2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

The 2021 derby for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars might have a bit more clarity than the currently wide open Supporting Actor race, but not much. I’m doing a deep dive on the four acting races as well as Picture and Director. If you missed the first post covering Supporting Actor, you can peruse it right here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

At this point when I was projecting the race in 2019 and 2020, I correctly identified three out of the five eventual nominees. Two years ago, that included the winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie for Bombshell. Scarlett Johansson was mentioned in Other Possibilities while I didn’t have Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) listed. Last year, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were in my five. Eventual victor Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were in Other Possibilities.

Since 2010, there have been three instances where two actresses for the same picture made the cut here. In 2010, it was Melissa Leo (who won) and Amy Adams in The Fighter. A year later, Octavia Spencer took gold for The Help while costar Jessica Chastain also got in. In 2018, both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for The Favourite. 

The best chance of that happening in 2021 lies with Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench for Belfast. The former could be considered the frontrunner at press time. I’m confident that Balfe will be in the quintet of hopefuls. My Supporting Actor forecast has both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds in for Kenneth Branagh’s period drama. It might be foolish to bet against Dench and she could absolutely get her 8th nod. I do, however, feel the competition is steeper than Supporting Actor at the moment and she could miss out.

Other double nominee possibilities lie with Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter, but I could just as easily see lead Olivia Colman garnering all the attention. The as yet unscreened Nightmare Alley could see either Toni Collette or Rooney Mara competing.

Then there’s Mass. Ann Dowd looks to be a better bet than Martha Plimpton. If the acclaimed drama catches on with the Academy, there could be room for both. For now, I’m far more confident in Dowd receiving her first nod after her somewhat surprise omission for 2012’s Compliance. 

With Balfe and Dowd penciled in, Kirsten Dunst also appears headed for her inaugural inclusion at the dance for The Power of the Dog. She could even be a threat to win.

After that, it gets murky. There’s plenty of hopefuls. 50 years ago, Rita Moreno took gold as Anita for West Side Story. The forthcoming remake could see Ariana DeBose nominated for the same role in Steven Spielberg’s remake. Marlee Matlin (35 years after taking Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God) got fine reviews for CODA. If the film registers with voters, she could be swept in. King Richard is anticipated to give Will Smith a solid chance at his first Oscar crowning and Aunjanue Ellis (as the mother of Venus and Serena Williams) could share in the wealth. Salma Hayek is part of the House of Gucci ensemble. She hasn’t been visible in the trailers and that gives me pause. Online chatter will be heavy for Rebecca Ferguson in Dune, though I question whether any of its cast makes its way in. Also worthy of mention: Olga Merediz (In the Heights), Gaby Hoffman (C’Mon C’Mon), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sally Hawkins (Spencer), and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans). All are feasible but will need lot some critics prizes to elevate their chances.

Meryl Streep is gunning for her 22nd (!) nomination for Don’t Look Up. Playing the President of the United States in the political satire, it feels strange to leave her out of the top 5 for such a high profile role. Let’s see what the critics think before I more carefully consider her.

One performer who seems to catching on is Ruth Negga for Passing. Nominated for Actress five years back for Loving, I was basically down to a coin flip between her and Aunjanue Ellis for a current slot. I’m leaning toward Negga in what would probably be the film’s sole nod.

Bottom line: right now I have Balfe, Dunst, and Dowd as (fairly) safe bets with the other two spots up for grabs. Here’s where it shakes out as October closes:

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)

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

3. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 3)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

5. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 4)

7. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 7)

8. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 9)

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

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley

Next up: Best Actor!

Dune Box Office Prediction

Coming nearly a year after its anticipated arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is out in theaters and HBO Max on October 22. The sci-fi epic, with a budget of at least $165 million, comes with high hopes from Warner Bros (so much so that Part One follows its title). Based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel (beloved by genre fans), this is its second adaptation behind the 1984 version helmed by David Lynch. Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 maker Villeneuve employs a sprawling cast including Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.

