Oscars: The Case of Tár

Todd Field’s Tár is next up in my Case Of posts for the ten Best Picture nominees. Time to weigh the pros and cons…

The Case for Tár:

Auteur Field has a knack for attracting the Academy’s attention with his trilogy of pictures. In 2001, In the Bedroom received five nods (including BP and Field’s Adapted Screenplay). Five years later, Little Children nabbed three and that once again included its maker’s adapted screenplay. Tár, with a towering lead performance from Globes and Critics Choice victor Cate Blanchett, saw him emerge from a long break and it received six Oscar mentions (including directing and original screenplay for Field).

The Case Against Tár:

Despite Blanchett being at least a co-frontrunner in Actress, she marked the only Globes win. At Critics Choice, its additional award was for Original Score. While this is a critical darling that generated some regional groups victories, the box office office was quiet at $10 million. Both Bedroom and Children went home empty-handed on Oscar night.

Other Nominations:

Director (Field), Actress (Blanchett), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing

The Verdict:

As with the aforementioned precursors, Tár‘s strongest shot at gold is with Blanchett and not Best Picture.

My Case Of posts will continue with Top Gun: Maverick!

To access my previous Case Of posts, click here:

75th DGA Nominations Reaction

It wasn’t just the Screen Actors Guild revealing their list of nominees today as the Directors Guild of America (DGA) put out the five filmmakers vying for their top prize.

First things first. The three pictures that I believe have the best shot at taking BP at the Oscars all saw their conductors brought to this stage. That would be the Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), and Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans). This trio were all obvious ones to predict and that I did.

Yet I ultimately went 3 for 5. That’s because my picks of James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water) and Baz Luhrmann (Elvis), makers of two popular commercial moneymakers, were left on the cutting room floor. Instead we got the surprising selection of Joseph Kosinski, maker of the year’s biggest moneymaker domestically with Top Gun: Maverick. I’ve only had Kosinski in my top 10 possibilities for the Academy on a couple of occasions. He’s never been in my high five.

The directing category at the Oscars usually match DGA on a 4 for 5 accuracy scale. You have to go back to 2009 to find the last time they matched 5 for 5. In other words, I wouldn’t rush to put Kosinski in the quintet.

My other miss was Todd Field, conductor of Tár. His inclusion was more anticipated and I had him as my runner-up.

Assuming we don’t get a total match, what’s the state of the Academy competition? The Daniels and McDonagh and Spielberg (despite the BAFTA snub) are probably safe and Field seems right up the Academy’s alley.

The fifth slot, while it could be Kosinski, is still available for Cameron or Luhrmann. Charlotte Wells (Aftersun) is beginning to get some ink. And we could absolutely still see a foreign director slide in like Edward Berger for All Quiet on the Western Front. Longer shots in that vein are S.S. Rajamouli (RRR) and Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave).

Who got hurt by being left out today? Certainly Sarah Polley for Women Talking and Ruben Ostlund for Triangle of Sadness. Either one of them could have used this as a momentum boost. Same for Babylon‘s Damien Chazelle.

The DGA’s will be presented on February 18th and my winning projection will be made shortly beforehand.

29th SAG Awards Nominations Reaction

The morning after The Banshees of Inisherin beat Everything Everywhere All at Once for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) at the Golden Globes, the two BP Oscar hopefuls tied for most nominations from the Screen Actors Guild voters. The Globes Drama winner The Fabelmans, meanwhile, had a more disappointing showing including one particular unexpected omission.

We are in the thick of awards season and I’m pretty pleased to report I went 25/30 on my SAG picks! Let’s walk through the six competitions with how I did and some general analysis. Final predictions for this ceremony will come closer to the February 26th airdate.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Women Talking

How I Did: 4/5

I went with The Woman King over the sprawling cast of Babylon. I’ll admit I was feeling a bit bold picking Women Talking after a subpar season, but it managed to make the cut while none of its performers garnered individual noms.

