Tenet Review

What time is it?

It’s an often asked question that usually elicits a clear and simple answer. Not in Christopher Nolan’s movies. The answers in his movies are complicated, often maddening, and frequently grandly entertaining. We’ve seen it in Memento, Inception, and Interstellar with the latter being a mixed bag and the first two being pretty great. His latest is Tenet and it definitely falls more into the maddening territory with big and loud moments of thrills. You may wish you had a physics degree during it, but this is mostly an excuse for Nolan to play in the super spy genre with a bunch of quantum related gobbledygook thrown in. The director’s most ardent admirers may study it endlessly for Easter eggs and clues as to its true meaning. Upon first watch, I’m not so sure Tenet is worth the scrutiny. Yet there’s some car chases and battle scenes played to Nigel Tufnel levels of volume that land pleasingly on screens big and small. Weird science and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of action set pieces… this is Nolan’s rap and he frequently goes to eleven in this one.

John David Washington is (rather annoyingly) known only as The Protagonist. Let’s call him “Pro” for the duration of this review. A government agent who proves his bonafides to his superiors, he’s allowed into a secret organization known as the picture’s title. Pro’s new assignment tasks him with preventing something “worse” than nuclear holocaust in one example of some clunky dialogue. This is where the physics lessons are useful. You see, Russian oligarch Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) is hellbent on destroying the past and future through the concept of “inversion”. Essentially this means playing with time travel concepts that can wipe out what occurred before or after. I’m not sure Doc Brown could properly provide sufficient exposition without multiple viewings and neither can Pro or his partner Neil (Robert Pattinson). You may want to look up “temporal pincer movements” before you watch.

In addition to Pro’s teaming with Neil, his mission to stop Sator also involves the villain’s estranged wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki). She’s quite good here and she’s really the only heroic figure that’s written with any layers. Washington and Pattinson are just fine, though their characters are quite dull on the page and screen. For Branagh, this is his chance to ham it up in true Bond baddie style and he relishes it. We have also get a bit of Michael Caine (common for a Nolan experience) and internationally known Hindi actress Dimple Kapadia as an arms trafficker.

Tenet does feature the aforementioned action set pieces that are impressive in scope and tech wizardry. The director doesn’t handle these sequences with half measures. If the scene calls for a 747 to be demolished, you best believe that plane was actually destroyed. The inversion concept lends to eye candy moments with backwards cars screeching on the highway and seagulls (!) even flying in reverse.

Very early on, a scientist is explaining the science behind Tenet to Pro with the following dialogue: “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.” I wrote that piece of advice down immediately. I had a notion these words might aptly describe the next two hours plus. And they do. I certainly felt the decibel levels of Nolan and his crew choreographing expensive battles. They take place all over the globe in Norway, Italy, and Siberia. I did not, on the other hand, feel too invested in the complicated narrative mechanics that cause them. In fact, I wrote down something else I didn’t expect to while watching – “Austin Powers”. In that super spy’s second outing, The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin attempts to understand the highly confusing time travel plot in a conversation with his colleague Basil. After twisting his brain into a knot discussing it, Basil smartly replies “I suggest you don’t worry about those things and just enjoy yourself.” He then turns to the camera and says to us – “That goes for all of you, too.” It’s a funnier way of asking us to feel it whether we understand it or not. That request succeeds only intermittently with Tenet.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: The Devil All the Time

The Gothic thriller The Devil All the Time, based on the 2011 bestseller by Donald Ray Pollock, is in theater this weekend in limited fashion before a Netflix release this coming Wednesday. Directed by Antonio Campos, the pic boasts an impressive cast that includes Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson (who’s everywhere at the moment with Tenet and The Batman trailer out).

Reviews out are of the mixed variety as Devil holds a 64% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Some critics have gone out of their way to praise the performances of Holland and Pattinson. The latter, in particular, seems likely to find an awards friendly role sooner than later with his impressive post Twilight output.

However, this is highly unlikely to be it. In addition to the several negative reviews, Netflix is simply too busy this season to make this film a priority. The streamer looks to have several legitimate contenders on their hands in the near future with Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Hillbilly Elegy – all of which have actors that they’ll campaign for. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Tenet Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (09/02): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping my estimate from $31.9 million to $36.9 million. Those adjustments are reflected in the numbers below.

Let’s start here – Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is maybe the most challenging box office prediction I’ve ever had to write. This is, of course, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this isn’t the only reason.

After a series of coronavirus related delays that altered its planned July premiere, the epic spy thriller is set for an extended Labor Day weekend premiere. It marks the latest mega budget (north of $200 million) feature from one of the few directors whose name is the main attraction. The recognizable actors in front of the camera include John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh.

