2020 Oscar Predictions: September 24th Edition

It’s a new week for Oscar predicting and there’s been some significant developments over the past seven days!

Of particular note is the news that Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has been pushed back to December 2021. You will see it drop off all the categories where I had it as a possibility and that includes Picture (where I had it the final 9), Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.

I am also jumping off the Dune train for now. Part of this is uncertainty as to whether it will be released by the February deadline. The other part is general uncertainty if it’s Oscar material. Hopefully we will find out sooner than later. I still have it listed as a possibility in Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I’m holding judgment on having it make the final cut.

Now to the pictures that look like they will be released and we begin with The Trial of the Chicago 7. The Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama held industry screenings this week and the verdict is quite positive. It appears to be a shoo-in for a Picture nomination. I’m still listing it at #3 behind the unscreened Mank and Nomadland, but Trial is a threat to win the whole thing as I see it. Sorkin moves into the top five in directing. He replaces Dune maker Denis Villeneuve.

As for the actors in Trial, early reaction appears focused on four of them in the sprawling cast: Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella, and Mark Rylance. I’m currently assuming everyone will be campaigned for in Supporting Actor, but that could always change. For the moment, I have Cohen and Rylance getting in (I struggled with this). In my Oscar Watch post, I even mentioned that three actors could make it. If that were to occur, we would see the first Supporting Actor competition with three performers from the same feature since The Godfather Part II in 1974. My shift to thinking it’s all a supporting play by Netflix takes Eddie Redmayne out of contention in the lead derby.

My Dune drop and the West Side delay means there are two new pics in my estimated nine Best Picture nominees. The risers are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Pixar’s Soul.

In other developments:

  • Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, which reunites the director with her Lost in Translation star Bill Murray, opened the New York Film Festival. Reviews were mostly positive. If Supporting Actor weren’t so potentially crowded, I may have put Murray in my five (he sits in 8th). He could get in, but I also posited the theory that Apple TV might be wise to compete for him in lead actor because the Golden Globes would likely take notice in their Musical/Comedy race.
  • I wrote an Oscar Watch post for the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble, which could absolutely be a factor in Documentary Feature. You can find my Watch write-ups for Trial, Rocks, and Trouble all linked below.
  • My Best Actress and Actor five remain the same from last week. Same with Supporting Actress.
  • In Supporting Actor, the aforementioned Rylance rises and that takes out his costar Mateen II for Trial.
  • In Original Screenplay, it’s Minari in and Judas and the Black Messiah out. The Adapted Screenplay five stays intact.

Finally, you will see big changes next Thursday with my predictions! First off – all categories covering feature films will be added from Animated Feature to Documentary Feature and International Feature to the tech races.

There will also be a dwindling of the numbers. My 25 Picture estimates will drop to 15 with all other races shrinking to ten predictions. It’s gettin’ serious, folks!

Here are the links to this week’s individualized Oscar Watch posts:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/22/oscar-watch-on-the-rocks/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/09/21/oscar-watch-john-lewis-good-trouble/

Give me a follow on Twitter @tthizz as I’m posting Oscar related polls. For example, 90% of respondents agree with me that Trial will nab a Best Picture nod. 59% believe Bill Murray will not be nominated for Supporting Actor.

And here we go with this Thursday’s estimates!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 3)

4. News of the World (PR: 4)

5. One Night in Miami (PR: 5)

6. The Father (PR: 9)

7. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 7)

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Soul (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

10. Dune (PR: 4)

11. Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 14)

12. Minari (PR: 16)

13. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 11)

14. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The French Dispatch (PR: 15)

16. Ammonite (PR: 13)

17. Stillwater (PR: 17)

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

19. Respect (PR: 20)

20. The Midnight Sky (PR: 23)

21. Annette (PR: 18)

22. Next Goal Wins (PR: 21)

23. Red, White and Water (PR: 22)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. French Exit (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. David Fincher, Mank (PR: 1)

2. Chloe Zhao, Nomadland (PR: 2)

3. Paul Greengrass, News of the World (PR: 3)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Florian Zeller, The Father (PR: 7)

7. Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 8)

8. George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 10)

9. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4)

10. Shaka King, Judas and the Black Messiah (PR: 11)

11. Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (PR: Not Ranked)

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

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

14. Ramin Bahrani, The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Tom McCarthy, Stillwater (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story 

Francis Lee, Ammonite

Best Actress 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Frances McDormand, Nomadland (PR: 1)