It doesn’t turn out this way in most years at SAG, but this prize may well come down to the three movies mostly likely to take the Oscar BP: Banshees, EEAAO, and Fabelmans.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Tár), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Danielle Deadwyler (Till), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

How I Did: 4/5

There are two headlines here in my opinion. The first is that Michelle Williams did not get in for The Fabelmans. Most prognosticators, including this one, have her sitting in 3rd for the Academy rankings.

Another is that Ana de Armas has made it for the Globes and SAG. A few weeks ago, her work as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde had fallen out of my top 10 possibilities. Now she is a serious threat for the Oscar quintet. I had Williams over de Armas projected.

As for the winner – this should come down to Blanchett v. Yeoh (both freshly minted Globe recipients).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Bill Nighy (Living), Adam Sandler (Hustle)

How I Did: 4/5

SAG news other the nominees themselves was made today when it was announced that Netflix will livestream the show starting next year. It was also an unexpectedly solid morning for the streamer. In this race, the surprise inclusion was Adam Sandler for Hustle (which premiered on the subscription service). I had Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick) forecasted instead.

It’s worth noting that Cruise has now missed Globe and SAG. For the former, it was easy to explain considering he had a highly publicized break with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. No such explanation is found with SAG. His chances for Oscar are shaky.

The dynamics of this derby are intact. Butler, Farrell, Fraser, and Nighy appear to be safe bets for Academy attention. The fifth spot is wide open and Sandler got some exposure this morning. As for a winner at SAG, it’s a three-person fight between Butler, Farrell, and Fraser.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Hong Chau (The Whale), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

How I Did: 4/5

Bassett, Condon, and Curtis are the trio who’ve landed in all major precursors thus far. Jamie Lee’s costar Hsu makes it in over my pick of Jessie Buckley (Women Talking).

The Golden Globes honored Bassett last night and she could absolutely snag this trophy. However, I’m less convinced she sweeps than the chances of a sweep in Supporting Actor (more on that below). Let’s see if Condon or Curtis, especially, make it interesting.

A quick Women Talking comment. Even though Buckley or Claire Foy (who’s received nothing so far) are mostly or totally MIA, I still could see the Academy putting one of them up. We saw that they can throw a curveball in this race (Judi Dench in Belfast last year).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Paul Dano (The Fabelmans), Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse)

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

After viewing Quan’s heartfelt remarks at Globes, it seems like a sweep is in the cards. My one perfect category means Redmayne has landed Globe and SAG love. The Academy could still leave him out and same goes for Dano. We’ll see if alternates like Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), or Globe nominee Brad Pitt (Babylon) can sneak in.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

The Nominees: Avatar: The Way of Water, The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Top Gun: Maverick, The Woman King

How I Did: 4/5

Avatar got in over my call of Everything Everywhere All at Once (YOU try being a stuntman waving those hot dog fingers!). The original Black Panther won in 2018 so perhaps the sequel will follow suit. Another sequel (Maverick) may prevent that.

That works out to the following number of SAG mentions for these pics:

5 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once

2 Nominations

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Fabelmans, The Whale, The Woman King

1 Nomination

Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, The Batman, Blonde, Elvis, The Good Nurse, Hustle, Living, Tár, Till, Top Gun: Maverick

75th Directors Guild of America Awards Nomination Predictions

In addition to the SAG Awards announcing their nominees on Wednesday, we also have the Director Guild of America (DGA) revealing its five contenders for Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film.

This is a race that usually matches the Academy’s eventual 5 nominees with 80% accuracy. In the past decade, there’s been a 4 for 5 correlation in 8 of those years. There hasn’t been a 5 for 5 match since 2009.

Even though BAFTA shockingly left Steven Spielberg off its shortlist last week, he should make the cut here for The Fabelmans. It would also be quite unexpected for Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert to miss for Everything Everywhere All at Once.

After that, it gets interesting. I do believe James Cameron is recognized for Avatar: The Way of Water. The DGA has recently named pics in the sci-fi genre that the Academy surprisingly ignored. Recent examples are Ridley Scott (The Martian) and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).

