80th Golden Globe Awards Recap

Eddie Murphy, winner of tonight’s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement, might have had the best timed Will Smith Oscar slap joke I’ve heard thus far (better than that of host Jerrod Carmichael). Mr. Murphy being funny was not a surprise. And there weren’t a whole lotta surprises for the cinematic victors at the 80th Golden Globes Awards… with a couple of exceptions.

I went 10/14 on my picks, but two of those misses happened to be the biggest prizes of all. After being snubbed for the shortlist of 16 filmmakers for BAFTA’s directing award, Steven Spielberg and his autobiographical The Fabelmans had an impressive and perhaps needed showing this evening. He won Best Director (which I did predict) and he capped the night by taking Best Motion Picture – Drama. I didn’t predict that as I went with Elvis instead.

The picture with tonight’s best showing was The Banshees of Inisherin at three podium trips. As expected, Colin Farrell was named Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy and Martin McDonagh took Best Screenplay. Banshees also emerged in Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy over my favored Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The news wasn’t all bad for Everything as Michelle Yeoh was Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy and Ke Huy Quan is your Best Supporting Actor. The Banshees victory could spawn some prognosticators switching their vote to it winning the BP Oscar. I’m thinking Everything is still very viable and The Fabelmans did what it needed to make this a three-picture race. Had Elvis or Top Gun: Maverick been your Drama pick, it might’ve surged the buzz for them. It wasn’t to be.

Other than the Motion Picture competitions, my other two misses were for Score and Non-English Language Film. In the former, Babylon was selected over my predicted Women Talking. For the latter, it produced the night’s only shocker as Argentina, 1985 was named instead of RRR (what I went with) and All Quiet on the Western Front (what plenty of others went with).

As for the remaining races I got right – Cate Blanchett is Best Actress (Drama) for Tár while Angela Bassett is Supporting Actress for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Austin Butler got the sole Elvis victory as Best Actor (Drama). Guillermo del Toro saw his version of Pinocchio be crowned Animated Feature. Finally, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR is Best Original Song over tunes from heavy hitters like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga.

Bottom line: The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans have been my top 3 possibilities for Best Picture for many weeks. Nothing that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did tonight changed that dynamic.

We’ve got a busy few days coming up with SAG and DGA nominations tomorrow and Critics Choice Awards airing Sunday. I’ll have my updated Oscar predictions up on Monday!

2022 Oscar Shortlists Reaction

Shortlists covering seven of the feature film races at the Oscars were unveiled this afternoon. We now know the 15 pictures that will contend for Best Original Score, Original Song, International Feature Film, and Documentary Feature. Additionally, we have our 10 finalists for Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, and Visual Effects.

I’ll go over each competition below, but I went 62 for 90 in my overall picks. It was a good day for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and All Quiet on the Western Front. They got in everywhere they reasonably could have.

With The Batman and Everything Everywhere All at Once, it was a mixed announcement as both made the cut for some and not others where they were expected to. The documentary Good Night Oppy had perhaps the worst day. It was widely anticipated to get in for Documentary and (to a lesser degree) Visual Effects and made neither.

Let’s break it down! **Selections that I correctly called are in bold

Best Original Score


All Quiet on the Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water


The Banshees of Inisherin

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


Don’t Worry Darling

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


She Said

The Woman King

Women Talking

HOW I DID: 9/15

The most notable omissions here are Empire of Light and The Batman while Devotion in particular wasn’t expected to be included. I also incorrectly named Bardo, Living, RRR, and White Noise. My top 5 from my projections 3 days ago (Women Talking, Babylon, The Fabelmans, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, The Banshees of Inisherin) remain.

Best Original Song

Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman

Carolinafrom Where the Crawdads Sing

“Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

“Dust and Ash” from The Voice of Dust and Ash

“Good Afternoon” from Spirited

“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick

“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

“My Mind & Me” from Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me

“Naatu” from RRR

“New Body Rhumba” from White Noise

“Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)” from Avatar: The Way of Water

“Stand Up” from Till

“This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once

“Til You’re Home” from A Man Called Otto

“Time” from Amsterdam

HOW I DID: 10/15

As expected, there’s some heavy hitters in the mix with Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, and Selena Gomez (who I didn’t predict). The highest profile omission is Billie Eilish for “Nobody Like U” in Turning Red. My other misses were “Keep Rising” from The Woman King, “On My Way (Marry Me)” from Marry Me (a miss for Jennifer Lopez), and “Ready As I’ll Ever Be” from The Return of Tanya Tucker – Featuring Brandi Carlile.

