Best Picture 2018: The Final Five


We have reached 2018 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-16, they are linked at the bottom of the post.

2018 is a tricky year to winnow down. In fact, all 8 nominees have strong cases to make the final five. Only one thing is for sure. Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is one of the five considering it won Best Picture. It stands as one of the more surprising (and derided) victors in recent years. The race relations drama went an impressive 3/5 on its nominations – taking Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Original Screenplay and missing Actor (Viggo Mortensen) and Film Editing.

So what of the other seven hopefuls? Here’s my speculation:

Black Panther

The only MCU flick (and for that matter comic book adaptation) to score a BP nom was Ryan Coogler’s phenomenon with Chadwick Boseman as the title character. Its seven nominations included three wins for Score, Production Design, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Besides BP, the other six mentions were all technical. It missed directing, any acting inclusions, screenplay, and even editing. It’s hard to leave this out though that’s the case with everything here.

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee received his first and only Oscar for his adapted screenplay. That’s the only victory of the night among its six total nods as Lee did make the quintet for direction. The others were Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Had this not taken Adapted Screenplay, I’d leave this off. Yet that win has me (somewhat reluctantly) leaving it in.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek was crowned Best Actor for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic. Despite mixed reviews, Rhapsody was successful in four of its five noms. Picture is the only race it didn’t win as it took Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. That 80% ratio solidifies it even without attention for the direction or screenplay.

The Favourite

The period piece from Yorgos Lanthimos tied all nominees with 10. The lone victory was an unexpected one as Olivia Colman took Best Actress over the favored Glenn Close (The Wife).

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 10% ratio, it still led all contenders with key placements in Director, two Supporting Actress bids (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), Original Screenplay, and Editing.

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron was your Best Director in the Mexican drama that was the other picture with 10 nods. It also won Foreign Language Film and Cinematography while contending in Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Original Screenplay, both Sound competitions, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and easily. The Netflix property was supposed to be the streamer’s first BP (they’re still waiting) and was favored before that Book upset.

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper’s version of the frequently remade melodrama achieved 8 nominations and one win for the director’s duet with costar Lady Gaga “Shallow” in Original Song. Both Cooper and Gaga were up for their acting as was Sam Elliot in Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but another tough call. Star‘s shine with voters seemed to dim as the season wore on. This is evidenced by it missing directing and editing.

Vice

This is a good time to point out that all 8 BP hopefuls won at least one statue. Adam McKay’s biopic of former Vice President Cheney (played by Christian Bale) took home the Makeup and Hairstyling award. Other noms were for the direction, Bale, Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and I really struggled here. Vice landed mentions everywhere it needed to. The so-so critical reaction made it a tad easier to leave it out. Simply put, this could’ve been in over BlacKkKlansman or Bohemian, but I had to make the judgment call.

So that means my 2018 final five is:

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

I’ll have my post for 2019 up soon! The 2009-17 write-ups are here:

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

Best Director is on deck for my closeup looks at six major categories at the Oscars. If you missed my posts covering the four acting derbies, you can find them here:

As I have with the other competitions, let’s see how accurate my estimates were from 2019-21 at the same early November time period. In 2019, I correctly had 4 of the 5 eventual directors: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was identified in Other Possibilities. 2020 was a trickier year due to COVID complications and I had 2 of the contenders rightly pegged: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland (who won) and David Fincher for Mank. Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were not yet in my top ten. Last year, I had 3 of 5 with the victorious Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza). Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) was in Other Possibilities and I didn’t have Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) yet in the mix.

I don’t have Spielberg down as an Other Possibility in 2022. This time around, he could be in line for his third Best Director statue behind 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. It would mark his ninth overall nom. If he wins, he would become only the fourth filmmaker with three or more victories. John Ford has 4 while Frank Capra and William Wyler have 3.

The last four years have given us a nominee with an International Feature Film contender. In addition to Joon-ho in 2019 and Vinterberg and Hamaguchi the following years, Alfonso Cuaron took the prize in 2018 for Roma. There are two in 2022 that stand the best shot: Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front) and Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave). If you want to be brave and predict an out of nowhere selection (like Vinterberg kinda was in 2020), look to Lukas Dhont (Close) or Jerzy Skolimowski (EO). Maybe even Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Bardo though he faces a tough road due to mixed critical reception.

