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

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!