Oscar Watch: Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Two-time Oscar winner (for Klute and Coming Home) and seven-time nominee Jane Fonda won’t receive any awards attention this year for her summer hit Book Club. However, it could be a different story when it comes to a documentary made about her life – Jane Fonda in Five Acts.

The tale of the actress/political activist/fitness guru originally debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and it premieres on HBO on September 24th. Reviews are strong and the Academy’s respect for its subject could warrant inclusion in the Best Documentary Feature race.

That said, this has been an impressive year for docs. Among those expected to be nominated concentrate on other legendary figures like Mr. Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG).

Bottom line: the level of competition is steep, but Ms. Fonda’s story as opposed to her acting could make its way to the attention of voters.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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Searching Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (08/23/18): Today’s estimated screen count of just 1100 for Searching has caused to revise down from $9.4 million to $7.1 million

Following a buzz worthy premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, thriller Searching opens wide next weekend. The pic casts John Cho (Harold from Harold and Kumar, Sulu from the Star Trek franchise) as a father whose daughter goes missing. What makes this unique is that the film takes place almost entirely on a computer screen as he frantically attempts to locate her. Debra Messing, Michelle La, and Sara Sohn costar. Aneesh Chaganty directs.

The film opens in limited release on August 24th in just 9 theaters, with a nationwide expansion over Labor Day weekend. When Searching played at Sundance in January, it did so to solid critical notices and it stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. I could see this having a decent start (considering its low budget) in the high double digits low double digits with the possibility of legging out solidly based on word-of-mouth.

Searching opening weekend prediction: $7.1 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Operation Finale prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/21/operation-finale-box-office-prediction/

For my Kin prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/21/kin-box-office-prediction/

For my Ya Veremos prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/27/ya-veremos-box-office-prediction/

For my The Little Stranger prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/08/27/the-little-stranger-box-office-prediction/

Film Festival Season Approaches: The 2018 Hopefuls

We may be smack dab in the middle of the summer movie season, but Oscar season will be taking shape before we know it. This week, the organizers of the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals have unveiled lineups for the pictures that will be premiering at their events in a few weeks. Many of them are awards hopefuls.

To give you an idea of the importance of festivals when it comes to Oscar nominees, six of last year’s nine nominees premiered at some combination of Toronto, Venice, Telluride, New York, Sundance, or Cannes. Every Best Picture winner from this decade and beyond played at one of them. The last one that didn’t was The Departed back in 2006.

The months of September-December are the fertile ground for most nominated features. Last year, seven of the nine Picture nominees came out in that time frame. In 2016 – it was 8 out of 9.

Beginning in late August/early September, I will begin my weekly Oscar prediction columns. It works like this:

Late August/Early September – first posting of predictions in the categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress

Months of September and October – weekly Oscar predictions column post covering those 6 categories, as well as Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-25. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-15.

Months of November through announcement of nominations – weekly Oscar predictions column covering every category involving feature films. For Best Picture, I will be ranking possibilities numbered 1-15. For other categories, it will be numbered 1-10.

While these posts are a month away, today I bring you 25 fall awards hopefuls that I suspect I’ll be mentioning frequently. Most of these are premiering at the high-profile quartet of upcoming fests (Venice, Toronto, New York, Telluride). Some aren’t, but could certainly be added to Telluride or New York especially (as they’re more known for surprise screenings).

Let’s get to it!

A Star is Born

The third remake of the musical drama marks the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper and features a potential showcase role for his costar Lady Gaga. Early word of mouth is already strong.

At Eternity’s Gate

He received a nomination for his supporting work last year for The Florida Project and Willem Dafoe plays Vincent Van Gogh in what could be another awards bait role.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Backseat

Expect Adam McKay’s follow-up to The Big Short to receive plenty of attention. Christian Bale is Cheney with Amy Adams as wife Lynne and last year’s Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.

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Beautiful Boy

Steve Carell plays the father of a meth addict played by Timothee Chalamet, who was nominated last year for Call Me by Your Name.

Ben is Back

Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts headline this family drama that premieres at Toronto.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

Despite some behind the scenes drama in its filming, all eyes will be on Rami Malek’s work as Queen front man Freddie Mercury.

Boy Erased

Perhaps an even larger showcase role for Lucas Hedges is this drama where he plays a homosexual sent to conversion camp. Joel Edgerton directs and costars along with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy received an Academy Award nomination with her breakthrough role in Bridesmaids. This drama about writer Lee Israel could muster attention for her yet again.

First Man

Director Damien Chazelle has seen both of his efforts (Whiplash, La La Land) nominated for Best Picture and he’s the youngest filmmaker to ever win Best Director. His third pic is a Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling. It opens the Venice Film Festival.

