Oscar History: 2012

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an Oscar History post (about two and a half years) and I’m at 2012. It was a year in which Seth MacFarlane hosted the show – fresh off his comedy smash Ted. Here’s what transpired in the major categories with some other pictures and performers I might have considered:

The year saw nine nominees for Best Picture in which Ben Affleck’s Argo took the top prize. Other nominees: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (my personal favorite of the year), and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Many Wes Anderson fans would contend that Moonrise Kingdom should have made the cut. And I could certainly argue that The Avengers (perhaps the greatest comic book flick and the year’s biggest grosser) was worth a nod.

The nominations in Best Director were a huge surprise at the time. While Argo won the top prize of all, Affleck was not nominated for his behind the camera efforts. It was the first time since Driving Miss Daisy‘s Bruce Beresford where an Oscar-winning Picture didn’t see its filmmaker nominated.

Instead it was Ang Lee who was victorious for Life of Pi over Michael Haneke (Amour), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

In addition to Affleck, it was surprising that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) was not included. And I certainly would have put in Tarantino for Django.

The race for Best Actor seemed over when the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln was announced. And that’s exactly how it played out as he won his third Oscar over a strong slate of Bradley Cooper (Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Denzel Washington (Flight).

The exclusion of John Hawkes in The Sessions could have been welcomed, but I’ll admit that’s a solid group.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings over Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts), and Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Again, no major qualms here. I did enjoy the work of Helen Mirren in Hitchcock (for which she did get a Golden Globe nod).

Supporting Actor was competitive as Christoph Waltz won his second statue for Django (three years after Inglourious Basterds). He was a bit of a surprise winner over Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Other nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Playbook), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Here’s a year where there’s a lot of others I thought of. Waltz won, but I think the work of Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django was equally impressive. There’s Javier Bardem as one of the greatest Bond villains ever in Skyfall. Or John Goodman’s showy role in Flight. As for some other blockbusters that year, how about Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers or Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike? And my favorite comedic scene of that year was due to Giovanni Ribisi in Ted…

In Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway was a front-runner for Les Miserables and there was no upset. Other nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Jacki Weaver (Playbook).

Judi Dench had more heft to her part as M in Skyfall that year and I’ll also give a shout-out to Salma Hayek’s performance in Oliver Stone’s Savages.

And there’s your Oscar history for 2012! I’ll have 2013 up… hopefully in less than two and a half years!

Logan Lucky Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/17): I am revising my Logan Lucky prediction down to $10.5 million on the eve of its debut.

The eclectic Steven Soderbergh is back in theaters with heist comedy Logan Lucky, debuting next weekend. It marks the director’s first theatrical release in four and a half years since Side Effects and first picture altogether since 2013’s Behind the Candelabra which premiered on HBO.

Lucky is headlined by many familiar faces, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig (getting raves for the role), Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, and Sebastian Stan. Reviews have been quite pleasing and it stands at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, being frequently compared to the Ocean‘s trilogy that Soderbergh made.

Even with the solid reviews and a NASCAR tie-in (the film’s heist takes place at a race), there could be some issues with this completely breaking out. There is direct competition in the form of The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and it’s more likely to debut a bit higher. The mid August release date is also not one that lends itself well to openings above $20 million.

I’ll predict Lucky‘s number falls in the low to possibly mid teens, as it will hope to leg out well in future weekends (and may well do so).

Logan Lucky opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my The Hitman’s Bodyguard prediction, click here:


Sing Box Office Prediction

Illumination Entertainment has become a force in the animated world with huge hits including the Despicable Me franchise, spin-off Minions, and this summer’s The Secret Life of Pets.

They’re back at it again looking for a Christmas cash in with 3D animated musical Sing. The $75 million production should have no trouble bringing in kids and their parents over the holiday season. Singing animals is usually a decent formula for a blockbuster and this should be a strong #2 to the second weekend of Rogue One. There’s plenty of recognizable faces behind their characters including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, and Nick Kroll.

I’ll predict Sing takes in high 40s during the long holiday weekend while reaching mid 60s when you include its Wednesday debut.

