The Founder Movie Review

Michael Keaton can convey so much with an expression. There are scenes in John Lee Hancock’s The Founder where he doesn’t need dialogue to show what’s going through his head. Luckily, a lot of the writing here is quite good and often gets close to matching the lead’s masterful performance.

The pic has Keaton playing Ray Kroc, the man who started McDonald’s. Well, sort of. We open in 1954 as Kroc is a struggling traveling salesman in Missouri who stumbles upon a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It’s doing things differently from the endless drive-in joints across the nation. Run by Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald, McDonald’s makes its food fast in an era the term fast food was yet to be coined. The brothers also take their work seriously and have chosen not to franchise after their first try resulted in poor service and quality. There’s a scene where Dick recalls how the restaurant’s burger making assembly line was perfected that’s an absolute joy to watch.

Ray immediately realizes the cash cow that Dick and Mac are sitting on and his relentless salesmanship gets them to relent on opening more locations. This brings forth a flurry of activity as Ray gets those Golden Arches up while constantly clashing with the actual founders.

Director Hancock’s last effort, Saving Mr. Banks, showed another 1950s era titan of industry with an unending drive and ambition in the form of Walt Disney. Kroc is just as much an icon in many ways, though his motives are often far more ruthless. The screenplay by Robert D. Siegel doesn’t exactly make him a villain, but you won’t exactly sympathize with him either. With rare exception, Kroc’s actions are all about his personal gain. He barely speaks to his wife (Laura Dern) and has his eye on a business partner’s wife (Linda Cardellini). Yet at the same time, it was him who had the vision to expand a chain of restaurants that now feeds 1% of the world every day. And it probably took his kind of personality to do it.

The work of Lynch and Offerman is top-notch. Offerman’s Dick sees the writing on the wall with Ray, while Lynch’s Mac can’t quite get there. This is Keaton’s movie, though. Like Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street and Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, Keaton gives us another corporate honcho to kind of despise and kind of love. The Founder may not be as fantastic as those two pictures, but the star is and it’s quite entertaining watching the intrigue unfold.

***1/2 (out of four)

The Founder Box Office Prediction

Michael Keaton has had the rare feat of appearing in the last two Best Picture Oscar winners with 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight. For awhile, The Founder (out next weekend) was looked at as potential awards bait. Keaton headlines the biographical drama playing Ray Kroc, the man who acquired what would become the multi billion dollar McDonald’s franchise. John Lee Hancock directs and his previous efforts include The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, and B.J. Novak costar.

The Founder has had a shifty journey to the big screen. It was originally tapped to debut in November before being pushed up to August before being pushed back to January. It had a very limited release in December to qualify for Academy consideration, but that probably won’t matter much. While reviews so far have been decent (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s likely to receive zero nominations. This won’t be a Keaton trifecta for Best Picture.

What does it all mean for the box office? While any moviegoer is certainly familiar with the subject matter, I don’t that see that translating to much business. That said, the pic comes with just a tiny reported $7 million budget. I’ll predict it mkea under that in its first weekend for a mid single digits start.

The Founder opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my xXx: Return of Xander Cage prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/xxx-return-of-xander-cage-box-office-prediction/

For my Split prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/10/split-box-office-prediction/

For my 20th Century Women prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/20th-century-women-box-office-prediction/

For my The Resurrection of Gavin Stone prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/12/the-resurrection-of-gavin-stone-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: The Founder

Another day, another piece of the Oscar puzzle coming into more focus as The Founder has screened for critics. The film is a biopic of Ray Croc, the man behind the McDonald’s franchise. Michael Keaton stars with John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directing. Costars include Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, Patrick Wilson, and John Carroll Lynch.

This has been fairly low on the radar screen of many awards prognosticators. Part of that could be due to its consistently shifting release date over the past few months. It was originally scheduled to debut this Friday and then was pushed up to August before being pushed back to December and its wide release won’t come until January. Got all that?