Tenet is out tomorrow (August 26) in numerous territories including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy. The international rollout could provide clues as to how it will perform stateside. That occurs on Thursday, September 3rd and runs through the holiday weekend. Speaking of Labor Day, this is traditionally considered a slow weekend at the box office as the summer season draws to a close. Like everything else this year, 2020 is far different.

While Unhinged and this weekend’s The New Mutants are the first two wide releases post COVID, Tenet is by far the most eagerly awaited and high profile. There was never any doubt that this would open theatrically and on some IMAX venues. The VOD route was never explored. While a screen count is not yet available, I’m currently assuming it’ll be around 2500. If that changes, my prediction might too.

Reviews are mostly solid with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 82%. That said, some critical reaction is a bit on the mixed side. Unlike 2017’s Dunkirk, this follow-up is not generating immediate awards buzz. As mentioned, Nolan is a bankable commodity with or without Oscar chatter. You have to go back to 2006’s The Prestige to find the last entry in his filmography to gross under $100 million domestically. Both Dunkirk and its predecessor Interstellar grossed close to $200 million overall in the States. His Batman trilogy and Inception all took in north of $200 million or far more.

So where does that leaves us? Looking at Interstellar and Dunkirk, both titles achieved per theater averages of just over $13,000 for respective starts of $47 million and $50 million. The difference is that Interstellar began on 3500+ plus screens and Dunkirk at 3700+.

Due to the lower availability of venues (especially in major markets like NYC and LA) and the ongoing uncertainty of major audience turnout, giving Tenet a $10,000 per screen average would equate to around $25 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday portion of its five-day start. I’m choosing to ratchet that up to $25.7 million. Adding Thursday and Labor Day in, I’ll kick in another $11.2 million.

Let’s end here – I am still in severe guesstimating mode and Tenet is undoubtedly the first giant test case in this new cinematic reality. Over the next few days, it’s certainly feasible that I will update this estimate. We shall see, but here’s where I stand as of now.

Tenet opening weekend prediction (Thursday, September 3-Monday, September 7): $36.9 million

Oscar Watch: Tenet

If there’s something that could be called a breathlessly awaited review embargo, it lapsed today with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. The filmmaker’s latest time bending thriller is out in various foreign territories over the next few days with a launch (in somewhat limited fashion) planned for the United States during Labor Day weekend.

Tenet was already one of the year’s most anticipated titles as Nolan is one of the few directors that can guarantee an audience and potential awards attention. It was originally planned for a mid July global launch before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the strategy. The pic is being rightfully looked at as the first major test for theaters post COVID.

So what’s the verdict? Tenet, with just over 30 reviews in, stands at a solid 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. While some critics are hailing it as another visionary work from Nolan, there are others more measured and middle of the road in their write-ups. There is some negativity peppered in.

When Dunkirk was released three years ago, the WWII epic was an immediate Oscar contender and it ended up with 8 nominations. Same goes for Nolan’s 2010 summer smash Inception as it also scored 8 nods. With Tenet, my gut feeling based on early reaction is that it’s far from a shoo-in for the biggest categories.

In that sense, this could more closely follow the trajectory of 2014’s Interstellar. That Matthew McConaughey space tearjerker wound up with 4 nominations: Hans Zimmer’s Original Score, the two Sound races, and Production Design. Tenet could certainly be a player in those categories (Zimmer is scoring here too). Additionally, Visual Effects and Cinematography are definite possibilities.

However, Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay appear far more questionable. As for the cast, it’s worth noting that only one performance in any Nolan feature has been nominated. That would, of course, be Heath Ledger’s Supporting Actor win for the The Dark Knight in 2008. Critical reaction doesn’t indicate that the cast of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh are likely to be in the mix.

Bottom line: Tenet did not establish itself as an immediate player in the top of the line races today, though technical nods seem assured. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Summer 2010: The Top 10 Hits and More

Today on the blog, we come to the third and final replay of the cinematic summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my posts covering 1990 and 2000, you may find them right here:



This brings us to 2010 where sequels ruled the top 3 slots and a couple of other significant franchises were born. We also all had our collective minds blown by Christopher Nolan’s brand of time shifting sci-fi action.

As I have with previous entries, I’ll recount the top ten hits, some other notable titles, and the flops of the season. Let’s get at it!

10. The Other Guys

Domestic Gross: $119 million

The buddy cop comedy marked the fourth collaboration in six years between director Adam McKay and his lead Will Ferrell after Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Step Brothers. It also marks Ferrell’s first teaming with Mark Wahlberg and the pair would go on to make two successful and family friendlier Daddy’s Home pics.