Critical reaction is mostly strong as it stands at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dune is expected to contend for numerous Oscars including Picture and Director and multiple tech races. It could easily lead next year’s ceremony in terms of nominations. Reviews all seem to agree on one item: that it’s meant to be watched on the big screen. The studio has still stuck to its 2021 strategy of simultaneously premiering their product in multiplexes and HBO’s streaming service.

Sci-fi fans have been breathlessly awaiting Dune for years. This is nothing new to Villeneuve as the same could be said for 2017’s Blade Runner follow-up. However, it debuted to a disappointing $32.7 million and failed to reach $100 million domestically (despite similarly solid reviews).

Could the same fate await Dune? That’s definitely a possibility. Beyond its core audience (which is fairly sizable), this could struggle to find a younger crowd. We have seen this year that they are the driving force for pleasing returns in the COVID era market.

If No Time to Die could manage just $55 million and with the inevitability that some fans will opt for home viewing, I have a tough time envisioning Dune majorly surpassing expectations. That’s about $40 million and I do believe the decent buzz and event picture status should put it right in that range of mid 30s for the floor and high 40s (maybe even $50 million) for the ceiling.

Dune opening weekend prediction: $42.8 million

For my Ron’s Gone Wrong prediction, click here:

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

Where to even begin? It’s been 11 days since I updated my Oscar predictions (a longer break than normal) but there’s good reason. A lot has transpired since then. That would be the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals where numerous contenders have been unveiled.

That means there are significant changes in all of the 8 major races that I’m currently forecasting. Let us count the ways:

    • Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was certainly one of the most awaited arrivals. Before Venice, I had it placed #1 in Picture, Director, and Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch). The reviews do not automatically indicate it will win the prize. However, they were enough raves that I have not moved it out of the top spot in Picture and Director. Yet there is a new #1 in Actor…
    • That would be Will Smith in King Richard. While Cumberbatch only slips to #2, the reaction to Smith’s work has me thinking a narrative could develop where he sweeps the season.
    • Richard also moves into the top ten in my Best Picture rankings. So does Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, another major story of the past few days. I didn’t have the black and white period drama getting any nods a week and a half ago. It’s now listed in Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actor (Ciaran Hinds), and Original Screenplay. There is a question with how the studio will figure out placement for its ensemble. I currently have Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as possibilities in the lead derbies with both falling short.
    • The two newcomers in Best Picture takes out West Side Story and The Hand of God. Branagh’s rise in Director removes Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth).
    • In Actress, the festival praise for Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) has me thinking she’s in at this juncture. Falling off the top five: Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth. I nearly put McDormand in Supporting Actress and I wouldn’t be surprised if she contends there instead.
    • Another development in Actress is the vaulting of Kristen Stewart (Spencer) to the #1 slot over Lady Gaga (House of Gucci). The Venice love indicates she’s the strong frontrunner to win gold.
    • Peter Dinklage’s title role as Cyrano makes the top five in Actor to the detriment of Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up).
    • Judi Dench’s inclusion in Belfast for Supporting Actress has Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) on the outside looking in. I desperately wanted to put Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) in the five and wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it in soon. I just couldn’t decide who to take out.
    • There are two changes in Supporting Actor. The Power of the Dog buzz provided a bit of a shocker. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to hold a better chance at getting in over Jesse Plemons (who falls out of the mix). Also, the addition of Ciaran Hinds removes Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth). For those keeping score, that’s two Supporting Actor hopefuls in the five that weren’t even ranked 11 days ago.
    • In Original Screenplay, it’s Belfast and Spencer in and The French Dispatch (whose fortunes are falling in my opinion) and The Hand of God out. In Adapted Screenplay, I have put CODA back in (sorry to The Humans… which we’ll know more about when it debuts in days up in Toronto).

