Oscars 2020: The Case of Frances McDormand

The fourth contender is up in what has become the most fascinating competition at the Oscars (Best Actress) with Frances McDormand in Nomadland. If you missed coverage on the first three (Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman), they’re here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

Oscars 2020: The Case of Andra Day

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/09/oscars-2020-the-case-of-vanessa-kirby/

The Case for Frances McDormand

She’s starring in the Oscar favorite for Best Picture and Director with one of her most acclaimed roles. That’s saying a lot. Nomadland marks McDormand’s sixth nomination overall. She’s been nominated thrice in supporting for Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country where’s she 0 for 3. However, in her previous Best Actress plays, she’s 2 for 2 with Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Just this weekend McDormand took the award at BAFTA and there is a 9/10 Oscar match from 2010-2019. Added to that is the history she would make. By taking three Best Actress honors, she would become only the second woman ever to do so (Katherine Hepburn received 4).

The Case Against Frances McDormand 

This is as unpredictable a race as it gets. While McDormand’s BAFTA is a sure sign that’s she in this, other precursors have not followed suit. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Andra Day took the Golden Globes and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) is the Critics Choice honoree. All stand reasonable chances and there could be a feeling that McDormand has been there and done that (twice). In an interesting stat, only one Best Actress winner in the 21st century has seen her film take the big prize (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby).

The Verdict

The BAFTA vaults McDormand into even more serious consideration to take Oscar #3 in a race that seems to be coming down to the wire.

My Case Of posts will continue with Gary Oldman in Mank…

2020 BAFTAs: The Nomadland Train Keeps Rolling

The road for Nomadland to Best Picture coronation at the Oscars keeps rolling today thanks to the BAFTAs (the United Kingdom’s version of the Academy Awards). Meanwhile, the Actor and Actress derbies got a bit more interesting while the supporting players continued its recent narrative.

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland won Best Film and Director in what has become a common theme. However, Frances McDormand’s victory in Actress is her first major precursor in an Oscar race that has truly become a tossup. To break it down, the four significant precursors have all produced different results: McDormand for BAFTA, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) at SAG, Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) at Critics Choice, and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) at the Globes. Bottom line: it’s going to be quite a chore to make a final predictions for the Academy’s ceremony two weeks from today.

Chadwick Boseman’s work in Ma Rainey had swept all the precursors, but that was interrupted this afternoon by Anthony Hopkins in The Father. This is not a huge upset since Hopkins is British royalty. Yet it does establish him as the surefire runner-up to Boseman and a potential threat.

The supporting races followed the SAG path with Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) in Supporting Actress and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) continuing his sweep in Supporting Actor. Both can be considered favorites at the Oscars (especially the latter).

In the screenplay competition, The Father took Adapted over Nomadland in what could be a two picture race in two weeks. Promising Young Woman took Original honors (besting The Trial of the Chicago 7, which came up empty across the pond). Promising also took home Best British Film.

Unlike the other precursors, the BAFTAs cover most of the down ticket categories and I’ll simply say that all the victors below stand decent to very strong chances at repeating at the Oscars:

Animated Film: Soul

Documentary: My Octopus Teacher

Film Not in the English Language: Another Round

Cinematography: Nomadland

Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Editing: Sound of Metal

Makeup & Hair: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Original Score: Soul

Production Design: Mank

Sound: Sound of Metal

Special Visual Effects: Tenet

My final Oscar predictions will be before you know it! Stay tuned…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Vanessa Kirby

Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman is my third Case Of post for the five women vying in the seemingly wide open Best Actress race. If you missed my previous posts covering Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), they’re here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

Oscars 2020: The Case of Andra Day

The Case for Vanessa Kirby

Other than legions of The Crown viewers, many filmgoers have known Ms. Kirby primarily for action fare like Hobbs & Shaw and Mission: Impossible – Fallout. That changed in 2020 with acclaimed roles in the period piece The World to Come and especially with Pieces of a Woman, the Netflix drama that drew across the board raves for the actress. No frontrunner has truly emerged in this Best Actress competition and it actually feels like any of the five could win. She’s one of only two Oscar nominees in the BAFTA derby this weekend (alongside Frances McDormand in Nomadland) and she could take it.

