2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 13th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions in the major categories, as expected, has seen some significant shifting. This is mostly due to the Toronto Film Festival and the screenings of several major contenders.

Here are some quick notes on the movement that’s taken place in the past seven days:

  • The addiction drama Beautiful Boy has taken a hit in the standings, due to a mixed Toronto reaction. It falls from #5 all the way to #21 in the Best Picture derby. Additionally, I have taken it out the 5 predicted nominees in Best Actor (Steve Carell) and Adapted Screenplay. However, Timothee Chalamet is still looking good for Supporting Actor.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk had its much awaited debut up north. I basically had it as a place holder pick at #1 in both Picture and Director, but it’s fallen in both races to #5 and #4, respectively. This vaults A Star Is Born to the #1 slot in BP with Alfonso Cuaron’s direction of Roma currently topping Best Director.
  • The elimination of the Best Popular Film category could be a good thing for Black Panther. For the first time, I have it included in my nine predicted BP nominees.
  • Peter Farrelly’s Green Book seemed to be a crowd favorite in Toronto. While I have it just outside my BP rankings, it’s now included in Best Original Screenplay and Mahershala Ali is predicted for Supporting Actor. It’s not entirely certain yet whether he will be placed in that category or go co-lead with Viggo Mortensen.
  • Speaking of category placement, we’re still not sure where Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz will end up for The Favourite. Right now, I’m assuming Colman in Actress and both Stone and Weisz for Supporting Actress. I’ve now got Stone getting a nod for the first time.
  • The Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale has apparently switched its working title name Backseat to Vice.
  • My current Best Actor predictions now include Ryan Gosling (First Man) and Robert Redford (The Old Man & The Gun) with the aforementioned Carell and Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner) out.
  • In Best Actress, solid Toronto chatter for the work of Viola Davis (Widows) puts her in the mix with Nicole Kidman (Destroyer) taken out.
  • Widows also shined a light on Daniel Kaluuya as he’s said to have a terrific part in it. He is now included in Supporting Actor along with Green Book‘s Ali. Sam Rockwell (Vice) and Russell Crowe (Boy Erased) have been moved out of the predicted nominees.
  • In Supporting Actress, Emma Stone has replaced Vera Farmiga (The Front Runner).
  • Yorgos Lanthimos has been included in my 5 director nominees and that means Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman) is on the outside looking in currently.

Here’s the whole breakdown for this week!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

2. Roma (PR: 3)

3. First Man (PR: 4)

4. The Favourite (PR: 6)

5. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR 1)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

7. Boy Erased (PR: 8)

8. Vice (PR: 9 – previously known as Backseat)

9. Black Panther (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Green Book (PR: 18)

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 15)

12. Widows (PR: 14)

13. The Front Runner (PR: 10)

14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 25)

15. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 24)

16. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

17. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 21)

18. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 17)

19. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 16)

20. Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Beautiful Boy (PR: 5)

22. Cold War (PR: 20)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 23)

24. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 19)

25. Peterloo (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

July 22

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

4. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

5. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

9. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 12)

10. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

11. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 15)

12. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

Mike Leigh, Peterloo

Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

Best Actor

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

2. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 2)

3. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 6)

4. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 4)

5. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

7. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

8. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 10)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 5)

10. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: 14)

11. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 9)

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

13. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 13)

15. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 11)

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 5)

5. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 12)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 9)

9. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 3)

10. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

12. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

13. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

14. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 13)

15. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

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

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

5. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 3)

7. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

8. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

9. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

10. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 6)

11. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

12. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 12)

15. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick

J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 1)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 7)

4. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 3)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 14)

7. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

8. Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

10. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 4)

13. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 8)

15. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

Blythe Danner, What They Had

Rachel McAdams, Disobedience 

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

2. First Man (PR: 5)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Boy Erased (PR: 4)

7. Widows (PR: 13)

8. Black Panther (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Front Runner (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 10)

11. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 12)

12. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 9)

14. Disobedience (PR: 11)

15. Wildlife (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. Vice (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 6)

5. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 13)

7. Ben Is Back (PR: 9)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 10)

9. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 5)

10. Vox Lux (PR: 8)

11. First Reformed (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 12)

13. Mid90s (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Hereditary (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Peterloo

Isle of Dogs

Bohemian Rhapsody

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2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

What a difference a week makes! Last Thursday, I gave you my first initial predictions in the major categories for the Oscars. Since then – we’ve seen a slew of pictures screened at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.