On the flip side, the DGA has left off foreign filmmakers that the Academy does recognize. This includes Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) in the preceding two cycles. That could make the odds longer here for Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front), Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave), or S.S. Rajamouli (RRR) than at the Oscars.

My hunch is that the trio of Todd Field (Tár), Baz Luhrmann (Elvis), and Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin) are angling for the final two slots with Sarah Polley (Women Talking) as a potential spoiler. I’ve got Field in my Academy quintet right now but missing here.

DGA PREDICTIONS

James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water

Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Baz Luhrmann, Elvis

Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin

Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Runner-Up: Todd Field, Tár

29th Screen Actors Guild Awards Nomination Predictions

Another significant piece of the Oscar prognosticating puzzle is put together on Wednesday when nominations for the 29th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are dropped. The ceremony’s main prize, it’s important to note, is not Best Picture but Best Ensemble. That means a correlation from the Oscar BP and the top race here is not apples to apples. It is worth noting that half of the last 10 SAG Ensemble victors (Argo, Birdman, Spotlight, Parasite, CODA) did go on to win BP from the Academy. On the other hand, three recent BPs (The Shape of Water, Green Book, Nomadland) didn’t make the SAG quintet at all.

Let’s go through all six categories one by one with my picks and a runner-up call, shall we?

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

There are plenty of possibilities including box office hits like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Elvis, and Top Gun: Maverick. For Panther, the original won Ensemble in 2018 so the sequel materializing is feasible. I wouldn’t discount the sprawling cast of Babylon though middling reviews could hurt it. It’s tempting to pick Glass Onion but I’m hesitant since Knives Out was snubbed in 2019.

Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Fabelmans seem safe. Despite the small call sheet for The Banshees of Inisherin (with just four significant roles), I could see the SAG branch honoring it. I’m also liking The Woman King‘s chances. Women Talking is perhaps the biggest question mark. It has underperformed with precursors. A couple of months ago, I’d have considered it a potential frontrunner to win. Now I wonder if it makes it at all. Nevertheless – here’s my take:

Predicted Nominees:

The Banshees of Inisherin

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

The Woman King

Women Talking

Runner-Up: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

In the previous decade, SAG in Actress has matched the Academy 4/5 on six occasions and 3/5 on four. There are no perfect correlations. SAG has shown they will throw in a shocker – Jennifer Aniston in Cake, Sarah Silverman for I Smile Back or Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train are recent examples. If there’s one here, look out for Naomi Ackie (Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody).

Margot Robbie (Babylon) is currently the one I’ve got in the Academy five (for the moment) that I don’t have here. Ana de Armas (Blonde) is a real threat. If she makes this quintet, look for her Oscar stock to soar. With those possibilities mentioned, my choices are…

Predicted Nominees:

Cate Blanchett, Tár

Viola Davis, The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler, Till

Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: Ana de Armas, Blonde

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), and Brendan Fraser (The Whale) should all be safe. Bill Nighy (Living) is fourth though I suspect there’s a better chance at SAG leaving him off than the Academy. Then there’s that five spot. It could be Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick), Tom Hanks (A Man Called Otto), Hugh Jackman (The Son), or Paul Mescal (Aftersun). Take your pick. I’m leaning toward the star of the year’s biggest hit. On a side note, there’s been a SAG/Oscar match of 5/5 for the previous two cycles.

Predicted Nominees:

Austin Butler, Elvis

Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Fraser, The Whale

Bill Nighy, Living

Runner-Up: Paul Mescal, Aftersun

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Last year was an anomaly when just 2 of the SAG nominees (Ariana DeBose for West Side Story and The Power of the Dog‘s Kirsten Dunst) scored Oscar nods. The magic number is usually 3 or 4. The wide open nature of this race has been discussed a lot on the blog. Beyond my picks and runner-up, don’t discount Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness), Claire Foy (Women Talking), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Janelle Monae (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), and Carey Mulligan (She Said).