However, I’m not quite ready to elevate any of them to the forecasted quintet. Damien Chazelle’s Babylon will soon screen prior to its December bow. It has the looks of a contender and he’s in unless the buzz tells me differently in a few days.

I’m also feeling good about the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Same goes for Sarah Polley (Women Talking). Both appear to be surefire BP selections and would mark the Academy’s first mentions for them in this race.

As for the fifth spot, there’s plenty of names beyond the aforementioned international auteurs. Todd Field for Tár tops that list with Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin) not far behind. If Avatar: The Way of Water approaches the reception that the original received, James Cameron could enter the conversation.

If She Said or The Whale pick up even more steam in BP, I wouldn’t discount Maria Schrader or Darren Aronofsky respectively. That same logic applies to Ruben Ostlund for Triangle of Sadness. I’ve had him in my five previously.

Perhaps the voters will honor the maker of the year’s biggest blockbuster with Joseph Kosinski for Top Gun: Maverick. The more likely path is a BP nom and a few tech inclusions.

This race can and will evolve over the next couple of months. Here’s the state of the race right now:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1 . Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tár (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Picture is up next, folks! Stay tuned…

2022 Oscar Predictions: October 16th Edition

On the bright side for Netflix, I have Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio at #1 in Animated Feature where it’s been perched all along. That would mean the streamer could nab its first victory ever in that race.

Now the bad news as my current Best Picture nominees leaves Netflix on the cutting room floor. In 2018, Roma was the first hopeful in the big dance. It was expected to win, but lost to Green Book. 2019 brought double nominees with The Irishman and Marriage Story. Same in 2020 with Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7. And there were two contenders again last year in Don’t Look Up and The Power of the Dog (a frontrunner until CODA fever emerged).

I had All Quiet on the Western Front in the mix 11 days ago. Yet I’ve had a nagging feeling that another blockbuster not named Top Gun: Maverick will get in. So for the first time, Elvis is in the top ten. That moneymaker spot could also be filled with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (from Netflix), Avatar: The Way of Water, or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Think could also be called the “Second Sequel” slot, I suppose.

Don’t be surprised if Netflix eventually gets back in. Quiet, the aforementioned Onion, Bardo, and Pinocchio are all viable (maybe even White Noise). For now, my BP hopefuls would mean a disappointing nomination morning for the streamer.

She Said received mostly positive notices when it was unveiled Thursday at the New York Film Festival. It could absolutely be a BP contender, but I’m got it just on the outside and feel more comfortable forecasting it as a lone screenplay nominee (I don’t love the current 76% RT meter for it). You’ll note I don’t have any of the cast in my top tens. Perhaps the eventual announcement of category placements could change that.

In other developments:

    • I’ve decided to move Babylon‘s Margot Robbie back in Best Actress instead of supporting (can we please get that placement announcement??). It means she’s back in and Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) is out.
    • Bill Nighy’s work in Living returns to Actor five with Diego Calva (Babylon) sliding into sixth position.
    • With Robbie returning to lead, Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness) is elevated to fifth in Supporting Actress.
    • My Supporting Actor dual nominee projections of Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for The Banshees of Inisherin shifts to Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch for The Fabelmans. That means Hirsch rises while Keoghan falls.