Films like A Star Is Born, Roma, First Man, and The Favourite solidified their status as contenders. Others like Boy Erased and The Front Runner availed themselves as possibilities, but not slam dunks. Others like Destroyer and The Old Man & The Gun likely took themselves out of the running in Best Picture, but shined a light on their actors that could receive nods.

And here’s the thing… by the time I do my third round of predictions next Thursday, we will have lots more pictures screened at the Toronto Film Festival, which begins today. That includes such high-profile titles as If Beale Street Could Talk, Beautiful Boy, Widows, and more.

Here’s how I have the key races ranked by possibility of nomination at this point in time!

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Roma (PR: 4)

4. First Man (PR: 5)

5. Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

6. The Favourite (PR: 13)

7. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. Backseat (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

10. The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Black Panther (PR: 12)

12. Peterloo (PR: 9)

13. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

14. Widows (PR: 11)

15. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 16)

16. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 17)

17. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 22)

18. Green Book (PR: 21)

19. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 24)

20. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

21. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 23)

22. July 22 (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 19)

24. The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

25. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Destroyer

Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 2)

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 11)

7. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

8. Adam McKay, Backseat (PR: 7)

9. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

10. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner (PR: 14)

11. Mike Leigh, Peterloo (PR: 9)

12. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 13)

14. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

15. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

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

2. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 3)

3. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

4. Christian Bale, Backseat (PR: 6)

5. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

7. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 5)

8. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased (PR: 7)

9. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

10. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 13)

11. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 10)

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 12)

13. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here (PR: 14)

14. John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 6)

4. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 9)

5. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 5)

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 7)

8. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 3)

9. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

11. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

12. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 15)

13. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 8)

14. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 13)

15. Joanna Kulig, Cold War

Dropped Out:

Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 7)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 9)

10. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 13)

11. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased (PR: 5)

12. Jason Clarke, First Man (PR: 11)

13. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

14. Matthew McConaughey, White Boy Rick (PR: Not Ranked)

15. J.K. Simmons, The Front Runner (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 3)

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

3. Amy Adams, Backseat (PR: 5)

4. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

5. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy (PR: 6)

7. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 4)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 12)

10. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy (PR: 7)

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 11)

12. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 9)

13. Blythe Danner, What They Had (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

15. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Beautiful Boy (PR: 2)

3. A Star Is Born (PR: 4)

4. Boy Erased (PR: 3)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

7. The Front Runner (PR: 8)

8. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

10. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

11. Disobedience (PR: 13)

12. The Sisters Brothers (PR: 15)

13. Widows (PR: 12)

14. Wildlife (PR: 14)

15. The Miseducation of Cameron Post (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Old Man & The Gun

Best Original Screenplay

1. The Favourite (PR: 5)

2. Roma (PR: 1)

3. Backseat (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Green Book (PR: 11)

7. Peterloo (PR: 2)

8. Vox Lux (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ben is Back (PR: 8)

10. A Quiet Place (PR: 13)

11. Isle of Dogs (PR: Not Ranked)

12. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 9)

13. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

14. Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 14)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Destroyer

Colette

Check back next Thursday for updated predictions!

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: August 30th Edition

My weekly ranked Oscar predictions kick off today as the Venice Film Festival is in full swing with Toronto and Telluride on deck!

Each Thursday, I will be bringing you my top 25 possibilities for Best Picture, along with 15 for Best Director, the four acting races, and the screenplay categories.

In November, the rankings will constrict to 15 possibilities for Best Picture and ten for every other race covering feature films (this is when all the tech categories, animated feature, foreign film, documentary will enter the mix).

Before I get to the rankings, some warnings: these will change dramatically as time rolls along. Some features could be pushed back to 2019. Some of them will instantly become non-factors due to poor critical reaction. Others will vault higher.

In the acting races, there is always uncertainty at this juncture about placement in which category. Here’s a few 2018 examples: right now I have Steve Carell listed in lead actor for Beautiful Boy with Timothee Chalamet in supporting. That could switch or both could be campaigned for in lead. Time will tell. Same goes for Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book. Right now, I have Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs for lead, but it could easily be supporting. And it’s uncertain where the women (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone) of The Favourite will land.

All of this will be sorted out in the coming weeks and months and I’ll be here every Thursday to share with you where I have each category at this snapshot in time.

