2020 Oscars Shortlist Analysis

Taylor Swift will not be performing an Oscar nominated track at this April’s ceremony. Sonic the Hedgehog will not be the Oscar nominated Sonic the Hedgehog. Sacha Baron Cohen’s makeup team from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm who transformed him into former President Donald Trump will not see their work recognized.

These are some of the headlines from today’s unveiling of shortlists in six categories covering feature films from the Academy. On the positive side for its respective studios, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey could contend in at least three races. A documentary about refugees from Chechnya is a Visual Effects hopeful. And Borat is still on the board for his song “Wuhan Flu”. There were mixed results from the announcements for features such as Hillbilly Elegy, The Invisible Man, and The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

Let’s break this all down and what it means for my weekly predictions, shall we?

Best Documentary Feature

Fifteen films were shortlisted today as follows:

76 Days

All In: The Fight for Democracy

Boys State

Collective

Crip Camp

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Gunda

MLK/FBI

The Mole Agent

My Octopus Teacher

Notturno

The Painter and the Thief

Time

The Truffle Hunters

Welcome to Chechnya

Analysis: 

There are two docs I had in my top ten that missed the cut: The Dissident, which I had ranked all the way up in second and Totally Under Control, which I had sixth. This is a pretty open race in 2020 and I had Time in first position two days ago. All In and Dick Johnson are sturdy contenders as well.

Best International Feature Film

Fifteen films were shortlisted today as follows:

Another Round

Better Days

Charlatan

Collective

Dear Comrades!

Hope

I’m No Longer Here

La Llorona

The Man Who Sold His Skin

The Mole Agent

Night of the Kings

Quo Vadis, Aida?

A Sun

Sun Children

Two of Us

Analysis:

My only top ten hopeful falling out was my #10 Notturno (which made the Documentary list). No real surprises with Another Round as a soft frontrunner to win.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Ten films were shortlisted as follows:

Birds of Prey

Emma

The Glorias

Hillbilly Elegy

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The Little Things

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

One Night in Miami

Pinocchio

Analysis:

Two of my predicted nominees from my last round had their possibilities cease today: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The United States vs. Billie Holiday (ranked fourth and fifth respectively). Also dropped: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (#7), News of the World (#8), and Mulan (#9). Ma Rainey will probably remain in my #1 spot with Hillbilly and Mank following.

Best Original Score

Fifteen films were shortlisted as follows:

Ammonite

Blizzard of Souls

Da 5 Bloods

The Invisible Man

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The Life Ahead

The Little Things

Mank

The Midnight Sky

Minari

Mulan

News of the World

Soul

Tenet

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis:

My #6 entry Hillbilly Elegy was a rather notable miss here while my other nine entries are still in the mix. This race could come down to Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor competing against themselves with Soul and Mank.

Best Original Song

Fifteen films were shortlisted as follows:

“Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy

“See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast

“Wuhan Flu” from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

“Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

“Never Break” from Giving Voice

“Make It Work” from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

“Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah

“Seen” from The Life Ahead

“Rain Song” from Minari

“Show Me Your Soul” from Mr. Soul!

“Loyal Brave True” from Mulan

“Free” from The One and Only Ivan

“Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

“Green” from Sound of Metal

“Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis:

As mentioned, no Taylor Swift for her track “Only the Young” from Miss Americana. Yet a larger omission was “Over the Moon” from the animated Rocket to the Moon, which I had ranked at #4. Another to miss the cut: “Tigress & Tweed” from The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which achieved a Golden Globes nod. “Speak Now” might have an edge, but I wouldn’t count out “Seen”.

Best Visual Effects

Ten films were shortlisted as follows:

Birds of Prey

Bloodshot

Love and Monsters

Mank

The Midnight Sky

Mulan

The One and Only Ivan

Soul

Tenet

Welcome to Chechnya 

Analysis:

Some genuine shockers in VE with my #3 The Invisible Man and #4 Greyhound out of contention. Also missing: Wonder Woman 1984 (#7), Sonic the Hedgehog (#8), and The Call of the Wild (#10). In their places are pics I didn’t have on my radar like Bloodshot and Love and Monsters (the Chechnya nod was at least spoken of in recent days). Soul getting in certainly gives it a solid shot at inclusion, but Tenet and The Midnight Sky still appear to be the heavyweights.