Best International Feature Film

All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)

Bardo (Mexico)

The Blue Caftan (Morocco)

Cairo Conspiracy (Sweden)

Close (Belgium)

Corsage (Austria)

Decision to Leave (South Korea)

EO (Poland)

Holy Spider (Denmark)

Joyland (Pakistan)

Last Film Show (India)

The Quiet Girl (Ireland)

Return to Seoul (Cambodia)

Saint Omer (France)

HOW I DID: 13/15

My best showing as I incorrectly had Spain’s Alcarras and Mars One from Brazil. India saved a little face with Last Film Show getting in. They didn’t select RRR and it could have won. There are really no major surprises here.

Best Documentary Feature

All That Breathes

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Bad Axe

Children of the Mist


Fire of Love

Hallelujah: Leonardo Cohen, a Journey, a Song

Hidden Letters

A House Made of Splinters

The Janes

Last Flight Home

Moonage Daydream



The Territory

HOW I DID: 10/15

I took a swing by not including The Territory and it got in. As for the aforementioned Good Night Oppy and Sr., they were anticipated to be here and are not. My other whiffs were Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, Riotsville, U.S.A., and Wildcat. My high five from December 18th – All That Breathes, Navalny, Fire of Love, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Descendant – remain.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

All Quiet on the Western Front



The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


Crimes of the Future



The Whale

HOW I DID: 7/10

Here’s a race where Everything Everywhere isn’t to be found. I also went with Three Thousand Years of Longing and The Woman King. Once again my top five from the weekend is in. The Crimes of the Future nod is truly unexpected.

Best Sound

All Quiet on the Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water


The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


Everything Everywhere All at Once

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Moonage Daydream

Top Gun: Maverick

HOW I DID: 7/10

Once again my quintet of picks from 3 days ago are safe. Nope is a significant omission as is RRR (Thirteen Lives is my other miss). The unexpected addition of the Bowie doc Moonage Daydream is being praised.

Best Visual Effects

All Quiet on the Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water

The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Jurassic World: Dominion


Thirteen Lives

Top Gun: Maverick

HOW I DID: 6/10

Here’s where my predicted five will undoubtedly be altered when I make my update. I had Everything Everywhere and RRR at 3rd and 4th, respectively. They are gone. I also incorrectly called Good Night Oppy and Thor: Love and Thunder. This means Avatar (which should win), Maverick, and Multiverse are the trio remaining that I projected. In my view, this bodes well for Panther getting in. The fifth slot is far trickier to estimate at the moment.

And that does it for now, folks! I’ll have updated predictions in all races up before Christmas!

Oscar Predictions – Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water surfaces on your 3D and IMAX screens this Friday. It is, of course, James Cameron’s follow-up to 2009’s original which still stands as the biggest worldwide grosser of all time (and third overall domestically). The social media embargo lifted last week and the common refrain was “don’t bet against James Cameron”. I held off on my Oscar speculation until the official review embargo lapsed. That happened today.

Currently at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes (part 1 ended up at 82%), many critics are claiming this is an improvement over the first. Some of the same gripes remain including that it is overlong (3 hours and 12 minutes) and underdeveloped in its screenplay. Praise for its technical work is more universal.

In 2009, Avatar made an Oscar splash with nine nominations: Picture, Director, Art Direction (now Production Design), Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing (the Sound races are now combined), and Visual Effects. It won 3 – Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects.

Water has a chance of receiving the same number of nods. On Monday, the Golden Globes put it in their five for Picture (Drama) and Director. I already believe the Academy will make room for this in BP. It should be the second massive international blockbuster (alongside Top Gun: Maverick) in the mix. Cameron showing up in the directing quintet is not as automatic.

Let’s dispense with the easiest items. This is going to win Visual Effects just like its predecessor. That’s one of the slam dunk categories you can cross off already. Production Design and Cinematography and Sound are all probable inclusions. I’m less certain about the score and editing. Then there’s the Weeknd, who contributed the song “Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)”. I’m not so sure about its strength in that competition. He needs to overcome other superstars such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish and that could be a tall order.

You’ll notice I haven’t discussed the performances or the screenplay. While there’s kudos for returnees like Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver (in a different role than in 2009), don’t expect the acting to capture the attention of voters. Given that the writing is the most faulted aspect, don’t hold your breath expecting Cameron and cowriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to contend.