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

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

4. Kate Winslet, Ammonite (PR: 3)

5. Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 6)

7. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7)

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

9. Meryl Streep, The Prom (PR: 11)

10. Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead (PR: 14)

11. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White and Water (PR: 13)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 12)

14. Rachel Brosnahan, I’m Your Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Marion Cotillard, Annette (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Rachel Zeller, West Side Story 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father (PR: 1)

2. Delroy Lindo, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 2)

3. Gary Oldman, Mank (PR: 3)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Matt Damon, Stillwater (PR: 7)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 8)

8. Steven Yeun, Minari (PR: 10)

9. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Courier (PR: 12)

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

11. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 9)

12. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal (PR: 15)

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

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. Ben Affleck, The Way Back (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Olivia Colman, The Father (PR: 2)

3. Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite (PR: 3)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Amanda Seyfried, Mank (PR: 6)

7. Audra McDonald, Respect (PR: 8)

8. Abigail Breslin, Stillwater (PR: 10)

9. Natasha Lyonne, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 9)

10. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 11)

11. Mary J. Blige, Respect (PR: 14)

12. Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (PR: 12)

13. Gaby Hoffman, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 13)

14. Lily Collins, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Ariana Debose, West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

2. Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami (PR: 3)

3. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

4. Mark Rylance, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 14)

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

Other Possibilities:

6.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 4)

7. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami (PR: 6)

8. Bill Murray, On the Rocks (PR: 13)

9. Tom Pelphrey, Mank (PR: 10)

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

11. David Strathairn, Nomadland (PR: 7)

12. Jonathan Majors, Da 5 Bloods (PR: 11)

13. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 12)

14. Tom Burke, Mank (PR: 9)

15. Charles Dance, Mank (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mank (PR: 1)

2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (PR: 2)

3. Soul (PR: 4)

4. Da 5 Bloods (PR: 3)

5. Minari (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 6)

8. Stillwater (PR: 8)

9. Ammonite (PR: 7)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

11. On the Rocks (PR: 13)

12. Respect (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Pieces of a Woman (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Red, White and Water (PR: 14)

15. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (PR: 11)

Dropped Out:

Promising Young Woman

Palm Springs

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Nomadland (PR: 1)

2. One Night in Miami (PR: 4)

3. The Father (PR: 2)

4. News of the World (PR: 3)

5. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hillbilly Elegy (PR: 7)

7. The United States vs. Billie Holiday (PR: 13)

8. Dune (PR: 6)

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

10. French Exit (PR: 12)

11. The White Tiger (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Next Goal Wins (PR: 10)

13. The Humans (PR: 11)

14. First Cow (PR: 14)

15. The Midnight Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

West Side Story

The Prom 

Oscar Watch: The Trial of the Chicago 7

One of 2020’s most talked about Oscar contenders has screened this evening ahead of its October Netflix debut. The results are encouraging when it comes to Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and it retains its status a major player throughout awards season.

The true life legal drama marks the second directorial effort of Sorkin, known most for his screenwriting work on the big and small screen. He’s thrice nominated for his words with The Social Network (where he won), Moneyball, and Molly’s Game (his debut behind the camera). Buzz indicates he’ll be nominated again for Original Screenplay. A Best Picture nomination seems likely. I’m not 100% sold he makes the director cut yet, but time will tell.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Trial has a sprawling cast of acclaimed actors that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, and Jeremy Strong. To say that Netflix will need to be strategic in their Supporting Actor campaign is an understatement. This is the same issue faced with other hopefuls like Mank and One Night in Miami.

Early word of mouth could match my initial projections before this screened as Cohen and Mateen II are garnering attention. Yet the same can be said for Rylance (Supporting Actor winner for 2015’s Bridge of Spies) and Langella. I doubt it will happen, but the door is at least open for Trial to get 3 Supporting Actor nods. The combination? TBD. If that occurs, it would be the first pic to accomplish that feat since 1974’s The Godfather Part II.

Also noteworthy is an Original Song submission titled “Hear My Voice” from Celeste that could make the final five. The verdict so far is that Trial is a probable contender in Picture and Director and Screenplay (that one basically assured) with several actors in the mix. It also appears a given that this gets Best Ensemble attention at the SAG Awards. Like Nomadland and One Night in Miami, I suspect this (which has been in my Best Picture predictions from the get go) won’t be leaving. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

A Quiet Place Part II Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/12): In what is becoming a new reality due to the COVID-19, the release of this film has been delayed indefinitely from its 03/20 opening. I’ll keep the prediction up, but certainly revisions are likely to be made once a future release date is secured.

