Oscar Predictions: Theater Camp

Sundance premiered Theater Camp, the feature-length version of a 2020 short film of the same name. The comedy comes from directors Molly Gordon (who can be seen as Jonah Hill’s sibling in this weekend’s You People on Netflix) and Nick Lieberman. They cowrote the screenplay with Ben Platt (originator of the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway) and Noah Galvin (who would later play Hansen onstage). Gordon, Platt, and Galvin are included in the cast along with Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, and Alan Kim.

Set at an upstate New York camp for aspiring musically inclined stage stars, critics are mostly saying Theater has limited but charming appeal. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a decent 80%. Searchlight believes the breakout potential is enough that they bought it for $8 million and plan a theatrical distribution later this year.

Perhaps some Academy voters went to the kind of camp that’s both celebrated and lampooned here. I don’t believe the reviews are there for it to make any sort of Oscar push. Perhaps the Golden Globes will take a gander for Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, but even that could be a reach. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Flora and Son

John Carney is known for his features blending music, drama, and comedy. The latest is Flora and Son. It was unveiled at Sundance. Apple TV quickly snatched up distribution rights for a reported $20 million. Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Sophie Vavasseur, and Jack Reynor lead the cast.

Reviews are calling it another charmer from the Once maker. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at 93%. An Apple campaign may center on its melodic themes. Carney and Gary Clark are responsible for original songs and the streamer is likely to choose one as their awards pick. The filmmaker is no stranger to Oscar and Globes attention.

“Falling Slowly” from 2007’s Once won the Academy Award for Best Song. “Lost Stars” from Begin Again (2013) was a nominee in the same category. 2016’s Sing Street was up for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes. Those races at both ceremonies are in the mix with Flora.

Hewson is receiving praise for her performance in the title role. The Academy five could be a reach. I wouldn’t count her out as a possibility for a Golden Globe nod in the Musical or Comedy Actress competition. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Fairyland

CODA lead Emilia Jones has had a busy Sundance 2023 with Cat Person and Fairyland. The latter finds her being raised by her gay father (Scoot McNairy) in 1980s San Francisco. Costars include Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, and Maria Bakalova (2020 Supporting Actress contender for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm). It marks the directorial debut of Andrew Durham.

The consistent theme from the fest’s reviews are that it’s good, but not great (it does sit at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). McNairy, a character actor who’s popped up in everything from Killing Them Softly to 12 Years a Slave and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is getting plenty of praise.

I’m not confident the notices are strong enough to warrant an awards campaign, but a savvy distributor could manage to get this into the conversation. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Infinity Pool

Brandon Cronenberg has clearly inherited his dad David’s penchant for bizarro blends of sci-fi and horror (see Antiviral and Possessor). His latest is Infinity Pool, which debuts this weekend after a start at Sundance. It’s drawing reviews on the fresh side (87% on Rotten Tomatoes) even though many critics admit audiences may not want to wade into its NC-17 violence. Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth (fresh off X and Pearl), and Cleopatra Coleman star.

Papa Cronenberg’s latest Crimes of the Future made it to the Makeup and Hairstyling shortlist but didn’t end up making the top 5 this week. I don’t really see anywhere where Pool would make waves with awards voters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Past Lives

Past Lives is the debut feature film from Celine Song and it premiered at Sundance over the weekend to a rapturous reception. The romantic drama stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo with critics praising their work in the A24 effort.

Some reviews are already claiming it will end up as one of 2023’s finest and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%. Its studio may choose to kick off a Minari or Everything Everywhere All at Once style campaign (both were and/or are nominated for Best Picture).

Sundance brought to light the possibility of Past Lives being a legit awards player even this early in the process. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Judy Blume Forever

Judy Blume’s influential and controversial novel Forever… from 1975 was actually made into a TV movie with Stephanie Zimbalist back in 1978. Now one of her best known works, some 45 years later after the cinematic adaptation, serves as part of the title to a documentary about the author that screened at Sundance.

Judy Blume Forever from fimmakers Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok (with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard as producers) chronicles the author and her dealings with fame and censorship. Early reviews out of Utah give it an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating. While overall positive, a quick glance at the critical reaction leads me to question whether it generates awards chatter. As has been mentioned previously, celeb focused docs (there’s always a bunch of them) need to really stand out for the Academy’s doc branch to take notice. That could be a challenge with Forever. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Fair Play

One of the buzziest titles to play at Sundance was writer/director Chloe Domont’s Fair Play, blending romance with corporate intrigue. It was snatched up for a princely sum of $20 million by Netflix with a planned rollout this year. The thriller stars Alden Ehrenreich (known by many from the title role in Solo: A Star Wars Story) and Phoebe Dynevor of Bridgerton fame).

Said to be a pic that will spark plenty of conversation, the Rotten Tomatoes score is 96%. This could be a streaming (and reportedly steamy) crowdpleaser that doesn’t warrant much awards chatter. Or Netflix could mount a campaign, especially for the original screenplay. We don’t know yet since they’ll have plenty of other features to tout come nominations time. Fair Play, at the least, announced itself as an option. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: You Hurt My Feelings

Director Nicole Holofcener reunites with her Enough Said star Julia Louis-Dreyfus for You Hurt My Feelings, which has screened at Sundance. The comedy is drawing satisfactory notices in Utah with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Look for distributor A24 to mount an awards campaign as the year rolls along.

Enough Said was able to nab Louis-Dreyfus a Golden Globe Best Actress nod in Musical/Comedy and that could certainly occur again. She stands the best chance among costars that include Tobias Menzies, David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, and Owen Teague.

Holofcener is already an Academy nominee for cowriting the adapted screenplay for 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? I wouldn’t count on a second writing mention. While critics are being kind, this has the feel of a Globe Predictions post with its lead’s chances. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Cat Person

After starring in last year’s Oscar winning Best Picture CODA, Emilia Jones is back onscreen in two features playing at the Sundance Film Festival. One is Fairyland which I’ll get to in my prediction posts shortly. The other is thriller Cat Person from director Susanna Fogel (who cowrote 2019’s acclaimed coming-of-age dramedy Booksmart).

Based on a short story that generated lots of attention after it was published in The New Yorker, Jones plays a college student in a dangerous online romance with an older man (Nicholas Braun from Succession). Costars include Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, Michael Gandolfini, Liza Koshy, and Isabella Rossellini.

Early reviews are of the mixed variety with a current 75% rating based on the small sampling via Rotten Tomatoes. This could generate some buzz with audiences after a distributor picks it up and that should occur imminently. I doubt it will follow suit with awards chatter. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Eileen

Eileen is director William Oldroyd’s sophomore feature after his well-reviewed 2016 rendering of Lady Macbeth with Florence Pugh. This psychological thriller/romance set in the 1960s is based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s 2015 novel and has premiered at Sundance. Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway headline with a supporting cast including Shea Whigham, Owen Teague, and Marin Ireland.

It is already clear this project will generate lots of attention. A number of early takes are raves with some claiming career best work from McKenzie and Hathaway. Ireland is also being singled out as a scene stealer. There’s said to be a twist in the proceedings that has divided critics and may do the same with audiences.

At Sundance, plenty of pics are looking for distribution and Eileen (with comparisons to Carol and Hitchcock) should easily be snatched up. If an awards campaign is in the cards, we’ll see if the trio of actresses can materialize in the convo or if Adapted Screenplay is feasible. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…