Nevertheless, The Founder found some positive critical reaction as of yesterday and it currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Will it get a Best Picture nomination? Most likely not, but it could be a factor in one particular race. Michael Keaton has been on a roll lately (he’s appeared in the last two Best Picture winners – Birdman and Spotlight). The Best Actor race appears to be rather fluid, with only Denzel Washington (Fences) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) as seemingly sure things. Keaton could easily find himself in the mix with Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Tom Hanks (Sully), Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and others. It could also make a play for Best Original Screenplay, though that could be more of a long shot.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s FINAL Predictions

The time has come to make my FINAL predictions for the Oscars. Nominations will be out on Thursday and I’m predicting every category that involves feature films. Therefore, the animated and documentary short films will not be predicted. I have written extensively about why I’m predicting certain movies, performers, and so on. That time is over. Here is my final listing of what and who I believe will be honored. The predictions are written by order of chances of nomination and I am listing runner-ups for each race in case some of my picks don’t pan out (which is guaranteed to happen). And here we go:

BEST PICTURE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. American Hustle

4. Nebraska

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

6. Her

7. Captain Phillips

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

9. Dallas Buyer’s Club

Runner-Ups:

10. Saving Mr. Banks

11. Philomena

12. Blue Jasmine

13. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

14. August: Osage County

15. Lone Survivor

16. Fruitvale Station

BEST DIRECTOR

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

3. David O. Russell, American Hustle

4. Alexander Payne, Nebraska

5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Spike Jonze, Her

7. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips

8. Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST ACTOR

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

2. Bruce Dern, Nebraska

3. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

4. Robert Redford, All is Lost

5. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Runner-Ups:

6. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

7. Christian Bale, American Hustle

8. Joaquin Phoenix, Her

9. Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

BEST ACTRESS

1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity

3. Judi Dench, Philomena

4. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

5. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Amy Adams, American Hustle

7. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour

8. Brie Larson, Short Term 12

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

3. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

4. Daniel Bruhl, Rush

5. Will Forte, Nebraska

Runner-Ups:

6. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

7. Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

8. James Gandolfini, Enough Said

9. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

3. June Squibb, Nebraska

4. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Runner-Ups:

6. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

7. Margo Martindale, August: Osage County

8. Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. American Hustle

2. Nebraska

3. Inside Llewyn Davis

4. Her

5. Blue Jasmine

Runner-Ups:

6. Dallas Buyer’s Club

7. Gravity

8. Fruitvale Station

9. Lee Daniels’ The Butler

10. Saving Mr. Banks

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Philomena

3. Before Midnight

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. August: Osage County

7. The Book Thief

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1. Frozen

2. The Wind That Rises

3. Ernest&Celestine

4. Monsters University

5. Despicable Me 2

Runner-Ups:

6. The Croods

7. A Letter to Mono

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Gravity

5. The Invisible Woman

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. Rush

4. Inside Llewyn Davis

5. Captain Phillips

Runner-Ups:

6. Nebraska

7. All is Lost

8. Prisoners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. The Great Gatsby

2. American Hustle

3. 12 Years a Slave

4. The Invisible Woman

5. The Book Thief

Runner-Ups:

6. Saving Mr. Banks

7. Oz the Great and Powerful

BEST FILM EDITING

1. Gravity

2. 12 Years a Slave

3. American Hustle

4. Captain Phillips

5. Rush

Runner-Ups:

6. The Wolf of Wall Street

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. Lone Survivor

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. American Hustle

2. The Lone Ranger

3. The Great Gatsby

Runner-Ups:

4. Dallas Buyer’s Club

5. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Gravity

2. Rush

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

4. Captain Phillips

5. Lone Survivor

Runner-Ups:

6. All is Lost

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

8. 12 Years a Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

1. Gravity

2. Captain Phillips

3. Rush

4. Pacific Rim

5. All is Lost

Runner-Ups:

6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

7. Lone Survivor

8. Man of Steel

9. World War Z

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1. Gravity

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

3. Pacific Rim

4. Iron Man 3

5. World War Z

Runner-Ups:

6. Star Trek Into Darkness

7. Elysium

8. Oblivion

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. 12 Years a Slave

2. Gravity

3. The Book Thief

4. Saving Mr. Banks

5. Her

Runner-Ups:

6. Monsters University

7. All is Lost

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. “Let It Go” from Frozen

2. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

3. “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

4. “In the Middle of the Night” from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

5. “The Moon Song” from Her

Runner-Ups:

6. “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

7. “Rise Up” from Epic

8. “Sweeter than Fiction” from One Chance

I’m not listing alternates for the final two predicted categories, mostly because I’m supremely not confident with my limited knowledge for these races.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing

Blackfish

The Square

Stories We Tell

20 Feet from Stardom

This means my predictions would garner the following number of nominations for these pictures:

10 Nominations – 12 Years a Slave, Gravity

8 Nominations – American Hustle

6 Nominations – Captain Phillips, Nebraska

5 Nominations – Rush

4 Nominations – The Great Gatsby, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street

3 Nominations – Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis

2 Nominations – All is Lost, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, The Book Thief, Frozen, The Invisible Woman, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Pacific Rim, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks

1 Nomination – Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Lone Survivor, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, World War Z

And there you have Todd’s final Oscar predictions. I will have reaction in a blog post Thursday once nominations are released and include a tally of how I did!