Predicted Nominees:

Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Jessie Buckley, Women Talking

Hong Chau, The Whale

Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin

Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Like Supporting Actress last year, there was only a 2 for 5 match with Troy Kotsur in CODA and Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog. Usually it’s 4. For 2022, I believe only Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Gleeson are safe assumptions. The remaining three slots should be some combo of Paul Dano (The Fabelmans), Tom Hanks (Elvis), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Brad Pitt (Babylon), and Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse) sorting it out.

Predicted Nominees:

Paul Dano, The Fabelmans

Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin

Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin

Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse

Runner-Up: Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble

Don’t discount The Batman or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but my quintet is as follows…

Predicted Nominees:

The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Top Gun: Maverick

The Woman King

Runner-Up: RRR

That equates to these movies generating these numbers:

5 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once

3 Nominations

The Fabelmans, The Woman King

2 Nominations

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Top Gun: Maverick, The Whale, Women Talking

1 Nomination

The Batman, Elvis, The Good Nurse, Living, Tár, Till

On Wednesday evening you can expect a recap of what happens after noms are revealed!

A Feather in the Tár Awards Cap

The National Society of Film Critics, composed of approximately 60 reviewers, is considered one of the higher profile groups to bestow yearly best of honors. They did so today and it was a good day for Todd Field’s Tár.

NSFC was enthralled by the psychological profile as it won Best Film in addition to Fields for his screenplay and Cate Blanchett in the title role. In its previous 56 years, the Film recipient here has only matched the Oscar BP nine times. It is worth noting that it’s occurred 4 out of the last 7 years with 2015’s Spotlight, 2016’s Moonlight, 2019’s Parasite, and 2020’s Nomadland. 7 of the past 10 NSFC victors were at least nominated for BP from the Academy. That bodes well for Tár. At this point, it would be pretty shocking if it was left off the list of 10 on Oscar nom morning.

This group also names runners-up. For Best Film, it was Aftersun. Director Charlotte Wells came in first in her race with Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave) in second. I’ve yet to seriously consider Aftersun as a top 10 finisher at the big dance. It’s possible, but perhaps a stretch. Only two of the NSFC winners in the previous decade took Oscar with Alfonso Cuaròn (Roma) and Chloe Zhao (Nomadland).

Blanchett’s trophy is no surprise. The other strong hopeful for Best Actress is Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once. She came in second. It’s worth mentioning that Blanchett won NSFC nine years ago for Blue Jasmine before translating that to her second Oscar. A third could be in the cards.

The lead Actor award went to Colin Farrell for both After Yang and The Banshees of Inisherin. Paul Mescal (Aftersun) was runner-up. Farrell looks assured a spot in the Academy quintet (for Banshees) while Mescal is gunning for a wide open fifth spot. You have to go back to 2016 (Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea) to find the previous NSFC/Oscar match.

Our Supporting Actress derby (also pretty wide open) went to the soft frontrunner with Kerry Condon in Banshees. Nina Hoss (Tár) nabbed the second most votes. If there’s an unexpected performer to pop up on nomination morning, it could be Hoss (especially given the uncertainty of her category).

It was smooth sailing for Ke Huy Quan in Supporting Actor as he continued his expected coronation as the season rolls along. The Everything Everywhere All at Once standout beat Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), who’s a bubble possibility for Oscar.

Polish pic EO is your Best Film Not in the English Language with No Bears (out of Iran) second. The latter was not submitted for the Academy’s consideration. EO also took home an unanticipated win for its Cinematography with Nope as the runner-up.

Finally, Best Nonfiction Film was All the Beauty and the Bloodshed with Descendant second. Both are expected to contend for the Documentary cut at the Oscars.

We are in the heart of awards season, folks! My final prediction for the Golden Globes are coming your way next…

Oscar Predictions – Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

On the eve of its premiere, the embargo for Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody finally lifted. For those not familiar, waiting until December 21st for critics to weigh in is not a good sign for awards possibilities. The biopic comes from Kasi Lemmons, who last directed Cynthia Erivo to a Best Actress nod for 2019’s Harriet. Then there’s the screenwriter Anthony McCarten. He’s a bit of an awards whisperer. His screenplays for 2014’s The Theory of Everything, 2017’s Darkest Hour, and 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody resulted in Best Actor victories for (respectively) Eddie Redmayne, Gary Oldman, and Rami Malek.

