Oscar Watch: Land

She’s had high profile career for over 30 years now with The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, and Wonder Woman to name just three. Robin Wright has also won a Golden Globe for her streaming work on House of Cards, but she’s yet to get on the Academy’s radar. Her directorial debut Land just played at the Sundance Film Festival. Wright also stars as someone looking for the meaning of life in the wilderness (shades of Wild with Reese Witherspoon). Costars include Demian Bichir and Kim Dickens.

Critical reaction is of the mixed variety with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 63%. Land is eligible for the 2020 Oscar season since the Academy expanded the calendar. The pic lands in theaters on February 12th. However, any talk of this being a late entry making waves is pretty much finished with the so-so reviews.

Bottom line: don’t make space for Land in your predictions. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2020 Oscar Predictions: January 14th Edition

For the past several years, the magic number has traditionally been nine when it comes to Best Picture nominees. It can fluctuate anywhere between 5 and 10 according to the rules, unlike every other category. This changes to a finite 10 starting in 2022. And since August when I began these (mostly) weekly estimates, I’ve kept it at 9.

However, I am expanding it to ten this week as I believe Judas and the Black Messiah could easily make the cut and I just couldn’t take any of the other nine films out. Obviously this may change as we move closer to nomination morning, but that’s where I stand today.

In the major categories, other changes are Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) entering the Best Director mix for the first time and that takes out George C. Wolfe for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In Supporting Actor, I have yet again switched the 5 spot with Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) in and Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7) out.

Zendaya’s work in Malcolm & Marie goes from unranked status all the way to #5 and this displaces Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday. 

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

6. One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

7. Minari (PR: 5)

8. The Father (PR: 7)

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

10. Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. News of the World (PR: 11)

12. Soul (PR: 13)

13. Sound of Metal (PR: 12)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

7. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 6)

8. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 8)

9. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Darius Marder, Sound of Metal

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 7)

8. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

9. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 8)

10. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Robin Wright, Land

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 4)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 8)

8. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

9. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 9)

10. John David Washington, Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Tom Hanks, News of the World

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 5)

5. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

7. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 8)

8. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

9. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 6)

10. Dominique Fishback, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

3. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

7. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 8)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

9. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

10. Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Stanley Tucci, Supernova

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

3. Minari (PR: 4)

4. Mank (PR: 2)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 6)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 7)

8. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

4. The Father (PR: 2)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 7)

8. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Emma

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 7)

8. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (PR: 8)

9. Connected (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Bombay Rose

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Time (PR: 2)

2. The Dissident (PR: 4)

3. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

4. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

5. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Boys State (PR: 5)

7. Collective (PR: 9)

8. Crip Camp (PR: 7)

9. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 8)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 3)

4. Collective (PR: 7)

5. Dear Comrades! (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. A Sun (PR: 5)

7. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 4)

8. My Little Sister (PR: 6)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 9)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees

1. Nomadland (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 6)

7. Minari (PR: 7)

8. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. Malcolm & Marie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Mulan (PR: 5)

4. Emma (PR: 3)

5. News of the World (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 6)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

8. Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. The Glorias (PR: 9)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 3)

4. The Father (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

7. News of the World (PR: 5)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

9. Tenet (PR: 10)

10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 6)

4. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

5. Pinocchio (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

8. Mulan (PR: 8)

9. Emma (PR: 10)

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

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Minari (PR: 4)

5. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

8. Tenet (PR: 6)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 7)

8. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 9)

9. “The Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 10)

10. “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 7)

5. Emma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

7. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 4)

9. Tenet (PR: 8)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

5. Soul (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 7)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: Not Ranked)

8. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

10. Greyhound (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Mulan (PR: 4)

4. The Invisible Man (PR: 5)

5. Greyhound (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

8. Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

10. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 6)

Dropped Out:

Dolittle

And that equates to the following pictures garnering these numbers in terms of nominations:

12 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

4 Nominations

Minari, News of the World, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Judas and the Black Messiah, Mulan, Promising Young Woman, Soul, Sound of Metal

2 Nominations

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, The Midnight Sky, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Tenet

1 Nomination

Another Round, Birds of Prey, Collective, Dear Comrades!, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, First Cow, Greyhound, The Invisible Man, The Life Ahead, Malcolm & Marie, Night of the Kings, Onward, Pinocchio, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

2020 Oscar Predictions: January 4th Edition

My initial 2021 Oscar predictions for the films released in 2020 (and January and February of this year) have arrived! And the new year’s estimates brings the first change in my nine Best Picture nominees in many weeks. Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman now joins the group and that leaves out News of the World.