The Case Against Vanessa Kirby

This marks Piece‘s one and only nod (Ellen Burstyn was a contender in supporting and didn’t make the cut). Barring a BAFTA victory, Kirby would go into Oscar night with zero significant precursor awards. Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) took the Golden Globe. Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) got the SAG and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) achieved the Critics Choice prize. The film itself some mixed critical reaction.

The Verdict

Of the five hopefuls, Kirby probably ranks fifth in terms of getting it. Yet I can’t stress enough that it’s a crapshoot at the moment and anything could happen.

My Case Of posts will continue with Anthony Hopkins in The Father…

Oscars 2020: The Case of David Fincher

My Case Of posts for nominees at the 93rd Academy Awards reaches its third director with David Fincher for Mank. If you missed my previous two posts covering Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), they can be found here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

The Case for David Fincher

For over a quarter century, Fincher has been one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful filmmakers on the scene. His pictures have received a collective 40 Oscar nods. However, he’s yet to win himself for his direction despite two previous nods for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. In other words, there’s an overdue factor at play.

The Case Against David Fincher

Despite Mank leading in terms of total nominations (10) at the upcoming ceremony, it missed out in key categories like Original Screenplay and Editing. Of the 8 Best Picture nominees, it actually has the lowest (83%) Rotten Tomatoes score. While Fincher has landed mentions in the significant precursors, he’s lost at each turn to Chloe Zhao for Nomadland and she stands as the heavy favorite to take the Academy’s gold.

The Verdict

He may be overdue, but expect that to continue for Fincher as Zhao may well have this race wrapped up.

My Case Of posts will continue with Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman…

2020 SAG Awards Reaction

The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place this evening in an abridged pre-taped hourlong ceremony. So how did this prognosticator do and what does it mean for the Oscars coming up in three weeks?

Well, I went 3/5 on my picks and missed Outstanding Ensemble and Actress. The Trial of the Chicago 7 won the former while I picked Minari. The Trial victory is not a surprise, but I’m not so sure it provides a Best Picture boost over frontrunner Nomadland (which wasn’t nominated here).

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom had a strong evening after missing out on a Best Picture nod at the Oscars. Chadwick Boseman, as projected, continued his sweep in Actor. The surprise came with Viola Davis taking Actress over my selection of Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman).

The Best Actress derby at the Academy Awards is now a bit of a mystery. Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday, who wasn’t on SAG’s list) took the Golden Globe. Mulligan won the Critics Choice. And now Davis at SAG. And I still wouldn’t rule out Frances McDormand for Nomadland. 

I did correctly pick both supporting categories. Daniel Kaluuya was named Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah and he’s a heavy favorite three weeks from now.

The Supporting Actress race has been far more of a challenge to figure out. Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) took the SAG and it could be argued she’s now a soft frontrunner with the Academy (though the race could certainly still go in a different direction).

As for what’s next for my Oscar forecasting, look for final predictions around April 21st or April 22nd!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Andra Day

My Case Of posts for Best Actress reaches its second nominee with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. If you missed my first entry on Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

The Case for Andra Day

Awards prognosticators (including this guy) were stunned when Day beat out favorites Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) at the Golden Globes in the drama category. This upset immediately vaulted Day from will she be nominated? to can she win? While the film has garnered mixed reviews, critics have consistently praised Day’s work as the troubled singer. Just last year the Academy honored another performer (Renee Zellweger) in this race playing a legendary songstress in Judy.

The Case Against Andra Day

As mentioned, the picture itself only managed 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet the biggest case against lies with Day not receiving a SAG nod. Of the previous 26 winners there, not one winning actress missed SAG recognition. Despite the shocking Globes trophy, Mulligan and McDormand remain the frontrunners. Furthermore, Holiday‘s sole nomination came here as it missed other possibilities like Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, and Original Song.

