Belfast Takes Toronto

It’s a wrap for the Toronto Film Festival as prognosticators awaited the naming of the People’s Choice Award. Why? It has become one of the most reliable indicators for a movie nabbing a Best Picture nomination from the Academy.

As in – 12 of the latest 13 victors have done so. Five have gone onto win the big prize: 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, 2018’s Green Book, and last year’s Nomadland. That’s one heckuva track record.

When Kenneth Branagh’s black and white coming-of-age drama Belfast premiered at Telluride and reached Toronto, it became somewhat of a surprise awards contender. Yet coming into today, it was not an unexpected development for it to take the People’s trophy.

Belfast was listed at #4 in my BP possibilities last Sunday. I can guarantee it will rank higher when I update my projections tomorrow. Simply put, Belfast can be written in pen with your ten nominees in the BP derby.

Toronto also has runners-up. They were the Canadian drama Scarborough (which shouldn’t factor into Oscar chatter) and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (which certainly will). Campion already took directing honors at Cannes for Dog and the Toronto appreciation solidifies her latest as a major player. Don’t be shocked if Belfast and Dog are listed at 1-2 tomorrow and perhaps not in that order.

Bottom line: Belfast has been moving up the charts and what occurred this evening keeps it moving in the right direction.

Oscar Predictions: The Rescue

In 2018, documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin had a breakout hit with the climbing tale Free Solo. It took gold for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. The duo has debuted their latest true life saga The Rescue at Telluride and Toronto.

This story goes below ground in recounting the Tham Luang cave rescue in the summer of 2018. Early reviews from the festival circuit indicate they have made another stunner (100% on Rotten Tomatoes). Based on these reactions, I think it’s safe to assume The Rescue will make one of the five slots in the race that the directors triumphed in three years ago. The only caveat is that the documentary branch of the Academy is sometimes known for shocking snubs.

That said, there’s no doubt that The Rescue is not only in line for a nod, but it is a serious threat to win.

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 12th Edition

With the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals having just wrapped and Toronto going strong, there are fresh updates to my Oscar predictions in every category but Director!

Of course, the big question from the past week might be: Will a movie with the word “pizza” in it finally get a Best Picture nomination? That’s more possible than ever since Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest (which had the working title Soggy Bottom) is now apparently called Licorice Pizza. It makes perfect sense if you research the setting.

It’ll be a while before we know how much of a contender that one actually is.   There is some movement based on actual buzz and it starts with Stephen Karam’s The Humans, which has screened at Toronto. I believe it could make the BP cut and I’ve got it in. I’m also returning West Side Story to the top ten. Dropping out are CODA and King Richard, though either could certainly find themselves back in the mix.

In other developments:

    • Penelope Cruz’s Venice win for Best Actress gets her back in the top five. Falling out is Jennifer Hudson for Respect.
    • I now have Bradley Cooper as a double nominee. In addition to him maintaining the top spot in Supporting Actor for Pizza (that’s gonna take some getting used to), he’s listed in Actor for Nightmare Alley. He takes the place of Adam Driver in House of Gucci. 
    • With category placement still in flux for certain pics, I’ve chosen to put the ensemble for Belfast all in supporting. That means Caitriona Balfe is in for Supporting Actress over her costar Judi Dench. I’m also elevating Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) and dropping Marlee Matlin (CODA). Furthermore, I have Frances McDormand moved to supporting from lead and she sits just on the outside at #6. Kirsten Dunst takes over the #1 position over Ann Dowd in Mass.
    • Jamie Dornan (Belfast) also enters the competition in supporting instead of lead, but he’s not in my five. There is one change: Jason Isaacs (Mass) over Jared Leto (House of Gucci).
    • C’Mon C’Mon gets the 5th slot in Original Screenplay over Spencer. And Belfast is now listed first instead of Pizza. 
    • In Adapted Screenplay, The Humans and The Lost Daughter make the cut over The Tragedy of Macbeth and CODA. The latter did not have a good week as you can see (dropping out of Picture, Supporting Actress, and here).