2014 Oscar Predictions: Todd’s Picks for Early January

And we’re off with my next to last round of Oscar predictions before they’re announced on Thursday, January 16th. The plan is to do my final predictions, most likely either on Sunday the 12th or Monday the 13th. These new picks reflect changes in four of the six top categories. Let’s get to it shall we?

BEST PICTURE

I’ve stayed consistent with predicting that nine movies will get nominated. The change here is that I’m including Dallas Buyer’s Club for the first time as I believe it’s gotten enough precursor momentum to get in. That means I had to take something out and Saving Mr. Banks has been dropped. As I see it, the race is still a battle between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity for the win with American Hustle as a possible spoiler.

Predictions:

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyer’s Club

Gravity

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

12 Years a Slave

The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

One change here: I believe the polarizing reaction to The Wolf of Wall Street might leave Martin Scorsese out in this competitive category. So he’s out and Spike Jonze, riding a wave of momentum for Her, is in. Like Picture, this race should come down to Slave‘s Steve McQueen and Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron for the victory with yet again Hustle‘s Russell as possible spoiler.

Predictions:

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Spike Jonze, Her

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne, Nebraska

David O. Russell, American Hustle

BEST ACTOR

This is seriously such a loaded category. In any other year, I’d be predicting Christian Bale in American Hustle, Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler or Joaquin Phoenix in Her. None of them make the cut. Conventional wisdom is that this is a six man race and only five make the cut. Last round of predictions, I had Tom Hanks’ work in Captain Phillips left out, but now he’s back in. This came down to a decision between whether to leave out Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street or Robert Redford in All is Lost. For the first time in my predictions, it’s Redford that I’ve got drawing the short straw. I believe Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern, or Matthew McConaughey could win.

Predictions:

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

BEST ACTRESS

Prediction wise, this category has remained the most stable and I have no changes this round either. As for who will win, Cate Blanchett is emerging as the clear favorite though Sandra Bullock has a shot.

Predictions:

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Judi Dench, Philomena

Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This is likely the most unpredictable category that is capable of producing a surprise and my new picks reflect that. Jared Leto is the frontrunner to win and Michael Fassbender appears a lock for nomination. After that, all bets are off. I’m taking out Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street and Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks. I’m keeping in my Bradley Cooper for American Hustle prediction. Additions to my list: Daniel Bruhl, who’s picked up momentum for his role in Rush. As for the fifth slot, it could have been Hanks, Hill, the late James Gandolfini in Enough Said, Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, or Harrison Ford in 42. Like I said, I believe a real surprise nomination could surface here and that’s why I’m picking former SNL alum Will Forte in Nebraska.

Predictions:

Daniel Bruhl, Rush

Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Will Forte, Nebraska

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Like the lead actress race, I’ve got no changes to report here either. This should still come down to Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence for the win.

Predictions:

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

I’ll be back with last round of nomination picks soon enough!

Box Office Results: Christmas 2013 Weekend

There was a whole bunch of new movies that opened Christmas Day, but numbers 1-4 were occupied by holdovers. The Wolf of Wall Street was the top newcomer while The Secret Life of Walter Mitty had a just OK opening and 47 Ronin, Grudge Match, and Justin Bieber’s Believe disappointed.

For the third weekend in a row, it was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the top spot with $29.8 million – above my $25.7M estimate. The middle chapter in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy has earned $190 million in its three weeks of release so far.

Disney’s Frozen was close behind with $28.8 million, surpassing my $22.1M projection. The animated feature has grossed an impressive $248 million so far and should go north of $300 million when all is said and done.

Ron Burgundy and company were third with Anchorman: The Legend Continues earning $20.1 million in weekend #2, right in line with my $19.6M estimate. Anchorman has made $83.6 million so far, nearly matching the entire domestic gross of the original.

David O. Russell’s awards contender American Hustle was fourth with $19.5 million – beyond my $14.9M projection. Hustle has grossed $60 million in two weeks and is very likely to cross the century mark at some point.

