The Suicide Squad Review

I had no doubt while watching James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad that it’s a more realized vision of exactly what its director wanted. This was apparently not the case with David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad and maybe we will see his Justice League style extended cut one day. For this latest DC Extended Universe pic, Warner Bros reportedly let Gunn do his thing without interference.

The result is a hard R rated and often gleefully bizarre experience. There are some truly funny moments and inspired action sequences mixed with a host of repetitive ones. At one point, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) makes light of a character named Milton who just got popped. The joke is that she doesn’t remember him being part of the team because he’s so forgettable. Milton isn’t the only one. Frankly, I’m struggling a bit with my overall take. This Squad is unquestionably an improvement over its predecessor. Yet I never quite got immersed in its raunchy comic book violence or irreverent attitude in the way I did with Deadpool or Gunn’s own Guardians of the Galaxy. 

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is still head of A.R.G.U.S., the government organization that has its own unique prison work release program. Felonious super villains are sent on black ops missions in the name of homeland security (or so they’re told). Many of the cast mates (including Will Smith’s Deadshot) are MIA this time around. Harley’s back as is Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney). So is Waller’s right-hand man and Squad leader Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman).

From the jump, we discover that no character may live past a scene or two and this does contribute to an unpredictable vibe. The newbies recruited include human weapons depot Bloodsport (Idris Elba), meaning of the word peace conflicted Peacemaker (John Cena), rodent whisperer Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian). His name? Just like it sounds. Our primary CG creation is King Shark (voice by Sylvester Stallone), who’s half man/half Jaws. If he reminds you a bit of Groot from Guardians, mission accomplished.

Speaking of missions, it is to stop a recent coup in the fictional South American land of Corto Maltese. Now that their government has been overthrown, someone needs to destroy a secretive laboratory housing an experiment called Project Starfish. Part of the Squad’s goal is to capture The Thinker (Peter Capaldi), a scientist who’s involved with the mysterious Starfish happenings. The eventual revelation of what that is pure B movie escapist joy that I won’t spoil.

Regarding our brand new characters, it’s a mixed lot. Elba’s Bloodsport has a character arc and motivations not unlike Smith’s Deadshot and it’s not terribly interesting. I will say his brief interaction with his daughter (Storm Reid) humorously didn’t go the way I thought it would. Cena uses his comedic chops effectively at times with his morally confused antihero. Gunn pushes pretty hard to make Ratcatcher 2 a heartwarming protagonist amidst the exploding heads and bodies being literally ripped apart. It could have gone the wrong way, but Taika Waititi’s casting as her dad helps save the day. King Shark’s contribution to that mayhem is rather amusing.

In one way, the more things change (and change they do from 2016) – the more they stay the same. This would be with Robbie’s Quinn, who retains the title of best performance and most enjoyable demented personality. For a while, she gets her own subplot that involves being romanced by the Corto Maltesian dictator (Juan Diego Botto) and being an unreliable torture subject. Those scenes work well and Robbie gets the lions share of the credit. Like in Suicide Squad, she’s the brightest star in The Suicide Squad. 

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Free Guy

Three years ago, the video game extravaganza Ready Player One from Steven Spielberg was enough of an eyeball feast to earn a Visual Effects nod at the Oscars. Could the same logic apply to Free Guy, out next week?

Shawn Levy’s sci-fi action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds had its review embargo lifted today. Early word indicates a lightweight but highly entertaining and heartwarming experience. The Rotten Tomatoes meter is at a better than anticipated 85%.

Yet its visual effects may well be too lightweight compared to heavy hitters coming this fall including Dune, The Matrix 4, Nightmare Alley, Eternals, and more. The VE category does sometimes produce surprises and Free Guy could make the shortlist and then who knows? I wouldn’t expect it to play though. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Free Guy Box Office Prediction

Ryan Reynolds doesn’t know his life exists inside a video game in Free Guy, out August 13th. The sci-fi comedy comes from director Shawn Levy, best known for the Night at the Museum franchise. Costars include Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Joe Keery.

Originally slated for release during the July 4th holiday weekend in 2020, Free has seen numerous COVID related delays. Early word-of-mouth (the official review embargo is still in place as of this post) is pretty positive. Reynolds has had a mixed box office showing lately since Deadpool became his signature character. Just earlier this summer, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard struggled a bit and sits below $40 million domestic.

Several family pics have exceeded projections this season with Space Jam: A New Legacy and Jungle Cruise hitting debuts of over $30 million. Free Guy has the disadvantage of not being a sequel or based on a known property. And, of course, there’s also the Delta variant uncertainty.

This isn’t the first foray into video game based features for Reynolds. Two summers ago, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu amassed a $50 million plus start. Due to the aforementioned challenges (and let’s not forget Pokemon is a huge brand too), Free Guy is unlikely to accomplish a gross of $30 million or over. Low to mid 20s is my take.