9. The Last Airbender

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Based on the Nickelodeon animated series, the fantasy adventure marked a departure from M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty suspense thrillers. It did, however, maintain the filmmaker’s recent trend of critically savaged titles (arriving two years behind the lambasted The Happening). It couldn’t match its reported $150 million budget stateside.

8. Grown Ups

Domestic Gross: $162 million

Adam Sandler continued to prove himself review proof with this comedy where he recruited buddies Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider for another sizable hit. A sequel followed three years later.

7. The Karate Kid

Domestic Gross: $176 million

Produced by his parents Will and Jada, this retooling of the 1984 blockbuster starred Jaden Smith with Jackie Chan as his mentor. Shot for just about $40 million, it grossed over $300 million worldwide. Surprisingly, a planned sequel never materialized.

6. Shrek Forever After

Domestic Gross: $238 million

Typically a gross of $238 million is quite an achievement, but not necessarily in this case for the Dreamworks animated franchise. Forever grossed less than its three predecessors and generated mixed critical reaction.

5. Despicable Me

Domestic Gross: $251 million

At the start of summer 2010, not many would have have projected this original Illumination Entertainment animated tale would outdo Shrek. Yet that’s exactly what occurred and two sequels and the Minions spin-off franchise have followed.

4. Inception

Domestic Gross: $292 million

Coming hot off the heels of 2008’s The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan had another huge earner in his collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. It might have been a challenge to follow the plot, but audiences gave it their best and a worldwide take over $800 million occurred. Multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture (though not Nolan’s direction), resulted.

3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Domestic Gross: $300 million

2010 found audiences still enraptured by the Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner vampire romance. The third entry in the series set a midnight earnings ($30 million) opening record that stood for a year before Harry Potter swept it away.

2. Iron Man 2

Domestic Gross: $312 million

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still in its infancy a decade ago as this was the third pic of the bunch. Part 2 posted fine numbers, but was considered a bit of a letdown compared to the first edition. It did mark the first appearance of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and a buff and whip cracking Mickey Rourke as the main villain.

1. Toy Story 3

Domestic Gross: $415 million

Pixar easily ruled the season with the third flick in the studio’s startup series. Arriving 15 years after the original, the return of Woody and Buzz was a critical darling that earned a Best Picture nomination and lots of love from all ages. Part 4 would follow in 2019.

And now for some other noteworthy pictures from the time frame:


Domestic Gross: $118 million

Arriving two years after her action hit Wanted, this spy thriller hovered just outside the top 10 and managed to just outgross its $110 million budget in North America.

The Expendables

Domestic Gross: $105 million

Sylvester Stallone led a band of action heroes in this early August title that tapped the nostalgia of moviegoers. A pair of sequels followed that would bring in more genre heavy hitters like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Chuck Norris, and Harrison Ford.

Eat Pray Love

Domestic Gross: $80 million

This adaptation of a 2006 bestseller starring Julia Roberts brought in a sizable female audience and hit just over $200 million worldwide against a $60 million budget.

Dinner for Schmucks

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd headlined this midsize hit that got mixed reviews. It has since turned into a bit of a cult favorite in subsequent years.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Domestic Gross: $31 million

There’s no question that I could have put this teen action romance in the misfires column as it made just a fraction of its $85 million price tag. However, the Edgar Wright title has since achieved significant status as an impressive original work with a major following.

The Kids Are All Right

Domestic Gross: $20 million

This domestic dramedy became a major awards player and was nominated for Best Picture with acting nods going to Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.


Domestic Gross: $8 million

Just as with Pilgrim, this SNL spin-off with Will Forte was a financial bomb. Yet it has also turned into a cult classic and there’s a rumored sequel or TV spin-off in the making.

Winter’s Bone

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This indie mystery is notable for introducing Jennifer Lawrence to critics, if not a wide audience. Bone would earn the star her first Oscar nomination in addition to a Best Picture nod. Of course, Ms. Lawrence would break out in the next two years with the X-Men and Hunger Games series and her Oscar victory happened in 2012 with Silver Linings Playbook. 

And now for some movies that didn’t match their expectations:

Robin Hood

Domestic Gross: $105 million

With a budget that may have been as high as $200 million, Robin Hood reunited Russell Crowe with Ridley Scott. A decade earlier, they made Gladiator which was a giant hit that won Best Picture. As for this version of the oft told saga, it’s largely forgotten.