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Rank: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Women Talking (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

6. Tar (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)

9. Elvis (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 10) (-1)

12. She Said (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Till

The Woman King 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (-1)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9) (E)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (E)

5. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: Not Ranked) – moved from Supporting

Other Possibilities:

6. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 8) (E)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Carey Mulligan, She Said

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Will Smith, Emancipation 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (E)

7. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Margot Robbie, Babylon (moved to Best Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time

Micheal Ward, Empire of Light 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (-1)

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Babylon (PR: 6) (E)

7. Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (E)

8. Armageddon Time (PR: 8) (E)

9. Empire of Light (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Broker 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. She Said (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 3) (-1)

5. White Noise (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Living (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Bones and All (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Son (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 1) (E)

2. Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. Strange World (PR: 3) (E)

4. Wendell and Wild (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. The Bad Guys (PR: 8) (+2)

7. The Sea Beast (PR: 6) (-1)

8. My Father’s Dragon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Minions: The Rise of Gru (PR: 9) (E)

10. Lightyear (PR: 10) (E)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 1) (E)

2. Decision to Leave (PR: 2) (E)

3. Close (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Saint Omer (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Klondike (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Holy Spider (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Alcarras (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Argentina, 1985 (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Corsage (PR: 10) (E)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Descendant (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Navalny (PR: 3) (E)

4. All That Breathes (PR: 4) (E)

5. Fire of Love (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Territory (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Good Night Oppy (PR: 7) (E)

8. Moonage Daydream (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Last Flight Home (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Aftershock (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sr. 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Empire of Light (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 9) (E)

10. Emancipation (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Batman

Best Costume Design 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Corsage (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Woman King (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Fabelmans (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Living (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Best Film Editing 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Babylon (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Women Talking (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Elvis (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tar (PR: 9) (+2)

8. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Decision to Leave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Babylon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. The Batman (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Woman King (PR: 10) (+3)

8. (PR: 8) (E)

9. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Corsage

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Empire of Light (PR: 3) (E)

4. Tar (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Women Talking (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Bardo (PR: 10) (+2)

9. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Naatu Naatu” from RRR (PR: 4) (+1)

4. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman (PR: 3) (-1)

5. “Stand Up” from Till (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “This is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. “New Body Rhumba” from White Noise (PR: 7) (-1)

9. “On My Way” from Marry Me (PR: 6) (-3)

10. “Love Is Not Love” from Bros (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“I Ain’t Worried” from Top Gun: Maverick

“Heartbeat” from Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile 

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Bardo (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Everything Everything All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Batman (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (E)

3. Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Babylon (PR: 4) (E)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Batman (PR: 6) (E)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nope (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Fabelmans (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Thirteen Lives

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Batman (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 8) (+1)

8. RRR (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Good Night Oppy (PR: 9) (E)

10. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nope 

That equates to these movies getting these numbers of nominations:

10 Nominations

Babylon

9 Nominations

The Fabelmans

8 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

7 Nominations

Women Talking

6 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis

5 Nominations

Tar, Top Gun: Maverick, The Whale

3 Nominations

All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Bardo, Triangle of Sadness 

2 Nominations

The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Empire of Light, Till, Turning Red

1 Nomination

All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Close, Corsage, Decision to Leave, Descendant, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Fire of Love, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Living, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Navalny, RRR, Saint Omer, She Said, The Son, Strange World, Tell It Like a Woman, Wendell and Wild, White Noise

Toronto Crowns The Fabelmans

Just how indicative is nabbing the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival of eventually receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? Let’s go the numbers: 13 out of the last 14 have and that includes the past 10 in a row. 2011’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only outlier since 2008. Of those 13 films, five would go on to win the Academy’s top prize (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, Nomadland).

So it was with anticipation that awards prognosticators like yours truly awaited the bestowment of the Canadian fest’s biggest award. True to form, it went to a movie widely anticipated to be in the BP mix: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The legendary director’s most personal work to date was his first journey up north and he was rewarded handsomely for it. When I did my latest round of predictions on Friday, I had The Fabelmans listed in first place and this helps solidify that decision. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the BP race is over (far from it). Yet there’s no doubt that The Fabelmans has positioned itself as a major threat to take the top prize.

That’s not all because TIFF also names a first and second runner-up. And those picks are frequent indicators of what will play down the road. Over the previous decade, nine of the 20 runner-ups have gotten BP nods. This includes victorious ones like Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite and nominees such as Call Me by Your Name, Roma, and The Power of the Dog. 

