2021 Oscar Predictions: August 19th Edition

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

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

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

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

6. Dune (PR: 6)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. CODA (PR: 8)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. The Humans (PR: 21)

Other Possibilities:

11. Mass (PR: 11)

12. A Hero (PR: 10)

13. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

14. Belfast (PR: 13)

15. Flee (PR: 19)

16. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 16)

17. Spencer (PR: 15)

18. King Richard (PR: 14)

19. Last Night in Soho (PR: 22)

20. Passing (PR: 20)

21. Parallel Mothers (PR: 17)

22. The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

24. Cyrano (PR: 18)

25. The Last Duel (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

In the Heights

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

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

5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 8)

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

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

11. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 10)

12. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 11)

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

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

15. Fran Kranz, Mass (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Pedro Almodovar, Parallel Mothers

Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

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

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

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

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

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

8. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

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

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

8. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 5)

9. Steven Yeun, The Humans (PR: 12)

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

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

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 14)

13. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

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

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

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

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

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

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

Other Possibilities:

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

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

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8)

9. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 6)

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

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

12. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 13)

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

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

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

Dropped Out:

Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

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

9. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: Not Ranked)

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

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

12. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 8)

13. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 15)

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

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

Dropped Out:

Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

3. Mass (PR: 3)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

5. A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Belfast (PR: 12)

8. Being the Ricardos (PR: 9)

9. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

10. Last Night in Soho (PR: 8)

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

12. Spencer (PR: 11)

13. The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. King Richard (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. The Humans (PR: 6)

5. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA (PR: 5)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

9. Passing (PR: 8)

10. The Last Duel (PR: 12)

11. Cyrano (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

14. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen 

Back at it next week!

Oscar Watch: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Ahead of its September 17th bow on Amazon Prime, the musical drama Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has premiered at Outfest this weekend. Based on a London stage play, Jamie centers on a 16-year-old (Max Harwood) who dreams of becoming a drag queen.

Early reviews are positive. Yet I’m not picking up a vibe where Academy inclusion is much of a possibility. In the three Thursdays where I’ve done my weekly predictions, I thought supporting player Richard E. Grant stood the greatest chance at a nod. Three years ago, Grant nabbed a nomination as Supporting Actor for Can You Ever Forgive Me? (losing to Mahershala Ali for Green Book). However, critical praise is mostly focused on young lead Harwood. I’ve had Grant listed at #7 in possibilities. Don’t be surprised if he drops out entirely when I do my updates in five days.

So could Harwood get in? Doubtful as I see plenty of upcoming hopefuls in Best Actor. Where Jamie could show up is Original Song. The film mixes tracks from the stage with a new one titled “This Was Me”. That could be where Amazon really focuses its campaign.

Bottom line: while critics are being kind – I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of Oscar voters to be talking about Jamie a few months down the road. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 12th Edition

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

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

There is some movement in the other categories:

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

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

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

6. Dune (PR: 5)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

8. CODA (PR: 11)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9)

10. A Hero (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. Mass (PR: 8)

12. The French Dispatch (PR: 13)

13. Belfast (PR: 12)

14. King Richard (PR: 16)

15. Spencer (PR: 14)

16. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 17)

17. Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

18. Cyrano (PR: 15)

19. Flee (PR: 18)

20. Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

21. The Humans (PR: 19)

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

23. Blue Bayou (PR: 20)

24. Being the Ricardos (PR: 23)

25. In the Heights (PR: 24)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel

The Worst Person in the World

Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

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

5. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

8. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 7)

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

10. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

11. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

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

13. Fran Kranz, Mass (PR: 10)

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

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Joe Wright, Cyrano

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

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

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

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 6)

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

8. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dropped Out:

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

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

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

10. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 8)

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

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

13. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 12)

14. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 13)

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

Dropped Out:

Michael B. Jordan, A Journal for Jordan

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

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

3. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 5)

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

8. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 7)

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

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

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

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

13. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 12)

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

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

Dropped Out:

Audra McDonald, Respect

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

4. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 3)

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

8. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 10)

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

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

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

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

13. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano (PR: 12)

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

15. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

3. Mass (PR: 2)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

5. A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Parallel Mothers (PR: 13)

7. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6)

8. Last Night in Soho (PR: 10)

9. Being the Ricardos (PR: 7)

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

11. Spencer (PR: 8)

12. Belfast (PR: 12)

13. King Richard (PR: 14)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 11)

15. Annette (PR: 15)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. CODA (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 6)

7. Dune (PR: 7)

8. Passing (PR: 12)

9. Cyrano (PR: 8)

10. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 11)

11. West Side Story (PR: 9)

12. The Last Duel (PR: 10)

13. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

14. Dear Evan Hansen (PR: 15)

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

Dropped Out:

A Journal for Jordan

2021 Oscar Predictions: August 5th Edition

As we await film festivals that will shed light on many of the pictures mentioned below, today brings us my second weekly outlook on the major Oscar categories.