Arriving two years after its predecessor made serious noise at the box office, A Quiet Place Part II hits theaters next weekend. The horror sequel to the acclaimed 2018 blockbuster sees John Krasinski returning as writer/director with his spouse Emily Blunt headlining. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are back as her children. New cast members include Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.

The original struck a loud chord with audiences and critics with a $50 million opening. Part one legged out impressively for its genre with an eventual $188 million overall domestic haul. It even earned some awards attention with Blunt winning a Supporting Actress SAG trophy.

All horror titles not named The Invisible Man have faced a tough road at multiplexes in 2020. However, with the first feature fresh in their minds, audiences should turn out for this follow-up. The X factor is, of course, worldwide events and this is likely to be a recurring theme in my projections for the foreseeable future. The impact of the Coronavirus on the moviegoing public is playing out in real time. At present, I will say Part II makes a few million under what the first accomplished.

A Quiet Place Part II opening weekend prediction: $42.5 million

Oscars 2019: The Case of Renee Zellweger

My Case of posts for thespians competing for Oscars comes to our final Best Actress nominee – Renee Zellweger in Judy:

The Case for Renee Zellweger

She’s one of the comeback stories of the year and in the strong front runner position for this award. This is Zellweger’s fourth nomination, but it’s been awhile. The actress failed to achieve gold for her first two mentions with Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago, but the third time was the charm in Supporting Actress with 2003’s Cold Mountain. Her role as Judy Garland has already earned her the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics Choice honors.

The Case Against Renee Zellweger

The film itself drew a mixed reaction from critics. Challengers to Zellweger could point to last year when Glenn Close (The Wife) picked up the same precursors, but was upset on Oscar night by Olivia Colman for The Favourite. 

The Verdict

There are some who feel Zellweger could be vulnerable to an upset by either Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) or Charlize Theron (Bombshell). However, there’s no doubt that the smart money is on her to win 16 years after her initial podium trip.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Martin Scorsese in The Irishman!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Jonathan Pryce

My Case of posts for Oscar hopefuls brings us to the final contender in Best Actor – Jonathan Pryce in the Fernando Meirelles directed Netflix drama The Two Popes:

The Case for Jonathan Pryce

He’s been a well-respected theater actor (with two Tonys to his credit) and cinematic supporting player for decades. From his breakout role in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to roles in Glengarry Glen Ross, Evita, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and last year’s The Wife, his portrayal of the about to be Pope Francis has finally put him on the Academy’s radar screen at age 72. Both he and his costar Anthony Hopkins made the cut in their respective races.

The Case Against Jonathan Pryce

In an incredibly crowded Best Actor field, it was highly questionable whether Pryce would make it in. He missed out on a SAG nod and the film itself couldn’t nab Picture or Director recognition at the Oscars.

The Verdict

Joaquin Phoenix has sucked up all the oxygen in this category and that’s left Pryce and others in the “it’s an honor to be nominated” camp.

My Case of posts will continue with Renee Zellweger in Judy!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Florence Pugh

Florence Pugh’s Supporting Actress nod in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is next up in my Case of posts!

The Case for Florence Pugh

The actress broke out in a major way in 2019 with well-reviewed roles in the wrestling dramedy Fighting with My Family, Ari Aster’s horror pic Midsommar, and in this latest iteration of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Even though Saoirse Ronan is nominated for Best Actress, it was Pugh who got a lions share of critical attention. Pugh’s ascendance into the mainstream will blossom even more in 2020 with a prominent role alongside fellow Supporting Actress nominee Scarlett Johansson in the MCU’s Black Widow. If the Academy wants to pick a young upstart, this is the way to go.

The Case Against Florence Pugh

She missed out on both Golden Globe and SAG nods and that’s never a solid sign. Laura Dern, her Little Women costar, is the massive front runner for Marriage Story. 

The Verdict

A solid 2019 for Pugh culminated in this nomination. It won’t end in a win.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Todd Phillips for Joker!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron in Jay Roach’s Fox News expose Bombshell is the fourth Best Actress hopeful to be profiled in my Oscar Case of posts:

The Case for Charlize Theron

Sixteen years after winning gold for her first Oscar nomination for Monster, Theron is back in the mix as journalist Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. It marks her third nod after also being named for 2005’s North Country. She drew raves for her transformation (with the help of the film’s makeup crew) to the former Fox News anchor. There are sturdy front runners in all four acting races, but some feel Best Actress is most ripe for an upset. So while Renee Zellweger in Judy is the heavy favorite based on precursors, Theron and Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) are looked at as most likely to surprise.