Whew. Got all that? You can peruse all the movement below. And you can bet that I’ll be posting about all the fresh updates from Toronto. Until then…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

4. Belfast (PR: 14)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

6. Dune (PR: 7)

7. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. King Richard (PR: 21)

10. CODA (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. West Side Story (PR: 8)

12. Mass (PR: 13)

13. Spencer (PR: 17)

14. The Humans (PR: 11)

15. A Hero (PR: 15)

16. Flee (PR: 16)

17. The Hand of God (PR: 10)

18. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

19. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

20. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19)

21. The Last Duel (PR: 20)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

23. Parallel Mothers (PR: 22)

24. Passing (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

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

5. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

8. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 15)

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

11. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 10)

12. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

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

14. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

15. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 4)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

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

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

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 7)

9. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

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

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

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

13. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10)

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

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

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

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

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

5. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

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

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

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

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11)

13. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Yeun, The Humans

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

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

3. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11)

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

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

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

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

9. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 10)

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

11. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 8)

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

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

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

15. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

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

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

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

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

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

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

11. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 13)

12. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

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

Dropped Out:

Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up

Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Belfast (PR: 7)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. Spencer (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 15)

7. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

8. A Hero (PR: 8)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 3)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

11. The Hand of God (PR: 5)

12. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

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

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

5. CODA (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 5)

7. The Lost Daughter (PR: 12)

8. Dune (PR: 7)

9. The Last Duel (PR: 8)

10. Cyrano (PR 13)

11. Passing (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen

Back at it next week!

Oscar Predictions: Dune

The arrival of Dune at the Venice Film Festival has been a breathlessly anticipated one. Denis Villeneuve’s epic version of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel is one of 2021’s most buzzed about projects. And that’s after it held the same status in 2020 before its COVID delay. The $165 million futuristic tale held its Italian screening and the results are fascinating to behold.

Dune currently has an 85% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Some reviewers are calling it quite special and the kind of technical achievement that we witnessed 20 years ago with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, there seems to be no question that it looks amazing. There was never much doubt that this would contend in several tech races including Visual Effects (where it should be the front runner), Sound (same), Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Score.

Whether this breaks through in above the line races is less clear. The mixed to negative critical reaction is mostly focused on its narrative shortcomings. That’s why I feel Adapted Screenplay could be a reach (not to mention that it looks quite competitive anyway). My hunch at the moment is that Dune, primarily due to its technical wizardry, should still manage a Best Picture nod. If it does, I would say Villeneuve makes it in for his direction and that would give him nomination #2 after 2016’s Arrival. I will extend a caveat: if Dune is considered to be a box office disappointment when it comes out October 22, that could hinder its chances in the big dance.

As for the cast, Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson are being praised for their work. Yet I suspect none of the sprawling ensemble will hear their names among the final five.

My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

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

Reminiscence Box Office Prediction

Hugh Jackman makes a return to sci-fi next weekend with Reminiscence. The film (reportedly budgeted at just under $70 million) is the rare summer feature in this genre not based on a known property. It marks the directorial debut of Lisa Joy, best known for co-creating HBO’s Westworld. Costars include Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, and Marina de Tavira.

The Home Box Office connections are strong. Since this a Warner Bros property, the pic will simultaneously have its 30 day HBO Max availability. Originally slated for April before it traded with Mortal Kombat, the film faces some challenges. This might seem minor, but the title doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. More importantly, Reminiscence opens against the Michael Keaton/Maggie Q/Samuel L. Jackson thriller The Protege and they’ll be battling for the same audience. Both may suffer as a result.

Add in the Delta variant concerns and I really question whether this gets past $10 million. My gut says to put it under.

Reminiscence opening weekend prediction: $6.8 million

For my PAW Patrol: The Movie prediction, click here:

PAW Patrol: The Movie Box Office Prediction

For my The Protege prediction, click here:

The Protege Box Office Prediction

For my The Night House prediction, click here:

The Night House Box Office Prediction

2020 Oscar Predictions: September 3rd Edition

We have arrived at Week #2 for my Oscar predictions in the eight major categories. I do so as the Venice Film Festival has kicked off with Telluride and Toronto slated to virtually get underway in the coming days. That means quite a few Oscar Watch posts will be up in short order, including for several of the features predicted below.