So what’s happened since last Thursday? That House of Gucci trailer came out and it didn’t do anything to dissuade my feeling that it’s a contender. In fact, while I shouldn’t use trailers to judge, it was enough for me to put Jared Leto in my final five (taking out Idris Elba for The Harder They Fall).

In other developments:

    • A Hero is in my top 10 for Best Picture over Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. The film also is in my projections for Original Screenplay to the detriment of Blue Bayou.
    • CODA (which I was very tempted this week to put in BP) makes the Adapted Screenplay cut over Dune. 
    • The Director, Actress, Actor, and Supporting Actress fields remain the same – with some movement in the rankings.

By this time next week, we should have a good idea of where Jennifer Hudson’s performance in Respect stands since it releases next week. It remains in my five at spot four.

Finally, I didn’t have Matt Damon in Stillwater listed in my top 15 possibilities last week. Based on the film’s subpar box office performance and some comments that landed Damon in hot water, I don’t anticipate him surfacing at any point.

Check out all the activity below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. Dune (PR: 5)

6. Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

8. Mass (PR: 7)

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. A Hero (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

11. CODA (PR: 12)

12. Belfast (PR: 9)

13. The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

14. Spencer (PR: 15)

15. Cyrano (PR: 17)

16. King Richard (PR: 20)

17. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 16)

18. Flee (PR: 13)

19. The Humans (PR: 18)

20. Blue Bayou (PR: 19)

21. The Last Duel (PR: 21)

22. The Worst Person in the World (PR: Not Ranked)

23. Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

24. In the Heights (PR: 23)

25. Annette (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen

Last Night in Soho

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 3)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 2)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 7)

8. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

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

10. Fran Kranz, Mass (PR: 11)

11. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: 14)

12. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 8)

13. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 12)

14. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 15)

15. Joe Wright, Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

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

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

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 7)

7. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 8)

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

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

10. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 12)

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

12. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 13)

13. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9)

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

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

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

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

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

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

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 8)

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

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

11. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 7)

12. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

13. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 15)

14. Michael B. Jordan, A Journal for Jordan (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

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

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

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 5)

5. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

7. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 6)

8. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 7)

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

11. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 13)

12. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11)

13. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 14)

15. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Regina King, The Harder They Fall

Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 3)

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

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

8. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall (PR: 5)

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

10. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 9)

11. Bradley Whitford, Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano (PR: 10)

13. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 12)

14. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Al Pacino, House of Gucci

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mass (PR: 1)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 4)

5. A Hero (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

7. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

8. Spencer (PR: 7)

9. The Worst Person in the World (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Last Night in Soho (PR: 9)

11. Blue Bayou (PR: 5)

12. Belfast (PR: 6)

13. Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

14. King Richard (PR: Not Ranked – moved from Adapted Screenplay)

15. Annette (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

The Harder They Fall

After Yang

Nine Days

Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

5. CODA (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 7)

7. Dune (PR: 5)

8. Cyrano (PR: 9)

9. West Side Story (PR: 8)

10. The Last Duel (PR: 12)

11. Tick Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

12. Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

13. The Lost Daughter (PR: 13)

14. A Journal for Jordan (PR: 15)

15. Dear Evan Hansen (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

King Richard (moved to Original Screenplay)

Back at it next week!

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

On this here blog starting right now, my 2021 Oscar predictions officially begin! I seem to start this earlier and earlier in the calendar each year. Why? Well, it’s just about my favorite thing to write about and the Cannes Film Festival and recent announcements for the Venice and Toronto line-ups fueled the flame.

As is tradition, I would like to throw out the annual caveats and a general rundown of how this works. I begin with the early predictions in the six major categories: Picture, Director, and the four acting derbies. For Picture, I will list my ten early forecasted nominees and 15 other possibilities. In the other five races, you will see my five predicted players and 10 other hopefuls. In these initial posts, my nominees will be unranked.

Beginning next week, I’ll have a weekly write-up where I’ll begin ranked predictions in these competitions in addition to Adapted and Original Screenplay.

In late September or early October, my weekly posts will shift to all categories covering feature films. The Picture predictions and possibilities will be whittled down from 25 to 15. All others will be reduced to 10.

Got all that? Good! Now for the caveats. First off, it’s July. So when I say these are early projections – I mean it. Release dates will change. Some movies will be moved out of contention to 2022 (that certainly happened a lot last year due to the pandemic). Some of the actors that appear to be supporting will be moved to lead and vice versa.

You need look no further than the Supporting Actor derby from 2020. In my initial round of early picks, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) listed here. He was eventually moved to Best Actor. Conversely, I had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) down for Actor, but he was campaigned for in supporting and won.