Today’s news will certainly alter what you see when I update my estimates this weekend! Stay tuned…

2019 Golden Globe Final Predictions – WINNERS

With the exception of two or three categories, the only thing that seems certain for Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards is that host Ricky Gervais will say something to upset people. With questions about who and what will emerge victorious this awards season, there is plenty of drama to go with the music and comedy this weekend.

While I spend a lot of time prognosticating the Oscars on this blog, I only did one post estimating what the Hollywood Foreign Press gave us for consideration. And now it’s time to predict the winners.

First, a quick Globes 101. This ceremony splits the lead acting races and pictures into Drama and Musical or Comedy. They do not split screenplay into Adapted or Original like the Academy does. Furthermore, unlike the Oscars, foreign pictures are nominated only in that race and are not eligible for the two top Picture categories.

This creates a fascinating dynamic Sunday evening as Oscar’s likely top three potential Best Picture winners (The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite) are all in different races. Bottom line: the Globes could be more helpful in pointing out what direction Academy voters may go in the acting derbies. We shall see…

Here goes as I break down each competition with analysis and a winner pick:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

The Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story, The Two Popes

Analysis: Of the three motion picture races, this is the one I feel least confident about. In 2018, the HFPA went with a giant blockbuster and a surprise with Bohemian Rhapsody. If they go this route again, you can expect Joker to be the victor. After all, 1917 hasn’t even opened wide yet (it could sneak a win too) and the other three are Netflix releases. This ultimately serves as the first major test for The Irishman as it moves through awards season. I’ll give it the edge, but not my much.

PREDICTED WINNER – THE IRISHMAN

Alternate – Joker

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Dolemite Is My Name, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rocketman

Analysis: Some simple math here as Hollywood is the only nominee that also scored a nod for its director. That bodes well and this is the clear frontrunner.

PREDICTED WINNER – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Alternate – Rocketman

Best Director

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

Analysis: This could certainly come down to Scorsese vs. Tarantino. Yet Sunday could be the beginning of a huge run for Joon-Ho picking up directing honors. I think that’s what happens.

PREDICTED WINNER – BONG JOON-HO

Alternate – Quentin Tarantino

Best Actor – Drama

The Nominees: Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Analysis: The Driver vs. Phoenix battle begins with the Globes. Joker did extremely well with Globes voters and this race probably represents its best chance for a victory. Driver is quite viable, but I’m going Phoenix.

PREDICTED WINNER – JOAQUIN PHOENIX

Alternate – Adam Driver

Best Actress – Drama

The Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Analysis: In what could absolutely be the Oscar final five, Zellweger’s work as the iconic Judy Garland seems like the type of performance HFPA will eat up. Johansson and Theron are threats, but this could be the first of a couple more Zellweger podium walks.

PREDICTED WINNER – RENEE ZELLWEGER

Alternate – Scarlett Johansson

Best Actor – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Daniel Craig (Knives Out), Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit), Leonardo Dicaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name)

Analysis: For Craig and Davis, it’s an honor to be nominated as this is a three person race. Both Egerton and DiCaprio should pick up significant votes and I’m awfully tempted to go Leo. However, Murphy’s acclaimed performance and his legendary status (especially coming so soon after his SNL return) could be irresistible to the HFPA.

PREDICTED WINNER – EDDIE MURPHY

Alternate – Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

The Nominees: Ana de Armas (Knives Out), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go Bernadette), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Emma Thompson (Late Night)

Analysis: Awkwafina is really the only player here with an Oscar shot so she’s a strong frontrunner. It’s pretty much that simple. I’d say de Armas is the only upset possibility and it’s rather slim.

PREDICTED WINNER – AWKWAFINA

Alternate – Ana de Armas

Best Supporting Actor

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

Analysis: What a list of legends we have here as Pacino and Pesci may split votes and that paves the way for Pitt. Expect this to be a familiar refrain.

