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…
Critics focused on the raunchy high school comedy Booksmart as one of the highlights coming from this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film marks the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde. It stars Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, best known as Saoirse Ronan’s bestie in LadyBird. Costars include Billie Lourd, Jessica Williams, Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis.
The film doesn’t open until Memorial Day weekend, but the loud buzz could certainly assist in making it a sleeper hit. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 100% currently. Could awards voters take notice? It’s doubtful. Feldstein is said to have a breakout role here. If there is any nomination chatter, it could center on the Original Screenplay from its four screenwriters – Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silverman. That said, if last year’s acclaimed EighthGrade couldn’t gain any traction, that doesn’t bode well here.
Bottom line: Booksmart is one to watch out for when it comes to box office surprises. Academy nods would surprise a lot more. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up for the action comedy TheSpyWhoDumpedMe, out next weekend. As the title suggests, Kunis finds out her ex is a CIA agent and she (along with bff McKinnon) become embroiled in international intrigue. Susanna Fogel directs with a supporting cast including Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan.
Kunis has had plenty of successes at the box office over her career in both leading and supporting parts. Most recently, 2016’s BadMoms was a sleeper hit ($113 million). However, sequel ABadMomsChristmas couldn’t match it with a $16.7 million debut and $72 million overall tally.
The trailers for Spy struggle to make it look like anything special. Its best hope is for a sizable female audience (the kind that made Ocean’s8 a big success last month). I’ll project a low to mid teens is the likely scenario here.
TheSpyWhoDumpedMe opening weekend prediction: $15.3 million