Part of that category confusion led to yours truly only naming one of the five eventual nominees from 2020 (Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7). I did mention Lakeith Stanfield (Judas) as a possibility. Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami) were not named initially.

Additionally, you will see the titles Canterbury Glass and Soggy Bottom as contenders here and elsewhere in the coming days. These are the next pictures, respectively, from David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson. It is not confirmed yet whether these are working titles or the actual ones, but I prefer a name rather than saying Untitled over and over.

With all that out of the way, let’s get rolling with the speculation that will last for months (and I’ll enjoy every second of it)!

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Jason Isaacs, Mass

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

Other Possibilities:

David Alvarez, West Side Story

Reed Birney, Mass

Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Adam Driver, The Last Duel

Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Richard Jenkins, The Humans

Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

John David Washington, Canterbury Glass

And we’re off! I’ll have my inaugural choices for Supporting Actress up shortly…

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Box Office Prediction

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (rolls right off the tongue… doesn’t it?) hits multiplexes on Wednesday, June 16th. The comedic action sequel brings back Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek with Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hopper, Antonio Banderas, and Morgan Freeman joining the party. Patrick Hughes return to direct.

Originally slated to debut in August 2020 before its COVID delay, this follows up on the 2017 original which was a solid late summer performer. It opened to $21 million nearly four years ago with an eventual $75 million domestic take. At that time, Mr. Reynolds was hot off 2016’s Deadpool and that may have contributed to Bodyguard‘s success.

I genuinely wonder if audiences are clamoring for this to be a franchise and lean toward meh. The original achieved a B+ Cinemascore (which is decent but not great) and Reynolds doesn’t have the benefit of coming off a smash. Even with the expanded five-day rollout, I’m not even sure it reaches $20M+.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard opening weekend prediction: $12.6 million (Friday to Sunday); $17.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review

We talk about the Star Wars franchise the same way we speak of politics or sports. With passion and fervent opinions and disagreements. Perhaps we are giving it too much credit, but it’s become an American cinematic pastime. No group of films has inspired as much thought and re-thought. So we arrive at the ninth episode, The Rise of Skywalker, with all that baggage and more. After all, this one is tasked with closing out the saga that began at a time far, far away in 1977. Returning to direct with that weight on his shoulders is J.J. Abrams, who kickstarted the series for new owner Disney four years ago with The Force Awakens.

He does so two years following The Last Jedi from Rian Johnson, which sharply divided fans and critics by going in unexpected directions. Even Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, didn’t jive with the choices Johnson made with his character shuddered on an island and not wishing to utilize his Jedi skills. That was one compliant from some diehard fans, among others. You could say they had their knives out for it, so to speak.

I found The Last Jedi to be flawed and disjointed, but also filled with great moments. There aren’t many of them here in Skywalker. As I ponder it, episodes VII-IX do follow a similar arc as the iconic I-III. The Force Awakens was tasked with introducing new and exciting characters from these galaxies. It also had to mix in Luke and Leia and Han Solo and Chewie. I felt, for the most part, that it did so successfully. That especially applies to Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). In fact, their little therapy sessions from The Last Jedi were highlights of the whole trilogy. The common critique of Awakens is that it was a rehash of the first Star Wars. While this is with some merit, it didn’t take away my immense enjoyment of it.

As mentioned, The Last Jedi was more of a mixed bag. Yet with Johnson’s sometimes confounding but often daring choices, it was also the boldest. This is where a comparison with 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back seems fair. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nowhere in its league, but it did take what happened in the predecessor and take it in unexpected directions.

And now The Last Skywalker. Like 1983’s Return of the Jedi, this trilogy finale has to wrap it all up. Allow me to throw in this disclaimer – I don’t hold Return of the Jedi anywhere near the regards of what came before it. While I feel there are terrific moments, there’s a lot that didn’t work me and not just the Ewoks. It often felt a little tired and unsure of what to do with itself for a chunk of the running time. That applies to Skywalker and there’s aren’t as many terrific moments.

The similarities don’t end on just a quality level. Ultimately, the main plot here finds Rey facing a choice of whether to stay a Jedi or follow her lineage to the dark side… just as Luke did in Jedi. By the way, those lineage inquiries are addressed. Another complaint in Rian Johnson’s script was how he handled that aspect. Rey’s supporting cast is around with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) marshaling support to take on Kylo. And as the trailer suggested, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is back in the mix, too. So is Billy Dee Williams as cocky fighter pilot Lando. His return isn’t exactly as pined for as what we got with Luke, Leia, and Han. As for Leia, Carrie Fisher does return utilizing unused footage from Awakens and Last Jedi. It’s handled delicately.