PREDICTED WINNER – BRAD PITT

Alternate – Joe Pesci

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Annette Bening (The Report), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

Analysis: The smart money is on Lopez, who’s had a remarkable comeback in 2019. I may regret this, but I’m going with a gut feeling that Dern takes it and that may represent the only win for Marriage Story of its six nods.

PREDICTED WINNER – LAURA DERN

Alternate – Jennifer Lopez

Best Screenplay

The Nominees: The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, The Two Popes

Analysis: The only entry here I don’t see with a fair shot of winning is Popes. This is a coin flip situation. Despite what I just said about Dern, Marriage could absolutely win. The Parasite love could extend here and same with Irishman. Tough one, but I’ll give Tarantino the edge (especially since I’m betting against him in Director).

PREDICTED WINNER – ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

Alternate – Marriage Story

Best Foreign Language Film

The Nominees: The Farewell, Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Analysis: All five pics have their ardent admirers, but here’s the deal. If Parasite doesn’t win, it would constitute the biggest upset of the evening. Not happening.

PREDICTED WINNER – PARASITE

Alternate – umm… let’s say Pain and Glory

Best Animated Feature Film

The Nominees: Frozen II, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, The Lion King, Missing Link, Toy Story 4

Analysis: Disney has 60% of the nominees here, including that rather shocking Lion King inclusion. I wouldn’t totally count out Dragon, but Pixar should get the glory.

PREDICTED WINNER – TOY STORY 4

Alternate – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Best Orignal Score

The Nominees: 1917, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Motherless Brooklyn

Analysis: This one isn’t easy as just Brooklyn seems unlikely to get it. I’ll give Thomas Newman (1917) a small advantage over cousin Randy (Marriage Story), Alexandre Desplat (Women), and Hildur Guonadottir (Joker).

PREDICTED WINNER – 1917

Alternate – Little Women

Best Original Song

The Nominees: “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II, “Spirit” from The Lion King, “Stand Up” from Harriet

Analysis: Never count out Disney with the ballad from Frozen II, but the general consensus is it’s no “Let It Go”. There’s some serious heavy hitters here with Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Elton John in the mix. HFPA might want to see Elton onstage.

PREDICTED WINNER – “(I’M GONNA) LOVE ME AGAIN” FROM ROCKETMAN

Alternate – “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II

So this means I’m predicting the Globes spread it around with the following winner counts:

3 Wins

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

2 Wins

Parasite

1 Win

1917, Dolemite Is My Name, The Farewell, The Irishman, Joker, Judy, Marriage Story, Rocketman, Toy Story 4

I’ll have a recap of the show up Sunday night with my results!

Oscar Watch: Cats

Yes, readers, the words Oscar and Cats are in the same post title, so get on board! Truthfully, this shouldn’t be surprising at all. The adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical comes from director Tom Hooper. His last three films (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, The Danish Girl) garnered a total of 24 nominations and 8 wins, including Speech nabbing Best Picture. Each one of them gave us one acting winner – Colin Firth in Speech, Anne Hathaway in Miserables, and Alicia Vikander for Danish. 

So to say Cats had potential awards pedigree is not an understatement. Had being the objective term. One day before its release, the review embargo is up. Note to everyone: Oscar contenders don’t lapse their embargo 24 hours before release.

This has proven accurate as the Rotten Tomatoes score for Cats is currently… 19%. Some reviews are of a mixed nature while others are deeming it an unmitigated disaster. Weeks ago, the prospect of a Jennifer Hudson nod in Supporting Actress seemed at least feasible. There will be no second nomination for the Dreamgirls winner.

That said, Cats is definitely contending in one race. Earlier this week, the Academy released their shortlist for Visual Effects nominees. Ten pictures were named and this is one of them. This seems potentially amusing as a number of reviews say the visual look is ugly and garish. I don’t expect this to make the final five and I foresee chatter as to how this got on the shortlist over material like Ad Astra and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Could this show up in other races like Production Design or Makeup and Hairstyling? That seems like a reach.

