Dolemite Is My Name Movie Review

There are plentiful amounts of F bombs thrown out in Dolemite Is My Name. They are the kind that you associated with Eddie Murphy years ago. The F no longer stands for the family fare he starred in that bombed at the box office. Think Pluto Nash. Or Meet Dave. Or Imagine That. No, this belongs in a small sub genre of pictures where some of the players here have had involvement before. Dolemite tells the true story of a man breaking into the movie business with wide eyed spirit and contagious tenacity. The quality of the material produced is secondary.

Murphy is Rudy Ray Moore, who’s working at a record shop in L.A. when we begin. He has dreams of stardom, but the general consensus is that his time has passed. Rudy just won’t let that happen as he develops a comic persona that is one part rhyming (he ended up being a huge influence in the hip hop community), one part glorious 70s outfits of the era, and all parts raunchy as hell.

He achieves success in the underground comedy world where his records sell, but a screening of the Billy Wilder pic The Front Page gives him another idea. Rudy doesn’t see humorous material on the screen for the black audience and he’s going to be the one to give it to them. Obtaining financing (even at the height of the blaxploitation genre) is next to impossible so he’s creative in his methods.

Surrounding Rudy is a colorful (especially the clothes) and eclectic group of collaborators who aren’t entirely sure what they’ve gotten themselves into. They include actor D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes, having a ball). He never fails to remind others that he had a big part in Rosemary’s Baby and only joins the picture when he’s allowed to direct. Keegan-Michael Key is the screenwriter who thinks he’s making the kind of serious drama he writes for the stage. When kung fu and set shattering sex scenes take precedence, that notion is dispelled. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a scene stealer as Lady Reed, Rudy’s stand-up partner plucked out of a Southern bar.

Screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander have travelled this road before with Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Murphy gave one of his finest performances 20 years ago in Bowfinger, where his costar Steve Martin was a director with unbridled and naive enthusiasm. The Disaster Artist with James Franco mined similar territory. So while Dolemite does feel familiar in its beats, it has its own brand of passion for its unlikely star.

We have the headliner to thank for it. This is Live From Netflix and is indeed Eddie Murphy’s show. The performer seems more inspired than he has in some time. It might help if you’re a Dolemite devotee (Murphy and many of the cast members are). Yet this is an entertaining watch either way as we watch a legend in his element.

***1/2 (out of four)

Summer 1999: The Top 10 Hits and More

My recap of the summer seasons from 30, 20, and 10 years ago continues with 1999. It was a banner year for film in general with many acclaimed features hitting theaters at the turn of the century.

If you missed my previous post recounting 1989, you can find it here:

As with other look backs, I’ll give the top 10 highest earners along with other notable pics and some flops. Interestingly, the list begins at #10 with probably the most high profile misfire:

10. Wild Wild West

Domestic Gross: $113 million

The July 4th holiday weekend had literally become reserved space for Will Smith. Independence Day in 1996 and Men in Black the following year both came out in that frame and ended up as their summer’s biggest blockbusters. This update of a 1960s TV series cast the Fresh Prince with Kevin Kline and reunited him with MIB director Barry Sonnenfeld. Critics and audiences weren’t impressed.

9. Notting Hill

Domestic Gross: $116 million

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant were a rom com match in heaven with this well reviewed pic from the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Our lead actress isn’t finished yet…

8. The Blair Witch Project

Domestic Gross: $140 million

Truly a phenomenon upon release, this handheld camera indie supernatural horror tale was made for a reported $60,000. Many audience members thought it was a real documentary and it scared up nearly $250 million worldwide and spawned two lesser regarded follow-ups.

7. Runaway Bride

Domestic Gross: $152 million

I told you we weren’t done with Julia Roberts. This rom com reunited her with her Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall and costar Richard Gere. It might not have captured the acclaim of that flick, but it made plenty of cash.

6. The Mummy

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Loosely updating the 1932 classic, The Mummy managed to turn Brendan Fraser into a temporary action star. Two sequels followed and a spin-off (The Scorpion King) that turned Dwayne Johnson into an action hero.

5. Big Daddy

Domestic Gross: $163 million

20 summers ago marked the height of Adam Sandler’s box office potency. Big Daddy remains his biggest live action grosser of all time.