That’s why I was a tad surprised that Somebody was MIA at film festivals and that there were no early reviews to generate buzz. Now it makes more sense. The Rotten Tomatoes score is a mere 41%. That said, some write-ups are singing the praises of Naomi Ackie as the iconic and troubled legend. I don’t think it would’ve been impossible for Ackie to make the five in Best Actress. At this juncture, only Cate Blanchett (Tár) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) have guaranteed spots in my opinion. Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans and Danielle Deadwyler for Till are probably in as well. The fifth slot could be Margot Robbie (Babylon), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Olivia Colman (Empire of Light), or a surprise.

It is probably too late for Ackie to be a factor. The Critics Choice and Globes skipped her and the Academy is unlikely to make her queen of the night. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

AFI Top Ten Predictions 2022

The American Film Institute announces their top ten pictures of the year tomorrow and it’s usually a good indication of half or more of the eventual BP contenders at the Oscars.

Keep in mind that American product only is eligible for this particular group. Since this list began in 2000, the Academy’s BP recipient has only missed here five times. Four of those occasions were due to the whole country of origin thing – 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King Speech, The Artist in 2011, and Parasite from 2019. The Departed in 2006 also didn’t make the cut. This means you shouldn’t expect Aftersun, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, Decision to Leave, or RRR to surface here.

So what will? The AFI ten and the Oscar ten had a solid match last year at 8. Tick, Tick… Boom! and The Tragedy of Macbeth were the AFI inclusions that didn’t make it with the Academy. They went with two features from outside the U.S. in Belfast and Drive My Car. In recent years, the match number is usually 6 or 7.

It’s not uncommon for AFI to pick blockbusters or animated fare that the Academy does not. Recent examples include Soul, Knives Out, Mary Poppins Returns, A Quiet Place, Wonder Woman, Zootopia, Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Straight Outta Compton.

Let’s talk of the pics I have just missing the cut. It was hard to leave off Tár. If it fails to be named tomorrow, that would be two disappointing days in a row after it surprisingly missed the National Board of Review (NBR) list today. Same goes for She Said and The Whale while Till did make NBR. More popcorn flavored flicks like The Batman, Nope, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are all viable contenders.

We shall see if any of them get in. Avatar, Babylon, Elvis, Glass Onion, Pinocchio, and The Woman King all feel like pics that should make it here if they have any hope of making the Academy’s cut. It is rare for the Oscars to nominate a more mainstream title that AFI doesn’t.

I’ll have a recap up tomorrow with commentary and how I did!

AFI Top Predictions

Avatar: The Way of Water

Babylon

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Top Gun: Maverick

The Woman King

Women Talking

New York Circles Tár

The New York Film Critics Circle have made their selections for the year’s best and that kicks off a flurry of regional awards coming our way in the days and weeks ahead. This particular critics group (as is the case with most) isn’t much of a barometer on who and what will win. It is, however, a decent glimpse of who and what could contend.

Todd Field’s Tár and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin each earned two honors. The former was named Best Film with Cate Blanchett taking the Actress award. Eight of the last 10 NYFCC victors in Film went on to receive a BP Oscar nomination. Yet none of those movies won the big prize from the Academy. The last one that did was 2011’s The Artist. And that make sense here. Tár appears highly likely to make the BP cut though it isn’t much of a threat to take the gold. Five of the past 10 Actress recipients were nominated with only one winner. Who was that winner? Cate Blanchett for 2013’s Blue Jasmine. She could certainly do so again. This won’t be the only critics branch to name her.

Colin Farrell was Best Actor for Banshees and After Yang. Like Actress, half of the previous ten New York honorees made the Oscar quintet with two winners – Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea). Farrell appears to be locked in a tight three-way race with Brendan Fraser (The Whale) and Austin Butler (Elvis). Every precursor like this helps a little. Banshees also won Best Screenplay. That’s another Academy three-way battle in Original Screenplay with Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Fabelmans.