Bottom line: Avatar: The Way of Water looks to be Cameron’s third movie in a row (after Titanic and Avatar) to be in the BP race. Look for its nomination total to be at least 4-5 and maybe more. In other words, to borrow a phrase from most of Twitter last week, don’t bet against James Cameron. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Golden Globes Nominations Reaction

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, after a controversial couple of years which resulted in no aired telecast for the last ceremony, is moving forward with Jerrod Carmichael hosting the show on NBC in a month. The nominations for the 14 cinematic races were unveiled this morning.

I went 54 for 70 on my picks – an improvement over my previous 2021 performance of 49/70. The big winner: Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. Its 8 nods led all pictures and landed mentions everywhere it was expected to.

On the flip side, it was a disappointing day for Women Talking. Sarah Polley’s expected Oscar contender managed two nods (Screenplay and Score) and missed out on several races where it was thought to be viable.

Let’s take the competitions one by one with my thoughts, shall we?

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Nominees: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick

How I Did: 4/5

Per above, the surprise here is Women Talking not making the cut. I had it in instead of Avatar (which is proving itself to be a highly likely hopeful for Oscar’s BP derby). While The Fabelmans could be considered a soft frontrunner, I would say everything but Tár has a shot to win.

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Triangle of Sadness

How I Did: 4/5

I went with The Menu over Triangle but the latter’s inclusion was not unexpected. This is almost certainly a battle between Banshees and Everything.

Best Director

Nominees: 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)

How I Did: 4/5

Like in Best Drama, I went with Women Talking and its maker Sarah Polley instead of James Cameron. Also like that race, Spielberg might be favored but the others could upset the legend.

Best Actress (Drama)

Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Tár), Olivia Colman (Empire of Light), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)

How I Did: 4/5

Danielle Deadwyler (Till) failing to make the quintet is unexpected as is de Armas’s nod in the Marilyn Monroe biopic (which garnered plenty of poor reviews). You’re going to want to bet on Blanchett in this one.

Best Actor (Drama)

Nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Hugh Jackman (The Son), Bill Nighy (Living), Jeremy Pope (The Inspection)

How I Did: 3/5

Jackman and Pope in over my selections of Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun). Mr. Cruise whiffing is noticeable. Perhaps the HFPA is still salty about him giving back his Globes during the height of their controversies. Elvis is the only picture in this group that received more than 1 nomination and Butler could certainly emerge victorious. So could Fraser.

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Lesley Manville (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris), Margot Robbie (Babylon), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Menu), Emma Thompson (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywher All at Once)

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

This went as anticipated and should continue that way with Yeoh taking the trophy in January.

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Nominees: Diego Calva (Babylon), Daniel Craig (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Adam Driver (White Noise), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ralph Fiennes (The Menu)

How I Did: 4/5

I went with Tom Hanks (A Man Called Otto) instead of Driver. It doesn’t matter much who the other four gentlemen are. This is Farrell’s to lose.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness), Carey Mulligan (She Said)

How I Did: 2/5 (ouch)

Supporting Actress has been a head scratcher all year as I’ve done Oscar projections. That proved true today with my poor performance. I went with Hong Chau (The Whale), Claire Foy (Women Talking), and Janelle Monae (Glass Onion) instead of Bassett, de Leon, and Mulligan. I’d say any of these contestants could win in this wide open field.

Best Supporting Actor

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

How I Did: 3/5

I had Paul Dano (The Fabelmans) and Tom Hanks (yet again for Elvis), but Koeghan and Redmayne made it. Quan is probably out front but I wouldn’t rule Gleeson out.

Best Screenplay

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

How I Did: 5/5 (!)

Finally we get something for Women Talking. Yet this race (like Musical/Comedy) is probably either Banshees or Everything.

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Inu-Oh, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Turning Red

How I Did: 4/5

Inu-Oh is the surprise (I said The Bad Guys instead). Pinocchio is favored but I wouldn’t discount Marcel (which is picking up critics prizes).

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close, Decision to Leave, RRR

How I Did: 4/5

This could be a fascinating one. I don’t see Argentina or Close winning (which I left out for Bardo). The other 3 could.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Women Talking

How I Did: 4/5

This is where I should’ve left Avatar out as Banshees got in instead. This could be a close one and I’m not ready to pick a leader.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing, “Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR

How I Did: 4/5

Pop superstar Billie Eilish and “Nobody Like U” was left off for pop superstar Taylor Swift and “Carolina”. Don’t be shocked if this comes down to pop superstars Lady Gaga for “Hold My Hand” and Rihanna for “Lift Me Up”.