4. Tarzan

Domestic Gross: $171 million

Disney was still knocking traditional animated hits out summer after summer. Tarzan managed to nab Phil Collins an Oscar for a song contribution.

3. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Domestic Gross: $206 million

The original Powers came out two summers prior. While it performed decently in theaters, it became a massive hit with its home video release. Due to that, this sequel made more in its opening weekend than part 1 achieved in its entire theatrical run. A third edition arrived in 2002.

2. The Sixth Sense

Domestic Gross: $293 million

An unexpected smash, this is the movie that introduced the world to M. Night Shyamalan and the line “I see dead people”. Bruce Willis didn’t get an Oscar nod, but the picture itself did. So too did Shyamalan’s direction, screenplay, and the supporting performances of Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette.

1. Star Wars: Episode 1The Phantom Menace

Domestic Gross: $431 million

Its reputation certainly hasn’t grown through the years, but George Lucas’s return to the cherished franchise after 16 years easily ruled the summer. We’re still haunted by Jar Jar two decades later.

And now more some other notable titles from the ‘99 season:

American Pie

Domestic Gross: $102 million

The raunchy teen comedy was a surprise smash that introduced us to a new group of young actors and spawned three theatrical sequels and four direct to DVD sequels.

The Haunting

Domestic Gross: $91 million

Jan de Bont followed up mega hits Speed and Twister with this critically unappreciated remake of The Haunting of Hill House. It didn’t reach the heights of those blockbusters, but came close to the century mark domestically.

Deep Blue Sea

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Renny Harlin’s tale involving sharks that could potentially cure Alzheimer’s (yes it’s absurd), Sea is best known for a killer death scene involving Samuel L. Jackson.

The Thomas Crown Affair

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Arriving smack dab in the middle of his Bond run, this remake of Steve McQueen’s heist film was a solid midsize performer.


Domestic Gross: $66 million

The box office grosses were decent, but Bowfinger gave us a satisfying pairing of two comedic legends in Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin.

Eyes Wide Shut

Domestic Gross: $55 million

The swan song of Stanley Kubrick (who died shortly before release), this dreamlike sexual drama with then married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman polarized audiences and critics.

South ParkBigger, Longer and Uncut

Domestic Gross: $52 million

The landmark Comedy Central show from Trey Parker and Matt Stone got the big screen treatment and translated well to the multiplex, even nabbing an Oscar nod for Best Original Song (“Blame Canada”).

The Iron Giant

Domestic Gross: $23 million

A commercial failure at the time, this animated pic marked the debut of Brad Bird who went onto helm Pixar classics. Its reputation has grown significantly in time.

Now… let’s recount some flops:

Mickey Blue Eyes

Domestic Gross: $33 million

Hugh Grant had a $100 million plus earner with Notting Hill, but this mob themed comedy was not a hit.

Mystery Men

Domestic Gross: $29 million

Ben Stiller had the previous summer’s largest comedy with There’s Something About Mary. This failed superhero spoof didn’t even make half its budget back stateside.

The Astronaut’s Wife

Domestic Gross: $10 million

This Johnny Depp sci fi thriller is not a title discussed often in his filmography or Charlize Theron’s. There’s a reason.

Dudley DoRight

Domestic Gross: $9 million

The Mummy provided Brendan Fraser with a franchise. This cartoon remake couldn’t hit double digits.

And that wraps my recap! Look for 2009 on the blog shortly…

Summer 1989: The Top 10 Hits and More

In what has become tradition on this little blog of mine, the summer season brings us a lot of nostalgia on the silver screen. In the present, that means a slew of sequels and remakes and reboots coming on a near weekly basis. For these purposes, it means taking a look back on the movie summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago.

As has been written in previous years, I’m listing the top ten hits as well as other notable pics and some flops. One thing is for sure about 1989. It will forever be known as the summer of the Batman and that blockbuster influenced what has become the predominant genre of the 21st century.

A recap of 1999 and 2009 will follow soon, but we start with what audiences were watching three decades ago.

