same early November time frame in 2019 and 2020.

Two years back, I correctly identified four of the five contenders: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) as well as Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. 2020 was more unpredictable with two months left to go and that resulted in only two directors being accurately named: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), who took the gold, and David Fincher (Mank). Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while neither Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) or surprise nominee Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were yet listed in my top ten.

Back to 2021 and the three individuals who I believe stand probable shots at making the cut. They are Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).

It was 28 years ago that Campion was nominated for The Piano. If it hadn’t been for Oscar juggernaut Schindler’s List, she likely would’ve been making a speech. Upon its premiere in Venice, Campion took the Silver Lion (equivalent to this competition) for Dog. I don’t see her being left off the ballot.

Belfast is the current frontrunner for Best Picture and it’s hard to envision  writer/director Branagh not making it in. If so, it would be his first nod in directing since Henry V some 32 years back.

Dune is being heralded for its technical wizardry and it should pick up numerous down the line wins and nominations. Five years after his behind the camera work was recognized for Arrival, Villeneuve should be a factor again.

Interestingly, I don’t feel there’s a clear favorite to win. There are plausible scenarios for any member of this trio to emerge victorious. Campion, Branagh, and Villeneuve constitute my top 3 (in that order), but it’s more of a 1a, 1b, and 1c at press time.

As for the other two slots, there’s a few contenders stemming from unseen product. There’s big names in that bunch: Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley, who won four years ago for The Shape of Water), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza, a two-time nominee for There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread), Ridley Scott (for House of Gucci and not The Last Duel), Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up, previously nominated for The Big Short), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick, Tick… Boom!), and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story,  a two-time winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan).

Any of these gentlemen could bubble up to the surface once their pictures are screened. I’m sticking with the two I’ve had in my five recently: del Toro and Anderson.

King Richard has a chance to win Best Picture, but I’m skeptical its maker Reinaldo Marcus Green makes it here. The sports drama seems destined to be recognized more for its performances, but if the Academy really falls for it, Green could be theoretically be swept in. That holds true for Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) and Pablo Larrain (Spencer) as well.

Lastly, Thomas Vinterberg’s nod in 2020 for Another Round came out of nowhere. While it was pegged to take International Feature Film (which it did), Round was not nominated in Best Picture. There’s a slew of directors who could fill the “surprise” slot this time around (many from foreign features): Pedro Almodovar (Parallel Mothers), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Asghar Farhari (A Hero), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World). I wouldn’t completely count out Rebecca Hall for Passing. Yet none of these upset selections are in my top ten.

The one that is: Jonas Poher Rasmussen for festival darling Flee. While I don’t have it nabbing a Best Pic nom at the moment, I do foresee the Danish doc contending in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film. That kind of attention could cause the voters to include him.

Here’s how those rankings look at the start of November:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 6)

7. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 7)

8. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: 9)

10. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Best Picture is next!

Oscar Predictions: Official Competition

Starting its trek in Venice, the Spanish comedy Official Competition is playing the festival circuit as it awaits inevitable U.S. distribution. From directors Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn, Competition stars Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, and Oliver Martinez.

A satire set in the movie business, the pic is generating pretty solid reviews so far. The Rotten Tomatoes, based on a small number at press time, is 100%. Yet the notices aren’t strong enough for me to think this would contend in Picture or International Feature Film.

As for the two leads, Banderas is coming off his first nod two years ago in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory. Don’t look for him to be a factor in Actor. I do expect Cruz to be a player in Best Actress, but not for this. Her other Venice premiere was Parallel Mothers (directed by Almodovar) and she stands a good shot for it.

Bottom line: Official Competition sounds fun. However, I wouldn’t anticipate it being part of the Academy’s official competition. My Oscar Watch posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Parallel Mothers

The Venice Film Festival is officially underway so you better get used to reading my Oscar Predictions posts for quite a few features. The Italian fest opened with a Spanish picture – Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers.

Early word-of-mouth is strong with critics saying this is one of the auteur’s most serious and satisfying offerings. The film stars Penelope Cruz in a tale of the trials and tribulations for two expectant women (the other being the teenaged Milena Smit).