The Case Against Charlize Theron

While she picked up Golden Globe and SAG attention, she lost both to Zellweger (who won Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain the same year Theron took Actress). Bombshell failed to pick up significant nods beyond acting (Margot Robbie is in Supporting Actress) and Makeup and Hairstyling.

The Verdict

The chance of Theron pulling an upset victory is slim, but at least somewhat feasible. I wouldn’t count on it, however, given Zellweger’s ongoing sweep.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Sam Mendes for 1917!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Joaquin Phoenix

The Case of posts for performers up for Academy Awards on February 9th arrived at Joaquin Phoenix as Joker in the Todd Phillips directed blockbuster:

The Case for Joaquin Phoenix

After three previous nominations for Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, all signs are pointing to Phoenix finally getting the gold. For this particular comic book pic, Joker defied all expectations with a worldwide gross of over a billion dollars. Much of the focus was on Phoenix’s intense performance and he’s been rewarded with Golden Globe and SAG victories already. The film itself leads the Oscars with 11 total nominations.

The Case Against Joaquin Phoenix

The release of Joker was met with some controversy about its themes and overall message. There could be enough of a backlash that it could prevent Phoenix rising up to the podium.

The Verdict

Simply put, he is a massive front runner for his first Academy Award. If Phoenix does so, he would make a bit of Oscar history. There’s only been one combination of actors winning for playing the same fictional character: Marlon Brando and Joaquin’s Joker costar Robert De Niro as Michael Corleone in the first two Godfather epics. In 2008, Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded Supporting Actor as Joker in The Dark Knight. Expect there to be a second instance of that occurring.

My Case of posts will focus next on Charlize Theron for Bombshell!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Bong Joon-Ho

My Case of posts outlining the pros and cons of the major Oscar nominees from 2019 brings us to the first entry for Best Director and that’s Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite.

The Case for Bong Joon-Ho

After years of being a critical darling with Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer, and Okja, the South Korean filmmaker broke through in the awards space in a massive way with the genre defying Parasite. The film won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival unanimously and is the best reviewed picture of the year. Supporters of Parasite are beyond passionate. In a somewhat surprising victory, the movie’s cast won Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. Competing against a field of legends that includes Scorsese and Tarantino, Joon-Ho is the bright shiny object for voters.

The Case Against Bong Joon-Ho

Two words: Sam Mendes. In making the World War I epic 1917, Mendes has picked up the hardware in this category’s major indicators: the Golden Globes and, especially, the Directors Guild of America.

The Verdict

It appears Best Director has come down to Joon-Ho and Mendes. This race has split with Best Picture five out the past nine years. Parasite could win Best Picture with Mendes taking director and vice versa. The precursors favor Mendes, but the love for this is indeed a factor.

My Case of posts will continue with Joaquin Phoenix in Joker!

 

Oscars 2019: The Case of Laura Dern

My Case of outlines for Oscar contenders brings us to the second post for Supporting Actress players – Laura Dern in Marriage Story. The breakdown:

The Case for Laura Dern

Dern is already an Emmy and SAG winner and five-time Golden Globe recipient, but she has yet to pick up an Oscar. She’s been nominated twice before in 1991 for Rambling Rose and for 2015’s Wild. A well-respected veteran from a Hollywood family, Dern has balanced blockbusters and indies for years. Her role a whip smart and ruthless divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s latest drew raves. Yet this is also seen as a career achievement prize given her zero previous wins. Dern has won all major precursors – Globes, SAG, Critics Choice, and a handful of critics groups awards.

The Case Against Laura Dern

There’s not much of one. Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers was seen as her strongest competitor, but she was snubbed on nominations morning. Dern’s Marriage Story costar Scarlett Johansson is a double nominee, recognized in this race for Jojo Rabbit. The Academy could feel obliged to give ScarJo a victory here. Interestingly, Dern’s Little Women costar Florence Pugh is up as well.

The Verdict

Dern is a huge front runner and anyone else winning would be seen as a sizable upset.

My Case of posts will continue with another of Dern’s costars… Adam Driver in Marriage Story!