The Verdict

History is not on Day’s side and she ranks third (at best) in this competition.

My Case Of posts will continue with Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) is the second filmmaker up in my Case Of posts for Best Director at the Oscars. If you missed my first writeup for Lee Isaac Chung work in Minari, you can find it here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of Lee Isaac Chung

The Case for Emerald Fennell

The actress turned multi-hyphenate (who served as a show runner for the acclaimed Killing Eve) drew widespread acclaim for her debut feature. She’s the first female Brit to garner a direction nod. Promising Young Woman is looked at as a potential spoiler to front-running Nomadland in Best Picture. The film could also emerge victorious in Actress (Carey Mulligan) and for Fennell herself in Original Screenplay.

The Case Against Emerald Fennell

Fennell’s inclusion here marks the first time in Academy history that two women are up in the category. Unfortunately for her, the other one is Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and she’s considered the strong favorite to take this award.

The Verdict

Fennell has a terrific opportunity to win an Oscar on April 25th, but it’s for her screenplay and not likely here.

My Case Of posts will continue with Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday…

2020 SAG Awards Winner Predictions

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards airs this Easter Sunday evening in an abridged hour long ceremony and, as usual, it could carry significant Oscar implications as to who the frontrunners truly are. That means it’s time for me to put my forecasting hat on and give it my best shot with predictions.

Let’s break it down category by category, shall we? I’ll provide my runner-up selection as well.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Minari, One Night in Miami, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Interestingly, the last two films in the big race (Black Panther, Parasite) won without a single nomination in the individual acting races. That had only happened two times previously between 1995-2017 with 1997’s The Full Monty and 2003’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That will not happen for 2020’s selections as all five have at least one performer contending in a separate category.

However, in a rare occurrence, only two of the five ensembles here landed a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Those are Minari and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Only once in SAG’s history has a movie emerged victorious here without a BP Oscar nod (1996’s The Birdcage). This serves as my annual reminder that SAG picks the best cast and not the best movie.

Truth be told, Da 5 Bloods is the only pic that I believe has little chance at winning here. Yet Ma Rainey and Miami are likely at a disadvantage due to precedent. That leaves us with Minari and Trial. The latter has seen its Oscar momentum stalled in recent weeks, but its sprawling cast could finally get the major precursor victory that it’s been missing. I’m tempted to pick it and it might be the safe choice.

Minari, on the other hand, has gained steamed recently and emerged as a potential upset winner at the Oscars against Nomadland (as has Promising Young Woman, which missed here). I’m choosing to go with the picture with the hotter hand.

Predicted Winner: Minari

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Analysis: The Golden Globe winner in this category (Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday) isn’t featured here. Therefore we can take a precursor sweep off the table for Best Actress. Adams is the sole nominee without an Oscar nomination so she’s out of contention. Mulligan has the Critics Choice Award and is looked at as the prohibitive favorite from the Academy. She’s the most likely SAG winner. Davis and McDormand could upset, but I’m relatively confident with this pick.

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Analysis: There’s a five for five match here with the Academy, but I find this SAG lineup to be a bit more complicated due to other factors. While Boseman has taken the Globes and Critics Choice, his nod in Supporting Actor with the actors guild for Da 5 Bloods (if he wins there) opens the door for either Ahmed or Hopkins. That wouldn’t totally shock me, but it’s hard to predict against Boseman and I won’t.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari), Helena Zengel (News of the World)

Analysis: Now this is a tough one. The Supporting Actress derby in the precursors has been a true head scratcher. Like in Best Actress, Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian) is nowhere to be found (she missed at the Oscars too). Colman and Zengel are the two performers who are highly unlikely to take the prize. This is a genuine three person race between Bakalova, Close, and Youn. Bakalova seems to have momentum with a recent Critics Choice victory. SAG could certainly opt for Close’s baity role (the fact that they nominated her costar Amy Adams lends credence to that). Youn is without a major precursor, but Minari‘s upswing could sweep her in.