The one category where Cats did seem like a genuine player was Best Original Song via “Beautiful Ghosts”. That track is sung by costar Taylor Swift and it seemed like a good excuse for the Academy to get her on the stage. Surprisingly, “Ghosts” was excluded from the 15 finalists that were also named this week.

I’ve ended dozens and dozens of these Oscar Watch posts with “My Oscar Watch posts will continue…”. Indeed they will. However, this appears to be the final one of 2019. Have no fear as the Sundance Film Festival is around the corner in January and there’s always Oscar bait at that event. Therefore, my Oscar Watch posts will continue… in 2020. And in the meantime, my predictions for this year’s Academy nominees will continue as well.

Cats Box Office Prediction

One of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time gets the big budget screen treatment next weekend with the unleashing of Cats. The rendering of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work comes from the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, who also made the Les Miserables adaptation in 2012. Performers donning the fur include James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Howard.

When the Cats trailer was posted a few months back, it was greeted with a certain amount of derision. Even with that negative buzz and a review embargo that doesn’t lapse until right before its release, these musicals with hefty price tags have shown their muscle before during the holiday season.

In 2017, The Greatest Showman was met with mixed reviews. Its $8.8 million opening on the same pre Christmas weekend was a disappointment, but it legged out to an amazing $174 million domestically. Five years back, Into the Woods took in a joyous $45 million over its extended Christmas rollout.

This is not expected to reach the highs of Woods or lows of Showman out of the gate. Competition is fierce with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker premiering on the same day. That said, Universal Pictures has perhaps smartly scheduled this as counter programming for female and older crowds. On the other hand, Bombshell (also out next Friday) is searching for the same audience.

I believe this manages low to mid teens haul for starters as it hopes for positive word-of-mouth afterwards and nine lives of profitability in subsequent frames.

Cats opening weekend prediction: $14.5 million

For my Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/10/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-box-office-prediction/

For my Bombshell prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/12/11/bombshell-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Frozen II

One week ahead of its massive launch, the review embargo has lifted for Disney’s Frozen II, the sequel to the 2013 animated smash that grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. Financial expectations are understandably enormous and a big question was whether it matches the quality of the original.

Early critical reaction suggests… not quite. Frozen achieved a 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating while the follow-up is currently at 81%. Part 1 was nominated for two Oscars and won both – Animated Feature and Best Original Song for the omnipresent “Let It Go” as sung by Idina Menzel (or whatever John Travolta called her at the Academy ceremony).

Frozen II is very likely to be nominated in both races like its predecessor. The tune is likely to be the ballad “Into the Unknown”. However, unlike the original, it may not be the favorite to win in either category. The biggest competition in Animated Feature comes from another Mouse Factory sequel with this summer’s Toy Story 4 (which I still believe to be the frontrunner). Another non-Disney sequel, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, could also be a factor – albeit less so than Woody and Buzz. In Original Song, there’s serious competitors in the form of Elton John and Taylor Swift tracks from Rocketman and Cats, respectively.

Bottom line: Frozen II should nab the same nods that Frozen did. Victories are another story. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Top Ten Summer Music Hits of 1997: A Look Back

Today, we continue on with the summer songs were filling our ears two decades ago. Last week, I brought you the top 10 seasonal ditties of 1987. If you missed that post, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/07/07/top-ten-summer-music-hits-of-1987-a-look-back/

As I’ve done with these posts previously, I’m personally rating each of them on a scale of 1 (summer bummer) to 10 (summer fire). I’m also answering the important question as to whether each track is located in my Apple Music catalog.

Before we delve into the top 10, I must say that when I looked up Billboard’s chart I expected to see Will Smith’s “Men in Black”, the theme song to 1997’s highest grossing picture. Surprisingly, it was nowhere to be found but in case you wanted to put on your nostalgia goggles and watch the Fresh Prince groovin’ with an alien, here you are:

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the songs that were constantly playing on our radios and CD players 20 years ago:

10. “Look Into My Eyes” by Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony

While I expected Mr. Smith’s movie hit to be in this list, I had plain forgotten about Cleveland rap group Bone’s track that appeared on the Batman and Robin soundtrack. I guess the movie itself isn’t the only forgettable thing about the fourth Caped Crusader flick. While Bone has had some classics (“Tha Crossroads”, “1st of tha Month”), this isn’t one of them.