In Best Director, I have George C. Wolfe now in for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and that drops Lee Isaac Chung for Minari. Another change is in Supporting Actor with Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7) back in the final five over Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci. In Original Screenplay, Da 5 Bloods makes it back ahead of Soul. 

You can read all the movement below! Happy New Year and I’ll be back at it next week…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 5)

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

7. The Father (PR: 6)

8. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

9. Promising Young Woman (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

10. Sound of Metal (PR: 12)

11. News of the World (PR: 9)

12. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

13. Soul (PR: 13)

14. First Cow (PR: 15)

15. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 14)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 4)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

9. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

10. Darius Marder, Sound of Metal (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 3)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

7. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 6)

8. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 9)

9. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 8)

10. Robin Wright, Land (PR: 10)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

4. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

7. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 7)

9. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 8)

10. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Helena Zengel, News of the World (PR: 6)

7. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

8. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 9)

10. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 5)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 9)

9. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 10)

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

4. Minari (PR: 3)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Soul (PR: 5)

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

8. Sound of Metal (PR: 7)

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 10)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 2)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. News of the World (PR: 6)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Mauritanian 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 6)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 7)

8. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Connected

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Time (PR: 2)

3. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

4. The Dissident (PR: 4)

5. Boys State (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 6)

7. Crip Camp (PR: 7)

8. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 9)

9. Collective (PR: 8)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 10)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. Night of the Kings (PR: 6)

4. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 3)

5. A Sun (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

7. Collective (PR: 5)

8. Dear Comrades! (PR: 7)

9. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 8)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 5)

7. Minari (PR: 6)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 9)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

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

Dropped Out:

The Midnight Sky

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 2)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 4)

5. Mulan (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 9)

7. News of the World (PR: 6)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

9. The Glorias (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ammonite (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Nomadland (PR: 4)

4. The Father (PR: 3)

5. News of the World (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 5)

7. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

8. Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

10. Tenet (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 4)

5. Pinocchio (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: 6)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

8. Mulan (PR: 7)

9. News of the World (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Emma (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 4)

4. Minari (PR: 5)

5. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tenet (PR: 8)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

10. One Night in Miami (PR: 9)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 3)

3. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 2)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 8)

8. “Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 7)

9. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

10. “The Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“Free” from The One and Only Ivan

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 3)

3. Mulan (PR: 2)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 4)

5. Emma (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

7. News of the World (PR: 9)

8. Tenet (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

10. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Tenet (PR: 3)

3. Mank (PR: 2)

4. Soul (PR: 7)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 6)

7. News of the World (PR: 5)

8. Greyhound (PR: Not Ranked)

9. The Prom (PR: 9)

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

Dropped Out:

Da 5 Bloods

Mulan

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 5)

4. Mulan (PR: 4)

5. The Invisible Man (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 6)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 7)

8. Greyhound (PR: 9)

9. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

10. Dolittle (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Mank

And that equates to the following numbers in nominations for films:

11 Nominations

Mank

9 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods

4 Nominations

Minari, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Mulan, News of the World, Promising Young Woman, Soul

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Emma, Judas and the Black Messiah, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Sound of Metal, Tenet, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, First Cow, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky, Night of the Kings, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Pinocchio, Quo Vadis, Aida?, A Sun, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

Wonder Woman 1984 Review

I wish Wonder Woman 1984 wasn’t the disjointed viewing experience that it mostly is. I wish it had the humor that landed in the 2017 pic and the sweet love story between its heroine and her man that was well-developed. Here the humor seems forced as does the interplay between Gal Gadot’s title character and WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). This is a sequel that feels like busywork and it’s devoid of, yes, some of the wonder that made the original a bright spot in the DC Extended Universe.