Sing opening weekend prediction: $55.3 million (Friday to Monday), $74.1 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my Passengers prediction, click here:


For my Assassin’s Creed prediction, click here:


For my Why Him? prediction, click here:


For my Fences prediction, click here:


Oscar Watch: Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings

Much attention has been paid on this blog to the Best Actress race at the 2016 Oscars and deservedly so as it figures to be the most competitive it’s been in some time. Yet there’s another category that’ll be fun to watch. This year has been a banner one for animated features. In some years, it’s a bit of a challenge to think of five worthy of inclusion. In 2016, it’ll be fascinating to see what’s left out.

Two contenders have an odd thing in common: Matthew McConaughey. The 2013 Best Actor winner for Dallas Buyers Club has his voice featured in both Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing, which has screened in Toronto and will be out statewide in time for Christmas. Animated McConaughey has, in fact, had a much stronger year than the Lincoln Lawyer in human form. His summer Civil War drama Free State of Jones was a critical and commercial flop. Late last month, he starred in Gus Van Sant’s drama The Sea of Trees. It also received scorn from reviewers and has grossed a truly embarrassing $20,000 in its limited release. Perhaps this December’s Gold will turn things around for him.

Back to his cartoon version. Kubo opened last month to decent box office numbers (it’s made $40 million domestically thus far). Critics went wild for it though and its RT score stands at 97%. Though there’s other animated material that will gross far more than it, its inclusion for a nomination looks solid.

One of those movies that’ll probably far outgross it is Sing. The 3D computer animated musical comes from the company behind the Despicable Me franchise. In addition to McConaughey, it feature the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, and John C. Reilly. Early reaction from Toronto is positive and suggests it’ll be a major holiday hit.

Yet its chances at an Animated Feature nod appear murkier due to the aforementioned heavy competition. Let’s briefly run the rest of the contenders down. There’s Disney’s spring juggernaut Zootopia. It’s in. There’s Disney’s Moana, their November offering from the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Most prognosticators, including myself, are reserving a slot for it. The foreign title The Red Turtle opened to raves at Cannes. Japanese entry Miss Hokusai looks to be a factor. And there’s mega-hits like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets to think about. Finally, how about Sausage Party?

All in all, this is one of the most exciting races to follow in 2016 and who knew the stoner guy from Dazed and Confused would be right in the thick of it?



Ted 2 Movie Review

Like many comedy sequels before it, Ted 2 often has a troubling time justifying its own existence. Seth MacFarlane’s follow-up to his wildly successful 2012 hit finds the director a bit more unshackled with choreographed musical numbers and more abundant political humor. This doesn’t achieve the effect of making this more funny. To go down a cliched road, Ted 2 is bearable but struggles a bit to come to life.

When we open, Ted is tying the knot with girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and things are going smoothly in the talking bear’s world. Not so much for Johnny (Mark Wahlberg), who’s down on his luck after divorcing Lori (Mila Kunis, who doesn’t appear). Within a year, Ted and Tami-Lynn are fighting and they figure a solution to their problems may be a baby. Since Ted is anatomically challenged in that area, adoption comes into play and after Tom Brady humorously rejects the notion of being a sperm donor, it’s left to Ted’s longtime friend. It all leads down a dangerous road where Ted is eventually deemed not to be a person by the state and this is where our main characters enlist new lawyer and pothead Sam (Amanda Seyfried) to help.

Ted 2 clumsily draws comparisons of Ted’s plight to that of gays and African Americans. We expect nothing less from MacFarlane than seriously un-PC comedy, yet these jokes fall flat more frequently than they hit. In fact, nearly everything here just simply cannot match the freshness of the original. Returning characters like the Ted obsessed Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) and Sam Jones (Flash Gordon if you recall) aren’t granted moments as uproarious as we’ve seen before. Whereas the relationship of Johnny and Lori was a strength in Ted, the forced romance between Johnny and Sam adds little.

Even with all those negatives, like a middling Family Guy episode, there are genuine laughs to be had. Many are throwaway lines and sight gags and MacFarlane and his cowriters Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild are too talented not to have some of the material succeed. Certain celeb cameos work more than others – Liam Neeson’s is a trip. There’s also smile inducing references to 80s genre classics of the past including The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And Morgan Freeman (as a top civil rights lawyer) is put to decent use mainly due to his voice, as Ted aptly points out when they meet.

As I began though, the sequels that populate film comedy usually can’t match what made its predecessor special. That holds true here and its occasionally preachy overtones don’t help. Ted 2 made this big admirer of the original sometimes happy, but not enough to warrant its second life on the screen.