We are mere hours away from knowing whether Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) deserves her #3 placement in Actress. Those developments and more will be available when I update next Sunday. Until then, you can peruse all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

4. Belfast (PR: 4)

5. Dune (PR: 6)

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) – formerly Soggy Bottom

8. West Side Story (PR: 11)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. The Humans (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

11. CODA (PR: 10)

12. King Richard (PR: 9)

13. The Hand of God (PR: 17)

14. Mass (PR: 12)

15. Spencer (PR: 13)

16. The French Dispatch (PR: 19)

17. Flee (PR: 16)

18. A Hero (PR: 15)

19. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 20)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

21. Passing (PR: 24)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22)

23. Cyrano (PR: 18)

24. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

The Last Duel

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3)

4. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 5)

5. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

8. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 10)

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 8)

10. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 15)

11. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 9)

12. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13)

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 11)

15. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard

Sian Heder, CODA

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristin Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

5. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

7. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 11)

8. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 15)

10. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 13)

11. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 14)

14. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (moved to Supporting Actress)

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (moved to Supporting Actress)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 5)

5. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 7)

7. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

8. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 12)

12. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 13)

13. Filippo Scott, The Hand of God (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Simon Rex, Red Rocket (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast (moved to Supporting)

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

2. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

3. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 6)

5. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 4)

8. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 7)

9. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

10. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12)

11. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 3)

12. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

13. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 9)

14. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 11)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos

Olga Merediz, In the Heights

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter 

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

2. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 4)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3)

4. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

5. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5)

7. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked – moved from lead)

8. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7)

9. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 8)

10. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 13)

12. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10)

13. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Timothy Spall, Spencer (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Reed Birney, Mass

Simon Helberg, Annette

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Adam Driver, The Last Duel

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 2)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 1)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 10)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 6)

7. Spencer (PR: 5)

8. The French Dispatch (PR: 9)

9. The Hand of God (PR: 11)

10. Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)

11. Being the Ricardos (PR: 12)

12. A Hero (PR: 8)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Annette

Best Adapted Screenplay 

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. The Humans (PR: 6)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 4)

7. Dune (PR: 8)

8. CODA (PR: 5)

9. West Side Story (PR: 12)

10. Passing (PR: 11)

11. Cyrano (PR: 10)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 13)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 9)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: 15)

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 6th Edition

Where to even begin? It’s been 11 days since I updated my Oscar predictions (a longer break than normal) but there’s good reason. A lot has transpired since then. That would be the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals where numerous contenders have been unveiled.

That means there are significant changes in all of the 8 major races that I’m currently forecasting. Let us count the ways:

    • Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was certainly one of the most awaited arrivals. Before Venice, I had it placed #1 in Picture, Director, and Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch). The reviews do not automatically indicate it will win the prize. However, they were enough raves that I have not moved it out of the top spot in Picture and Director. Yet there is a new #1 in Actor…
    • That would be Will Smith in King Richard. While Cumberbatch only slips to #2, the reaction to Smith’s work has me thinking a narrative could develop where he sweeps the season.
    • Richard also moves into the top ten in my Best Picture rankings. So does Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, another major story of the past few days. I didn’t have the black and white period drama getting any nods a week and a half ago. It’s now listed in Picture, Director, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actor (Ciaran Hinds), and Original Screenplay. There is a question with how the studio will figure out placement for its ensemble. I currently have Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as possibilities in the lead derbies with both falling short.
    • The two newcomers in Best Picture takes out West Side Story and The Hand of God. Branagh’s rise in Director removes Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth).
    • In Actress, the festival praise for Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) has me thinking she’s in at this juncture. Falling off the top five: Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth. I nearly put McDormand in Supporting Actress and I wouldn’t be surprised if she contends there instead.
    • Another development in Actress is the vaulting of Kristen Stewart (Spencer) to the #1 slot over Lady Gaga (House of Gucci). The Venice love indicates she’s the strong frontrunner to win gold.
    • Peter Dinklage’s title role as Cyrano makes the top five in Actor to the detriment of Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up).
    • Judi Dench’s inclusion in Belfast for Supporting Actress has Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) on the outside looking in. I desperately wanted to put Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) in the five and wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it in soon. I just couldn’t decide who to take out.
    • There are two changes in Supporting Actor. The Power of the Dog buzz provided a bit of a shocker. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to hold a better chance at getting in over Jesse Plemons (who falls out of the mix). Also, the addition of Ciaran Hinds removes Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth). For those keeping score, that’s two Supporting Actor hopefuls in the five that weren’t even ranked 11 days ago.
    • In Original Screenplay, it’s Belfast and Spencer in and The French Dispatch (whose fortunes are falling in my opinion) and The Hand of God out. In Adapted Screenplay, I have put CODA back in (sorry to The Humans… which we’ll know more about when it debuts in days up in Toronto).