That means the following features nabbed these numbers in terms of nominations:

8 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin

6 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

5 Nominations

Babylon, The Fabelmans

3 Nominations

Elvis, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Tár

2 Nominations

Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther Wakanda Forever, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, The Menu, RRR, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, Women Talking

1 Nomination

All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Blonde, Close, Decision to Leave, Empire of Light, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, The Good Nurse, The Inspection, Inu-Oh, Living, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, She Said, The Son, Turning Red, The Whale, Where the Crawdads Sing, White Noise, The Woman King

Amsterdam Review

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam exasperates more than it fascinates. Opening with the tagline “A lot of this actually happened”, the brief explorations of American history between the World Wars hint at a compelling narrative. Wanting to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole afterwards doesn’t necessarily make for a gratifying experience.

Dr. Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) is a member of New York high society through marriage. His snooty in-laws and high maintenance wife (Andrea Riseborough) ship him off to what will become World War I in 1918. Under the command of the kindly Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.), the good doc practices his skills for an all black regiment. They must wear French uniforms since the American forces aren’t integrated. That’s a part that actually happened. Burt makes fast friends with Harold Woodsman (John David Washington). They fight together and are seriously wounded together. Burt is given a glass eye that’s often used for screwball comedy effect. Their injuries introduce them to peculiar nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie), who takes the soldier’s battle scars (such as the metal embedded in their flesh) and turns it into surrealistic art. Burt, Harold, and Valerie form a close bond including the romantic sort for the latter two. The trio live a joyous existence in the title city until Burt returns to the Big Apple. Harold eventually follows suit to become an attorney. The men stay friends and colleagues while Valerie’s whereabouts are unknown.

Fifteen years later, the U.S. is in a depression. Our two New Yorkers have an even more pressing issue. Former war commander Meekins (now a Senator) turns up dead and mysteriously so. His daughter Elizabeth (Taylor Swift, in a performance that will surely generate memes) enlists dad’s former soldiers to investigate. This snooping leads to a vast government conspiracy – some of which falls under the actually happened headline. The case additionally leads them back to Valerie and an all-star cast beyond Bale, Washington, and Robbie.

Chris Rock is a member of the French uniformed clad force. Michael Shannon and Mike Myers are intelligence officers amusingly masquerading as bird experts. Zoe Saldana, in the picture’s most underdeveloped role, helps perform autopsy work and is a potential love interest for Burt. The most intriguing character is General Gill Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro), a combat hero being recruited for fascist propagandist purposes. Russell’s screenplay gives De Niro a noteworthy role to play with (this is the fourth collaboration between them). The legendary actor has done some of his finest 21st century work with the filmmaker.

The political potboiler aspects kick into gear when Dillenbeck pops up for the second half. That’s when Amsterdam improves. The first half feels like Russell’s attempt to do a Wes Anderson or Coen Bros type whimsical comedy and he fails the test. There’s a lot of characters crowding the scene. Rami Malek is an affluent textile magnet with connections to Valerie. Anya Taylor-Joy is his wife, who has a funny fangirl crush on Dillenbeck. Alessandro Nivola and Matthias Schoenaerts are detectives assigned to track the lead trio.

Once Russell gets to what Amsterdam is really about (with some unmistakable current events overtones), I realized lots of these famous faces and subplots could’ve been jettisoned for a more focused approach. Of all the names, Bale (always committed) and De Niro come out best. The director’s eye for the solid material keeps getting dislodged – like Burt’s fake one. This makes it questionable as to whether it’s worth seeing. More of the stuff that actually happened and not the forced whimsy would have been a reasonable start.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Before you call me crazy for penning this Oscar Predictions post, I’m not saying Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile will crawl into Best Picture consideration. And I’m not forecasting a Javier Bardem Supporting Actor nomination 15 years after he won for No Country for Old Men. I don’t need a coin to make those calls, friendo.

Yet the live-action/animated musical comedy for the kids could contend in one race. Shawn Mendes (the pop superstar who voices the title croc) has contributed some tunes to the soundtrack. One in particular called “Heartbeat” just debuted.

At present, unless your name is Lady Gaga with her ballad “Holy My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, the remaining four slots for Original Song are wide open. If the Academy wants another recognizable face crooning material… well, they might look to Taylor Swift with “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing. Or who knows? Maybe this could pop up. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Amsterdam Box Office Prediction

David O. Russell’s Amsterdam will need to rely on star power to bring in audiences when it opens October 7th. Considering the middling word-of-mouth and so-so trailers and TV spots, that could be an uphill battle. The comedic mystery is the filmmaker’s first picture since 2015’s Joy. It boasts an impressive cast led by Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington. Other familiar faces include Zoe Saldana, Anya Tayl0r-Joy, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Alessandro Nivola, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, and Matthias Schoenaerts.