Simply put, I’ve very torn here. With Close, the Academy’s narrative for a win is that she’s without an Oscar and is looked at as overdue. SAG, on the other hand, has bestowed trophies for her twice including just two years ago for The Wife. Bakalova has the disadvantage of being in a comedy, but that hindrance may not matter much in this wide open field. I’m left with buying the Minari momentum for Youn. However, I can’t stress enough how feasible a win is for all three actresses.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Jared Leto (The Little Things), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami)

Analysis: This one is far simpler than Supporting Actress as Kaluuya has racked up the Globe and Critics Choice and is the heavy favorite. The only wrinkle, as mentioned above, is if SAG voters decide to honor Boseman here instead of in Best Actor. It probably won’t happen, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods

And there you have it! I’ll have reaction up on Sunday evening. Until then…

 

Oscars 2020: The Case of Viola Davis

**Blogger’s Update (04/04): Viola Davis has won the SAG Award for Best Actress. Her victory there makes an Oscar win certainly more feasible than when I wrote the post below.

Viola Davis’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is first up in my Case Of posts for the five hopefuls for Best Actress:

The Case for Viola Davis:

She could make history and already has. By nabbing her fourth nod for the Netflix drama, Davis has become the most nominated African-American woman ever. She is 1 for 3 having won four years ago in Supporting Actress for Fences (her other two mentions were in supporting in 2008 with Doubt and in lead in 2011 for The Help). If she were to emerge victorious here, Davis would be the first African-American female with two victories.

The Case Against Viola Davis:

Ma Rainey underperformed significantly with voters with misses in Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. It could win tech races like Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling. The best chance at a major victory, however, lies with costar Chadwick Boseman in Best Actor (who’s performing a sweep thus far with precursors). Davis’s chances have taken a backseat to Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), and perhaps even Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), who picked up a surprise Golden Globe trophy. There has also been some chatter that her work here should have been for Supporting Actress due to fairly limited screen time.

The Verdict

Ms. Davis was near the top of possibilities to take this award a while back. That has undoubtedly changed and a second Oscar here would be nothing short of a major upset.

My Case Of posts will continue with Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal…

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Trial of the Chicago 7

My Case Of posts for the 8 Best Picture nominees concludes with Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. If you missed the previous seven entries on the other contenders, you can peruse them here:

Oscars 2020: The Case of The Father

Oscars 2020: The Case of Judas and the Black Messiah

Oscars 2020: The Case of Mank

Oscars 2020: The Case of Minari

Oscars 2020: The Case of Nomadland

Oscars 2020: The Case of Promising Young Woman

Oscars 2020: The Case of Sound of Metal

The Case for The Trial of the Chicago 7:

When the Netflix drama began streaming in October, Sorkin’s sophomore directorial effort became an immediate player in the Oscar discussion and was considered a soft frontrunner for weeks. Along with The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, and Sound of Metal, it scored six nominations. This is also the kind of effort that seems tailor-made for Academy attention. Sorkin is already a gold winner for his 2010 screenplay for The Social Network.

The Case Against The Trial of the Chicago 7:

Well… it’s grown recently. Trial couldn’t manage a Golden Globe or Critics Choice victory over Nomadland, which has become the favorite. In fact, all of its major nominations appear in jeopardy. Sacha Baron Cohen’s chances in Supporting Actor are behind Daniel Kaluuya’s for Judas and the Black Messiah. Original Screenplay seems iffy with Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman surging. Perhaps most notably, Sorkin missed the cut in Best Director.

The Verdict

While other nominees like Minari, Promising Young Woman, and Sound of Metal have gained momentum in recent weeks, Trial appears to be going in the opposite direction. There is a legitimate chance that it walks away with zero wins come Oscar night (Film Editing might be its best hope). I wouldn’t completely count out its chances to take Best Picture, but its prospects have undoubtedly dwindled.

My Case Of posts for Best Picture have wrapped up, but now it’s time for the directing and acting players. That begins with Lee Isaac Chung for Minari and that will be posted tomorrow…