Sex and the City 2

Domestic Gross: $95 million

The second installment cinematically of the beloved HBO series, part 2 made more than $50 million below its predecessor from 2008. Critics also savaged it.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Domestic Gross: $90 million

A hoped for franchise for Disney, the $150 million fantasy pic couldn’t hit the century mark in North America. Lead Jake Gyllenhaal has since expressed his regret for doing it.

The A-Team

Domestic Gross: $77 million

A year after his breakthrough in The Hangover, this action pic based on the 1980s TV series didn’t quite turn Bradley Cooper (alongside Liam Neeson) into an action star. Audience mostly found it, well, expendable.

Knight and Day

Domestic Gross: $76 million

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz couldn’t provide enough star power for this action comedy to get near its budget north of $100 million.

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Domestic Gross: $43 million

Perhaps nine years was too long a break between sequels. The original family tale was an unexpected hit at $93 million in 2001, but the long gestating sequel didn’t gross half that number.

Jonah Hex

Domestic Gross: $10 million

This DC Comics based title with Josh Brolin in the title role and Megan Fox was an instant flop, barely making eight figures against a $47 million budget. It also held a sad 12% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

And that wraps up my looks at the summers of decades past, folks! I’ll have 1991, 2001, and 2011 recaps up in a year’s time…

Tenet Falls Back

As I’ve stated in any COVID-19 related post on this blog, the release of movies in theaters is far from the most pressing concern as it relates to the pandemic. However, this site covers the world of film and a significant development occurred today when it comes to that future.

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has long been seen as the first real test of financial viability for theaters. For several months now, it has been the tentpole release pegged to be out of the gate before all others. With its $200 million budget and with one of the few directors behind it that guarantees an audience, a direct to streaming output has never been an option. Many other smaller budget features have already gone that route and it’s been covered here. Tenet was originally scheduled for a global bow last Friday (July 17) before shifting to July 31 and then August 12. Hours ago, Warner Bros. made an announcement that many have been anticipating. The thriller starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson has now moved to a familiar release date… TBD.

The studio’s press release still indicates a desire for a 2020 rollout. The announcement goes on to say that Tenet may not receive a traditional release. Reading between the lines – this means it could be out in foreign markets before it hits screens stateside. This is in no doubt related to the recent surge of COVID cases in North America vs. other parts of the world.

Why is this announcement on one movie so big? Because a domino effect is sure to follow and it has already started. Rom com The Broken Hearts Gallery from Sony Pictures shifted its August 7th date to TBD shortly after. The Russell Crowe pic Unhinged is still slated to open next weekend (July 31). We will see if that holds (it could be a prime candidate for streaming).

Disney’s Mulan is currently scheduled for August 21. I would not be surprised if this changes and quickly. You may recall that it was originally supposed to come out in March when the pandemic began shutting down sectors of the economy.

Warner Bros. also revealed that The Conjuring 3 (part of their flagship horror franchise) is now moved to summer of 2021. One must wonder what other studios will do with some of their high profile product scheduled for September and October (August is pretty much wiped out at this juncture save for Mulan at the moment). That list includes A Quiet Place II (already delayed from spring) and Wonder Woman 1984 (already delayed from summer).

Bottom line: the fall back of Tenet greatly increases the probability of November being the real start of major product in the multiplexes. That’s when already delayed projects like Black Widow, No Time to Die, and Soul are scheduled. And that is, of course, tentative as well in this new cinematic reality.

Uncut Gems Movie Review

When the brothers Safdie (Ben and Josh) made Good Time in 2017, the thriller centering on low-life crime figures contained segments that showed the duo was capable of creating something special. Clearly influenced by similar grimy pics in the 1970s, that film gave Robert Pattinson a role that drew him far away from a sullen romantic vampire and is primarily responsible for his current career trajectory. However, I found Good Time better in spots than as a cohesive whole. Their follow-up is Uncut Gems and it’s the “something special” that was hinted at in their predecessor.

In many ways, it stays in the Good Time lane. The setting is again the Big Apple. The characters are again a level of bottom dwelling criminals who aren’t exactly top level at their professions. And like Pattinson, Gems allows a very famous actor to try something different. Here it’s Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, who owns a diamond store and is a degenerate gambler. In Howard’s universe, there’s not a problem that he can’t seem to make worse.

His family life is in a constant state of chaos as his wife (Idina Menzel) is ready to freeze him out and his brother-in-law (Eric Bogosian) is a loan shark that Howard owes money to. Then there’s his girlfriend Julie (Julia Fox, in her feature debut) who works for him and is a consistent source of stress. Demany (Lakeith Stanfield) is his business associate charged with bringing in celebrities and high rollers to the store. He finds one in Boston Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett, who plays himself and does so memorably.