Almodovar is no stranger to Oscar attention. Three of his efforts (1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1999’s All About My Mother, 2019’s Pain and Glory) all received nods in Best International Feature film. Mother won.

As for Cruz, three of her performances have been recognized by the Academy: her supporting turns in 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona (which she took gold for) and 2009’s Nine. Her sole lead nod was in 2006’s Volver, which was made by Almodovar.

The question is: will a fourth nomination come for the director and his star? I’m assuming Spain will make Mothers their selection and it stands an excellent chance at inclusion in the foreign field (I highly doubt Best Picture will happen). Original Screenplay is also a major possibility.

With Cruz, it’s murkier. Two years ago, the filmmaker’s lead Antonio Banderas picked up a Best Actor spot for Pain and Glory. My hunch is that Cruz’s opportunity for #4 will be dependent on what follows at Venice, other festivals, and forthcoming pictures in the next four months. Competition is expected to be steep. Jennifer Hudson in the already out Respect could make the cut. And there’s a bunch of hopefuls waiting in the wings, including but certainly not limited to Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Jodie Comer (The Last Duel), Lady Gaga (House of Gucci), Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth), and Kristen Stewart (Spencer).

Bottom line: Parallel Mothers could be expecting some attention at Oscar time, but other competitors will determine its chances beyond the international race. My Oscar Prediction posts for 2021 titles 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

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 19th Edition

We are a mere two weeks away from the Venice Film Festival and that will be followed up in short order by Telluride and Toronto. It is then that a number of titles mentioned below will receive their first critical reactions. That will translate into whether their Oscar buzz is real or fleeting.

As for this week, there are some changes in the rankings and projections as follows:

    • We have ourselves a new #1 in Best Picture and Director and that is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, supplanting Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci. The film is a mainstay on the upcoming festival circuit and it could well be Netflix’s prime contender.
    • The 10 spot in Best Picture has a change. I’ve soured a bit on Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. While I strongly feel it will contend in Best International Feature Film, I’m changing it out for Stephen Karam’s The Humans – the cinematic version of his acclaimed play. It jumps 11 spots to get into the BP derby. The Humans also is now forecasted for Adapted Screenplay to the detriment of CODA.
    • Amir Jadidi’s performance in A Hero is removed from the top five in Best Actor with Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up) taking the slot.
    • After viewing CODA, I believe Troy Kotsur (playing Marlee Matlin’s randy husband) could find a way into Supporting Actor. I don’t have him in the five, but Kotsur makes his first appearance in the race at #9.

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 2)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

6. Dune (PR: 6)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. CODA (PR: 8)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. The Humans (PR: 21)

Other Possibilities:

11. Mass (PR: 11)

12. A Hero (PR: 10)

13. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

14. Belfast (PR: 13)

15. Flee (PR: 19)

16. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 16)

17. Spencer (PR: 15)

18. King Richard (PR: 14)

19. Last Night in Soho (PR: 22)

20. Passing (PR: 20)

21. Parallel Mothers (PR: 17)

22. The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

24. Cyrano (PR: 18)

25. The Last Duel (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

In the Heights

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 3)

3. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

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. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 8)

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

10. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 10)

12. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 11)

13. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

14. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Fran Kranz, Mass (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers

Pablo Larrain, Spencer

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: 5)

4. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 3)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

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

8. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 8)

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

10. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 12)

11. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

12. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 11)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 14)

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

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 6)

8. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 5)

9. Steven Yeun, The Humans (PR: 12)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 11)

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 14)

13. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

15. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom (PR: 15)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 4)

3. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 2)

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12)

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

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8)

9. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 6)

10. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog (PR: 9)

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

12. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 13)

13. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 10)

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

15. Salma Hayek, House of Gucci (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 2)

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

7. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

8. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

9. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall (PR: 11)

11. Bradley Whitford, Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 12)

12. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 8)

13. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 15)

14. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

3. Mass (PR: 3)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

5. A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Belfast (PR: 12)

8. Being the Ricardos (PR: 9)

9. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

10. Last Night in Soho (PR: 8)

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

12. Spencer (PR: 11)

13. The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. King Richard (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. The Humans (PR: 6)

5. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA (PR: 5)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

9. Passing (PR: 8)

10. The Last Duel (PR: 12)

11. Cyrano (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

14. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen 

Back at it next week!