If Beale Street Could Talk

The follow-up to his Oscar winning Moonlight, Barry Jenkins directs this drama set in 1970s Harlem.

July 22

United 93 and Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass brings his latest to Netflix and it focuses on the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

Life Itself

Premiering at Toronto, this ensemble drama includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Munn, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas.

Mary Poppins Returns

She’s already a contender for A Quiet Place and Emily Blunt could face competition from herself with Disney’s expected monster hit.

Mary Queen of Scots

They were both nominated for Best Actress last year and now Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this historical drama about the title character and Queen Elizabeth I.

Old Man & The Gun

David Lowery directs Robert Redford in the true life tale of a prison escape artist. Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck costar.

On the Basis of Sex

The documentary RBG could get noticed by the Documentary branch, as could this biopic which casts Felicity Jones as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Peterloo

Acclaimed British director Mike Leigh returns with this historical 19th century drama.

Roma

This Mexican family drama is Alfonso Cuaron’s first directorial effort since his acclaimed Gravity.

Suspiria

Call Me by Your Name maker Luca Guadagnino shifts gears for this remake of the 1970s horror classic. Don’t be surprised if this receives attention in some technical categories.

The Favourite

The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos is behind this historical drama featuring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.

The Front Runner

Jason Reitman directs this biopic of failed Presidential candidate Gary Hart with Hugh Jackman cast in the role.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

The Sisters Brothers

John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal are among the cast in this Western from acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard.

Welcome to Marwen

Steve Carell stars in this unique looking drama from Forrest Gump maker Robert Zemeckis.

Widows

It’s been five years between projects for Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. This heist thriller stars recent winner Viola Davis.

And there’s your very early preview of some titles to keep an eye on over the coming months. Those Oscar posts will start rolling out weekly in about a month! Stay tuned…

Oscar Watch: Blindspotting

Over the weekend, the dramedy Blindspotting opened in limited fashion to solid results and will expand this coming weekend. The pic debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to acclaim and it stands at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Blindspotting has received attention due its subject matter of racial issues and police brutality. Daveed Diggs (best known for Broadway’s Hamilton and a supporting role in last year’s hit Wonder) costars and co-wrote the screenplay with fellow star Rafael Casal. Carlos Lopez Estrada, who’s made numerous music videos, makes his directorial debut.

Blindspotting debuts in the middle of two other titles with similar themes and Oscar hopes. Sorry to Bother You is another candidate for attention with Spike Lee’s upcoming August release BlacKkKlansman on the horizon.

The best hope for Blindspotting, like Bother You, is in Original Screenplay but it could see itself having trouble breaking through.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Eighth Grade

The coming-of-age dramedy Eighth Grade checked into theaters this weekend in limited fashion and scored a sizzling per screen average. The film marks the directorial debut of comedian Bo Burnham, who debuted it at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Grade achieved raves and its Rotten Tomatoes rating stands at 99%.

Could Academy voters be ready to turn to this genre so soon after Lady Bird received multiple nods last year? Or will this play out like 2016’s acclaimed The Edge of Seventeen, which ended up with zero nods? My gut says the latter – unless this really manages to pick up steam as the months roll along. The film’s 15-year-old star Elsie Fisher is being noticed, but competition is likely to be steep.

The pic’s best chance could be in Original Screenplay category for Burnham, though it remains to be seen how crowded that race turns out to be.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Three Identical Strangers

Amidst the comic book and animated sequels of the summer, this season has seen a rather surprising share of documentaries bringing in box office bucks. Over the weekend, Three Identical Strangers performed well in limited fashion. The doc tells the tale of three twins separated at birth and there’s apparently a host of twists and turns that go along with that. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Like other solid performing docs premiering in the past month or so, Strangers debuted at a film festival and garnered critical acclaim months before its release. Both Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and RBG opened at Sundance and so did this.

At this juncture, I’d say Neighbor and RBG stand stronger chances at recognition come Oscar nomination time for Best Documentary Feature. Yet I wouldn’t discount this at all. We may look back at the five nominees a few months from now and recognize that the summer was the hot season for them.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Sorry to Bother You

This Friday, the satire Sorry to Bother You debuts in limited release after receiving many raves at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The pic is written and directed by hip hop musician Boots Riley with a cast led by Lakeith Stanfield (best known for TV’s “Atlanta” and last year’s Get Out), Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, and Armie Hammer.

Bother has the potential to be a sleeper this summer. As mentioned, reviews are strong and it stands at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Could Oscar voters notice it? It could be a long shot but Stanfield and Hammer in particular were acknowledged by critics. Many feel the latter was slighted last year for his supporting work in Call Me by Your Name.

Where the film could stand a legitimate chance for a nod could be in Original Screenplay- an award Jordan Peele won months ago for Get Out.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…