When Howard gets his hands on a rare Ethiopian opal, it sets off a series of frenzied events. Garnett is obsessed with purchasing the rarity while Howard looks to cash in with it at auction. The hoped for financial windfall means he can pay his off his considerable debts. Yet Howard just cannot help himself as one scheme simply leads to the next one, including betting on his NBA client for large sums of money.

Like Good Time, the pacing here is relentless. For over two hours, the screenplay and direction immerse us in Howard’s out of control daily existence. It’s exhilarating and Sandler deserves a lot of the credit. These days, it’s rare to see the performer in anything other than middling to less than middling Netflix comedies. Seeing him rise to the challenge in more dramatic material shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as we saw it in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love nearly two decades ago. It’s just been a while. Howard is onscreen nearly the entire running time and for good reason. You can’t take your eyes off him.

The lead’s remarkable work is accentuated by his supporting cast. This especially applies to the women in his life as both Menzel and Fox are given notable scenes reacting to Howard’s never-ending foibles. By the time the credits roll, one could argue Uncut Gems has the happiest ending it could have if you really ponder it. This is a tale of addiction in a highly stylized setting where Howard just can’t become the winner he pines to be. His turmoil is interrupted by brief glimpses of happiness and we witness a couple of great ones. In the era that the Safdies are paying homage, Al Pacino or Robert De Niro might have played Howard. Sandler gets the job here and knocks it out the park. It’s something special.

**** (out of four)

Will The Indie Spirits Nominees Showcase Oscar Gems?

This afternoon, the nominations for the 35th Independent Spirit Awards were released as we prepare for the onslaught of Oscar precursors to follow. And make no mistake – the Indie Spirits are indeed a precursor. In this decade from 2010-2018, five of the nine Best Feature winners emerged victorious with the Academy for Best Picture: 2011’s The Artist, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, 2014’s Birdman, 2015’s Spotlight, and 2016’s Moonlight. Some of these years have three or four of the five nominees get Oscar nods in the big race.

However, 2018 marked the first year of this decade when none of the five nominated pictures at the Indies garnered any Academy love. I don’t expect that to occur for a second year in a row.

In this post, I’ll break down Feature, Director, and the four acting races and what it might mean for Oscar:

Best Feature

Nominees: A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story, Uncut Gems

First things first: Marriage Story is going to get a Best Picture nomination and probably wins here. And it might be the only one here that does. The Farewell has a decent shot and Uncut Gems is a potential sleeper (though I wouldn’t bet on it).

That said, Gems did tie The Lighthouse for most Indie mentions (5). And that brings us back to Marriage Story. The voters here chose to give it a special Robert Altman award honoring the team behind it. That includes cast members Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Alan Alda. They all probably would’ve heard their names here had that not occurred and same goes for director Noah Baumbach. If that seems like a bit of a cheat (taking out probable winners like Driver and Baumbach), I wouldn’t argue. The silver lining is that it does make some of these categories more interesting.

Best Director

Nominees: Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), Alma Hor’el (Honey Boy), Julius Onah (Luce), Ben and Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers)

Like Best Feature, 2018 saw no directors recognized get Academy attention. With Baumbach getting his Altman award and out of the running, that could certainly happen again as I don’t even have any of these directors in my top ten Oscar possibilities. Perhaps this could help spur chatter for the Safdies or Scafaria. Again… I wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Female Lead

Nominees: Karen Allen (Colewell), Hong Chau (Driveways), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Mary Kay Place (Diane), Alfre Woodard (Clemency), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Six out of nine winners here from 2010-2018 went onto win the Best Actress statue: Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Brie Larson (Room), and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

Even with Johansson not included, it could be 7/10 as Zellweger is my current Oscar front runner. Woodard and Moss stand shots at nods. The other three need not shop for red carpet dresses.

One noticeable omission is Awkwafina in The Farewell, who many are predicting for Oscar attention. I currently had her on the outside looking in at sixth. That could slide when I update my estimates on Monday.

Best Male Lead

Nominees: Chris Galust (Give Me Liberty), Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Luce), Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems), Matthias Schoenarts (The Mustang)

Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) are the three Indie/Oscar recipients. Only in 2015 and (yes) 2018 did no nominees get Oscar nods…

I expect that to occur again. I believe only Sandler stands a chance, but it’s a reach based on severe competition.

Best Supporting Female

Nominees: Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Taylor Russell (Waves), Lauren Spencer (Give Me Liberty), Octavia Spencer (Luce), Shuzhen Zhou (The Farewell)

Four winners here have picked up Academy trophies – Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), and the past two winners Allison Janney (I, Tonya) and Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk).