Since last Thursday, I’ve written only two Watch entries. Mulan isn’t likely to be a factor in any of the big races, but it could definitely contend for some technical categories. The forthcoming horror pic Antebellum didn’t impress critics and won’t be mentioned again here. If you would like to peruse those posts, you can do so here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/03/oscar-watch-mulan/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/08/31/oscar-watch-antebellum/

When I wrote my initial guesstimates one week ago, it was on the following day that movie lovers across the globe were hit with tragic news. The loss of Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer has shocked and saddened all of us. Despite his acclaimed performances in 42, Get On Up, and his iconic work as Black Panther, Mr. Boseman has yet to receive a nomination from the Academy. Last Thursday, I already had him listed at #2 in Supporting Actor for the upcoming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He is now listed first as is his costar Viola Davis in Best Actress.

Here are some other developments of note:

  • I am still higher on Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which also featured Boseman) than some other prognosticators. I have it listed for inclusion in Best Picture, Actor (Delroy Lindo), and Original Screenplay. However, its numbers have fallen a bit and I am taking Spike Lee out of my Director five.
  • My estimated eight Best Picture nominees has remained intact with some shifting in the rankings.
  • Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Paul Greengrass (News of the World) are in for Director with the aforementioned Spike Lee and Francis Lee (Ammonite) out.
  • The five in Actress has not changed. In Actor, I’ve made the move to take Bill Murray’s performance in On the Rocks and put it in the supporting field. That allows for Tom Hanks (News of the World) to move up. In general, I have soured a bit on Rocks. You’ll see below that its numbers have dropped precipitously.
  • Supporting Actress also includes the same five women and that’s also the case with Supporting Actor.
  • Though I don’t have it in the top five, I’ve corrected French Exit to be listed in Adapted Screenplay as opposed to Original. Soul replaces The French Dispatch in Original for the moment while The Father vaults over West Side Story in Adapted.

As you’ll see, there’s plenty of new faces being mentioned for the first time that didn’t make the list last week and others who have dropped.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

4. Dune (PR: 6)

5. News of the World (PR: 7)

6. Ammonite (PR: 5)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 16)

10. Soul (PR: 14)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 12)

12. The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

13. One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 10)

15. Minari (PR: 18)

16. The Father (PR: 17)

17. Annette (PR: 13)

18. Stillwater (PR: 21)

19. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 22)

20. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Tenet (PR: 15)

22. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Next Goal Wins (PR: 24)

24. French Exit (PR: 25)

25. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 20)

Dropped Out:

On the Rocks

C’Mon C’Mon

The Eyes of Tammy Faye 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)

4. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

5. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

7. Francis Lee, Ammonite (PR: 5)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8)

9. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

10. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

11. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

12. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)

13. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 12)

14. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Christopher Nolan, Tenet (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks

Leos Carax, Annette

Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 4)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 14)

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 7)

9. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 11)

10. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 8)

11. Marion Cotillard, Annette

12. Julianne Moore, The Glorias (PR: 9)

13. Elisabeth Moss, Shirley (PR: 15)

14. Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 13)

15. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rashida Jones, On the Rocks 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 1)

2. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 3)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 2)

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

5. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

8. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 13)

9. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 8)

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

11. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins (PR: 12)

12. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 10)

13. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 14)

14. Ansel Elgort, West Side Story (PR: 9)

15. Jesse Plemons, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Bill Murray, On the Rocks (moved to Supporting Actor)

Timothee Chalamet, Dune

Ben Affleck, The Way Back 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 1)

2. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 5)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 7)

7. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 14)

8. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

9. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 9)

10. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Debra Winger, Kajillionaire (PR: 8)

14. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 11)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon

Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

Nicole Kidman, The Prom

Elisabeth Moss, Next Goal Wins

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 1)

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

5. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 7)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Best Actor)

8. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 6)

9, Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 12)

10. Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Lucas Hedges, French Exit (PR: 9)

14. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 10)

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Jesse Plemons, Judas and the Black Messiah

Clarke Peters, Da 5 Bloods

Oscar Isaac, Dune

Forest Whitaker, Respect 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Ammonite (PR: 4)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Soul (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The French Dispatch (PR: 5)

7. Minari (PR: 10)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 8)

9. Stillwater (PR: 11)

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: 15)

11. Annette (PR: 13)

12. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

13. On the Rocks (PR: 7)

14. Red, White, and Water (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tenet (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

French Exit (moved to Adapted Screenplay)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. News of the World (PR: 3)

3. Dune (PR: 2)

4. The Father (PR: 6)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 8)

8. West Side Story (PR: 4)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 13)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 10)

11. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Original Screenplay)

12. Next Goal Wins (PR: 9)

13. The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 11)

15. Respect (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

The White Tiger

The Midnight Sky 

I’ll be back at it with updated predictions next Thursday!

2020 Oscar Predictions: August 27th Edition

As is tradition on the blog, my weekly Oscar prediction posts (coming to you each Thursday) kick off in the final weekend of August!

So while I’m following up with my normal Academy Awards speculating schedule, I am doing so in a year that is anything but traditional. The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously altered release schedules for many pictures. This has left many release dates still uncertain.

Additionally, I have chosen this late August date because it’s usually right before some high-profile film festivals like Toronto, Venice, and Telluride are set to kick off. Some of these fests are continuing to operate in a much different fashion. We will see some of the titles identified below (including Nomadland, Ammonite and One Night in Miami) screen at these virtual competitions in the coming days.

This week, one significant contender had its unveiling for critics and that’s Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. That reaction leads me to believe that it will certainly contend in a half dozen or so technical races, but that a Picture or Directing nod is a bit of a long shot.

Even in a year without the pandemic related challenges, Oscar speculation this early always comes with numerous caveats. They include the following:

  • Release dates will change and some movies listed here will get pushed back. This sure applies to 2020 and that’s even with the Academy extending eligibility to any features released in January and February of 2021.
  • There will be pics and performances that come out of nowhere and make their way to the release calendar that aren’t identified here.
  • Some performances listed in lead will shift to supporting and vice versa. For titles like David Fincher’s Mank, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch – category placement for their large casts is still a question mark. As an example, there’s lot of potential contenders in The French Dispatch, but it’s impossible to determine who gets the critical shine. For the time being, I’m not listing any of the actors in that particular film.
  • There will be Original Screenplay hopefuls that turn out to be Adapted and vice versa.

Even with all those caveats, I was able to identify the winners in each of the top 8 categories in both 2018 and 2019. Their numeric placement varied widely. In 2018, I had Best Picture victor Green Book all the way down at 21 of my first initial 25 possibilities. Roma director Alfonso Cuaron, on the other hand, was placed at #2. Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Rami Malek was at #12 in Best Actor with Olivia Colman in The Favourite at 9th in Actress. Mahershala Ali (Green Book) was 9th and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) was 2nd in the supporting fields. Adapted Screenplay winner BlacKkKlansman was in fifth with Original Screenplay recipient Green Book at #11.

As for 2019, Best Picture winner Parasite was originally placed in slot #7 while its director Bong Joon-Ho was fifth. In the lead acting companions, Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) was 6th and Renee Zellweger (Judy) was fifth. In Supporting Actor, Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) was perched at #1 and that never changed. Supporting Actress Laura Dern (Marriage Story) was #2. Adapted Screenplay Jojo Rabbit was fourth and Original Screenplay Parasite was 5th.

So based on history, you’re likely seeing the eventual 2020 Oscar winners somewhere here on these listings. In 2020, though, who really knows?

