The Best Picture Wouldn’t Have Been Contenders: 2009-2017

A couple of days back on the blog, I speculated about what films in the 21st century would have been nominated for Best Picture prior to a rule change in 2009. As a refresher, nearly a decade ago, the Academy changed its Best Picture Nominees from a finite five to anywhere between five to ten. In that time frame, the magic number most years has been nine (it was actually a finite 10 for 2009 and 2010 before the fluctuation change). My recent post selected two pictures from 1990-2008 that I believe would have been nominated. You can find that post here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/03/the-best-picture-coulda-been-contenders-1990-2008/

Today comes the inverse of that column. What if the rule had never been altered? What if the last nine Oscar ceremonies honored just five features?

In making these picks, there’s obviously one extremely easy selection – the movie that won. In naming the other four, I’m looking at factors such as number of other nods it received. For instance, if a Director won that award for their work and the Picture went to something else, that director’s film is in.

So let’s get to it in this alternative Oscar universe. I’ll be reminding you all the pictures recognized and then showing my final five.

2009

The Actual Nominees:

The Hurt Locker (Winner), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Had It Been Five:

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air

2010

The Actual Nominees:

The King’s Speech (W), 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Had It Been Five:

The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, True Grit

2011

The Actual Nominees:

The Artist (W), The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Had It Been Five:

The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris

2012

The Actual Nominees:

Argo (W), Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Had It Been Five:

Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

2013

The Actual Nominees:

12 Years a Slave (W), American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Had It Been Five:

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, The Wolf of Wall Street

2014

The Actual Nominees:

Birdman (W), American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

Had It Been Five:

Birdman, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game

2015

The Actual Nominees:

Spotlight (W), The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room

Had It Been Five:

Spotlight, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

2016

The Actual Nominees:

Moonlight (W), Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

Had It Been Five:

Moonlight, Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea

2017

The Actual Nominees:

The Shape of Water (W), Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Had It Been Five:

The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And there you have it with my posts on the “what if” Best Picture happenings in Oscar world!

A Wrinkle in Time Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (03/07): I am revising my estimate from $42.8 million to $37.8 million, meaning I have it debuting at #2

What film could knock Disney’s Black Panther off its perch atop the box office charts after its momentous performance? Well, it should be another Disney property as A Wrinkle in Time debuts next Friday. Based on the famed and acclaimed 1962 novel from Madeleine L’Engle, the sci-fi fantasy comes from Selma director Ana DuVernay and marks the biggest budgeted feature ever (a reported $103 million) from an African-American female director. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena, and Storm Reid.

The Disney marketing machine is certainly a formidable one and familiarity with the source material and high-profile actors should serve as a benefit. One potential hindrance: while reviews are embargoed until March 7, initial word-of-mouth from screenings has been mixed.

On the low end, Wrinkle could see a debut in the mid 30s. However, I feel it will manage to climb higher with low 40s gross that could certainly reach as a high as $50 million. I don’t see it hitting the high 60s grosses that Disney’s live-action adaptations like Maleficent or Cinderella managed. That should be enough to allow the Mouse Factory to hold the 1-2 position next weekend with this and Panther.

A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend prediction: $37.8 million

For my The Strangers: Prey at Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/02/28/the-strangers-prey-at-night/

For my The Hurricane Heist prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/the-hurricane-heist-box-office-prediction/

For my Gringo prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/01/gringo-box-office-prediction/

Selma Movie Review

Like Spielberg’s Lincoln that preceded it two years prior, Ana DuVernay’s Selma sidesteps the idea of a biopic and rather focuses on a short but integral passage of time in its subject’s life. The focus is on Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1965 Voting Rights marches in Selma, Alabama. The film provides a history lesson that takes strides to not portray its central figure purely as a saint – nor does its perspective shy away from criticism of President Lyndon B. Johnson, while also acknowledging his achievements.

The film opens with King (David Oyelowo) and wife Coretta (Carmen Ejojo) in Norway circa 1964 to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. They speak of an alternative lifestyle in the opening scene that doesn’t involve the constant threat of death and his constant search for equal rights and justice. The couple seems to know that this is only talk and it is not what he’s destined for. Back home, the recent signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) has done little in the South to allow African Americans the right to vote. And this sets off a decision by King to organize a march in Selma that is met with Johnson’s objections, though not near to the level of Alabama Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth).

Director DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb do not shy away from showing us the brutality that took place in this era in the South. We also witness the goodness of people of many faiths and races who come to lend their support to Dr. King in his efforts. It is not one march on Selma – it’s three. The first ends in violent resistance from the police. The second time it’s halted is due to a more surprising manner of resistance. The third is history. The filmmakers also tackle the Kings marital status, including Dr. King’s infidelities.