With soft front runner Laura Dern in the Marriage Story special category thing, we could still see a third year in a row match with Lopez. Zhou and Spencer (to a lesser degree) may also find themselves in the Oscar mix.

And with Taylor Russell’s nod here, it’s a good time to mention that Waves really came up short with the Indies today. That doesn’t help its Oscar viability.

Best Supporting Male

Nominees: Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Noah Jupe (Honey Boy), Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy), Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Wendell Pierce (Burning Cane)

This category is another ultra crowded one for Oscar attention, but Dafoe and LaBeouf are legit contenders for nods. Not so with the other three. The omission of Sterling K. Brown in Waves is a surprise.

There have been four Indie/Oscar victors this decade: Christopher Plummer (Beginners), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). With Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Al Pacino (The Irishman) as likely favorites for the Academy, I wouldn’t expect a fifth match.

And there you have it, folks! My take on the Indies and which Oscar gems they could produce…

2019 Oscar Predictions: October 17th Edition

My weekly Oscar predictions this Thursday brings a whole lot of changes in that I’m  including every category covering feature films! Additionally, there’s now only 15 listed possibilities in Best Picture and ten in all other races.

For this format, my projections show The Irishman garnering the most nominations with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, and Marriage Story not far behind. Besides the cosmetic changes, here’s what else has transpired in the past seven days:

  • Bombshell, the true life of Fox News and the downfall of Roger Ailes, had its first industry screenings. The film immediately vaulted itself into contention in Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay (as well as Makeup & Hairstyling).
  • My inclusion of Bombshell in Best Picture means The Farewell has been taken out with The Two Popes and Joker as other on the bubble entries.
  • Not only does Charlize Theron’s work in Bombshell enter my Best Actress projections, but she comes in at #2. That drops Cynthia Erivo in Harriet out of the top five for the first time.
  • Margot Robbie’s performance in the picture puts her in and she bumps… Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 
  • In non Bombshell news, South Korean import Parasite had the best per screen average of 2019 in limited release. It’s the best reviewed movie of the year and its numbers game improves in Picture and Director this week.


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 6)

4. Marriage Story (PR: 3)

5. 1917 (PR: 4)

6. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 5)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. The Two Popes (PR: 9)

9. Bombshell (PR: 18)

10. Joker (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Farewell (PR: 8)

12. Little Women (PR: 12)

13. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 11)

14. Waves (PR: 13)

15. Richard Jewell (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Pain and Glory 


Just Mercy 

A Hidden Life 


The Report 


The Good Liar 

Dark Waters 

Ad Astra 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

3. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

4. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 3)

5. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 8)

8. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 7)

9. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 13)

10. Jay Roach, Bombshell (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes 

Greta Gerwig, Little Women 

Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 

Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life

Todd Phillips, Joker

Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell


Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 5)

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 6)

7. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

8. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 7)

9. Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell (PR: 9)

10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy 

Ian McKellen, The Good Liar 

Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters 

Brad Pitt, Ad Astra 

Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 1)

2. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

3. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 4)

5. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 6)

7. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 3)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Isabelle Huppert, Frankie

Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart 

Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts 

Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell


Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 2)

3. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

4. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 3)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 6)

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 7)

8. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 9)

9. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 13)

10. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Sterling K. Brown, Waves

Alan Alda, Marriage Story 

Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy 

Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit 

Zack Gottsagen, The Peanut Butter Falcon 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 2)

3. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: 12)

4. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 3)

5. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: 6)

7. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

8. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 9)

9. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 8)

10. Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit 

Jennifer Hudson, Cats

Nicole Kidman, Bombshell 

Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory 

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dolemite Is My Name 


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

5. Joker (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Little Women (PR: 6)

7. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

8. Judy (PR: 7)

9. Downton Abbey (PR: 9)

10. Richard Jewell (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Good Liar 

Dark Waters 


Toy Story 4



Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 4)

5. Bombshell (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 6)

7. 1917 (PR: 8)

8. Pain and Glory (PR: 5)

9. Booksmart (PR: 9)

10. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

The Report

Honey Boy 

Dolemite Is My Name 

Knives Out 



Predicted Nominees:

1. Parasite 

2. Pain and Glory 

3. Atlantics 

4. Les Miserables 

5. Monos

Other Possibilities:

6. Those Who Remained 

7. Beanpole

8. And Then We Danced 

9. Papicha

10. The Traitor 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Toy Story 4

2. Frozen II

3. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 

4. Missing Link

5. Weathering with You

Other Possibilities:

