Tag Archives: Sundance Film Festival

Oscar Watch: The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher premiered way back in January at the Sundance Film Festival and Maggie Gyllenhaal received raves for her role. Netflix snatched it up and it premiered on the streaming service October 12th. Sara Colangelo directs with a supporting cast including Parker Sevak, Anna Baryshnikov, and Gael Garcia Bernal. Any awards focus, however, will solely be on its star.

With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 89%, the film is garnering greater exposure now with its release. Could Gyllenhaal be a nominee in the Best Actress race? Despite heralded performances in Secretary and Sherrybaby, she has yet to be nominated in the lead category. Gyllenhaal did receive a Supporting Actress nod in 2009 for Crazy Heart. Coupled with her acclaimed work in HBO’s “The Deuce”, it’s been a good year for the actress. Yet I still suspect she’ll be on the outside looking in considering competition.

That said, Gyllenhaal is likely to appear in the bottom portions of my top 15 projections in my weekly Oscar predictions on Thursday. It would mark her first appearance thus far.

Bottom line: despite high marks, it would be a surprise to see Gyllenhaal score her first nomination in Best Actress. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: What They Had

A week from today, Bleecker Street releases What They Had in limited fashion. The film marks the directorial debut of Elizabeth Chomko (who also wrote the script) and centers on a family dealing with a mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It premiered at Sundance back in January and features a cast including Hilary Swank (two-time winner for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby), Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, Taissa Farmiga, and Josh Lucas.

Early reviews have been positive and it stands at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, critical reaction likely isn’t strong enough to make this a player in Best Picture. What They Had could struggle generally to get noticed at all. Its best chances aren’t with Swank or Shannon, but with Danner and Forster. For them to get noticed, the picture will need to at least break through with audiences to a certain degree. That could be a tall order in the midst of more high-profile contenders.

Bottom line: while this is generating solid reviews, Had is a long shot for Academy attention. My Oscar watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince hits stateside screens in limited fashion this Wednesday. Having originally premiered at Sundance earlier this year, this is a biopic of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde and it’s a passion project for director/writer/star Rupert Everett. American audiences may still remember him best as the BFF to Julia Roberts in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as roles in An Ideal Husband and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 

In addition to Everett playing Wilde, the supporting cast includes Colin Firth, Emily Watson, and Tom Wilkinson. Reviews have been mostly kind and its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently at a decent 72%. That’s probably not enough, however, for Prince to be an awards player in any category and it has yet to pop up on the radar screen in any significant way.

Bottom line: don’t expect Prince to find its way into contention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Private Life

This Friday on Netflix, Private Life debuts. The comedic drama marks the first directorial effort from Tamara Jenkins in over a decade since her acclaimed The Savages in 2007. Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn star as a couple dealing with infertility. Costars include Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, Denis O’Hare, and John Carroll Lynch.

Life premiered at Sundance way back in January and warm reviews followed. It currently stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t expect this to be a player in Best Picture or any of the acting races. However, it stands at least a shot at Best Original Screenplay. It could, however, be a long shot.

That category currently has three near sure things (The Favourite, Roma, Green Book), an unseen possibility on the horizon (Vice), and other contenders like Eighth Grade and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In its favor is that Jenkins was recognized here before for The Savages.

Bottom line: the only chance at a nod for Private Life is Original Screenplay. It’s unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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…

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.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

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.

**NO TRAILER AT PRESS TIME

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…