**1/2 (out of four)

Ted 2 Box Office Prediction

One year following the critical and commercial disappointment of A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane should find himself back in the good graces of audiences with Ted 2, out Friday. The sequel to the 2012 mega hit brings back Mark Wahlberg and most importantly, that foul mouthed talking teddy bear. Mila Kunis is out and Amanda Seyfried is in with Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson among other new cast members.

Three summers ago, Ted debuted to a terrific $54.4 million on its way to a $218 million domestic take. The real question is whether or not part two exceeds the gross of the original out of the gate. This is certainly possible and it has the potential to reach $6o million or more next weekend. Yet I’m somewhat skeptical. There is a chance that the Ted novelty may have waned slightly and that may cause a debut slightly under its predecessor’s hot start. Critics were kind to the first and we’ve yet to see if that continues here. Its numbers might improve if word of mouth approaches that of the 2012 blockbuster, but that seems unlikely.

I’ll predict Ted 2 falls just shy of the $54 million achieved when Ted became the sleeper hit of summer 2012.

Ted 2 opening weekend prediction: $50.8 million

Todd’s 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies: Nos. 10-6

This evening on the blog, part II of my Top 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies!

If you missed part one covering numbers 15-11, you can find it right here:


We move forward into the Top Ten with numbers 10-6 before my final installment tomorrow revealing the top five.

Let’s get to it!

10. Ted 2

Release Date: June 26

Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was the comedic hit of summer 2012 with its foul talking teddy bear. Mark Wahlberg is back, though Mila Kunis is out with Amanda Seyfried in. Comedy sequels are a risky proposition, but let’s hope MacFarlane can recapture the magic he made three years ago (and couldn’t duplicate with last summer’s mediocre A Million Ways to Die in the West).

9. Straight Outta Compton

Release Date: August 14

F. Gary Gray, the man responsible for several music videos featuring the film’s subjects as well as Friday and The Italian Job, directs the musical bio of NWA – the highly influential gangsta rap group that included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E. Dre and Cube serve as producers.

8. Trainwreck

Release Date: July 17

Judd Apatow had a one two punch of comedy classics with 2005’s The 40 Year Old Virgin and 2007’s Knocked Up. His follow-ups, Funny People and This is 40, were just OK. Trainwreck is said to be a return to form based on word of mouth, with comedian Amy Schumer primed for a breakout starring role. Bill Hader and Lebron James (!) co-star.

7. Ant-Man

Release Date: July 17

The last time Marvel Studios had a feature thought to be outside the box and risky, it was last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy and it turned out to be the season’s biggest hit. This studio knows what they’re doing and here we have Paul Rudd playing the title character with Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly in supporting roles.

6. Aloha

Release Date: May 29

For the past decade, Cameron Crowe’s filmography has been unimpressive with Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo. Let us not forget, though, that this is the man that brought us Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous. Crowe’s latest is a romantic comedy with a truly impressive cast – Bradley Cooper (hot off American Sniper), Emma Stone, Bill Murray, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Top five coming at you tomorrow…

A Million Ways to Die in the West Movie Review

If Seth MacFarlane lent his considerable talents to doing an audio commentary for an old western film, it would probably have the same effect as watching A Million Ways to Die in the West. Yet it would probably be funnier.

The “Family Guy” creator and maker of the wildly successful Ted in 2012 hits a sophomore slump here. West is set in the Old West of 1882 and MacFarlane’s Albert Stark is well aware of his surroundings. He is an aimless and wimpy sheepherder whose only ability seems to be noticing that the era he lives in is a real bummer. Outlaws kill for no reason and there is a myriad of diseases that can kill you, not to mention even the old timey cameras and blocks of ice that can humorously lead to violent ends. He meets his sarcastic counterpart in Anna (Charlize Theron), who also is highly cognizant of the miserable time period they’re stuck in. Unbeknownst to Albert, she is married to a notorious gunslinger Clinch (Liam Neeson) and trying to get away from him. Meanwhile, Albert is trying to get over his ex (Amanda Seyfried) who just left him for the proprietor (Neil Patrick Harris) of a successful mustache grooming shop titled The Mustachery.

The first hour of West presents us with the idea of its main characters aware of their bad luck in being stuck in the West and stretches the premise about as far as it can possibly go. The second half is at times more of a traditional Western, albeit one with an extremely generous heaping of bodily fluid gags and occasional drug humor. As you’d expect, no ethnic group of religion is spared from the constant quips, but they often feel like they’d be about the 12th most amusing line on a “Family Guy” episode.

