Best Picture 2019: The Final Five

We have reached 2019 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut?

In 2019, there were nine films vying for the prize. We know one thing for sure. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is in since it made history and became the first non-English language title to take Best Picture. It had a big night as it also won Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film.

There’s 8 others to consider. Only half make cut. Let’s get into it!

Ford v Ferrari

James Mangold’s 1960s set sports drama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale had four total nominations and won 2 of them (Sound Editing and Film Editing). It wasn’t as fortunate in Picture or Sound Mixing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. I say this knowing the Film Editing victor usually lands a BP nod (though not the case with 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum and 2011’s The Girl with Dragon Tattoo). However, Ford achieved the least number of overall mentions among the 9 contenders and missed key races including Director, any acting derbies, and screenplay.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s return to the Mob genre was Netflix’s highest profile Oscar player yet. It earned ten overall nods including for Scorsese, two Supporting Actor bids for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and Adapted Screenplay. Going 0 for 10, Robert De Niro was a somewhat surprising omission for his lead work.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the lack of wins, the sheer number of inclusions indicate the legendary filmmaker and cast would vie for the top award.

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s unique take on WWII was up for 6 races including Scarlett Johansson for Supporting Actress and Film Editing. The sole victory (a major one) was Adapted Screenplay where it beat out three other BP nominees.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but this was easily the hardest to leave off. The Screenplay win suggests it certainly could have. A miss in Director was a deciding factor and the fact that I couldn’t omit any of the final five I ended up going with.

Joker

Warner Bros. had unexpected bragging rights as this Scorsese inspired take on the DC Comics villain had the best haul with 11 nods. This includes Todd Phillips in Director and key precursors like Editing and Adapted Screenplay. The two wins came courtesy of Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and in Original Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Usually the leader of the pack does and this popped up in categories it originally wasn’t anticipated to.

Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed version of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel was also up for Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Costume Design (which was its only victory).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Simple math here. If I didn’t put Jojo in (which won Adapted Screenplay), I can’t justify vaulting this over it.

Marriage Story

Just like Little Women, Noah Baumbach’s drama was up for six and managed one. The win was Laura Dern (who was also in Women) in Supporting Actress while it also vied for Actor (Adam Driver), Actress (double nominee Scarlett Johansson), Original Screenplay, and Original Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Just like Little Women – no. Like Women, not making the Director race and not winning screenplay make this a fairly easy forecast.

1917

The World War I epic from Sam Mendes boasted 10 nominations with 3 statues for Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The Editing miss was obvious since the picture famously used few cuts.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. In fact, this was likely the runner-up to Parasite. It went into the evening as the favorite for BP and Director until Joon-ho’s film made its history.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature was slotted for 10 categories including QT for director, Leonardo DiCaprio in Actor, and Original Screenplay where its two-time winning scribe lost to Joon-ho. The two victories were Brad Pitt in Supporting Actor and Production Design.

Does It the Final Five?

Yes though I admit the Editing snub had me questioning it. An argument can be made for Jojo, but I ultimately think Quentin and company get in.

So that means your 2019 Final Five is:

The Irishman

Joker

1917

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite

I will note that this quintet mirrors the individuals who were up for Best Director. That is typically not a 5/5 match. It happened occasionally when there were 5 BP nominees and I feel this is a time where it would’ve.

2020 will be up soon and if you missed the posts covering 2009-18, they can be accessed here:

Thor: Love and Thunder Review

The 29th time is not the charm for the MCU with Thor: Love and Thunder, a franchise entry meant to be bursting with joy. It somehow feels middling the majority of the time and it’s a significant downgrade from Taika Waititi’s predecessor Thor: Ragnarok from 2017.

Our Asgardian God of a title character (Chris Hemsworth) has been through a lot in the last half of a cinematic decade. He’s lost his family (including Loki more than once) in earlier Thor and Avengers tales. That even caused him to turn to the bottle and humorously pack on the pounds during Avengers: Endgame. 

He found a new lease on life with the Guardians of the Galaxy during those previous Avengers epics. That’s where we find him at the outset, but it doesn’t last long. The Guardians are off on a new adventure while old acquaintances pop up for Thor. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who hasn’t been seen since 2013’s The Dark World, reappears in a cancer stricken state. She discovers that her ex’s hammer Mjolnir gives her super strengths. Her old beau needs all the help he can get with a new nemesis. Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) is on a mission to off all the Gods (hence the name) after his own leader causes his young daughter to perish. That killing spree will eventually include Thor and the newish King of Asgard Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

In what has become a common theme in Marvel’s stories, the main villain sorta has a point with his murderous schemes. We see that most of the Gods, including Russell Crowe’s Zeus, have turned into lazy do-nothings. However, when Gorr snatches a bunch of Asgardian kids, the fight is on.