My Rating: 5 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music? No

9. “Do You Know (What It Takes)” by Robyn

Swedish pop star Robyn scored her first of two top 10 singles stateside with this uptempo dance hit (her second was “Show Me Love”). The fact that I had to look it up to remind myself of it means it’s a bit of a throwaway, but my head was nodding along to it and it’s got a little Britney Spears vibe pre-Britney. This makes sense because it was co-produced by Max Martin, who went on to make massive hits for Britney, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and many many others.

My Rating: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

8. “Mo Money Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase

The second single from Biggie’s Life After Death album (released just weeks after his murder), “Mo Money” is a Puff Daddy confection that samples the Diana Ross classic “I’m Coming Out”. It would have sounded perfectly at home on Puff’s hit album from that summer, but it hits a high note when Christopher Wallace’s fierce rap closes it out.

My Rating: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

7. “Say You’ll Be There” by Spice Girls

For those who didn’t live through the Spice revolution, the British girl group were a massive sensation and this is on the higher end of their pop hits. They even went the movie route six months after this topped the charts with Spice World, which performed well worldwide despite mostly scathing reviews.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music? No

6. “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind

This cut from San Francisco rockers Third Eye Blind was inescapable two decades ago. It may be a perfectly sounding pop concoction, but it’s actually about crystal meth addiction. Woo hoo! Truthfully, I found this song rather grating back then and still do. It was featured prominently in American Pie two summers later.

My Rating: 5

It Is On My Apple Music? No

5. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison

British hip hop artist Morrison had his one hit wonder with this anthem and it’s a darn catchy one that still resonates today. It was even recently featured in a Burger King commercial!

My Rating: 9

It Is On My Apple Music?: Yes

4. “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” by Backstreet Boys

Also produced by the aforementioned Max Martin, this is Backstreet’s first chart topper in the United States. Is it their best? No, that easily belongs to “I Want It That Way”, but it’s a good pop tune.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

3. “MMMBop” by Hanson

The Oklahoma brothers had an absolute smash with the ubiquitous “MMMBop”. It received critical raves as well. I’ll fully admit this a song I would turn off today, but I liked it too back in the day.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music? No

2. “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks

This female empowerment track by Oregon songstress Brooks was inescapable as well. It doesn’t touch top tier Alanis as far as I’m concerned, but it’s easy to belt out the chorus. It would be prominently featured three years later in the Mel Gibson rom com What Women Want.

My Rating: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music? No

1. “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112

Puff Daddy’s tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. with an assist from his widow and Bad Boy label mates 112 was an absolute juggernaut that spent 11 weeks at #1. Sampling The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, it was a powerful track coming so soon after Biggie’s demise. Truth be told, it’s also rather mawkish and doesn’t hold up nearly as well today but I sure dug it then.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

And there you have it, folks! I’ll be bringing you the 2007 list very soon…

The Giver Box Office Prediction

The Giver opens Friday and the youth oriented science fiction flick poses a serious question: will audiences turn out for it and who is the intended audience? The Weinstein Company seems to have little faith in the project and its marketing campaign has been quite underwhelming. Based on a 1993 Lois Lowry novel, the pic does have some serious talent behind it. The adult stars are Oscar winners Jeff Bridges (who coproduced) and Meryl Streep, with Katie Holmes and singer Taylor Swift in supporting roles. Phillip Noyce, director of Patriot Games and Salt, is behind the camera.

Aside from its subdued marketing, other challenges face The Giver. If it’s going for the youth audience, there’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy to contend with. The film’s budget is a meager $30 million and yet it still may struggle to recoup that cost domestically. The Giver could struggle to reach double digits, but I’ll predict it does manage that unimpressive benchmark for what’ll likely be a fifth place opening next weekend.

The Giver opening weekend prediction: $11 million

For my The Expendables 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/10/the-expendables-3-box-office-prediction/

For my Let’s Be Cops prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/10/lets-be-cops-box-office-prediction/