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. Nomadland

3. Da 5 Bloods

4. The Trial of the Chicago 7

5. Ammonite 

6. Dune

7. News of the World

8. West Side Story

Other Possibilities

9. The French Dispatch

10. Hillbilly Elegy

11. On the Rocks

12. Judas and the Black Messiah

13. Annette

14. Soul

15. Tenet

16. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

17. The Father

18. Minari

19. C’Mon C’Mon

20. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

21. Stillwater

22. The United States vs. Billie Holiday

23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

24. Next Goal Wins

25. French Exit

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

3. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

5. Francis Lee, Ammonite

Other Possibilities:

6. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7

7. Paul Greengrass, News of the World

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

9. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

10. Sofia Coppola, On the Rocks

11. Ron Howard, Hillbilly Elegy

12. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah

13. Christopher Nolan, Tenet

14. Leos Carax. Annette

15. Charlie Kaufman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland

2. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

3. Kate Winslet, Ammonite

4. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy

7. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

8. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

9. Julianne Moore, The Glorias

10. Marion Cotillard, Annette

11. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

12. Rashida Jones, On the Rocks

13. Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

14. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

15. Elisabeth Moss, Shirley 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods

2. Gary Oldman, Mank

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Father

4. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

5. Bill Murray, On the Rocks

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Hanks, News of the World

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

8. Adam Driver, Annette

9. Ansel Elgort, West Side Story

10. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

11. Timothee Chalamet, Dune

12. Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins

13. Matt Damon, Stillwater

14. Trevante Rhodes, The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite

2. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

3. Olivia Colman, The Father

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

5. Helena Zengel, News of the World

Other Possibilities:

6. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

7. Amanda Seyfried, Mank

8. Debra Winger, Kajillionaire

9. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater

10. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon

11. Mary J. Blige, Respect

12. Rebecca Ferguson, Dune 

13. Meryl Streep, The Prom

14. Nicole Kidman, The Prom

15. Elisabeth Moss, Next Goal Wins

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Strathairn, Nomadland

2. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

3. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7

4. LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

5. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Other Possibilities:

6. Tom Burke, Mank

7. Tom Pelphrey, Mank

8. David Alvarez, West Side Story

9. Lucas Hedges, French Exit

10. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods

11. Jesse Plemons, Judas and the Black Messiah 

12. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7

13. Clarke Peters, Da 5 Bloods

14. Oscar Isaac, Dune

15. Forest Whitaker, Respect

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7

3. Da 5 Bloods

4. Ammonite

5. The French Dispatch

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul

7. On the Rocks

8. Judas and the Black Messiah

9. C’Mon C’Mon

10. Minari

11. Stillwater

12. French Exit

13. Annette

14. Tenet

15. Promising Young Woman

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland

2. Dune

3. News of the World

4. West Side Story

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Other Possibilities:

6. The Father

7. Hillbilly Elegy

8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

9. Next Goal Wins

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday

11. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

12. The White Tiger

13. One Night in Miami 

14. Respect

15. The Midnight Sky 

I’ll be back at it next Thursday, folks! Until then…

Doctor Sleep Movie Review

Doctor Sleep often shines the most when it isn’t burdened with following up on its classic cinematic source material. Director/writer Mike Flanagan has one tough assignment here. Not only is he adapting Stephen King’s 2013 novel which served as the sequel to his beloved novel, but he must incorporate Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 vision of that original work. That adaptation, in case you didn’t know, did not count King among its ardent admirers due to many deviations from the book. Yet the iconic filmmaker’s take on The Shining is ardently admired by legions. This delicate balancing act isn’t always completely successful, but Flanagan sure makes it work most of the time. And that’s no small feat.