You can expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts coming your way directly focused on individual films screenings at festivals over the coming days.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Best Picture

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. A Star Is Born

3. Beautiful Boy

4. Roma

5. First Man

6. BlacKkKlansman

7. Boy Erased

8. Backseat

9. Peterloo

Other Possibilities:

10. Mary Queen of Scots

11. Widows

12. Black Panther

13. The Favourite

14. The Front Runner

15. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

16. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

17. Crazy Rich Asians

18. Old Man & The Gun

19. Bohemian Rhapsody

20. Destroyer

21. Green Book

22. Mary Poppins Returns

23. At Eternity’s Gate

24. On the Basis of Sex

25. Ben Is Back

Best Director

1. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

3. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

4. Damien Chazelle, First Man

5. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. Felix Van Groeningen, Beautiful Boy

7. Adam McKay, Backseat

8. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

9. Mike Leigh, Peterloo

10. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

11. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

12. Steve McQueen, Widows

13. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther

14. Jason Reitman, The Front Runner

15. Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

2. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy

3. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

4. Ryan Gosling, First Man

5. Robert Redford, Old Man & The Gun

Other Possibilities:

6. Christian Bale, Backseat

7. Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

8. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner

10. Stephan James, If Beale Street Could Talk

11. Rory Kinnear, Peterloo

12. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

13. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

14. Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

15. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

2. Glenn Close, The Wife

3. Viola Davis, Widows

4. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk

Other Possibilities:

6. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer

7. Toni Collette, Hereditary

8. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

9. Olivia Colman, The Favourite

10. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex

11. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

12. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

13. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

14. Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place

15. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Best Supporting Actor

1. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

3. Sam Rockwell, Backseat

4. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased

5. Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

7. Oscar Isaac, At Eternity’s Gate

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

9.. Mahershala Ali, Green Book

10. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Jason Clarke, First Man

12. Sebastian Stan, Destroyer

13. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex

14. David Tennant, Mary Queen of Scots

15. Topher Grace, BlacKkKlansman

Best Supporting Actress

1. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

2. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

3. Claire Foy, First Man

4. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots

5. Amy Adams, Backseat

Other Possibilities:

6. Maura Tierney, Beautiful Boy

7. Amy Ryan, Beautiful Boy

8. Sissy Spacek, Old Man & The Gun

9. Meryl Streep, Mary Poppins Returns

10. Vera Farmiga, The Front Runner

11. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

12. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

13. Tatiana Maslany, Destroyer

14. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience

15. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. If Beale Street Could Talk

2. Beautiful Boy

3. Boy Erased

4. A Star Is Born

5. BlacKkKlansman

Other Possibilities:

6. First Man

7. Mary Queen of Scots

8. The Front Runner

9. Crazy Rich Asians

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

11. Old Man & The Gun

12. Widows

13. Disobedience

14. Wildlife

15. The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma

2. Peterloo

3. Backseat

4. Eighth Grade

5. The Favourite

Other Possibilities:

6. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

7. Destroyer

8. Ben Is Back

9. On the Basis of Sex

10. At Eternity’s Gate

11. Green Book

12. Colette

13. A Quiet Place

14. Bohemian Rhapsody

15. Sorry to Bother You

Oscar Watch: Disobedience

The forbidden love tale Disobedience debuts stateside in limited release tomorrow and it’s got some glowing reviews on its side. The romantic drama comes from director Sebastian Lelio, whose last picture was the Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film, A Fantastic Woman. It casts Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as lovers whose relationship is dangerous in their Orthodox Jewish setting.

Disobedience originally was screened last fall at the Toronto Film Festival and buzz was strong. The current Rotten Tomatoes score is 95%. The two leads (as well as costar Alessandro Nivola) have garnered acclaim for their work. Weisz is a previous winner in 2005 as Supporting Actress for The Constant Gardner. Weisz was nominated in the same category in 2015 for Spotlight.

Distributor Bleecker Street will likely need to mount an exuberant campaign for the film to be remembered come nomination time. However, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the two Rachel’s could be in the mix (probably with Weisz in Lead and McAdams in Supporting).

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Game Night Movie Review

Too many big studio comedies can be numbered by the handful of gags that work while the rest fall flat. This is thankfully not the case with Game Night. It’s gimmicky, sure. It’s a bit forgettable. Yet it’s consistently amusing and doesn’t overburden itself with too much sentimentality. As far as the genre goes as of late, that’s enough to mark this a success.

The pic comes from co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who last made the more consistently unfunny Vacation reboot. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are Max and Annie, married with no children even though she’s ready. Their biggest shared love is one of competitiveness, which includes their game nights with friends. Their usual group includes playboy Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and childhood sweethearts Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury). Next door neighbor and police officer Gary (Jesse Plemons) is a former regular until his recent divorce has turned him into quite the weirdo.