It was Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street taking honors as top newbie. The three hour sex and drugs fest with Leo DiCaprio made $18.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend and $34.3 million since its Wednesday debut. While this is below my respective estimates of $25.4M and $44.2M, this is still a solid opening. Where Wolf could soon falter is with its C Cinemascore average. Audiences are clearly not liking what they’re seeing and there could be rather substantial drop-offs in future weekends.

Saving Mr. Banks with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks had a big jump in its second weekend with $14 million for sixth, above my $10.6M estimate. It’s earned $37.8M in two weeks.

Ben Stiller’s comedic drama The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was seventh with $13 million over Friday-to-Sunday and $25.5 million since the Wednesday start, outpacing my projections of $11.7M and $19.3M. This opening could best be described as middle of the pack and it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up over the next couple of weekends.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was eighth with $10.2 million, above my $7.7M projection. Fire has made $391 million since its November opening, currently sits at #18 for all-time domestic grossers, and still looks to top Iron Man 3 as 2013’s biggest hit.

The martial arts flick with Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin opened at ninth with $9.8 million over Friday-to-Sunday and $20.5 million since Wednesday. It earned under my predicted three-day estimated (I said $11.4M) but over my five-day estimate ($17.8M). Look for it to fade fast.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas rounded out the Top Ten with $7.4 million (I didn’t predict it would be in the top ten).

This left the Sylvester Stallone/Robert De Niro comedy Grudge Match at #11 with a very poor opening well below my expectations. Match grossed $7.3 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $13.4 million since Wednesday. I thought it would do much better and predicted $13.9M for the three-day and $24.5M for the five-day. Oops. This is Stallone’s third bomb of the year after Bullet to the Head and Escape Plan.

Finally, Beliebers totally failed to turn out for his documentary Believe. It sputtered at #14 with $2 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $4.2 million since the Wednesday start. I predicted it would do $5.8M for the three-day and $10.3 million for the five. Oops again.

Whew. And there’s your Christmas weekend box office results! Be sure to check the blog later today for my prediction next weekend’s only newcomer, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

Box Office Predictions: Christmas Weekend 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, at multiplexes, by far the most crowded time of the year! On Christmas Day, five pictures enter an already crowded marketplace. They are: Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, the boxing comedy Grudge Match with Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller’s fantasy drama The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, martial arts flick 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves, and the Justin Bieber documentary Believe. You can read my individual posts on all five at the following links:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/the-wolf-of-wall-street-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/grudge-match-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/47-ronin-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2013/12/22/justin-bieber-believe-box-office-prediction/

By my estimates there will be nine – yes, nine – movies that gross double digits over the weekend. And there may well be a fierce battle for #1. In this same holiday weekend last year, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fell only 13% in its third weekend and I expect current #1 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to fall no further than 20%. This should put it in a neck and neck race with my prediction for Wolf of Wall Street.

Disney’s Frozen stands an excellent chance of gaining audience from last weekend and it too has an outside shot at the top spot. Another title I expect to post gains: Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks which had a rather middling opening this past weekend at $9.3 million but should benefit from positive word of mouth.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues had a solid opening ($40 million over five days), but it was at the lesser end of expectations. Still, the holiday time frame should prevent it from suffering a large decline. The same can be said for American Hustle, which started strong out of the gate last weekend with $19.1 million.

One thing is for sure: the film calendar doesn’t get more crowded than this. After that, many things are highly uncertain but here’s my best guesses for the Christmas 2013 Top Ten:

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Predicted Gross: $25.7 million (representing a drop of 18%)

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

Predicted Gross: $25.4 million ($44.2 million predicted for five-day opening)

3. Frozen

Predicted Gross: $22.1 million (representing an increase of 13%)

4. Anchorman: The Legend Continues

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million (representing a drop of 26%)

5. American Hustle

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million (representing a drop of 22%)

6. Grudge Match

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million ($24.5 million predicted for five-day opening)

7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Predicted Gross: $11.7 million ($19.3 million predicted for five-day opening)

8. 47 Ronin

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million ($17.8 million predicted for five-day opening)

9. Saving Mr. Banks

Predicted Gross: $10.6 million (representing an increase of 15%)

10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million (representing a drop of 12%)

These predictions would leave Justin Bieber’s Believe out of the top ten and likely in the #12 slot behind the second weekend of Walking with Dinosaurs.

And there you have it! My predictions for Christmas 2013. Of course, I’ll have updates on the blog’s Facebook page throughout the week with final results Sunday. And have yourself a Merry little Christmas, my friends!