Free Guy opening weekend prediction: $21.3 million

For my Don’t Breathe 2 prediction, click here:

Don’t Breathe 2 Box Office Prediction

For my Respect prediction, click here:

Respect Box Office Prediction

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Jojo and Parasite Get the Writers Approval

The Writers Guild of America held their awards ceremony this evening and it serves as a significant indicator for the direction Oscar voters might go for the Adapted and Original Screenplay categories.

In Original Screenplay, this race was looked at as a showdown between Marriage Story and Parasite. The other nominees (1917, Booksmart, Knives Out) weren’t much in contention. For awards followers, you might notice I didn’t say Quentin Tarantino’s script for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s a reason as the filmmaker is not a member of the guild and therefore not eligible for recognition. In the 2010s, we’ve already seen that factor come into play once when his Django Unchained screenplay wasn’t listed (Zero Dark Thirty won instead). Quentin went on to Oscar victory.

This evening, it is Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-won taking the prize for Parasite. My feeling is that the recipient between that and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story now has the upper hand to compete with Hollywood at the Academy ceremony next weekend. So it’s a good night for the Parasite team.

Adapted Screenplay was definitely one to watch. Two nominees – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Joker – were looked at as long shots at best. This one came down to The Irishman (Steve Zaillian), Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi), and Little Women (Greta Gerwig). That holds true for Oscar (the five nominees here match the Academy’s). Waititi is the victor for Rabbit. The film most negatively affected is The Irishman, as Adapted Screenplay looks to be its most viable chance for a major category pickup. The narrative lately is that Gerwig could win the Oscar, especially since she was snubbed for Director. Yet Waititi’s trophy tonight puts him in the soft front runner position.

Look for lots more Oscar coverage on the blog as we are eight days away from the event itself!

Oscars 2019: The Case of Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit

My Case of posts for acting nominees continues with the third selection in Best Supporting Actress – Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit.

The Case for Scarlett Johansson

After years on screen in which she’s become the highest grossing actress of all time, ScarJo nabbed her first and second Oscar nominations in the same year. In Best Actress, she’s contending for Marriage Story. In Supporting Actress, it’s for Taika Waititi’s satire Jojo Rabbit where she plays the caring mother to young Roman Griffin Davis. The lovers of Jojo are passionate and she’s the only member of the cast that they can honor. Of the four contenders who could upset front runner and Johansson Marriage Story costar Laura Dern, she’s perhaps got the best scenario to do so.

The Case Against Scarlett Johansson

Upsetting Dern is a huge task considering she’s taken home every significant precursor trophy. Just as Jojo‘s fans are fervent, it’s also received mixed reaction from some critics. There could also be a feeling that she can win eventually, but that Dern’s victory is as much a career achievement prize.

The Verdict

Despite the double nominations, Johansson’s chances in both races put her at underdog status.

My Case of posts will continue with the direction of Bong Joon-Ho in Parasite!

The Directors Go To 1917

When it comes to precursors correctly picking what the Academy voters will do on Oscar night, none is more reliable than the Directors Guild of America and their choice for Best Director. That’s why last night’s DGA ceremony was so anticipated among prognosticators like me. The narrative went like this: the 2019 nominees had become a showdown between Sam Mendes (1917) and Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite). It appeared unlikely that the three other nominees – Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) had much of a shot.

Sam Mendes took the award and this sets up the filmmaker for his second directorial Oscar two decades after he won for American Beauty. To give you some context as to how accurate DGA is – 17 of the 19 previous victors in the 21st century have gone on to win Oscar. The two that didn’t are Ang Lee for 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Ben Affleck for 2012’s Argo. 

When it comes to that victorious director’s movie winning Best Picture, that’s happened on 13 out of 19 occasions. That’s where it gets interesting. There is no doubt that the Mendes DGA prize (he also won the Golden Globe) puts him in definite front runner status for Best Director two weeks from today. Yet the possibility of a Picture/Director split is still quite possible with Parasite and Hollywood as the strongest competitors. That said, 1917 is certainly picking up the right awards at the right time and has to be considered the soft favorite for the biggest prize.

Oscars 2019: The Case of Jojo Rabbit

In my blog series laying out the cases for and against the Oscar nominees in major categories, we arrive at the third picture for consideration. That would be Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. If you missed the first two posts covering Ford v Ferrari and The Irishman, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/15/oscars-2019-the-case-of-the-irishman/

Let’s hop on it!