His political skills are shown as well and they are often as powerful as his oratory abilities. The scenes with King and LBJ have been challenged by some for inaccuracy, but this is not a documentary and I won’t judge it as such. My only drawback to these sequences are Wilkinson, a fine actor that’s simply not the right choice for the 36th POTUS.

The flaws don’t stop there. The complex relationship between King and Malcolm X is touched upon so briefly that it begs for further fleshing out. Adding familiar faces like Martin Sheen and Cuba Gooding Jr. for cameos threaten to take you out of the story than involve you more.

Where it delivers is its willingness to tell this important story as a real one. A human one. King is a great man, but is written as experiencing the doubts and insecurities that he must have had. Oyelowo nails the role and he excels at embodying MLK’s mannerisms and spirit.

Selma tells the story of imperfect men fighting for a more perfect union. The film is imperfect as well but it’s worthy of its important subject matter that might have occurred a half century ago, but still resonates on many levels today.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Recap 2014

Well it’s been nearly 24 hours since the 87th edition of the Academy Awards reached its conclusion and somewhere Neil Patrick Harris is still trying to make that “secret Oscar ballot” gag work. The show was, as usual, a mixed bag that went on far too long. It featured some solid musical numbers (Common and John Legend, Tim McGraw) and a truly memorable one with Lady Gaga paying tribute to the 50 year old Sound of Music, complete with a Julie Andrews cameo at the end.

Being the host is largely a thankless job but NPH did OK. I don’t think his performance was strong enough to warrant a return engagement, but you never know. I still say let Fallon and Timberlake do it or bring in Louis C.K. to really make things unpredictable.

There were some genuinely humorous bits like John Travolta making nice with Idina Menzel after butchering her name last year, but not close to enough to justify its laborious length which ran past midnight.

It was a mediocre ceremony that was truly made fascinating only by the real suspense generated with the top awards. OK, it was a given that Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette would take home acting trophies and they did. I admittedly let my heart and not mind pick Michael Keaton over Eddie Redmayne and was unsurprisingly proved wrong.

The genuine suspense came with Best Picture and Director where there was a real coin flip between Birdman and Boyhood. It got even more confusing when both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash started winning in categories they weren’t expected to. Could a massive upset be brewing with one of them?

Yet when Birdman took the Original Screenplay award over expected winner Budapest, it started to look like a good night for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s movie. He would win the Director prize and the film would win the biggest race of all.

This left Boyhood as the evening’s loser, picking up only Supporting Actress for Arquette. Birdman and Budapest won four awards with Whiplash at three. Interestingly, this Oscars had the rare occasion of all eight nominated features winning at least one race. My predictions were as uneven as the show… 12 for 20 and that is on the low end for this humble blogger.

So, all in all, a ho hum affair with some solid moments sprinkled throughout. By the end of the show, however, it wasn’t only Octavia Spencer that appeared exasperated by that flat NPH ballot gag.

Todd’s FINAL Oscar Winner Predictions

Well here we go! The Oscars honoring the best of 2014 in film air this Sunday and after many round of predictions, it’s time to man up and pick up the winners for the final time in all major categories, minus documentary and short film contenders. For each race, I will predict the winner and a runner-up. On Sunday evening or Monday, I’ll post a recap of how I did.

Let’s get to it:

BEST PICTURE

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Runner-Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Runner-Up: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Runner-Up: Reese Witherspoon, Wild

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Runner-Up: Edward Norton, Birdman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Runner-Up: Emma Stone, Birdman

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game

Runner-Up: Whiplash

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Predicted Winner: Ida

Runner-Up: Leviathan

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Predicted Winner: Big Hero 6

Runner-Up: How to Train Your Dragon 2

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Into the Woods

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: Unbroken

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Predicted Winner: Into the Woods

Runner-Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST EDITING

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Whiplash

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Runner-Up: Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST SOUND MIXING

Predicted Winner: American Sniper

Runner-Up: Birdman

BEST SOUND EDITING

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: American Sniper

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Predicted Winner: Insterstellar

Runner-Up: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SCORE

Predicted Winner: The Theory of Everything

Runner-Up: The Imitation Game

BEST SONG

Predicted Winner: “Glory” from Selma

Runner-Up: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

My predictions reflect a belief that the following pictures will win multiple awards: Birdman (4) and Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel with 3.

And there you have it…. My final Oscar predictions! We shall see how I do come Sunday evening.

 

Oscar Winner Predictions: Todd’s Take

We are officially ten days away from Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Oscars and it seems like a perfect time to chime in with an update on what and who I believe will win in the eight major categories. Next weekend – I’ll provide final predictions in all of the races. Here we go:

BEST PICTURE

Of the eight movies nominated here, it now appears only two have a legit shot at becoming 2014’s Best Picture: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman. The momentum still appears to be on the side of Linklater’s 12 years in the making family drama.