Our main couple’s typical showing of charade and board gaming dominance is interrupted when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) pops up. Brooks is the ultra cool brother with a better bone structure and larger pocketbook that Max harbors jealousy for. Instead of Clue or Risk, Brooks has a different idea for game night involving a kidnapping and real actors interacting with the group. The players won’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

Wouldn’t you know it? Turns out some real kidnappers turn up and that Brooks may be involved in some seedy stuff. What follows is a search for a Faberge egg, guns that the principals think aren’t real (an overused gag by now), squeaky toys used to bite down on for pain (a never before seen gag that’s pretty darn funny), and Bateman’s patented ironic detachment that always seems to work.

Night is served with a game cast. Standouts include Plemons as the creepy but probably well-meaning neighbor and Magnussen as the dim bulb participant of the team. Sharon Horgan is his much smarter date for the evening and she provides some humorous moments as well. The screenplay also provides a twist or two that are genuinely surprising.

The actual concept of a game night may not be as joyous as it’s supposed to be on occasion. You need fun people there. This movie has them. Like real game nights, you may forget some of details by the next day but you’ll remember enjoying it.

*** (out of four)

Game Night Box Office Prediction

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a couple whose night of innocent fun goes horribly wrong in the comedy Game Night, opening next Friday. From John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the guys behind Horrible Bosses and the 2015 Vacation reboot, the pic costars Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Michael C. Hall, Jesse Plemons, and Jeffrey Wright.

Night could manage to appeal to moviegoers looking for a straight comedy in the midst of other genre fare in the marketplace. Black Panther will certainly being tearing up competition in weekend #2 and Annihilation is also out there for sci-fi fans. As far as movies reaching for the funny bone, this stands alone.

I could envision Game Night performing similarly to recent Bateman outings like Horrible Bosses 2 and Office Christmas Party. That would put it in the mid teens range for its start.

Game Night opening weekend prediction: $16.3 million

For my Annihilation prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/14/annihilation-box-office-prediction/

 

Doctor Strange Movie Review

Marvel’s Doctor Strange is their latest superhero origin story and it focuses on a brilliant yet arrogant protagonist who learns that his real purpose is to help humanity and not just use his powers for his own personal glorification. If that sounds a bit like Iron Man, the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you wouldn’t be wrong. The challenge for Disney’s multi-billion dollar franchise after 14 films is to inject enough newness and other positive aspects to support its existence. In that sense, the sometimes visually stunning and very well-cast Strange passes the test.

Our newest fella to join the caped club (and it’s a pushy and sometimes humorous cape we eventually discover) is first seen as genius neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s an egotistical NYC doc who’s a wizard with his hands. His two most prized possessions are irreparably injured in a wreck that serves as the most expensive anti-distracted driving commercial ever shot. The doc’s colleague and former flame Christine (Rachel McAdams) tries to help, but his desperate search to cure his idle hands leads him to Nepal. That is where he finds a mystical compound led by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who informs him that true healing comes from a lot more than surgery.

Together with her trusty sidekick Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), they show the doctor a whole new universe that involves plenty of training and plenty of other crazy dimensions that are packed with some pretty sweet visual effects. Scott Derrickson, known primarily for horror titles like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, directs his biggest budget several times over and assures himself future tent poles.

There’s a main villain and he’s Kaecilius, played by a game Mads Mikkelsen. MCU movies have often seen the bad guy be the weakest link and that holds true somewhat here. The character is a former Ancient One protege gone astray and there’s nothing too memorable about him. It’s not a major hindrance at all, however, as Strange is a genuine origin story that needs some time to establish this part of the MCU (The Avengers are only referenced in passing). Plus, don’t we know at this point that the primary villain in these origin stories rarely end up being the chief nemesis anyway?

Casting is key. This series of movies we now see at least two of per year may have never gotten off the ground without the impeccable casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. And Cumberbatch is a fine choice in this title role, effortlessly balancing the drama and humor of the screenplay. Swinton and Ejiofor add some heft as well. The slight romantic subplot between Strange and Christine is typical and unremarkable, though their interaction does provide a couple of solid operating room laughs.

The aforementioned newness here is the effects, including various scenes of Inception-like architectural bravura that may leave Nolan proud. That, coupled with the performers, elevate Strange to a level well worthy of recommendation. It may not be until after the credits (and mid and post credit bonus sequences) roll, that you realize how familiar its story actually is. And I suppose that’s a credit to the franchise makers of how strong and steady their hand actually is.

*** (out of four)