1984 means leg warmers and action sequences set in shopping malls. It also means part 2 picks up nearly seven decades later. Gadot’s Diana fills her days as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian and her nights pining for the long departed Steve. Of course, she also does some Wonder Woman stuff in between. When she thwarts a jewel heist in one of those sprawling shopping structures, it turns out the thieves were really after some black market artifacts that weren’t on display. That includes an ancient “Dreamstone” of Latin origin that grants wishes no matter how dangerous they might be. For Diana, it means bringing her lost love back. This is handled by Pine returning in the form of some random DC dude. While Pine’s courtship with Diana was a high point the first time around, the actor is now relegated to gawking in wide eyed disbelief at rocket ships and escalators. His participation here never smacks of anything more than plot device mechanics and that’s a letdown. He does get a reverse Pretty Woman style sequence in which he tries on pirate looking shirts and fanny packs in front of his nonplussed girlfriend. So there’s that.

Of course, this “Dreamstone” leads to nefarious actions from others. Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) is a failed businessman who’s known for cheesy infomercials. His acquiring of the artifact allows him to amass significant power and oil. He also has a young son that he’s desperately trying to impress and that results in some mawkish moments. And there’s Kristin Wiig as Barbara. She’s Diana’s supremely unconfident geologist coworker. Barbara feels invisible until her interaction with the Stone makes her as tough and beautiful as her fellow employee. Unfortunately her power trip partners her with the megalomaniac Max and his misguided plans. For Wiig, Barbara is one of those characters who immediately becomes attractive once her big glasses and frumpy dress go by the wayside. She’s simply not a memorable villainess. There are shades of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman from Batman Returns, but she’s not written nearly as potently.

Pascal’s Max is another story. I can’t say he’s not memorable because the performer portraying him goes way over the top in doing so. I think Pascal knows how much he’s hamming it up and his go for broke attitude does provide a bit of fun. That’s welcome because it’s in short supply. I might volley back and forth on whether he’s actually great or kinda terrible here, but it’s a performance worth mentioning. That’s more than I can say for everyone else.

For two and a half hours, 1984 often forgets to bring the joy. There’s a make it up as we go along vibe that wasn’t as noticeable when Patty Jenkins helmed the first (she returns here and is one of three cowriters).

Wonder Woman 1984 is all about how you can’t get ahead by cheating and lying (a prologue featuring some familiar faces from part 1 makes that message clear). The following 150 minutes hammers it home with convenient and haphazard storylines that, ironically, sometime feel like cheats. I wish this came close to the quality of Gadot’s first stand-alone venture, but we are left waiting and wanting in 1984. 

** (out of four)

2020 Oscar Predictions: December 28th Edition

My final Oscars forecast for 2020 sees no changes in my nine Best Picture nominees (which has remained consistent for weeks), but some movement in other key races.

In Best Director, I have had David Fincher (Mank) listed at #1 for months, but that switches today as he falls to second with Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) taking the top spot. If she manages to take gold in April, Zhao would be just the second female to win the award behind Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009. Additionally, Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) is in my final five for the first time, replacing Regina King for One Night in Miami.

While there are no changes in the lead acting competitions, the supporting players are a different story. Youn Yuh-jung in Minari sees her first appearance in my five Supporting Actress hopefuls and that takes out Helena Zengel in News of the World. Same goes for Paul Raci in Supporting Actor for Sound of Metal and that’s to the detriment of Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

You can peruse all the rest of the activity below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Mank (PR: 3)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 7)

6. The Father (PR: 5)

7. One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

9. News of the World (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

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

11. Promising Young Woman (PR: 13)

12. Sound of Metal (PR: 10)

13. Soul (PR: 11)

14. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 14)

15. First Cow (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Mauritanian

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

2. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

3. Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: 7)

5. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Regina King, One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

9. Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Darius Marder, Sound of Metal

Paul Greengrass, News of the World 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 3)

3. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

4. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 2)

5. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 6)

7. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

8. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 10)

9. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 9)

10. Robin Wright, Land (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Meryl Streep, The Prom

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 3)

4. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 7)

7. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 6)

8. Mads Mikkelsen, Another Round (PR: 8)

9. Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 10)

10. Tom Hanks, News of the World (PR: 9)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 1)

2. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 3)

4. Ellen Burstyn, Pieces of a Woman (PR: 4)

5. Youn Yuh-jung, Minari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 7)

8. Jodie Foster, The Mauritanian (PR: 9)

9. Olivia Cooke, Sound of Metal (PR: 8)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 10)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

3. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 3)

4. Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 5)

7. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 7)

8. Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: Not Ranked)

9. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 9)

10. Stanley Tucci, Supernova (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Frank Langella, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Minari (PR: 3)

4. Promising Young Woman (PR: 4)

5. Soul (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 6)

7. Sound of Metal (PR: 7)

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

9. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 9)

10. The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

On the Rocks

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. The Father (PR: 3)

3. One Night in Miami (PR: 2)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

5. First Cow (PR: 5)

Predicted Nominees:

6. News of the World (PR: 7)

7. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 6)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 8)

9. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 9)

10. The Mauritanian (PR: 10)

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 1)

2. Wolfwalkers (PR: 2)

3. Over the Moon (PR: 3)

4. Onward (PR: 4)

5. Earwig and the Witch (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Willoughbys (PR: 7)

7. The Croods: A New Age (PR: 6)

8. Connected (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Demon Slayer (PR: 9)

10. Bombay Rose (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Trolls World Tour

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Totally Under Control (PR: 1)

2. Time (PR: 2)

3. Dick Johnson Is Dead (PR: 3)

4. The Dissident (PR: 4)

5. Boys State (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. All In: The Fight for Democracy (PR: 8)

7. Crip Camp (PR: 6)

8. Collective (PR: 7)

9. Welcome to Chechnya (PR: 10)

10. The Truffle Hunters (PR: 9)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. Another Round (PR: 1)

2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (PR: 2)

3. I’m No Longer Here (PR: 3)

4. My Little Sister (PR: 4)

5. Collective (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

6. Night of the Kings (PR: 5)

7. Dear Comrades! (PR: 7)

8. Never Gonna Snow Again (PR: 6)

9. A Sun (PR: 8)

10. Notturno (PR: 10)

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. News of the World (PR: 3)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 4)

5. Tenet (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Minari (PR: 5)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 7)

8. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 9)

9. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 8)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. Emma (PR: 3)

4. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 5)

5. Mulan (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. News of the World (PR: 6)

7. The Prom (PR: 7)

8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 10)

9. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 8)

10. Ammonite (PR: 9)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 2)

3. The Father (PR: 3)

4. Nomadland (PR: 4)

5. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 7)

7. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

8. News of the World (PR: 6)

9. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Tenet (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Minari

Promising Young Woman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 2)

3. Birds of Prey (PR: 3)

4. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (PR: 5)

5. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Mank (PR: 4)

7. Mulan (PR: 7)

8. Pinocchio (PR: 8)

9. Emma (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Prom (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

News of the World

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soul (PR: 3)

2. Mank (PR: 1)

3. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 5)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. Minari (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 9)

8. Tenet (PR: 7)

9. One Night in Miami (PR: 10)

10. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami (PR: 1)

2. “Rocket to the Moon” from Over the Moon (PR: 3)

3. “Seen” from The Life Ahead (PR: 2)

4. “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

5. “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy

Other Possibilities:

6. “Only the Young” from Miss Americana (PR: 6)

7. “Poverty Porn” from The Forty-Year-Old Version (PR: 8)

8. “Wear Your Crown” from The Prom (PR: 9)

9. “Free” from The One and Only Ivan (PR: Not Ranked)

10. “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

“(If Only You Could) Save Me” from Mank

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. Mulan (PR: 2)

3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 4)

4. The Personal History of David Copperfield (PR: 3)

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Emma (PR: 10)

7. The Midnight Sky (PR: 5)

8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 7)

9. News of the World (PR: 6)

10. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Prom

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Sound of Metal (PR: 1)

2. Mank (PR: 3)

3. Tenet (PR: 2)

4. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 6)

5. News of the World (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Midnight Sky (PR: 4)

7. Soul (PR: 7)

8. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 10)

9. The Prom (PR: 9)

10. Mulan (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Tenet (PR: 1)

2. The Midnight Sky (PR: 2)

3. The Invisible Man (PR: 3)

4. Mulan (PR: 6)

5. Birds of Prey (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Wonder Woman 1984 (PR: 5)

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (PR: 8)

8. Mank (PR: 7)

9. Greyhound (PR: 9)

10. The Call of the Wild (PR: 10)

And that equates to these pictures nabbing the following numbers in terms of nominations:

11 Nominations

Mank

8 Nominations

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

7 Nominations

The Trial of the Chicago 7

6 Nominations

The Father, Nomadland

5 Nominations

Da 5 Bloods, Minari

4 Nominations

News of the World, One Night in Miami

3 Nominations

Hillbilly Elegy, Sound of Metal, Mulan, Soul, Tenet, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

2 Nominations

Birds of Prey, Over the Moon, Pieces of a Woman, Promising Young Woman

1 Nomination

All In: The Fight for Democracy, Another Round, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Boys State, Collective, Dick Johnson Is Dead, The Dissident, Earwig and the Witch, Emma, First Cow, I’m No Longer Here, The Invisible Man, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Life Ahead, The Midnight Sky, My Little Sister, Onward, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Quo Vadis, Aida?, Time, Totally Under Control, Wolfwalkers

See y’all in 2021!

Oscar Watch: Wonder Woman 1984

After experiencing COVID-19 related delays, Warner Bros. is finally unveiling their superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas in theaters and HBO Max. Needless to say, this is certainly one of the most anticipated 2020 releases as the 2017 predecessor was a critical hit and massive blockbuster (making over $800 million worldwide). Patty Jenkins returns as director with Gal Gadot back in the title role and Chris Pine reprising his role. Costars include Kristin Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, and Connie Nielsen.

Two and a half weeks ahead of its unveiling, the review embargo has lifted and signs are encouraging. The current Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at an impressive 89% (just slightly lower than the 93% achieved by part 1). There are some gripes about over length, but reviewers are mostly calling it a nostalgic blast. Could the second coming from the warrior goddess also known as Diana garner any awards attention?

It is worth noting that Wonder Woman 2017 received no Oscar nominations. That said, the amount of eye-popping blockbusters in 2020 is smaller than any other year in recent memory. This could mean that 1984 could pop up in technical races including Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound, and Visual Effects. The first two categories could be a bit more doubtful while Sound and Visual Effects seem like solid possibilities. Gadot’s hero will compete with another Warner Bros. superhero property in those races with Birds of Prey (released just before the pandemic outbreak).

I do not expect that this will play in the big awards derbies. There was some chatter three years ago that part 1 could get a Best Picture nod, but it never materialized. Black Panther still stands as the only superhero property to play in that race and Wonder Woman 1984 is highly unlikely to be the second. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

 

Glass Movie Review

If nothing else, M. Night Shyamalan is audacious and I have always admired that. He likes to swing away at the cinematic fences and in Glass, he melds two of his pictures into a new universe. It’s ultimately not a very satisfying one, but the guy tries hard.

At the end of 2017’s Split, which returned the filmmaker to box office prominence, it was revealed that what we watched existed in the same realm of 2000’s Unbreakable. It did so by bringing in David Dunn (Bruce Willis). As you may recall, Dunn was the lone survivor of a train derailment who came to realize he was impervious to pain. Comic book store owner Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), suffering from a disease that cause his bones to break easily, surmised that David was a superhero. And Elijah was the arch nemesis as the 2000 flick revealed he was the evil mastermind behind the train going off the track.

In Split, we were introduced to James McAvoy’s Kevin and almost two dozen other characters that lived inside his head while he tormented teen girls that he kidnapped. From an annoying nine-year old boy to a OCD monster to a proper British dame, his personalities culminated with The Beast, who also possessed super human strength. The surprise ending suggested David will battle The Beast and low and behold – Split made more than enough money for that to occur.

This brings us to Glass. The first act allows this trio of characters to end up in the same mental institution with a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) attempting to dissuade them of their perceived powers. Dunn is sensitive to the possibility. The many voices of Kevin has his moments of doubt. Elijah, aka Mr. Glass, is so doped up that we’re not sure he knows what’s going on. However, fans of Unbreakable know the dude is a mastermind.

Glass brings back other characters from its double source material. Charlayne Woodard returns as Elijah’s supportive to a troubling degree mother. Spencer Treat Clark is back as David’s now grown son (Robin Wright skipped out as his wife). And Anya-Taylor Joy reprises her Split role as Kevin’s surviving kidnap victim. Her story arch here is easily the most inexplicable one in a movie filled with often strange choices.

My feelings with Unbreakable and Split are a bit against the grain from many others. I actually dug the former 19 years ago while many found out it to be a disappointing follow-up to The Sixth Sense. As for the latter, I enjoyed McAvoy’s bonkers performance greatly but found it as a whole to be a mixed bag. The melding of the two worlds also fits that description. It’s got everything we expect from Shyamalan, including a twist ending or two. This time around, they land with less impact than earlier efforts.

McAvoy is still impressive, but we’ve seen this show before. Unbreakable set itself up perfectly for a world building sequel. Quite frankly, Glass made me realize I wish it hadn’t taken Split for us to get it. More of the Dunn/Elijah dynamic could have been rewarding without these other personalities in the way. Shyamalan’s personality shines through as always as he tries to overwhelm us with style and suspense. Like Split, the result is some memorable sequences amid numerous questionable ones and not the more cohesive whole that I found Unbreakable to be.

**1/2 (out of four)

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

1982’s Blade Runner has been reworked and remastered more in the past three decades plus than most classic albums. Along with Alien, director Ridley Scott created a one two punch of science fiction classics in a span of just three years. While the former spawned a series of sequels and offshoots, it’s not until 35 years later that a proper Blade Runner sequel has arrived.

Mr. Scott serves as executive producer because he was busy making the mediocre Alien: Covenant. So it’s Denis Villeneuve handling behind the camera duties one year after his highly rewarding alien pic Arrival. He proves himself as a natural choice to revisit this dystopian future that’s been an incredible influence on many sci-fi experiences that followed.

That influence has mostly been in its bleak look and astonishing production design. 2049, as the title tells us, takes place 30 years after what we saw in the early 1980s. Our central character is K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant who serves the LAPD like Deckard (Harrison Ford) in the original. These days, K’s kind are programmed to be more obedient and their primary function is in slave labor. K’s day job involves hunting down old school replicants. In the ultra stylish night, he invents a relationship with the gorgeous holograph Joi (Ana de Armas).

One of K’s assignments leads to a startling discovery that suggests replicants have the ability to procreate. The existence of a being of that ilk is troubling to K’s boss (Robin Wright), fearing a war will break out between humans and replicants. The revelation also intrigues Wallace (Jared Leto), the blind owner of the corporation that manufactures the product. He envisions this as a considerable financial opportunity and tasks his chief enforcer (Sylvia Hoeks) to find the now grown child.

This all eventually leads back to Deckard, with Ford completing a trifecta of revisiting signature late seventies and early eighties roles. It also involves his romantic interest Sean Young from the original. She returns in the archival footage manner. 2049 expands the Blade Runner universe and also expands the running time, clocking in nearly 45 minutes longer than part 1. In that respect, the sequel takes a bit longer to get its motor running.

Luckily for us, the visuals that were so special 35 years ago are remarkable here as well. There are sequences that are bleakly beautiful. Those expecting a full update on Deckard’s dealings may be surprised to find he doesn’t appear until about two-thirds through the proceedings. This is Gosling’s picture to carry most of the way and he does so with a quiet intensity.

Like Villeneuve’s Arrival, this is a sci-fi venture more steeped in its themes than action sequences. Violence comes in short and sudden bursts and that’s in line with two of the filmmaker’s other efforts Prisoners and Sicario. It’s no accident that I’m comparing 2049 just as much to those three movies as I am with the Scott original. Villeneuve succeeds in making this long gestating follow-up his own while clearly valuing an adoration of the first. That doesn’t happen too often as even Scott has fallen short with his return to Alien world. The legions of admirers of what came 35 years ago should be pleased.

***1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Blade Runner 2049

24 hours can change the dynamic considerably at this time in the Oscar season. When I made my weekly Oscar predictions yesterday, Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying was ranked 8th in my Best Picture possibilities with Blade Runner 2049 outside at #13.

Yesterday, support for Flag wavered a bit with a mixed critical reaction stemming from the New York Film Festival. On the other hand, Blade has sharpened its chances with reviews coming out this morning. Denis Villeneuve’s continuation of Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi pic from 35 years ago is drawing raves (it’s at 97% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). The word “masterpiece” has been thrown around by some critics.

Bottom line: its chances for a Best Picture nomination have risen dramatically. Just last year, Villeneuve’s Arrival scored eight nominations, including Picture and Director. That could happen here again. While I doubt any of the actors (including Ryan Gosling and the return of Harrison Ford in the role of Deckard) will hear their names called, there are other races in play. This includes Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Editing, both Sound categories, and Visual Effects (where it will almost certainly be named).

And then there’s Cinematography. Again, a nomination for its cinematographer Roger Deakins seems virtually assured. If so, it will mark his 14th nomination. The list of films he was nominated for? The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, The Reader, True Grit, Skyfall, Prisoners, Unbroken and Sicario. Number of wins? 0. There’s definitely a feeling that Mr. Deakins is long overdue for his gold statue and the 14th time could be the charm.

When I made my box office prediction for 2049 earlier this week, I compared my $44.1 opening weekend estimate to Mad Max: Fury Road from two years ago. As of this morning, I’m thinking the opportunity is there for it to come close to Fury‘s 10 Oscar nominations too.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Blade Runner 2049 Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (10/04/17): I have revised my estimate up from $44.1 million to $52.1 million

Arriving 35 years after Ridley Scott’s now classic science fiction work, Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters next weekend. The sequel has been in development for pretty much the entire 21st century. The reported $185 million production is headlined by Ryan Gosling as an LAPD officer in a dystopian future who ends up teaming with original Blade Runner Deckard, played by Harrison Ford. Denis Villeneuve, hot off his Oscar nominated hit Arrival, handles directorial duties with Mr. Scott executive producing. Costars include Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, and Dave Bautista. 

Fans of the 1982 original are many as Blade Runner has become a beloved genre pic. One legitimate question: are younger audiences familiar enough with the source material? It may not matter much as early word-of-mouth for 2049 is very encouraging. Official reviews won’t be out until next week, but screenings have indicated this is a satisfying visual feast like its predecessor.

So how high can this open? The current October opening record belongs to Gravity at $55 million. Even with the positive buzz, I don’t see 2049 running that high. Tracking has indicated $40-$45 million and that sounds about right. In fact, a $45 million opening would match the debut of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, another entry in a franchise that was dormant for decades and made a rousing return.

I’ll put this just under that mark for what should be a solid opening for Columbia Pictures, as it’s likely to perform well overseas too.

Blade Runner 2049 opening weekend prediction: $44.1 million

For my The Mountain Between Us prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/27/the-mountain-between-us-box-office-prediction/

For my My Little Pony: The Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/09/28/my-little-pony-the-movie-box-office-prediction/