Whew. Got all that? You can peruse all the movement below. And you can bet that I’ll be posting about all the fresh updates from Toronto. Until then…

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. House of Gucci (PR: 2)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

4. Belfast (PR: 14)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

6. Dune (PR: 7)

7. Soggy Bottom (PR: 5)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6)

9. King Richard (PR: 21)

10. CODA (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

11. West Side Story (PR: 8)

12. Mass (PR: 13)

13. Spencer (PR: 17)

14. The Humans (PR: 11)

15. A Hero (PR: 15)

16. Flee (PR: 16)

17. The Hand of God (PR: 10)

18. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

19. The French Dispatch (PR: 12)

20. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19)

21. The Last Duel (PR: 20)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 24)

23. Parallel Mothers (PR: 22)

24. Passing (PR: 23)

25. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 25)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2)

3. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 5)

4. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 12)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom (PR: 6)

7. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

8. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

9. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 15)

10. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 9)

11. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 10)

12. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 14)

14. Sian Heder, CODA (PR: 13)

15. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 4)

2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 1)

3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 14)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 7)

9. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8)

11. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (PR: 9)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12)

13. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10)

14. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 11)

15. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 13)

Dropped Out:

Halle Berry, Bruised

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 3)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

5. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 14)

Other Possibilities:

6. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 5)

7. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6)

8. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

9. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9)

10. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 8)

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11)

13. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 10)

14. Adam Driver, Annette (PR: 13)

15. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Steven Yeun, The Humans

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 1)

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11)

4. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 3)

5. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 5)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 15)

8. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6)

9. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 10)

10. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9)

11. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 8)

12. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 7)

13. Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos (PR: 13)

14. Olga Merediz, In the Heights (PR: 12)

15. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rebecca Ferguson, Dune

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: Not Ranked)

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 3)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 6)

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5)

8. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 7)

10. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

11. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: 13)

12. Simon Helberg, Annette (PR: 11)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10)

14. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos (PR: 14)

15. Adam Driver, The Last Duel (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up

Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Soggy Bottom (PR: 1)

2. Belfast (PR: 7)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 2)

4. Mass (PR: 4)

5. Spencer (PR: 11)

Other Possibilities:

6. King Richard (PR: 15)

7. Parallel Mothers (PR: 6)

8. A Hero (PR: 8)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 3)

10. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 9)

11. The Hand of God (PR: 5)

12. Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)

13. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13)

14. Blue Bayou (PR: 14)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Last Night in Soho

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3)

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 2)

5. CODA (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Humans (PR: 5)

7. The Lost Daughter (PR: 12)

8. Dune (PR: 7)

9. The Last Duel (PR: 8)

10. Cyrano (PR 13)

11. Passing (PR: 9)

12. West Side Story (PR: 11)

13. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10)

14. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 14)

15. The Green Knight (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Dear Evan Hansen

Back at it next week!

Oscar Predictions: C’Mon C’Mon

Two years ago, the film festival circuit paved the road for Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning triumph in Joker. In 2021, the actor headlines his first post Joker role and it showcases the softer side of Phoenix.

C’Mon C’Mon is a black and white drama from writer/director Mike Mills. He’s no stranger to awards attention. In 2011, he guided Christopher Plummer to a Best Supporting Actor victory. 2016’s 20th Century Women nabbed him a Best Original Screenplay nod.

I’ve yet to see a negative review for C’Mon from Telluride or Venice, but I’m also skeptical it has the goods for Picture consideration. Casting Phoenix as a radio DJ put in charge of caring for his young nephew (Woody Norman, garnering solid notices), its best chances are with him and the script.

Best Actor probably has two tickets punched already: Will Smith in King Richard and Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog. Peter Dinklage (Cyrano) also put himself in contention over the weekend. There’s a whole lot of performances left to be screened that could play: Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Adam Driver (House of Gucci), Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley), and Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up) among them. I currently should have Phoenix on the outside looking in when I update my estimates tomorrow, but he could absolutely rise. Same goes for the screenplay. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

Benedict Cumberbatch is primed to receive his second Best Actor nod (after 2014’s The Imitation Game) for his work in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. It screened at Venice this week, but it’s not the only title headlined by the star.

The other is The Electrical Life of Louis Wain where Cumberbatch plays the real life title character of the English artist known for his cat drawings. Will Sharpe directs and the supporting cast includes Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Sharon Rooney, and Toby Jones. It hits theaters in mid October with an Amazon Prime streaming premiere in early November.