10. Uncle Buck

Domestic Gross: $66 million

John Candy had one of his most notable headlining roles in this John Hughes family friendly comedy that also introduced the world to Macaulay Culkin. No sequel followed, but a short-lived TV series did.

9. Turner & Hooch

Domestic Gross: $71 million

Shortly before Tom Hanks started collecting Oscars and doing primarily dramatic work, he was still known for comedy in the late 80s. This one teamed him with a dog in a buddy comedy that followed the similarly themed with K9 with Jim Belushi from three months earlier. This one made a bit more cash.

8. When Harry Met Sally

Domestic Gross: $92 million

Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy (scripted by Nora Ephron) is considered one of the genre’s landmarks. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan headlined with a diner scene that has become quite iconic.

7. Dead Poets Society

Domestic Gross: $95 million

Robin Williams seized the day and an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an unorthodox English teacher in Peter Weir’s film, which also nabbed a nod for Best Picture.

6. Parenthood

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Ron Howard’s dramedy sported an ensemble cast with Steve Martin and a crowd pleasing vibe. This is a rare pic that spawned two TV shows. The one from 1990 flopped while the 2010 version ran six seasons. Parenthood marks appearance #1 in the top ten for Rick Moranis.

5. Ghostbusters II

Domestic Gross: $112 million

The eagerly awaited sequel to the 1984 phenomenon was a disappointment critically and commercially when considering the original’s $229 million haul. That said, it gives us appearance #2 for Rick Moranis. A direct sequel will follow in 2020.

4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Domestic Gross: $130 million

And we reach the trifecta for Rick Moranis as Disney had an unexpected smash hit here. It stood as the studio’s largest grossing live-action feature for five years. Two less successful sequels followed.

3. Lethal Weapon 2

Domestic Gross: $147 million

Of the four action comedy pairings of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, part 2 stands as the franchise’s top earner. This one threw Joe Pesci into the mix with sequels that followed in 1992 and 1998.

2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Domestic Gross: $197 million

While Harrison Ford’s third appearance as his iconic character didn’t match the grosses of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, it did earn more than 1984 predecessor Temple of Doom. Pairing Indy with his dad played by Sean Connery, the character wouldn’t make it to the screen again until Steven Spielberg and Ford teamed up again 19 years later.

1. Batman

Domestic Gross: $251 million

As mentioned, 1989 was dominated by Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader. While the casting of Michael Keaton in the title role was controversial upon announcement, it turned out quite well (as did Jack Nicholson’s turn as The Joker and a funky Prince soundtrack). Three sequels and multiple reboots followed.

And now for some notable pictures outside of the top ten:

The Abyss

Domestic Gross: $54 million

James Cameron was riding a high after The Terminator and Aliens when he made this sci-fi aquatic adventure. Known just as much for its difficult production as its Oscar winning visuals, it had a mixed reaction that has grown more positive through the years.

Weekend at Bernie’s

Domestic Gross: $30 million

Turns out corpses are hilarious in this low budget comedy that turned into enough of a hit that a sequel followed four summers later.

Road House

Domestic Gross: $30 million

It may not have had critics on its side or been a huge success originally, but Patrick Swayze’s turn as a midwestern bouncer became a serious cult hit subsequently.

Do the Right Thing

Domestic Gross: $27 million

A cultural milestone, Do the Right Thing served as the major breakout for Spike Lee and was named by numerous critics as the greatest film of 1989.

sex, lies, and videotape

Domestic Gross: $24 million

Winning the Cannes Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh’s provocative debut helped usher in a wave of independent films that followed in the 90s.

It wasn’t all success stories in the summer of 1989 and here’s some that failed to meet expectations:

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Domestic Gross: $52 million

Captain Kirk himself directed this installment after Leonard Nimoy made its two well received predecessors. This one was met with ambivalence and stands at the second lowest earner of this particular Trek franchise.

The Karate Kid Part III

Domestic Gross: $38 million

In 1984, the original made $90 million and the 1986 sequel made $115 million. Three summers later, moviegoers had tired of Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in their signature roles. Yet TV watchers are currently tuned to a series reboot with Macchio back as Daniel.

Licence to Kill

Domestic Gross: $34 million

Timothy Dalton’s second turn as 007 was a stateside flop and is the lowest grossing Bond flick when adjusted for inflation. Its star would never return in the role and the six year gap that followed when Pierce Brosnan reinvigorated the series with Goldeneye stands as the lengthiest gap in its near 60 years of existence.

Lock Up

Domestic Gross: $22 million

Sylvester Stallone had plenty of hits during the decade, but this one casting him as a tortured convict wasn’t one of them.

Casualties of War

Domestic Gross: $18 million

Brian de Palma was coming off a massive hit with The Untouchables, but this Vietnam War drama with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn didn’t find an audience.

Pink Cadillac

Domestic Gross: $12 million

Three summers later, Clint Eastwood entered Oscar territory with Unforgiven. This action comedy with Bernadette Peters is one of his forgotten efforts and stalled with critics and crowds.

I hope you enjoyed this look back on the 1989 summer period and I’ll have 1999 up soon!

The Hustle Box Office Prediction

A remake of a remake, MGM is hoping moviegoers want to do The Hustle next weekend. The pic updates the Steve Martin/Michael Caine comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which itself was a reworking of the 1964 Marlon Brando/David Niven effort Bedtime Story. Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are the newest pair of con artists. The supporting cast includes Alex Sharp, Tim Blake Nelson, and Dean Norris. Chris Addison directs.

Hathaway hasn’t headlined a high-profile laugher since 2015’s The Intern, which made $17 million for its start. Wilson, on the other hand, starred in Isn’t It Romantic earlier this year and that debuted at $14.2 million. I like that comp better and I’ll throw in another: 2015’s Hot Pursuit with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. It opened in mid May as well with $13.9 million.

That sounds about right here with a so-so low teens take.

The Hustle opening weekend prediction: $13.4 million

For my Pokemon Detective Pikachu prediction, click here:

For my Poms prediction, click here:

For my Tolkien prediction, click here:

The Non-Sequel Actors

Next weekend sees the release of two high-profile sequels: The Equalizer 2 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The pair of part II’s have something rather interesting in common: they serve as the first sequels that their stars Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep have ever appeared in. Pretty surprising huh? Both have been mega-stars for decades and have never followed up on a character until now.

This got me thinking: what other major actors have never been in a sequel? And it’s not an easy list to cobble together.

Some actors are known for their cases of sequelitis. We know Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in a multitude of them, including Marvel Cinematic Universe pics and franchises ranging from Star Wars to xXx to Incredibles. He was John McClane’s sidekick in Die Hard with a Vengeance. And looking early in his filmography, 1990 saw him appearing in The Exorcist III and The Return of Superfly. There’s also Patriot Games from 1992 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 from 2004. Son of Shaft will be out next year. Dude loves his m****f***ing sequels!

Sylvester Stallone has made a career of out of them. Creed II will mark his 15th sequel by my count. There’s the Rocky, Rambo, and Expendables series and there’s also Staying Alive (which he directed and had a cameo in), Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the just released Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Eddie Murphy has returned in the following series: 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle, and Shrek. There could be a part II of Coming to America on the horizon.

Harrison Ford has the famous series like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Jack Ryan pictures. There’s also More American Graffiti, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and last year’s Blade Runner 2049.

OK, back to thespians who don’t constantly appear in sequels. Leonardo DiCaprio? Well, who can forget one of his first roles as Josh in 1991’s Critters 3? 

Matthew McConaughey has a similar situation. Since he’s become known, no sequels (not even returning in Magic Mike XXL). Yet one of his first roles was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. 

Unlike his 80s comedic counterparts Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and Steve Martin (all in plenty of them), I couldn’t immediately think of any sequel that John Candy did. Yet he provided a voice-over in the 1990 Disney animated follow-up The Rescuers Down Under. 

With Marlon Brando, I guess it depends on how you look at it. He refused to come back for a flashback cameo in The Godfather Part II. Yet he did appear in 2006’s Superman Returns… with a caveat. That footage was culled completely from his work nearly three decades earlier in Superman and it happened two years after his death.

So here’s the deal… it is really tough to come up with performers in the modern age who haven’t appeared in at least one sequel. However, here’s five of them and feel free to list others in the comments!

Warren Beatty

He’s famously picky about his projects and he’s never played the same man twice. There were rumors that he wanted to do another Dick Tracy, but it never materialized.

Annette Bening

Beatty’s wife has had a long and distinguished career free of sequels. She was originally cast as Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns but dropped out due to pregnancy.

Russell Crowe

The Oscar winner has yet to return to a role, though I’d certainly sign up for The Nice Guys II. P.S. – I do not count Man of Steel as a sequel.

Jodie Foster

She declined to return as Clarice Starling in 2001’s Hannibal after an Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs ten years earlier. That was her biggest chance at a sequel and there are none before or after.

Jake Gyllenhaal

His first role was as Billy Crystal’s son in City Slickers, but he was nowhere to be found for part II or any other sequel. However, that long streak ends next summer with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And there you go! As I said, feel free to chime in with your own non-sequel actors…

Billy Lynn’s Long Oscar Plummet


Blogger’s Update (11/21): Final box office numbers for the film put it at just a $901,000 opening, adding more insult to injury.

When I began writing my Oscar Watch posts several weeks ago, the general consensus was this: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (based on its festival screenings) was the front runner for Best Picture. It still is. Furthermore, there was a trio of unseen contenders to upset that notion: Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Denzel Washington’s Fences, and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Silence has still yet to land any eyeballs on it and remains a mystery. Fences has held industry screenings and established itself as a player in Picture and several other races. Yet for Billy, the narrative has gone in a significantly different direction.

The war drama, based on a bestseller by Ben Fountain, looked to be a serious awards force on paper. After all, Lee has won the Best Director statue twice for 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and 2012’s Life of Pi. Both of those films were nominated for the grand prize but came up short. Two of his other efforts – 1995’s Sense and Sensibility and 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon also nabbed Pic nods. Walk features an eclectic cast surrounding unknown Joe Alwyn in the title role that includes Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, and Garrett Hedlund.

And it was being touted as a potential visual marvel as Lee and his effects crew were shooting it at 120 frames per second (think super duper HD). Then something happened on the march to Academy glory… people actually saw it.

The result? Many critics were not kind to it (it’s at just 41% on Rotten Tomatoes). Following its first festival exposure in New York, the Oscar fortunes took a tumble. Yet even after that, I still managed to keep it in my top 20 possibilities for a Picture nomination until yesterday. Why? On the chance that audiences would respond positively enough to it to keep it viable.

Well… that viability just took a nose dive this afternoon. Walk opened wide today and forecasts for the weekend have it grossing just $2-$3 million dollars. Let me translate: it’s bombing very, very badly.

One month ago, before anyone had seen it, Billy Lynn looked like it could receive multiple nominations come Oscar time. As of today, the highest likelihood is that it will walk away with zero.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Box Office Prediction

Ang Lee’s war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk makes its way to theaters next weekend in wide release and expectations for it have been tampered down a bit. The film, based on a bestseller by Ben Fountain, had been looked at as a major awards contender for the bulk of 2016. After all, Lee has won the Best Director prize at the Oscars twice (for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi) and it just looked the kind of picture that the Academy might take a liking to. Newcomer Joe Alwyn stars in the title role alongside a stellar supporting cast that includes Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin.

Walk has also received significant publicity to the manner in which it was shot at 120 frames per second (translate that to very high definition). Yet something unexpected happened when this screened at the New York Film Festival nearly a month ago. Critics were sharply divided as to both its dramatic and visual quality. In fact, it stands at just 50% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. Any chances of it being an Oscar force pretty much fell along the wayside.

So where does that leave its box office prospects? Quite simply, shakier than before the buzz unfolded. If this had the aura of an Academy hopeful, it could certainly boost its grosses. Then there’s even the matter of another more critically lauded war drama having opened just two weeks prior – Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge.

The film is reportedly rolling out on a low 800 screens which would limits its prospects. Add all that up and I believe Halftime will see a debut below $10 million for just a so-so start.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk opening weekend prediction: $9.2 million

For my Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them prediction, click here:

For my Bleed for This prediction, click here:

For my The Edge of Seventeen prediction, click here:


Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 20th Edition

It’s Thursday, ladies and gents, and that means my weely Oscar predictions are in! There’s been some serious changes to the predictions, a new film that’s qualified itself for consideration, and some category shifting that’s occurred within the past week.

So – perhaps some explanation on where I see the state of the races in each of the eight major categories is required this week. My synopsis of said races are for your enjoyment below…

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Fences (PR: 3)

4. Lion (PR: 6)

5. Jackie (PR: 5)

6. Moonlight (PR: 7)

7. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)

8. Arrival (PR: 9)

9. Hidden Figures (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities

10. Loving (PR: 10)

11. 20th Century Women (PR: 11)

12. Hell or High Water (PR: 14)

13. Live by Night (PR: 13)

14. Sully (PR: 15)

15. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 4)

16. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 17)

17. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 18)

18. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)

19. The Jungle Book (PR: 20)

20. 13th (PR: 16)

21. Allied (PR: 21)

22. Gold (PR: 22)

23. Rules Don’t Apply (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Passengers (PR: 23)

25. The Founder (PR: 24)

Dropped Out:

Miss Sloane

I, Daniel Blake

Where The Race Stands…

With La La Land as the current front runner and there’s no doubt about it. The conventional wisdom for the last several weeks is that there were three fall entries that could potentially give it a run for its money: Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Denzel Washington’s Fences, and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. That dynamic shifted dramatically when Halftime opened to middling reviews when it screened at the New York Film Festival this weekend. The film has now dropped 11 spots and out of my predicted nominees and it’s unlikely to make its way back in. Silence and Fences now seem the only likely pictures to stand in the way of La La. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge makes a serious jump into the possibilities – from not ranked a week ago to #18.  I’ve also found room for the Warren Beatty pic Rules Don’t Apply, which has yet to screen. Others on the list of possibilities that have yet to be reviewed (meaning they could jump up when they do or fall out completely): Hidden Figures (which I have in the ninth spot at the moment for a nod), Live by Night, Passengers, Allied, Gold, The Founder and others not currently in the top 25 such as Miss Sloane and Collateral Beauty. 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 3)

3. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 4)

4. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)

5. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 5)

Other Possibilties

6. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 7)

7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 8)

8. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 9)

9. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 10)

10. Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 2)

11. Mike Mills, 20th Century Women (PR: 12)

12. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 11)

13. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Clint Eastwood, Sully (PR: 13)

15. Ana DuVernay, 13th (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

Where the Race Stands…

With two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee falling 8 spots after the NYFF Halftime reaction. Chazelle remains at #1 as he’s been for weeks as we await Scorsese and Washington’s films. I’m growing more confident that Lonergan manages to squeeze into the top five.

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)

2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 3)

4. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)

5. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 8)

7. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 6)

8. Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (PR: Not Ranked in Lead Actor)

9. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 9)

11. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 10)

12. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 11)

13. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty (PR: 12)

14. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: 15)

15. Miles Teller, Bleed for This (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Ben Affleck, Live by Night

Where the Race Stands…

Up in the air until we see Denzel’s work in Fences, which could potentially become the immediate front runner as I’m currently estimating. Casey Affleck is getting raves, too and has held steady at #2 for weeks. Andrew Garfield is on the outside looking in for now, but could get in for either Silence or Hacksaw Ridge. There’s also late breaking news that Taylor Hackford’s The Comedian was given a December release for Oscar consideration and perhaps that’ll bode well for its star, Robert De Niro (though I’m not prepared to include him in the mix quite yet). And there’s last week’s reveal that Warren Beatty will compete in this category instead of Supporting, as was previously thought.

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)

3. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

5. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 7)

7. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 6)

8. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 9)

9. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 8)

10. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 12)

11. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 10)

12. Marion Cotillard, Allied (PR: 14)

13. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 11)

14. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train (PR: 13)

15. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers (PR: 15)

Where the Race Stands…

As one of the most competitive Best Actress races in history. Both Stone and Portman are serious contenders for the win and we haven’t even seen heard the word on Davis’s work in Fences. They appear to be the trio that could win. In any other year, Bening’s acclaimed performance in Women might earn her some overdue recognition, but probably not this year. The fifth slot is much trickier and I almost picked Adams (for Arrival and not Nocturnal Animals) over Negga. Just to show you the competitiveness, Streep in most years would be a shoo-in for her 20th (!) nomination for Jenkins, but could be left out. Others to keep an eye on: Chastain and a dark horse nominee like Hall.