Ragnarok was able to find a measured balance between dramatic elements and Waititi’s comedic sensibilities. Thunder feels downright goofy most of the time with its screaming goats and Guns n Roses greatest hits soundtrack playing over the battles. Just a little patience from the director might’ve made it more tolerable. More often than not, it falls into self parody territory. Maybe it’s on purpose. That doesn’t make it worthwhile.

What’s clear is that Waititi was given plenty of freedom to paint his canvass with this fourth official pic in the Thor series. I wish that translated to a more fruitful experience. Thor and Jane’s romance in the first two movies was never exactly a highlight so their reunion left me ambivalent. To be honest, Portman almost seems a bit bored during her transformation to the Mighty Thor. Bale doesn’t seem disinterested but his bad guy is of the one note and forgettable variety.

Thor: Love and Thunder does have a few jokes that land (I chuckled at character mispronouncing Jane’s full name). Yet I couldn’t escape this thought when the credits rolled the first and second and final time… I’d rank this 29th MCU saga 29th.

** (out of four)

2022 Oscar Predictions: July 17th Edition

For my mid-July Oscar predictions, the Picture, Director, Actress, and Actor remain intact (with some ranking maneuvering). Same goes for the Screenplay races. However, there are some significant changes in the supporting fields. In Supporting Actress, I’ve moved Audra McDonald (Rustin) and Vanessa Kirby (The Son) in the final five while taking Hong Chau (The Whale) and Zoe Kazan (She Said) out. For Supporting Actor, I’ve had Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon) perched in #1 for many weeks. With this update, he drops all the way out of the top 5 with Paul Dano (The Fabelmans) now in first position. This moves Colin Firth (Empire of Light) into the predicted quintet.

As for other news, Taika Waititi’s sports pic Next Goal Wins appears to have pushed to 2023 (it was originally slated for 202o) and that explains it dropping out of contention. And for those who haven’t caught the recently released trailers for She Said and Amsterdam, you can find them below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Women Talking (PR: 5) (E)

6. Bardo (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Son (PR: 7) (E)

8. Empire of Light (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Whale (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Rustin (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. She Said (PR: 11) (E)

12. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 13) (+1)

13. TAR (PR: 14) (+1)

14. White Noise (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 15) (E)

16. Elvis (PR: 17) (+1)

17. Thirteen Lives (PR: 19) (+2)

18. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 21) (+3)

19. Broker (PR: 16) (-3)

20. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 22) (+2)

21. Till (PR: 24) (+3)

22. Decision to Leave (PR: 23) (+1)

23. Amsterdam (PR: 20) (-3)

24. The Killer (PR: 25) (+1)

25. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Next Goal Wins 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (E)

7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (E)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 8) (-1)

10. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 15) (+4)

12. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Hirokazu Kore-ada, Broker (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Todd Field, TAR (PR: 13) (-2)

Dropped Out:

George C. Wolfe, Rustin 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Regina King, Shirley (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Cate Blanchett, TAR (PR: 6) (E)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Helen Mirren, Golda (PR: 11) (E)

12. Frances McDormand, Women Talking (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Annette Bening, Nyad (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lesley Manville, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris 

Michelle Williams, Showing Up

Jennifer Lawrence, Red, White, and Water 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. Colman Domingo, Rustin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 6) (E)

7. Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo (PR: 7) (E)

8. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 8) (E)

9. Song Kang-Ho, Broker (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 10) (E)

11. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 15) (+4)

12. Viggo Mortensen, Thirteen Lives (PR: 11) (-1)

13. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 14) (E)

15. Christian Bale, The Pale Blue Eye (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Michael Fassbender, Next Goal Wins

Christian Bale, Amsterdam 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Audra McDonald, Rustin (PR: 7) (+3)

5. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 12) (+7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 5) (-2)

8. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 11) (+2)

10. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 6) (-4)

11. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 8) (-3)

12. Patricia Clarkson, She Said (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Nina Hoss, TAR (PR: 13) (E)

14. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 14) (E)

15. Jodie Foster, Nyad (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Jesse Plemons, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Colin Firth, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (-5)

7. Glynn Turman, Rustin (PR: 7) (E)

8. Michael Ward, Empire of Light (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Colin Farrell, Thirteen Lives (PR: 11) (E)

12. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: 9) (-6)

Dropped Out:

John David Washington, Amsterdam 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Empire of Light (PR: 4) (E)

5. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Bardo (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Tar (PR: 10) (+3)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Rustin (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Broker (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Decision to Leave (PR: 13) (+2)

12. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Amsterdam (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Don’t Worry Darling (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Bros (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Aftersun 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Killers of the Flower Moon (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Son (PR: 2) (E)

3. Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Whale (PR: 4) (E)

5. White Noise (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. She Said (PR: 6) (E)

7. Thirteen Lives (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Till (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 10) (+1)

10. The Good Nurse (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 15) (+4)

12. The Woman King (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Bones and All (PR: 13) (E)

14. Close (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Killer (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Next Goal Wins

The Pale Blue Eye 

You can anticipate the next update around the first of August!