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Runner-Up: Birdman

Other Nominees: American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash 

BEST DIRECTOR

Like the Picture race, it’s between Linklater and Inarritu. This practically seems like a coin flip at this point, but I’ll give the Birdman maker the slight edge since he just won the Director’s Guild of America award (often a solid predictor of who wins here).

Predicted Winner: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Runner-Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Other Nominees: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

BEST ACTOR

While Michael Keaton remains the front runner for his Birdman comeback, don’t sleep on the chances of Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, especially following his somewhat surprising SAG Awards victory. I’m still clinging to Keaton winning though.

Predicted Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Runner-Up: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

BEST ACTRESS

Julianne Moore’s work in Still Alice is widely expected to nab the celebrated actress her first golden statue. Any other winner here would be a rather big surprise.

Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Runner-Up: Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Two Days One Night), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Another easy race to predict as J.K. Simmons’ turn as the sadistic music teacher in Whiplash has won essentially all precursors. Only a Birdman sweep could mean Edward Norton is victorious and that’s a long shot.

Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Runner-Up: Edward Norton, Birdman

Other Nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Like the two previous acting categories, Patricia Arquette’s Boyhood performance has scored at other awards shows and anyone but her winning would be a massive upset.

Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Runner-Up: Emma Stone, Birdman

Other Nominees Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

This is one heckuva category but again should come down to Birdman and Boyhood. Like in the Director race, Birdman gets a small edge. Watch out for Budapest as a potential spoiler.

Predicted Winner: Birdman

Runner-Up: Boyhood

Other Nominees: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

This would appear to be the best chance for The Imitation Game to win a major award, but Theory of Everything may be hot on its heels.

Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game

Runner-Up: The Theory of Everything

Other Nominees: American Sniper, Inherent Vice, Whiplash

And that’ll do it. Keep an eye out for final predictions next weekend!

Box Office Predictions: January 23-25

Three new movies take on the daunting task of attempting to unseat the box office juggernaut that is American Sniper. They are the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door, Johnny Depp comedy Mortdecai, and George Lucas produced 3D animated pic Strange Magic. You can find my individual prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/01/17/the-boy-next-door-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/01/17/mortdecai-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/01/17/strange-magic-box-office-prediction/

We’ll cut right to the chase here: not a one of them has a chance of taking on Sniper. I look for Lopez’s flick to appeal to a female audience and generate the best debut among the newbies that should be good enough for a #2 opening. As for Magic and Mortdecai, neither look to make much of a dent.

As mentioned, the jaw dropping opening of American Sniper should mean it easily retains its top spot. Both Paddington and The Wedding Ringer premiered solidly and I look for them to be right behind Door in their second weekends. If either Magic or Mortdecai fail to perform even up to my meager expectations, it could mean Taken 3 remains in the top six as it should gross around $7 million in its third weekend.

And with that, estimates for this weekend’s Top 6:

1. American Sniper

Predicted Gross: $50.4 million (representing a drop of 43%)

2. The Boy Next Door

Predicted Gross: $14.7 million

3. Paddington

Predicted Gross: $12.6 million (representing a drop of 33%)

4. The Wedding Ringer

Predicted Gross: $12.1 million (representing a drop of 41%)

5. Strange Magic

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million

6. Mortdecai

Predicted Gross: $7.4 million

Box Office Results (January 16-18)

This weekend, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper became a cultural phenomenon. No one saw a gross this huge coming as it performed similar to what a superhero summer tent pole would earn. It took in $89.2 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend (I predicted less than half of that at $40.6M). For the long MLK weekend, it made $107 million. Unreal. Clearly the combination of critical acclaim, Oscar nominations, and highly effective trailers and TV spots did the job.

The Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer had a sturdy second place opening at $20.6 million, however it was below my $29.4M estimate. Over the four-day it made $24 million.

The children’s bear tale Paddington took in $18.9 million from Friday to Sunday, under my $22.3M projection. The well-reviewed pic amassed a pleasing $25.4M over the four day portion of the weekend.

Taken 3 dipped to fourth in its sophomore frame with $14.7 million, under my $17.1M prediction. The action sequel stands at $65 million at press time.

Selma was fifth in its second weekend in release with $8.7 million – not matching my generous $12.5M estimate. I thought the MLK holiday might assist a little more in bumping its grosses, though it’s worth noting that yesterday’s holiday gave the pic its largest single day during its run. It’s earned $31M so far.

Finally… Blackhat. Oh boy. The Michael Mann directed thriller with Chris Hemsworth bombed placing 10th with a pathetic $3.9 million. I predicted $13.6M. Oops. The heavy competition, weak reviews, and middling marketing campaign sunk this project, which reportedly cost $70M. Blackhat easily qualifies as the first enormous failure of 2015.

In case you didn’t notice, everything but Sniper grossed less than I figured. It’s no accident. Sniper unquestionably had an effect on the viability of the other releases and Sniper‘s debut will definitely rank as one of the box office top stories of this year.

And there you have it! Until next time….