The opening takes place shortly after the events at the Overlook Hotel as Wendy Torrance (Alex Essoe) and young son Danny (Roger Dale Floyd) attempt to move on from their trauma and cold loss of their husband and father. Living in Florida, Danny is still blessed and cursed with the ability to “shine”, which encompasses numerous psychic powers. He’s able to put his visions and bad memories in a box (literally and figuratively) for years. We flash forward over 20 years and Danny now takes the form of Ewan McGregor and he’s not in a good place. He’s a raging alcoholic much like his dad was.

After hitting rock bottom, grown Danny enters a different kind of light in recovery. Through the kindness of his AA sponsor (Cliff Curtis), he’s given a small apartment and gets a job as an orderly in a hospice wing. He soon becomes known as Doctor Sleep with the ability to comfort patients in their last moments. Outside forces soon bring him back to past events. A group of vampires known as the True Knot are led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson). In order to survive, they feed on small children with psychic abilities similar to Danny’s. One brutal scene depicts their practices with a famous young actor who cameos. It’s pretty terrifying. The new mission of the True Knot is tracking down teenage Abra (Kyliegh Curran), whose shining game is quite bright. When Danny and Abra team up, their fight eventually takes them to the well-known production design of that Colorado hotel.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Doctor Sleep is the introduction of its new characters courtesy of King’s novel. Ferguson’s performance as the cult leader is terrific. She appears like a roadie for an alt rock band, but she excels at making her character a demonic force to be reckoned with. Her supporting band of devotees are also memorable. I suspect a picture focused solely on the True Knot could have been fascinating. Curran gives a winning performance as Danny’s partner in shine.

Flanagan must pay homage to King and Kubrick. There’s a Spielberg connection here too. Henry Thomas (yep, little Elliot from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) fills in as Jack Nicholson’s boozy and demented father figure from the 1980 original. That’s in addition to previously mentioned actors playing young Danny and Wendy. Carl Lumbly fills in for Scatman Crothers as the telepathic Dick Halloran. It’s unavoidably jarring to see these roles inhabited by others if, like me, you’ve seen The Shining multiple times. I did admire the way they decided to bring Nicholson’s iconic ax wielder back.

There’s probably no way to avoid the Overlook set third act and it is a pleasure to see those sets recreated. That also constitutes another Spielberg link as that director brought back the haunted hotel for scenes in 2018’s Ready Player One. It is also the weakest segment of the bunch, though not without its nostalgia inducing pleasures. Flanagan is able to engross the audience with the grown Danny and especially the new players around him prior to check in. In that sense, there’s certainly no legacies darkened in Doctor Sleep.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Doctor Sleep

When it was released nearly 40 years ago in theaters, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was not considered the landmark horror classic that it is today. In fact, the film received zero Oscar nominations. It did score two Razzie nods. That ceremony celebrates the worst in moviemaking each year. Both Kubrick and Shelley Duvall as the terrified wife of Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance were singled out for their (apparently) subpar work.

That seems hard to fathom these days with its standing as one of the genre’s best. This weekend comes Doctor Sleep, the sequel to both Stephen King’s 1977 novel and Kubrick’s picture. Reviews are mostly solid, but not across the board and the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 78%.

Truth be told, Sleep was never expected to be an awards player and reaction so far hasn’t done anything to alter that. There is one potential, if unlikely, exception. Critical buzz has heaped praise on the supporting work of Rebecca Ferguson, who’s said to steal the show as a cult leader with psychic powers.

A performance being recognized in the horror space is quite rare. Just last year, there were numerous calls for Toni Collette to get Best Actress attention in Hereditary. It never happened. Ferguson absolutely needs critics groups to bestow her with wins in order to get anywhere on Academy voters radar. If that occurs, she may have a small shot. If so, she would be the sixth performer Oscar nominated from a King adaptation: Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in Carrie, Kathy Bates (who won for Misery), Morgan Freeman for The Shawshank Redemption, and Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile.

Bottom line: Ferguson needs a whole lot of outside help to be a factor in the Supporting Actress derby and I wouldn’t count on it. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…