6. I Lost My Body

7. Abominable 

8. Klaus

9. Funan 

10. Okko’s Inn 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Apollo 11

2. American Factory 

3. Maiden

4. One Child Nation

5. The Cave

Other Possibilities:

6. The Biggest Little Farm

7. The Edge of Democracy 

8. Aquarela

9. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese 

10. Knock Down the House 


Predicted Nominees:

1. 1917

2. The Irishman 

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

4. Parasite 

5. The Lighthouse 

Other Possibilities:

6. Ad Astra

7. Ford v Ferrari

8. Marriage Story 

9. Joker

10. Jojo Rabbit 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Downton Abbey 

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

3. Little Women

4. Dolemite Is My Name 

5. Rocketman 

Other Possibilities:

6. Judy

7. The Irishman 

8. Aladdin 

9. 1917

10. Jojo Rabbit 


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

3. 1917

4. Ford v Ferrari

5. Marriage Story 

Other Possibilities:

6. Parasite 

7. Jojo Rabbit 

8. Joker

9. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

10. Ad Astra 


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman 

2. Bombshell

3. Judy

4. Dolemite Is My Name 

5. Little Women 

Other Possibilities:

6. Joker

7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

8. The Aeronauts 

9. Rocketman 

10. Cats


Predicted Nominees:

1. 1917

2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

3. Little Women 

4. Marriage Story 

5. Jojo Rabbit 

Other Possibilities:

6. The Aeronauts 

7. Ford v Ferrari 

8. A Hidden Life 

9. Joker

10. Waves 


Predicted Nominees:

1. “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II

2. “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman 

3. “Stand Up” from Harriet 

4. “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” from Toy Story 4

5. “Speechless” from Aladdin 

Other Possibilities:

6. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4

7. “Spirit” from The Lion King 

8. “One Little Soldier” from Bombshell 

9. “Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn 

10. “Together From Afar” from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

2. 1917

3. Jojo Rabbit 

4. The Irishman 

5. Little Women

Other Possibilities:

6. Cats

7. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

8. Ford v Ferrari

9. Aladdin

10. Downton Abbey 


Predicted Nominees:

1. 1917

2. Ford v Ferrari

3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

4. Rocketman

5. Avengers: Endgame 

Other Possibilities:

6. Ad Astra

7. The Irishman 

8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

9. Cats

10. The Lion King 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Ford v Ferrari

2. 1917

3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

4. Rocketman 

5. Ad Astra 

Other Possibilities:

6. Avengers: Endgame 

7. Cats

8. The Irishman 

9. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

10. The Lion King 


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman 

2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 

3. Avengers: Endgame 

4. The Lion King 

5. Alita: Battle Angel 

Other Possibilities:

6. The Aeronauts 

7. Gemini Man 

8. Ad Astra 

9. 1917

10. Godzilla: King of the Monsters 

So here’s I have the nominations playing out as far as numbers with each film:

10 Nominations 

The Irishman 

9 Nominations 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 

8 Nominations 

1917, Marriage Story 

5 Nominations 

Bombshell, Ford v Ferrari, Little Women, Parasite

4 Nominations 

Jojo Rabbit, Rocketman, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Two Popes 

3 Nominations 

The Farewell, Joker

2 Nominations 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Avengers: Endgame, Dolemite Is My Name, Frozen II, Judy, Toy Story 4

1 Nomination

Ad Astra, Aladdin, Alita: Battle Angel, American Factory, Apollo 11, Atlantics, The Cave, Downton Abbey, Harriet, Hustlers, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Les Miserables, The Lighthouse, The Lion King, Maiden, Missing Link, Monos, One Child Nation, Pain and Glory, The Report, Weathering with You

2019 Oscar Predictions: October 10th Edition

The Joker went wild at the box office over the weekend, easily setting the all-time October opening record. Let’s see how the rest of awards season plays out, but the film has now entered back into my predictions for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay. In the big race, that knocks out A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which made its inaugural appearance in the top ten last Thursday. In other developments:

  • In Actress, the five spot continues to change back and forth. For this week, Awkwafina is in with Alfre Woodard just outside.
  • In Supporting Actress, Laura Dern goes back to the #1 slot over Jennifer Lopez.

The other races remain the same with some positions jockeying around. So here’s the big announcement…

Next Thursday, I will be including all categories covering feature length films for the first time. The list of Picture possibilities will dwindle from 25 to 15 with all other races going down to ten. Stay tuned!!