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is first runner-up for 2022. It played to mostly raves at TIFF and I have it ranked 4th currently in the BP derby. Second runner-up was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The top 3 placement is something predecessor Knives Out didn’t manage 3 years ago. My estimates two days back put Onion on the outside looking in at 14th (though I did project for it for an Adapted Screenplay nod). My hesitation to put it in is this: just how many sequels could that Academy include in their group of 10? I’ve got Top Gun: Maverick already there (at 6th) and we still need to see Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (whose predecessors were both BP hopefuls). However, at this point, Netflix may choose to go all in on Onion being their most likely contender.

There are a couple films in particular that could’ve benefited from a top 3 showing today. I think immediately of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. I still anticipate both to be in the hunt (I’ve got them ranked 5th and 7th respectively).

Bottom line: The Fabelmans had itself a meaningful premiere in Toronto that currently puts Spielberg’s latest in the Oscar driver’s seat.

Oscar Predictions: The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book scored an upset Best Picture victory over Roma in 2018 and that’s still stuck in the craw of many cinephiles. While I actually found it to be pretty good overall, I get it. It is one of the weaker BP winners in recent times.

His follow-up is The Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Zac Efron in the stranger than fiction true story of a merchant seaman bringing some suds to his buds serving in ‘Nam. Russell Crowe and Bill Murray costar.

Like Green Book, it has debuted in Toronto before its simultaneous theatrical and Apple TV streaming debut on September 30th. Unlike Green Book, don’t expect this to attract any awards talk. The Rotten Tomatoes score is a skunky 42%. I saw it up north and would be shocked if it contended for any category. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

All the Beauty and the Banshees: A Venice Report

Before 2017, the Golden Lion winner (the Venice Film Festival’s top prize) rarely lined up with movies that received Best Picture nominations at the Oscars. In fact, you would have had to go back to 2005 and Brokeback Mountain. Then from 2017-2020 – every nominee did (The Shape of Water, Roma, Joker, Nomadland). Last year’s Happening did not. So it stands to reason that the eyes of prognosticators were heavily trained on today’s ceremony.

The jury’s selection was a bit of a surprise with the documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Not because it wasn’t acclaimed… it absolutely was. It’s unexpected because this is the only the second doc to take Venice’s biggest award. And that dates back to 1946. My guess is that this won’t translate to an Academy BP nod, but there’s no question it helps Beauty look good in the eyes of Oscar’s documentary branch.

France’s Saint Omer took the Grand Jury Prize (essentially second place). It will hope to follow in the footsteps of last year’s victor The Hand of God, which made the final cut in International Feature Film. Like Bloodshed, it’s also playing in Toronto where it hopes to grow the buzz.

The Silver Lion (the equivalent of Best Director) was bestowed upon Luca Guadagnino for Bones and All. The horror romance garnered loud cheers from the Italian faithful. Taylor Russell, who co-stars with Timothee Chalamet, picked up the Marcello Mastroianni Award, which is for an emerging performer. Though the genre doesn’t lend itself well to Academy attention, I wouldn’t sleep on this picture.

Best Screenplay went to Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which made a splash with its premiere and established itself as a firm candidate for possibilities throughout the coming season. The Banshees appreciation also included Colin Farrell as Best Actor. This is significant considering he beat out heavy hitters like Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Hugh Jackman (The Son).

Finally, Cate Blanchett rather predictably took Best Actress for TAR. Get used to seeing her name at every awards show from now until the early months of 2023.

And there you have it! As a side note, I’m deep into screenings at Toronto. I’m trying to post as much as possible with any breaks I have, but that’s quite a challenge (anyone who’s attended a film festival will get it). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. This is my first TIFF and I’m continuously pinching myself. It’s not everyday you see Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lawrence, Billy Eichner, Judd Apatow, Paul Raci, Finn Wolfhard, and Sterling K. Brown within a 24 hour period. I’ll report back soon on all the happenings of awards season!

Oscar Predictions: Broker

Had it not been for Roma in 2018, Hirokazu Kore’eda’s Shoplifters might have been the winner for the international competition at the Oscars. His latest is Broker and it has debuted at Cannes. Said to be a crowdpleaser, the drama focused on abandoned babies stars Song Kang-Ho of Parasite fame.