Unlike his TV show and Ted, MacFarlane moves from voiceover work to being in front of the camera. Unfortunately, MacFarlane the screen presence is surprisingly dull much of the time. Neeson has little to work with in his menacing bad guy role, but it is odd nowadays to see the actor searching for a family member that actually left him intentionally. Part of the problem is that MacFarlane saves most of the funniest lines for himself and leaves little for Neeson, Theron, or Seyfried to work with. Harris has his moments and there is a subplot with Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman that has its share of genuine laughs.

By now we’ve come to expect plenty of non PC lines and gross out moments from MacFarlane. There’s much of that to be found here yet it doesn’t come close to the comedic heights of “Family Guy” at its best or Ted. The supporting cast doesn’t have enough to do and even a couple of well done cameos don’t help much. I will, however, admit that watching Ribisi repeat his dance moves from Ted had me laughing hard, even it was only for about five seconds.

MacFarlane and his cowriters Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild seem to believe the Albert character’s ongoing musings about the Old West and its nastiness are uproarious enough to make this worthwhile. Too often, those jokes play out like Albert’s firearm shooting abilities in the picture – some hits but plenty of misses.

** (out of four)


Box Office Predictions: June 6-8

The June box office kicks off Friday with The Fault in Our Stars, the adaptation of John Green’s huge bestselling YA novel and the Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow. You can find my detailed prediction posts on each here:



As you can see, I’m predicting big things for Fault and less than stellar results for Tomorrow. Truth be told, my estimates seem a bit higher than some on Fault and lower than others on Tomorrow. We shall see how it plays out and there’s the factor of Maleficent‘s second weekend. If my predictions don’t pan out, we could see a very real race between all three for the #1 spot, even though I’m saying it won’t happen.

The rest of the top five should be rounded out by holdovers X-Men: Days of Future Past and box office dud A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Here’s how I think it’ll play out:

1. The Fault in Our Stars

Predicted Gross: $43.1 million

2. Maleficent

Predicted Gross: $34 million (representing a drop of 51%)

3. Edge of Tomorrow

Predicted Gross: $23.7 million

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million (representing a drop of 54%)

5. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million (representing a drop of 57%)

Box Office Results (May 30-June 1)

Disney got Maleficent off to a rock solid start with Maleficent, which grossed $69.4 million in its debut – just ahead of my $66.2M projection. This marked the highest live-action opening ever for star Angelina Jolie.

In second was X-Men: Days of Future Past, which dropped further than I anticipated in weekend #2 with $32.5 million compared to my $37.1M estimate. While it’s doing well, Future will not reach the level of the highest grosser in the franchise The Last Stand from 2006.

The news was not good for Seth MacFarlane as his A Million Ways to Die in the West tanked with $16.7 million – less than half of my generous $33.6M prediction. Negative reviews likely contributed to the disastrous opening and West‘s entire domestic take should be less than what MacFarlane’s Ted made in its first weekend. Ouch.

Holdovers populated the remainder of top five with Godzilla in fourth at $12 million (below my $14.2M estimate) and Blended in fifth with $8.1 million (below my $9.6M projection).

That’s all for now friends!

A Million Ways to Die in the West Box Office Prediction

“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane enters the world of film for the second time with A Million Ways to Die in the West, his directorial follow-up to the smash hit Ted from two summers ago. Unlike his previous effort, MacFarlane stars this time around and he’s brought along an all-star cast including Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Neil Patrick Harris.

The R rated western comedy is unlikely to match Ted numbers, which debuted to $54 million on its way to a domestic gross of $218 million. However, I still expect it to do solid business. It may seem like an odd comparison, but I see last year’s Identity Thief as a mark of what I believe West could open at. That picture made $34.5M in its opening weekend and I credit that to the goodwill audiences had for star Melissa McCarthy after Bridesmaids. In the same way – many moviegoers are simply very curious to see what MacFarlane has up his sleeve this time.

There’s plenty of competition out there as there always is around this time of year, but not a whole lot in the way of comedies. Neighbors has already made the bulk of its money and Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore debuted weakly over Memorial Day weekend. Like Thief, I think West posts a low to mid 30s opening.

A Million Ways to Die in the West opening weekend prediction: $33.6 million

For my Maleficent prediction, click here: