Tag Archives: Straight Outta Compton

AFI Picks Favourites

The American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled their list of the top 10 pictures of the year and it’s often seen as a harbinger of potential things to come at the Oscars. Here are the films they selected as their finest:

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

Eight Grade

The Favourite

First Reformed

Green Book

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary Poppins Returns

A Quiet Place

A Star Is Born 

First off, we should keep in mind that this is the American Film Institute. Therefore Roma is nowhere to be found and not eligible. It has high probability to make the Academy’s Best Picture selections.

Taking a look at the last three years of AFI picks, 7 of their honorees in 2015 and 2016 scored a Best Picture nod at the big race. Last year, it was six. I would automatically say five films here seem safe for Oscar inclusion: BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, and A Star Is Born.

AFI has a habit of occasionally honoring blockbusters that don’t make it to the golden dance. Over the past three cycles, that includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Straight Outta Compton, Inside Out, and Wonder Woman. That same rule could apply to Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, or A Quiet Place. That said, Panther and Poppins stand solid chances for Best Picture recognition. That gets us to seven.

First Reformed and Eighth Grade are far more questionable, though both have made strong showings in precursors (especially the former).

The glaring omissions are Vice and First Man – two films I have consistently projected for Academy nominations. I don’t see that changing yet. Three more that could have been boosted by AFI, but were not: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians, and Widows. 

All in all, my aforementioned analysis indicates seven could end up being the number of nominees here that move onto Oscar glory.

The Oscars Go “Popular”: An Analysis

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dropped a rather big bombshell today with some announced changes to their Oscar telecast. First off, they’re claiming the show will now be just three hours (I’ll believe it when I see it). Additionally, some categories (I imagine numerous tech ones) will be announced live during commercial breaks and then edited into the show later. This probably won’t make the individuals in those races happy, but it should speed up the program.

However, the most noticeable and interesting change is the addition of a new category (something the Academy rarely does). The addition is described as “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film”. No other details have been provided, but this would appear to be an attempt by the Academy to include blockbusters that haven’t made the cut in Best Picture.

So what does that mean? What is the criteria? That was not announced today and it will be fascinating to see what such criteria is. Could it be a particular gross… say over $100 million domestically? Could it be the number of the theaters a movie is released in? Time will tell and hopefully these details will be revealed shortly. It isn’t even immediately clear that these changes will all be in effect for the 2019 telecast, but I imagine they will be.

Even though nothing is totally clear at press time, that won’t stop me from speculating and asking, “What if this category had been in effect in previous years?”

Before that, let’s start with this year. If there is a Best Popular Film category in 2018, that greatly increases the chances of Marvel’s Black Panther and horror smash A Quiet Place getting nods. There’s also Mission: Impossible – Fallout (the most acclaimed entry in the franchise) or perhaps Avengers: Infinity War. Pixar will certainly see Incredibles 2 nominated in Best Animated Feature, but it could make a play here as well. And we still have fall releases like Mary Poppins Returns and A Star Is Born out there.

There will be plenty of speculation as to whether Black Panther will be the first superhero pic to nab a Best Picture nomination. There is little doubt it would be recognized in this new category.

It’s been discussed on this blog previously about the 2008 Oscars which omitted The Dark Knight in the Best Picture derby. That development was likely responsible for the Academy changing its rule of five nominated films to anywhere between five and ten. Yet it would appear the Academy still isn’t satisfied with major hits being included.

Let’s consider last year. Of the nine Best Picture nominees, only two grossed over $100 million – Get Out and Dunkirk. If the Popular Film category had existed a year ago, I imagine both features would have achieved double nominations. Assuming this new category contains five nominees (something not revealed yet), what would the other three have been? There’s plenty of blockbusters to choose from: Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, It, Logan, Coco, The Greatest Showman, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder, and Baby Driver. 

Here’s my best guess of what a Best Popular Film slate would have looked like in 2017:

Dunkirk, Get Out, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman

And I’m thinking Get Out would have won.

In 2016, you might have seen Deadpool and The Jungle Book as Popular picks.

In 2015, there could have been room for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Straight Outta Compton.

2014? Perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy and Gone Girl. 

Heck, let’s go way back. Would Jurassic Park have won Best Popular Film in 1993? I don’t think so. I bet it would have gone to The Fugitive, which nabbed an actual Best Picture nomination.

Of course, there would have been years where Best Picture and Best Popular Film match. 1994 with Forrest Gump. 1997’s Titanic. 2000’s Gladiator. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003.

Back to today. I would say this new category seems tailor-made for Black Panther. Does that mean its chances for a Best Picture nod are now diminished because voters figure it runs away with this? Perhaps. And that’s why I’m not too wild about this change at the moment. This has the potential to look like a desperate play by the Academy. At the least, it’s an acknowledgment that audience favorites and Academy favorites don’t often match.

That said, let’s see what the criteria is and I’ll judge from there. It’s a new era at the Oscars… one where Bumblebee stands a shot (however remote) at Oscar glory!

Music Biopics: The Name Game

A growing trend in movies for the past few years (and a bit beyond) is the musical biopic that incorporates one of the band or artist’s songs into the title. The latest example will come out this fall with Bohemian Rhapsody, the behind the scenes story of Queen.

2019 will bring us Rocketman with Taron Egerton as the legendary Elton John.

We’ve seen this trend in years past. For instance, the 1980s saw La Bamba about Richie Valens.

The 1990s gave us Angela Bassett in her Oscar nominated role playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2005, we had Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix in his Academy nominated turn as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon winning as June.

More recent ones have been in the hip hop world with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A.) and All Eyez on Me (Tupac Shakur). There’s also Get On Up with Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

So this got me thinking. What would be some other movie/song titles if certain iconic musicians got their biopic? For this blog post’s purposes, I tried to focus on artists where I feel a big screen treatment on them is at least feasible. In other words, while Rico Suave might be a spectacular title, I don’t envision two hours on Gerardo coming anytime soon.

There is already a Madonna flick reportedly in the works and it takes its name not from a tune, but from one of her tours – Blond Ambition. I suppose Material Girl or Like a Prayer could have worked, but Blond Ambition is just about perfect.

Some choices seem obvious. You gotta call the Bon Jovi story Livin on a Prayer, after all. And My Way seems like the natural fit for Frank Sinatra. And Born to Run for Bruce Springsteen. And there’s Piano Man for Billy Joel.

It doesn’t end there. Respect (Aretha Franklin) and Fire and Rain (James Taylor).

When it comes to some recently dearly departed legends, Prince presents a challenge because you can’t call it Purple Rain. And a number of his other massive hits don’t fit. When Doves Cry is probably the name the studio would go for considering it’s his biggest hit. Personally, I rather like the thought of My Name is Prince, taken from his Love Symbol album of 1992.

With Michael Jackson, Thriller would work but it’s hard to imagine Man in the Mirror not being the choice.

For David Bowie, Starman seems like the winner, but that’s also the name of a fairly well-known 1980s science fiction effort starring Jeff Bridges. That may not matter, but if so, Space Oddity or simply calling it Ziggy Stardust might fit.

Tom Petty? How about Free Fallin or Runnin Down a Dream. George Michael? Faith or Freedom. Whitney Houston? Tough one. Perhaps a studio would want I Will Always Love You. Maybe So Emotional works as well.

Some bands have more than one title that seem appropriate. Aerosmith has three great ones: Dream On, Sweet Emotion, or Walk This Way. With AC/DC – Back in Black or Thunderstruck.

Guns n Roses is an interesting one. Welcome to the Jungle is fantastic, but it was just the subtitle for the blockbuster Jumanji reboot. In this matter, you might have to go with their album name Appetite for Destruction, which is ideal.

Metallica could have For Whom the Bell Tolls or Enter Sandman. Nirvana might have Smells Like Teen Spirit as the studio choice, but I’m a little partial to Come As You Are.

I like Runnin with the Devil for Van Halen and I suppose Stairway to Heaven would be the choice for Led Zeppelin.

Let’s move off rock. How about Britney Spears? That may depend on what direction the studio goes. It could be Toxic or Stronger. Maybe Baby One More Time instead.

Stevie Wonder? Superstition or Sir Duke are possibilities, but I like Higher Ground.

With Bob Marley, maybe Get Up, Stand Up or One Love.

Circling back to hip hop, Fight the Power is the clear pick for Public Enemy and the same may hold true for Mama Said Knock You Out with LL Cool J.

And then there’s my favorite… the Rick James biopic Super Freak. Why hasn’t this been made already?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Let’s see if any of these suggested titles end up playing out in the future. Maybe there will be surprises… Barbie Girl: The Aqua Story, anyone?

All Eyez on Me Box Office Prediction

The life and times of the iconic late rapper Tupac Shakur gets the big screen treatment next weekend when All Eyez on Me drops. Taking its title from his heralded Death Row album in 1996, the pic casts Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Shakur with a supporting cast that includes Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, and Jamal Woolard (reprising his role as the Notorious B.I.G. that he played in 2009’s Notorious). Benny Boom, known mostly for making rap videos, directs.

All eyez may be on whether this manages to over perform and nab a possible third place showing over Rough Night. The chances of this coming anywhere near Straight Outta Compton territory (which made $60 million out of the gate) seems highly unlikely. However, a gross in the range of the aforementioned Notorious seems feasible. That film made $23 million over the long MLK weekend over eight years ago and $20 million for the traditional weekend.

That’s where I’ll put Tupac’s biopic, which puts it just over Rough Night for third place (and behind Cars 3 and Wonder Woman).

All Eyez on Me opening weekend prediction: $24.4 million

For my Cars 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/07/cars-3-box-office-prediction/

For my Rough Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/08/rough-night-box-office-prediction/

For my 47 Meters Down prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/06/09/47-meters-down-box-office-prediction/

The Fate of the Furious Box Office Prediction

Universal Pictures’ billion dollar franchise keeps rolling along as The Fate of the Furious
parks into multiplexes on Easter Weekend. The eighth (yes, eighth) street racing action spectacle finds Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray taking over behind the camera. Fate finds the majority of thespians associated with the series returning – Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacis, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, and Nathalie Emmanuel. We also have a pair of Oscar winners joining the mix with Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren, as well as Scott Eastwood (whose dad has won some Oscars). Of course, this is the first picture (excluding 2006’s Tokyo Drift) without Paul Walker, who died during the filming of Furious 7.

When Diesel and Walker returned to the franchise in 2009’s Fast and Furious, it sparked a box office resurgence that’s never let up. That fourth entry debuted to $70 million with an overall $155M domestic haul. Follow-up Fast Five in 2011 opened to $86 million ($209M eventual tally). 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 made $97 million out of the gate and $238M eventually. And 2015’s Furious 7 easily set the high mark with a $147 million premiere and $353M overall.

The grosses of Furious 7 were likely (and sadly) expanded due to it being Walker’s last on-screen appearance. Therefore it stands to reason that Fate probably won’t reach the heights of that predecessor. That said, this looks to be a franchise that is still going strong and it would be surprising if it didn’t post the second largest bow thus far.

I’ll predict the fate of this is an opening gross in the low to mid $120M range.

The Fate of the Furious opening weekend prediction: $122.7 million

For my Gifted prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/09/gifted-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Mudbound

As the Sundance Film Festival rolls along, expect at least a handful of Oscar Watch posts for 2017 as we await the 2016 Oscar nominations come Tuesday. I’ve already covered A Ghost Story with Casey Affleck. Now we move to a film said to have received a thunderous ovation over the weekend – Mudbound from director Dee Rees.

The period drama is set post World War II and focuses on the plights of two farming families (one black, one white) in Mississippi. It is based on an acclaimed 2008 novel by Hillary Jordan. The cast includes Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, and Jonathan Banks. Mudbound is not expected to be released wide until fall.

Based on critical and festival audience buzz over the weekend, this could have what it takes to keep momentum over the next year when it comes to Academy potential. The reaction is somewhat similar to last year’s Sundance entry The Birth of a Nation, which came out of the fest like a rocket. Of course, its Oscar chances dimmed when controversy surrounded its director and star.

If Mudbound can manage to stay relevant as many other heavy hitters make their way to screens this year, Rees could be the first African American female to receive a Directing nod. As for the actors, both Mitchell (who played Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton) and R&B legend Blige have gotten kudos and could compete in their respective supporting races.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Mudbound - Still 1

SAG Award Predictions 2015

This evening, the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards airs and it will likely provide further hints of the direction the Academy may go in with their acting races. As I did with the Globes and will with the Oscars, here are my predictions on what and who will win!

BEST CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

Nominees

Beasts of No Nation

The Big Short

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Trumbo

Prediction: It’s important to note that SAG is honoring best cast and NOT Best Picture. Therefore the Academy’s Best Picture and this category have only matched 10 out of 22 times. This really appears to be a horse race between Short and Spotlight and it truly go either way. I’ll pick Spotlight for the win which would solidify a true three movie race with Short and The Revenant for the Oscar.

BEST ACTOR

Nominees

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Johnny Depp, Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

PREDICTION: Oscar and SAG have matched 17 of 22 times here, which is the best margin of all. This race will further determine whether Leo is the true front runner and my suspicion is it will. Leo all the way.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back

Prediction: 15 for 22 match with Oscar here. Larson keeps racking up trophies and is the Academy front runner and I suspect she’ll win here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Jacob Tremblay, Room

Prediction: 14 for 22 Academy match. This is the most interesting category of the night. Only 2 of the nominees here (Bale, Rylance) are Oscar nominated and the potential Academy favorite (Creed’s Sylvester Stallone) is nowhere to be found. This race could certainly provide an upset, but it’s fair to say Bale and Rylance are the most likely winners. In a tough one, I’ll give the slight edge to Rylance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Helen Mirren, Trumbo

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Predicton: 13 of 22 Oscar match. Winslet was a surprise Globe winner and if she prevails here, we all may need to rethink our Oscar prognostications. Here’s another race where an upset is possible, but I’ll go with Miss Vikander for the win.

And that’ll do it for now, folks!