Oscar Predictions – Thor: Love and Thunder

The Thor entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have yet to receive any attention at the Oscars. While that may not seem terribly surprising, it’s important to remember that 12 of the MCU blockbusters have nabbed Visual Effects nods. None have won.

Love and Thunder opens Friday and it’s the fourth adventure centered on Chris Hemworth’s Asgardian former King. Taika Waititi returns to direct after helming 2017’s Ragnarok. It was easily the most acclaimed of the series with a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score. It didn’t make the cut for its visuals though while fellow MCU entry Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did. Thunder‘s reviews don’t match its predecessor as it currently stands at 71%.

The MCU should get a 13th VE mention for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If Ragnarok couldn’t manage the final five for the visuals or Makeup or Hairstyling or Costume Design, I’m skeptical this follow-up will. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Thor: Love and Thunder Box Office Prediction

Each Thor pic has outdone the last and Disney hopes that trend continues when Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8th. The sixth MCU entry in the past 14 months, the franchise shows no signs of slowing down as this follows juggernauts Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. 

This particular series is only the second to have a fourth feature (the other being Avengers). Taika Waititi, who made 2017’s predecessor Ragnarok, returns behind the camera with Chris Hemsworth once again hammering away as the title character. Natalie Portman’s Jane is back after sitting out part 3 and other familiar faces include Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, and Jeff Goldblum. The Guardians of the Galaxy are also in the mix. Newcomers to the fold are Christian Bale as main villain Gorr the God Butcher and Russell Crowe as Zeus. Expect plenty of cameos as well.

The first Thor (only the 4th of now 29 MCU flicks) grossed $65 million out of the gate with an overall gross of $181 million. Two and a half years later, The Dark World improved upon that with $85 and $206 million, respectively. Ragnarok easily surpassed that with $122 million and $315 million eventually.

Love and Thunder should continue the trend. Since the character’s last stand-alone effort, Thor was prominently placed in the massive Avengers sagas Infinity War and Endgame. That said, Multiverse from early May was a direct benefactor of following No Way Home when it premiered with $187 million. Its Spidey predecessor swung the second largest domestic opening of all time behind Endgame. 

I don’t believe Thunder will reach the stratosphere of Multiverse. Somewhere between $140-$160 million seems doable. If buzz continues to grow louder in the coming days, I reserve the right to revise up. My current take puts it in the range of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146 million) and Captain Marvel ($153 million). I’ll put it slightly over both.

Thor: Love and Thunder opening weekend prediction: $155.7 million

Oscar Predictions: Lightyear

The buzz for Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear is just fine, but it’s not in the stratosphere of some of the studio’s other efforts. The origin story for the co-lead of the Toy Story franchise (voiced by Tim Allen for those four pics and by Chris Evans here) is at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.

If Onward at 88% or Brave at 78% nabbed nominations in the Best Animated Feature Oscar derby, this should manage to do so as well pretty easily. However, let’s see how the competition plays out in the second half of the season. Pixar’s spring title Turning Red has probably reserved a spot and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio looms. Other hopefuls include Apollo 10 1/2 and Wendell & Wild. 

In the 22 years of its existence, Pixar has taken home exactly half of the Academy’s animation trophies (with Disney traditional picking up four more). Two of them were the third and fourth Toy Story sagas. The category wasn’t around for parts one and two and I bet both would’ve won. That bodes well for Lightyear though the somewhat mixed chatter could complicate matters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Lightyear Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/16): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my Lightyear estimate down again – from $95.5M to $85.5M

Blogger’s Note (06/15): Revising my estimate down from $101.8M to $95.5M

Disney-Pixar is banking that the buzz for Lightyear will propel it to a nine figure opening orbit on June 17th. Serving as an origin story for one half of the beloved Toy Story duo, Angus MacLane makes his feature-length directorial debut. Captain America himself Chris Evans takes over vocal duties as the title character, replacing Tim Allen (who was heard in the four TS blockbusters). Additional actors providing the sounds are Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.

The Mouse Factory is moving onward with theatrical only outputs for its Pixar brand after Soul, Luca, and Turning Red all hit the streaming circuit on Disney+. The last big screen studio offering was over two years ago with… Onward. 

For over a quarter century, the Toy Story franchise has been a gold mine. In 2010, part 3 premiered with $110 million and eventually earned $415 million domestically. The fourth entry in 2019 built upon that with respective numbers of $120 million and $434 million. They also both took home the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

Lightyear may not quite reach those stratospheric heights since it’s a spin-off, but I don’t think it’ll come in with a whole lot less. I do believe a launch of just under $100 million is feasible.

Lightyear opening weekend prediction: $85.5 million

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