There are new players with Richard E. Grant joining Domhnall Gleeson as one of Kylo’s top lieutenants. Abrams throws some small parts to Keri Russell and Dominic Monaghan (who both starred in his TV shows). The short shrift is given to Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who had more of a presence in Last Jedi, but is basically ignored. That’s not exactly a problem as this is the Rey and Kylo show. Once again, both Ridley and Driver’s performances are first rate. Truth be told, though, Johnson wrote their dynamic better the last time around.

For the major detractors of The Last Jedi, perhaps this episode will feel like a return to Star Wars normalcy. I’m happy to listen to an argument that Johnson’s effort pairs well with the return of Abrams, but it would take lots of convincing. Skywalker often reeks of a course correction. This is becoming more common with franchises. We just saw Terminator: Dark Fate ignore the three pictures ahead of it. The X-Men series had to get creative with their timeline and do away with it under specific circumstances.

Those franchises aren’t Star Wars. The meeting between Han Solo and his son Kylo in The Force Awakens was a memorable, emotional, and surprising one. Whatever Mark Hamill and others might think about his treatment in The Last Jedi, a brief reunion with his sister in it was marvelous. In Skywalker, Abrams goes for a lot of those moments. And it felt, well, forced. The visual splendor and incredible production design (and the rousing John Williams score) is intact. A few scenes with Rey and Kylo work. Ultimately, I suspect my feelings about The Rise of Skywalker will be somewhat similar to Return of the Jedi – as an inferior product to its two predecessors.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

One day before its galactic release, the review embargo for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has expired and the news is not so great. The ninth chapter of the ginormous franchise sits at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes. For all the talk about the mixed reaction to predecessor The Last Jedi in 2017, its RT score was 91%. Even last year’s mostly disregarded spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story managed 70%.

So… what does that mean for Oscar attention? Well, any remote possibility of Skywalker playing in top line categories like Picture is gone. Yet possibilities for tech nods remain intact. When counting the eight official episodes and spin-offs Rogue One and Solo, the series as a whole has gathered 34 total nominations and won seven. Six of them went to the 1977 original with another for 1980’s sequel The Empire Strikes Back. That’s right… it’s been almost 40 years since a Star Wars pic has nabbed a competitive gold statue. And I don’t expect that streak to end here.

In this currently trilogy, 2015’s The Force Awakens received five nominations: Score for the legendary John Williams, Visual Effects, Editing, and both Sound categories. The Last Jedi got the same nods minus Editing. I anticipate Skywalker will probably be recognized for the same four as Jedi and win none. Interestingly, there’s a solid chance it loses three of them (Score and the Sounds) to 1917. As for Visual Effects, that could go to The Irishman or another epic Disney franchise finale Avengers: Endgame. 

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/19): Hours before its opening, I am revising my estimate down from $206.4M to $191.4M

The ninth episode in the galaxy is not far, far away as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in a theater near you next weekend. Capping the third trilogy of the landmark franchise, the film finds J.J. Abrams returning to the director’s chair after Rian Johnson (currently having his own box office hit with Knives Out) handled duties on previous entry The Last Jedi in 2017. The familiar faces introduced four years ago in The Force Awakens return with Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac headlining. Stars from the original trilogy are back including Carrie Fisher (via unreleased footage from previous efforts), Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and two cast members making their respective first appearances since 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. Other notable performers returning include Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Kelly Marie Tran. Newcomers to the series are Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, and Richard E. Grant.

Disney took over the reigns of George Lucas’s creation a few years back and the results have been billions more into the Mouse Factory’s considerable coffers. That said, the last two years have shown some chinks in the once impenetrable armor. The aforementioned Last Jedi divided audiences and critics and came in $300 million under Awakens. A few months later in May of 2018, prequel and spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story was the first picture in the series that was a genuine disappointment and actually lost money.

In Star Wars world, “disappointing” numbers are relative. The Last Jedi took in $220 million for its start on this same weekend two years ago, ending its run at $620 million domestically (that’s still good for #9 all-time). Yet, as mentioned, that’s considerably below the $936 million that Awakens achieved. It continues to stand at #1 overall in terms of stateside dollars.

Estimates for Skywalker show a pretty wide range. Some are as low as $175 million. Only in this franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe would that number be called low. Despite the mixed Jedi reaction and Solo grosses, I have a hard time buying that this last entry of the trilogy could come in with $45 million less than its predecessor.

The more reasonable anticipation is that this manages to top $200 million. There is certainly more serious family competition than Last Jedi had with Jumanji: The Next Level being in its second frame (it was the inverse in 2017 with predecessor Welcome to the Jungle arriving the week after Jedi).

My projection here gives Skywalker the seventh biggest debut ever, in between MCU titles The Avengers and Black Panther. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opening weekend prediction: $191.4 million

For my Cats prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/11/cats-box-office-prediction/

For my Bombshell prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/11/bombshell-box-office-prediction/