The supporting fields are a bit more predictive as far as Academy matches. Eight of 10 Supporting Actor NYFCC takers were at the Oscars. That includes four winners in Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight). We could see another match with Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once). Expect to hear his name a lot.

Supporting Actress, on the contrary, was more of a surprise. Keke Palmer’s work in Nope topped all rivals in a wide open field that’s hard to peg for Oscar prognosticating. 7 of 10 winners here made the big dance including the victorious Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Laura Dern (Marriage Story). I’ve yet to have Palmer in my top ten. I’m starting to wonder if she could get in the mix for her memorable performance in the sci-fi horror tale. I should note that NYFCC named Lupita Nyong’o Best Actress for Peele’s Us from 2019 and she came up short with Oscar voters.

The rest of the categories all showcased viable contenders in their respective competitions. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On picked up Animated Feature and I expect it to get love from the critics. Same with Non-Fiction Film and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (I have it ranked first in Oscar’s Documentary Feature). Poland’s EO was a slightly unexpected choice in Foreign Film over Decision to Leave (which I have pegged as the soft frontrunner for the Academy). Finally, Top Gun: Maverick aced Cinematography and it should get an Oscar nod there for the thrilling aerial camerawork.

Keep coming to the blog for all your awards news and I’ll have updated Oscar predictions up this Sunday!

Oscar Predictions: Babylon

One of the last significant pieces of the 2022 Oscar puzzle has come into sharper focus with Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. The 188 minute epic set in late 1920s Hollywood has screened for industry and critics and reaction is wildly divergent. Some posts are calling it a triumph while others proclaim it a grotesque mess. One thing seems certain – this one will get a whole lotta chatter leading up to its December 23rd release. One other thing – the buzz below could change with more screenings as we get closer to the premiere.

Newcomer Diego Calva headlines a cast that includes Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, and Tobey Maguire. While the review embargo won’t lift for a bit, the all over the map chatter raises some questions for its awards viability.

Chazelle has a sterling track record with voters. His first two features – 2014’s Whiplash and 2016’s La La Land – were both Best Picture nominees (the latter rather famously losing to Moonlight). Chazelle did take the Director prize for La La. On the other hand, 2018’s First Man underperformed at the box office and with the Academy (its four nods were all in tech categories).

So it’s a given that Babylon has (sight unseen) sat high on the projections of prognosticators for months. First things first. This won’t end the streak of Chazelle’s movies getting nominations. It’s a major possibility in numerous below the line competitions like Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Score, and Sound. Film Editing is one that could be contingent on a BP nod.

Will it get there for the biggest race? I think it still probably makes the cut. Yet Paramount might be feeling that Top Gun: Maverick is now their ace contender. The studio has had such a solid year that both could get in. There’s been some comparisons to The Wolf of Wall Street with the running time and frequent debauchery. That was a BP hopeful in 2013. For another Leo pic reference, Don’t Look Up was up last year and it too garnered severely mixed reviews.

I suspect I’ll still have Babylon in my top 10 when I updated my projections this weekend. I’ve had it listed 3rd for weeks and I would anticipate that ranking will drop. Chazelle is unlikely to be my #2 where he’s sat behind Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans) for awhile. I’m not completely sure he’ll be in my estimated quintet.

As for the actors – Robbie is getting a lot of praise thus far as is Calva. Best Actress, as I’ve noted a lot on here, is packed this year. I believe Cate Blanchett (Tár), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) are currently top 3 in the race and there’s a handful of others vying for spots 4-5. That includes Robbie and I still believe she stands a realistic shot. So does Calva and that may be due to Actor being pretty weak this year. His inclusion is far from guaranteed, but he could nab a fourth or fifth slot like his costar. While Pitt is getting decent notices, I’m less convinced he’s in for Supporting Actor.

Bottom line: Babylon doesn’t seem like a threat to win Best Picture and it’s questionable whether it even gets in. Acting nods are feasible but not assured. Tech noms are inevitable. My Oscar prediction posts will continue…