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Marriage Story (PR: 3)

4. 1917 (PR: 7)

5. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 4)

6. Parasite (PR: 5

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 6)

8. The Farewell (PR: 9)

9. The Two Popes (PR: 8)

10. Joker (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 10)

12. Little Women (PR: 12)

13. Waves (PR: 13)

14. Pain and Glory (PR: 15)

15. Richard Jewell (PR: 19)

16. Judy (PR: 17)

17. Just Mercy (PR: 14)

18. Bombshell (PR: 20)

19. A Hidden Life (PR: 16)

20. Rocketman (PR: 24)

21. The Report (PR: 21)

22. Booksmart (PR: 18)

23. The Good Liar (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Dark Waters (PR: 22)

25. Ad Astra (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Downton Abbey 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Sam Mendes, 1917 (PR: 5)

4. Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite (PR: 4)

5. Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

7. Lulu Wang, The Farewell (PR: 12)

8. James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

9. Fernando Meirelles, The Two Popes (PR: 10)

10. Greta Gerwig, Little Women (PR: 8)

11. Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 13)

12. Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life (PR: 11)

13. Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory (PR: 9)

14. Todd Phillips, Joker (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Trey Edward Shults, Waves


Predicted Nominees:

1. Renee Zellweger, Judy (PR: 1)

2. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

3. Cynthia Erivo, Harriet (PR: 3)

4. Saoirse Ronan, Little Women (PR: 4)

5. Awkwafina, The Farewell (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Alfre Woodard, Clemency (PR: 5)

7. Charlize Theron, Bombshell (PR: 7)

8. Lupita Nyong’o, Us (PR: 8)

9. Helen Mirren, The Good Liar (PR: 9)

10. Isabelle Huppert, Frankie (PR: 11)

11. Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim (PR: 10)

12. Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts (PR: 14)

14. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell (PR: 12)

15. Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Kristin Stewart, Seberg 


Predicted Nominees:

1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (PR: 2)

3. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 3)

5. Robert De Niro, The Irishman (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (PR: 6)

7. Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 7)

8. Taron Egerton, Rocketman (PR: 8)

9. Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell (PR: 10)

10. Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy (PR: 11)

11. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (PR: 12)

12. Ian McKellen, The Good Liar (PR: 13)

13. Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters (PR: 14)

14. Brad Pitt, Ad Astra (PR: 9)

15. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Matt Damon, Ford v Ferrari


Predicted Nominees:

1. Laura Dern, Marriage Story (PR: 2)

2. Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (PR: 1)

3. Annette Bening, The Report (PR: 3)

4. Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 4)

5. Shuzhen Zhou, The Farewell (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PR: 8)

7. Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 6)

8. Meryl Streep, Little Women (PR: 7)

9. Florence Pugh, Little Women (PR: 9)

10. Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 11)

11. Jennifer Hudson, Cats (PR: 12)

12. Margot Robbie, Bombshell (PR: 13)

13. Nicole Kidman, Bombshell (PR: 10)

14. Penelope Cruz, Pain and Glory (PR: 14)

15. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dolemite Is My Name (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell


Predicted Nominees:

1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 1)

2. Al Pacino, The Irishman (PR: 3)

3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes (PR: 4)

4. Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 2)

5. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (PR: 8)

7. Joe Pesci, The Irishman (PR: 6)

8. Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 9)

9. Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (PR: 7)

10. Sterling K. Brown, Waves (PR: 10)

11. Alan Alda, Marriage Story (PR: 11)

12. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy (PR: 13)

13. John Lithgow, Bombshell (PR: 12)

14. Sam Rockwell, Jojo Rabbit (PR: 14)

15. Zack Gottsagen, The Peanut Butter Falcon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sam Rockwell, Richard Jewell


Predicted Nominees:

1. Marriage Story (PR: 1)

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (PR: 2)

3. Parasite (PR: 3)

4. The Farewell (PR: 5)

5. Pain and Glory (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Waves (PR: 6)

7. Ford v Ferrari (PR: 7)

8. 1917 (PR: 11)

9. Booksmart (PR: 8)

10. Bombshell (PR: 9)

11. The Report (PR: 10)

12. Honey Boy (PR: 12)

13. Dolemite Is My Name (PR: 14)

14. Knives Out (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Rocketman (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Ad Astra 

The Lighthouse 


Predicted Nominees:

1. The Irishman (PR: 1)

2. Jojo Rabbit (PR: 2)

3. The Two Popes (PR: 3)

4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PR: 4)

5. Joker (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Little Women (PR: 5)

7. Judy (PR: 9)

8. Just Mercy (PR: 8)

9. Downton Abbey (PR: 7)

10. Richard Jewell (PR: 10)

11. The Good Liar (PR: 12)

12. Dark Waters (PR: 11)

13. Hustlers (PR: 14)

14. Toy Story 4 (PR: 15)

15. Luce (PR: 13)