Early reviews are mixed. I don’t anticipate this getting any life with awards voters in any category. Bottom line: Cumberbatch should get a tuxedo or two or three ready for next year. And it will be for Dog and not the one about the guy known for cats. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Belfast

Kenneth Branagh’s varied filmography has included Shakespeare adaptations (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing), MCU pics (Thor), Disney live-action remakes (Cinderella), action franchise entries (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), and Agatha Christie retellings (Murder on the Orient Express). None of them have received a Best Picture nod though Branagh was nominated for his direction of Henry V in 1989.

The Telluride Film Festival unveiled his black and white coming of age tale Belfast. Calling it his most personal film, it’s also one of his most acclaimed thus far. And it appears poised to give the filmmaker his first contender in the Best Picture derby. He could also be called out for his behind the camera work and his original screenplay.

As for the cast, Focus Features will need to decide where to place its principals. The quartet of Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, and Judi Dench could all go supporting. However, the studio may choose to put Balfe and Dornan in lead with the distinguished veterans in supporting. My feeling is that Dench (going for her 8th nod) and Hinds (trying to get his first) stand the best chances.

I also anticipate Belfast will be recognized for its cinematography which critics are singling out. Bottom line: the buzz from Colorado suggests Belfast has good reason to be hopeful during awards season. My Oscar Prediction posts on the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: King Richard

My previous Oscar Predictions post was for the Princess Diana biopic Spencer. I explained that it’s risky to make bold pronouncements at this juncture of the awards season. Yet the buzz from Venice strongly suggests that Kristen Stewart is going to nab a Best Actress nod for her work.

At Telluride, the same feeling holds true for King Richard from director Reinaldo Marcus Green. Hitting theaters and HBO Max on November 19, the title character is Richard Williams. He’s best known as the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena. Portraying him is Will Smith and he’s going for nomination #3 after 2001’s Ali and 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. 

So here we go again. The early reaction for Richard makes me comfortable enough to declare that Smith will get that third recognition. And he could win. Reviews also single out Aunjanue Ellis as Richard’s wife Brandy. An Emmy winner for When They See Us, I will likely include her in Supporting Actress when my estimates are updated on Monday.

As for the movie itself, it could certainly follow in the sports drama footsteps of previous Best Picture nominees like The Blind Side and Moneyball. I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s certainly a possibility as this sounds like a major crowdpleaser. There’s also an original song that plays over the credits from Beyonce (“Be Alive”) and I wouldn’t bet against her.

Bottom line: Will Smith has put himself in position to be the Fresh Prince of the Best Actor derby. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Spencer

The screenings at Venice and Telluride are rolling in at a furious level (expect lots of posts up this evening). From Italy, one of the most eagerly awaited was Spencer, Pablo Larrain’s biopic of Princess Diana starring Kristen Stewart. The director is no stranger to real life tales of political figures and their tragic circumstances. In 2016, Larrain made Jackie and it resulted in a Best Actress nomination for Natalie Portman.

Word-of-mouth indicates that Spencer could be a serious Oscar player (it’s out November 5). This is particularly true for Stewart. The actress’s post Twilight career includes praised performances for Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper, but she’s yet to garner any attention from the Academy.

It’s always risky to be too declarative at this stage of prognosticating and with so many pictures left to screen, but it feels warranted here. So here goes: Kristen Stewart is going to be one of the five names for Best Actress. You can write it in ink. I will probably have her listed at #1 when I do updated predictions (which will come on Monday).

Other nominations are less certain, but totally feasible. This includes Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Score. I don’t foresee nods for the supporting cast which includes Sally Hawkins, Jack Farthing, Timothy Spall, and Sean Harris.

Bottom line: a gold statue could be in Stewart’s future and Spencer could factor into several other categories. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Encounter

Venice isn’t the only film festival happening as Telluride has kicked off today. It’s got its own slate of high-profile debuts: King Richard, C’Mon C’Mon, Belfast, and Cyrano among them.

The picture selected to open the festivities is a curious one: Michael Pearce’s Encounter. The sci-fi drama is headlined by Riz Ahmed, who made an awards splash last year in Sound of Metal (resulting in a Best Actor nomination). Costars include Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, and Rory Cochrane.

Initial word-of-mouth suggests this will get some acclaim (the sound and score are being singled out too). However, this simply doesn’t appear to be the kind of effort that the Academy will recognize. Some reviews say it contains similar plot elements to Sean Penn’s recent Flag Day – minus the science fiction stuff. They have something else in common. Neither should be a factor in the Oscar season. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…