Early critical write-ups put this at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the reviews say it isn’t quite  in Shoplifters territory. That said, if South Korea selects this as the hopeful in International Feature Film, it would stand an excellent shot at making the cut. However, that is a big if because the nation also has Park Chan-wook’s acclaimed Decision to Leave (also a Cannes player) in the mix.

At the moment, I’m giving Broker the slight edge to be the pick. If so, it’s one to remember come picking time (and perhaps in Original Screenplay too). My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars 2021: The Case of The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is my ninth Case Of post covering the Best Picture nominees for the 2021 Academy Awards. If you missed the previous entries, you can access them here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

Oscars 2021: The Case of Don’t Look Up

Oscars 2021: The Case of Drive My Car

Oscars 2021: The Case of Dune

Oscars 2021: The Case of King Richard

Oscars 2021: The Case of Licorice Pizza

Oscars 2021: The Case of Nightmare Alley

The Case for The Power of the Dog:

And it’s quite a case to be made. Last week, the Netflix period drama ruled Oscar nominations morning with an even better than expected 12 nods. It even garnered unexpected mentions in Sound and for Jesse Plemons in Supporting Actor (alongside his costars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee). In doing so, Dog landed placements in all of the down the line races where a BP win is key: directing, performances, adapted screenplay, editing, and so forth. At the Golden Globes (where many were predicting a Belfast victory), it took Best Drama. It’s also been the beneficiary of numerous critics groups awards for Best Pic.

The Case Against The Power of the Dog:

Being the frontrunner doesn’t always pan out and we’ve seen it in three of the past five Oscars. Just ask La La Land (which lost to Moonlight in 2016), Roma (which fell to Green Book in 2018), and 1917 (which came up short to Parasite in 2019). Getting the most nominations also doesn’t mean you’re taking the big prize. Just ask Mank from last year. Or Joker two years ago. Or The Favourite or Roma from 2018.

The Verdict:

While the case against is somewhat persuasive, there’s no denying that Dog is unquestionably the favorite to win. Yet there’s compelling evidence that an upset is certainly feasible.

My Case Of posts will continue with West Side Story

A Happening in Venice

What’s happening in Venice? Well, Happening is. As in the 1960s set French drama from director Audrey Diwan (not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan’s dreaded The Happening… and it won’t be). The pic surprisingly took the Venice Film Festival’s top award this afternoon – the Golden Lion.

In the past four years, the recipient of that honor has moved onto Oscar glory. Both 2017’s The Shape of Water and last year’s Nomadland took that Italian momentum to a Best Picture win. 2018’s Roma and 2020’s Joker both achieved nominations in BP and won other major categories.

My feeling is that Happening will break that streak. While France may select it for International Feature Film consideration and it could make that five, I don’t see this nabbing one of the ten slots for BP.

Diwan did not emerge victorious in Director. Instead, that went to Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog where she’s widely anticipated to follow suit with the Academy.

The Silver Lion (essentially runner-up) went to Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God. While it got same raves, some critics were a little cooler. In my estimation, it has a stronger shot at BP and especially International Feature Film inclusion than Happening.

Best Actress was a category to keep an eye on as it included Oscar hopefuls like Kristin Stewart in Spencer, Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter, and Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers. It was Cruz grabbing the prize (to the shock of many a Stewart fan) and it puts the three-time nominee and one-time victor in a sturdier position to make the cut come Oscar time. As for Stewart (and Colman to a lesser degree), they’ve still done what they need to do to be in the conversation.

There wasn’t many Academy players in the male actor competition and it was John Arcilla winning for On the Job: The Missing 8, an export from the Philippines. Don’t expect his name in the mix for Oscar.

The Screenplay race honored Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter, which was received very well overseas. This increases her chances to at least get an Adapted Screenplay recognition for her work. She also directed and a nod there could be a taller order.

Overall, I wouldn’t expect 2021’s Golden Lion selection to gain much traction at the big show. Other winners solidified their statuses in various categories.