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 12th Edition

Film festival season is approaching with Toronto, Venice, Telluride, and more. The early days of September will assist in answering plenty of questions as to the Oscar viability of several pictures.

As for this mid August timeframe, we mostly wait. However, one contender’s chances are clearer than last week. The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, as I suspected, will not play in Best Picture. Yet the raves for Jennifer Hudson keep me believing she could make the final five in what looks to be a crowded field. Hudson remains in the four spot. The many performances left to witness will eventually answer whether she remains.

There is some movement in the other categories:

    • CODA was one of the acclaimed titles at Sundance and it releases on Apple TV tomorrow. Widely regarded as a crowdpleaser, I’m feeling more hopeful that it makes the top ten in BP. To make room, I’ve removed another buzzed about Sundance effort – Mass. I’ll confess that Mass is a head scratcher for me at press time. The four main leads (Jason Isaacs, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney, Martha Plimpton) will apparently all be campaigned for in the supporting fields. Dowd seems the most assured to make it, but they all could. However, both Isaacs and Plimpton are being taken out of my predicted five.
    • That means Toni Collette for Nightmare Alley is in over Plimpton in Supporting Actress. It felt strange not to have at least one actor from Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming pic in the mix. That could also be Rooney Mara in the same race.
    • In Supporting Actor, taking out Isaacs puts Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth) in. I’ve also made a switch in the #1 position. Bradley Cooper has had it the first two weeks for Soggy Bottom and now it’s Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog. 
    • The lead actor and screenplay derbies reflect the same five as last week.

Check out all the movement below! I’ll be back at it next week…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

6. Dune (PR: 5)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. CODA (PR: 11)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. A Hero (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. Mass (PR: 8)

12. The French Dispatch (PR: 13)

13. Belfast (PR: 12)

14. King Richard (PR: 16)

15. Spencer (PR: 14)

16. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 17)

17. Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

18. Cyrano (PR: 15)

19. Flee (PR: 18)

20. Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

21. The Humans (PR: 19)

22. Last Night in Soho (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Blue Bayou (PR: 20)

24. Being the Ricardos (PR: 23)

25. In the Heights (PR: 24)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel

The Worst Person in the World

Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

2. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

4. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

8. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 7)

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

10. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

11. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

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

13. Fran Kranz, Mass (PR: 10)

14. Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Joe Wright, Cyrano

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

7. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 9)

8. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 7)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

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

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

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

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 15)

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

Dropped Out:

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

10. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 8)

11. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 11)

12. Steven Yeun, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 12)

14. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 13)

15. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Michael B. Jordan, A Journal for Jordan

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 2)

3. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 5)

7. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 11)

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 7)

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog (PR: 10)

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

11. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 9)

12. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

13. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 12)

14. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Audra McDonald, Respect

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 4)

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

5. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 3)

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (PR: 7)

8. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 10)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

10. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall (PR: 8)

12. Bradley Whitford, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 11)

13. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano (PR: 12)

14. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 13)

15. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

3. Mass (PR: 2)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

5. A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 13)

7. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6)

8. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10)

9. Being the Ricardos (PR: 7)

10. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 9)

11. Spencer (PR: 8)

12. Belfast (PR: 12)

13. King Richard (PR: 14)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 11)

15. Annette (PR: 15)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. CODA (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 6)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. Passing (PR: 12)

9. Cyrano (PR: 8)

10. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 11)

11. West Side Story (PR: 9)

12. The Last Duel (PR: 10)

13. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

14. Dear Evan Hansen (PR: 15)

15. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

A Journal for Jordan

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

The blog’s early look at the 2021 Oscar contenders arrives at Best Director. If you didn’t see the posts outlining my initial picks for the acting derbies, take a look here:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

In 2020, my first estimates in the directorial field yielded 2 eventual nominees: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). The three others were not even mentioned: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), and surprise contender Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round).

Here’s the players as I see it at this July juncture:

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Other Contenders:

Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Leos Carax, Annette

Fran Kranz, Mass

Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

David O. Russell, Canterbury Glass

Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

That leaves only Best Picture and it will be posted in short order!