The Case for Jojo Rabbit

Viewers who like Jojo REALLY like it. With confusion regarding which handful of contenders like 1917, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joker, or The Irishman might win, Jojo could nab enough first place votes to sneak in. The satire that blends wild comedy with pathos is certainly unique and it even has comedy legend Mel Brook singing its praises. Taika Waititi is one of the hottest directors of the moment as he followed up Thor: Ragnarok with this and is now attached to an Akira remake and future Star Wars projects.

The Case Against Jojo Rabbit

Despite Waititi’s popularity, he missed out on a Best Director nomination. He was nominated by the Directors Guild. It’s very rare for the Best Picture winner to not have its maker named in the directing final five. That said, it has happened twice this decade with Argo/Ben Affleck and Green Book/Peter Farrelly. There are box office heavy hitters aplenty in the final nine this year and Jojo isn’t one of them with $22 million currently stateside. The 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating is also on the low end of the scale.

The Verdict

There’s no doubt that Jojo winning would be a major upset, though I would say it’s got the best chance of the pictures where the director isn’t nominated. That still doesn’t change the fact that it would rank 6th of out 9. Still, it’s a wide open year…

Up next in my Case of posts… Joker!

The British Go Wild For Joker

On a packed awards precursors day that included DGA and PGA announcements, our compadres overseas put out their nominations as well. The British Academy Film Awards (or BAFTAs) went wild for Joker, which led all contenders with 11 nods. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were close behind with 10 and 1917 achieved 9.

The BAFTAs are an often decent harbinger of what follows at the Oscars. In the acting races, they’re often good for 3 or 4 of the eventual contenders stateside. Let’s take a look at the top six races with a little analysis.

Best Picture

The Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite 

No real surprises here. If anything, this is another sign that Marriage Story isn’t a real contender to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Yet that’s kind of been the general consensus for a little while.

Best Director

The Nominees: Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

A 5 for 5 match with Picture. Other than Phillips, the other four were pretty much automatic nominees. Phillips gets the slot over Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), and today’s surprise DGA player Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit).

Best Actor

The Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

The ultra competitive Best Actor derby continues. Phoenix has to be considered the favorite after his Golden Globes victory and Joker leading the way with nods. It’s another good showing for Egerton after his Globes podium walk. Pryce gets in over Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Robert De Niro in The Irishman. The latter’s exclusion should be noted. De Niro didn’t get a Globe, SAG, or BAFTA nod. For those picking him to get recognition from the Academy, actors left out of all three very rarely make the cut.

Best Actress

The Nominees: Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Buckley being named is a genuine surprise. She’s not really on the Oscar radar screen at all. She gets in over Cynthia Erivo in Harriet or Awkwafina for The Farewell. Those snubs, among others, got the BAFTAs trending today as no performers of color were nominated.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Nothing much to speculate about here. This is the same Supporting Actor list as the Globes and could easily be the Academy’s five. In all cases, Pitt is the front runner.

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Margot Robbie (Bombshell), Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Johansson is a double nominee in lead and supporting once again. That’s not unexpected. On the other hand, the double nod of Robbie in this category very much is. She’s expected to be recognized for Bombshell, but not Hollywood. This comes at the expense of Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, who’s generally seen as second in line behind favorite Dern.

Some other quick notes:

  • It was a bad day for The Farewell. Snubs in the acting races weren’t all that surprising. Being left off Original Screenplay is.
  • Ford v Ferrari had a poor showing with one nod for Editing (no Sound or Score… where it could contend for Oscars).

And that wraps up a busy day of Oscar precursor coverage! You can expect my final predictions on what the Academy will do on Monday by Friday or Saturday…

The Directors Pull A Surprise Rabbit

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) released their list of five nominated filmmakers today and this is a very strong indicator of the people who will be nominated for the Oscar on Monday. Well, 80% of them that is.

Here are your DGA nominees:

Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

Sam Mendes, 1917

Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

The first four names on that list were widely expected as the pictures of Joon-Ho, Mendes, Scorsese, and Tarantino are the four entries that have the best shot at winning Best Picture. Any of their exclusions would have been a shocker.

So the real question was the fifth spot and Waititi’s inclusion is a pretty big surprise. The general consensus is that the slot would go to one of the following three directors: Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), or Todd Phillips (Joker). That said, no one in that trio should feel their Oscar hopes are dashed.

That’s because the DGA almost always matches the Academy’s director picks on a 4/5 scale. This was the case from 2013-2017. Last year, the number was 3. However, for reasons mentioned above, four seems to be the floor in 2019.

One could make the case that today’s nod for Waititi makes him an outsider pick for Oscar. 2009 was the last year the DGA and the Academy matched five for five. It also happened in 2005. Those are the only two years it occurred in the 21st century.

Waititi’s consolation is real as Jojo should get a Best Picture nod and he’s almost certain to pick up another nomination for his screenplay. Yet when it comes to Oscar’s final slot – I still believe Baumbach, Gerwig, or Phillips to be the strongest contenders.