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 1)

2. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 2)

3. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 3)

4. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 4)

5. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 10)

7. Aaron Eckhart, Sully (PR: 6)

8. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: 8)

9. Sunny Pawar, Lion (PR: 9)

10. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 11)

11. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 12)

12. Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This (PR: 13)

14. Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ben Foster, Hell or High Water (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (moved to Lead Actor list)

Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Timothy Spall, Denial

Where the Race Stands…

Absolutely and 100% percent wide open… so much so that I’m not confident any of my current picks make the final cut. Some would argue Grant is in, but I’m not totally convinced. Shannon is such a well-respected actor that he’s probably in, but reaction has been very mixed on Nocturnal Animals. Neeson and Henderson’s work has yet to be seen. Bottom line: this particular category could change a lot over the next few weeks.

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 1)

2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 3)

4. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

5. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities

6. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 7)

7. Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)

8. Margo Martindale, The Hollars (PR: 8)

9. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 9)

10. Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)

11. Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 6)

12. Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Janelle Monae, Moonlight (PR: 13)

14. Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 11)

15. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: 12)

Dropped Out:

Sienna Miller, Live by Night

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miss Sloane

Where The Race Stands…

Seemingly with Williams and Harris as the two front runners and it’s been that way for a while after Manchester and Moonlight, respectively, hit the festival circuit. Perhaps one of the two actresses from the not yet screened Hidden Figures (Spencer and Monae, who also got positive notices for Moonlight) could make a play. Otherwise, this looks like a two-way competition at the moment.

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Jackie (PR: 3)

4. Moonlight (PR: 4)

5. 20th Century Women (PR: 6)

Other Possibilties

6. Loving (PR: 7)

7. Hell or High Water (PR: 5)

8. Toni Erdmann (PR: 9)

9. Miss Sloane (PR: 8)

10. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 14)

11. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 11)

12. The Lobster (PR: 12)

13. Allied (PR: 10)

14. Gold (PR: 13)

15. Rules Don’t Apply (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Captain Fantastic

Where the Race Stands…

As a race that La La Land may not automatically win over Manchester by the Sea. Jackie and Moonlight are also looking solid for nominations with a fifth slot that I keep changing up between 20th Century Women, Loving, and Hell or High Water.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. Fences (PR: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Lion (PR: 3)

4. Hidden Figures (PR: 7)

5. Arrival (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities

6. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)

7. Love & Friendship (PR: 11)

8. Live by Night (PR: 8)

9. Elle (PR: 10)

10. Sully (PR: 9)

11. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 4)

12. The Jungle Book (PR: 14)

13. Indignation (PR: 12)

14. Certain Women (PR: 13)

15. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Where the Race Stands…

In a waiting pattern as Fences and Silence have yet to screen. They could both be heavy hitters. If they both falter, look to Lion. 

And that does it for this week, folks! Until next time…

Oscar Watch: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

One of the largest pieces of the Oscar puzzle came into sharper focus tonight as Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk premiered at the New York Film Festival. For months, the film has rightfully been looked at as a massive awards contender. After all, the director has won two Best Director awards for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi.

Based on its initial screening, it appears Walk has taken a significant hit. Early critical reaction is quite mixed and several reviews have been negative. I’ve had this pegged at between 2-5 for the last several weeks in terms of getting a Best Picture nod. I’ve also included Lee in the top 5 every week in terms of his nomination. At various junctures, I’ve also predicted Joe Alwyn (Actor), Steve Martin (Supporting Actor), Kristen Stewart (Supporting Actress), and Adapted Screenplay. Based on tonight’s buzz, that’s likely to change come Thursday when I make my next round of predictions.

Billy could still be a player in technical categories like Visual Effects and the Sound races. Yet the sound heard tonight in the Big Apple was a perceived Oscar heavyweight losing serious luster.

Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 13th Edition

It’s Thursday and that means my weekly Oscar predictions are in! As with previous weeks, I’m ranking the top 25 most likely Best Picture nominees along with top 15 in seven other big races. Come November – those numbers will dwindle to 20 and 10, respectively. You can see where each nominee has risen or fallen or stayed the same from one week ago.

Some developments… Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is expected to screen this weekend so the buzz will be out (meaning its Oscar picture will become more clear soon). Loving took a hit this week and is out of my Best Picture predictions for the first time (enter Arrival). And the poor debut of The Birth of a Nation has knocked it out of the top 25 altogether.

**I’ll note again that just because I rank a picture, director, or actor at #1 doesn’t mean I’m predicting them to win. It just means their first on chances of a nomination. I won’t get into predicting winners until after the nominations are released.

And with that… let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 3)

3. Fences (PR: 2)

4. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 5)

5. Jackie (PR: 9)

6. Lion (PR: 4)

7. Moonlight (PR: 7)

8. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)

9. Arrival (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities

10. Loving (PR: 8)

11. 20th Century Women (PR: 19)

12. Hidden Figures (PR: 10)

13. Live by Night (PR: 13)

14. Hell or High Water (PR: 15)

15. Sully (PR: 12)

16. 13th (PR: 16)

17. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 14)

18. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 20)

19. Miss Sloane (PR: 24)

20. The Jungle Book (PR: 18)

21. Allied (PR: 23)

22. Gold (PR: 22)

23. Passengers (PR: Not Ranked)

24. The Founder (PR: 21)

25. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

The Birth of a Nation

Best Director

Predicted Nominees

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 3)

3. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 2)

4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 4)

5. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities

6. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)

7. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 9)

8. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)

9. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 8)

10. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 10)

11. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 13)

12. Mike Mills, 20th Century Women (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Clint Eastwood, Sully (PR: 12)

14. Ana DuVernay, 13th (PR: 11)

15. Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)

2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 4)

4. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 3)

5. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 7)

7. Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 6)

8. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 10)

9. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 8)

10. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 9)

11. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 11)

12. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty (PR: 14)

13. Miles Teller, Bleed for This (PR: 12)

14. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 13)

15. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)

3. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

5. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities

6. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 6)

7. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 7)

8. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 8)

9. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 9)

10. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 14)

11. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 11)

12. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)

13. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train (PR: 13)

14. Marion Cotillard, Allied (PR: 12)

15. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers (PR: 15)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 2)

2. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 1)

3. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 4)

4. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 3)

5. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities

6. Aaron Eckhart, Sully (PR: 5)

7. Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 8)

8. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: 9)

9. Sunny Pawar, Lion (PR: 7)

10. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 13)

11. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 10)

12. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 14)

13. Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This (PR: 12)

14. Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 11)

15. Timothy Spall, Denial (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Michelle Williams, Manchster by the Sea (PR: 1)

2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 3)

4. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 4)

5. Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities

6. Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 6)

7. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 11)

8. Margo Martindale, The Hollars (PR: 7)

9. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 8)

10. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 9)

11. Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)

12. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: 12)

13. Janelle Monae, Moonlight (PR: 13)

14. Sienna Miller, Live by Night (Not Ranked)

15. Guga Mbatha Raw, Miss Sloane (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Jackie (PR: 4)

4. Moonlight (PR: 3)

5. Hell or High Water (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities

6. 20th Century Women (PR: 7)

7. Loving (PR: 5)

8. Miss Sloane (PR: 11)

9. Toni Erdmann (PR: 15)

10. Allied (PR: 14)

11. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 9)

12. The Lobster (PR: 10)

13. Gold (PR: 13)

14. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 8)

15. Captain Fantastic (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. Fences (PR: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 2)

3. Lion (PR: 3)

4. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 5)

5. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities

6. Arrival (PR: 8)

7. Hidden Figures (PR: 7)

8. Live by Night (PR: 9)

9. Sully (PR: 6)

10. Elle (PR: 11)

11. Love & Friendship (PR: 12)

12. Indignation (PR: 10)

13. Certain Women (PR: Not Ranked)

14. The Jungle Book (PR: 13)

15. Denial (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

A Monster Calls

Whew! And there you have it… I’ll be back at it next Thursday!