Venice Film Festival: A Preview

The Venice Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday this week. For this blogger, it means my Oscar speculation will kick into overdrive. You can anticipate a flurry of Oscar Watch posts starting September 1st and continuing throughout the month as the Telluride fest transpires over Labor Day weekend. Toronto is right behind beginning September 9th.

To put it all in perspective, the eventual Best Picture winner has premiered at this trio of festivals more often than not lately. Nomadland (last year’s victor) started off in Venice and won the Golden Lion, which is the equivalent to BP. The same narrative holds true for 2017’s The Shape of Water. 2018’s Green Book debuted at Toronto. 2016’s Moonlight premiered at Telluride. 2015’s Spotlight rolled out at Venice and 2014’s Birdman opened that festival. You get the idea.

So what are the highest profile titles jockeying for position? What are the movies that could become instant hopefuls for the Academy’s attention? I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Power of the Dog

In 1993, director Jane Campion had her last major Oscar contender with The Piano. It won Best Actress for Holly Hunter, Supporting Actress for Anna Paquin, and Original Screenplay for Campion. She became the first female ever to be nominated for Best Director (losing that race and Picture to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List).

Her latest is The Power of the Dog and it will be a mainstay on the festival circuit before its theatrical release in November that’s followed by an early December Netflix bow. Dog is, on paper, the film that prognosticators like me are looking at as an early favorite.

In my previous weekly rankings, I have Dog listed at #1 in Picture, Director, Actor (Cumberbatch), and Adapted Screenplay. Dunst and Plemons are, respectively, ranked second in Supporting Actress and Actor.

We will know quite soon whether it lives up to the hype.

Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almodovar’s latest will open the proceedings on Tuesday. The Spanish language drama stars Penelope Cruz and she could be a factor in what appears to be a potentially crowded Best Actress derby. Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film could also be races where it contends. Just two years back, the auteur’s previous work Pain and Glory was nominated in the international competition and it nabbed Antonio Banderas a Best Actor nod.

Additionally, Cruz and Banderas star in the comedy Official Competition, which is also premiering here. It may also be one to keep an eye on.

Spencer

Speaking of that Best Actress race which features numerous players, that holds true with Spencer. Pablo Larrain’s biopic about Princess Diana may propel Kristen Stewart to her first nomination. Larrain directed Natalie Portman and she made the final five as Jackie from 2016. Will Stewart break through on the awards front after a series of post Twilight acclaimed roles? The answer is coming.

The Hand of God

Another Netflix property is this Italian drama from Paolo Sorrentino, whose 2013 effort The Great Beauty dominated the foreign language races at the Oscars and Globes. His latest could be another contender and I will be keeping an eye on whether it could branch out to Best Picture (like Roma and Parasite recently did).

The Card Counter

Paul Schrader’s last pic First Reformed received an Original Screenplay nod for its filmmaker. His latest crime drama features Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, and Willem Dafoe. I haven’t had this featured at all in my weekly predictions, but a splashy Venice rollout could alter that.

Dune

The Card Counter cannot claim the title of being Oscar Isaac’s most breathlessly awaited arrival. That would be Dune from Denis Villeneuve as the sci-fi epic is debuting out of competition. Originally slated for 2020, Dune could be a major awards threat in lots of categories (especially the technical ones). Whether it is Best Picture material will soon be established.

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal directs Olivia Colman in the Netflix drama slated for late December. Colman has been nominated in two out of the three years at the big show. She won in 2018 for The Favourite in Best Actress and got a mention in supporting last year for The Father. 

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright psychological horror experience features Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy (coming off her heralded role on The Queen’s Gambit). The genre is not one usually geared to Oscar love, but you never know.

The Last Duel

Ridley Scott has not one, but two competitors seeking awards attention in 2021. The most obvious is House of Gucci. The other is this historical drama with Jodie Comer (another possibility in Actress), Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Ben Affleck. We will soon know whether Scott has two pics in the mix.

And that’s just some of what I’m watching out for, folks! Get ready as the Oscar picture should become clearer in the coming days and I’ll be here to cover it…