From 2010-2013, Russell had a trilogy of Oscar and audience friendly titles. The Fighter, in addition to multiple Academy nods, made $93 million domestically. Silver Linings Playbook, in addition to multiple Oscar nods, took in $132 million. American Hustle, in addition to its several award nominations, earned $150 million.

Times have changed. The aforementioned Joy, which drew a more mixed reaction than Russell’s predecessors, grossed $56 million. In the seven years that have followed, the director has been embroiled in some concerning stories about his personal life.

20th Century Studios didn’t bother to screen Amsterdam for the film festival circuit a couple of weeks back. Critical reaction has skewed toward the negative with a 36% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Despite the pedigree, the red lights glowing indicate a high profile flop. This might not manage double digits.

Amsterdam opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile prediction, click here:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Amsterdam

From 2010-13, David O. Russell made three pictures (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) that collectively earned an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations. This included acting wins for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Jennifer Lawrence. The filmmaker himself has yet to receive a gold statue and his previous effort (2015’s Joy) nabbed just 1 Academy nod for its lead Lawrence.

His latest is Amsterdam and the comedic mystery will be lucky to garner any attention during awards season. It was a curious decision when Russell’s first feature in seven years skipped the festival circuit of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. Now we may know why.

Early reviews for the October 7th release are not encouraging. There’s only a handful of official reviews which show a 20% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet we also have plenty of social media reaction claiming this is a high profile disappointment. The impressive cast is led by Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington with tons of other familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldana, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, and Chris Rock (to name some). I wouldn’t expect any to compete in the acting derbies. Bale and De Niro are getting some decent notices, but it shouldn’t matter (maybe Bale could show up at the Globes for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy if competition is light).

As I see it, Costume Design and/or Production Design are the only possibilities for Amsterdam to be an Academy player. It’s entirely feasible that it won’t show up at all. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Where the Crawdads Sing Review

Crossing a John Grisham style potboiler with the 1994 Jodie Foster woman in the wild pic Nell begets Where the Crawdads Sing. This is the adaptation of the hugely popular 2018 bestseller from Delia Owens (so well known that Taylor Swift offered to contribute an end credits tune called “Carolina”).

That’s North Carolina beginning in 1953 where Kya lives in the marshland with her alcoholic father, abused mother, and siblings. One by one they all flee until the seven-year-old is all by her lonesome. She sells mussels to the married local store purveyors (Michael Hyatt and Sterling Macer Jr.) to make ends meet. Kya attempts an education, but the harassment of schoolmates makes that a one-day excursion.

As she grows into a young woman (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), her interest in arts and nature hints at a promising career. The screenplay concentrates on Kya’s two romances. The first is with Tate (Taylor John Smith), who helps her learn to read and write before he’s slated to go away to college. The second is with star quarterback Chase (Harris Dickinson) whose union with The Marsh Girl (as the townsfolk call her) is his little secret.

For those uninitiated with the source material (this includes me), I’ll be careful not to wade into heavy spoiler territory. It’s not revealing too much to say that Kya’s publishing future is interrupted by a murder trial where she’s defended by David Strathairn’s dignified counselor.

Crawdads is all about Kya’s many experiences with abandonment. Part of the problem is that both of her beaus are blank slates. I never felt the chemistry between the Kya/Tate or Kya/Chase connections as much as they’re just presented to the audience. And that assisted in abandoning my own investment in the proceedings… both romantically and legally.

The screenplay never finds the right balance between the trial and the trials of our heroine away from the courtroom. From Edgar-Jones on down, the performances are serviceable but nothing beyond that. Crawdads has beautiful scenery to be sure. I wanted a more compelling story to occur there.

** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens had a massive bestseller released in 2018 with Where the Crawdads Sing and the North Carolina set mystery’s film adaptation is out on Friday. Directed by Olivia Newman, the cast of mostly relative unknowns includes Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, and Harris Dickinson.

The review embargo is lifted and critical reaction is mixed at best. With a 38% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it’s safe to assume awards voters will ignore it… with one possible exception.

A big fan of the source material, superstar Taylor Swift composed the track “Carolina” for the soundtrack. If the Academy nominates it in Best Original Song, that practically guarantees Oscar night performances from Swift and Lady Gaga (whose Top Gun: Maverick ballad “Hold My Hand” should be a no brainer for the final five). Gaga’s chances are considerably stronger, but it could be tempting to bring that double star power to the evening’s festivities. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…