Oscar Predictions: Sr.

Sr. refers to Robert Downey Sr. and it recounts his directing and acting career in addition to his final years (he passed last summer). Best known for the underground 1969 satire Putney Swope, the film streams on Netflix December 2nd. His very famous son also appears in the documentary from Chris Smith, maker of 2019’s buzzy Fyre.

After a premiere at Telluride in September, Sr. also played the New York Film Festival. Early reviews are solid across the board with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Netflix always has docs to campaign for at Oscar time. Their biggest hopeful might be Descendant, but they’ll likely promote this one too (especially with the high profile Hollywood connection and Downey Jr. making the rounds).

I’ve had Sr. in and out of my top ten of possibilities in Doc Feature, but not yet in the high five. We’ll see if it manages to rise in the coming weeks. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

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…

Oscar Predictions: Good Night Oppy

Ryan White’s documentary Good Night Oppy centers on the Mars rover Opportunity and its decade and a half long journey through the red planet. It played the Telluride and Toronto film festivals and is slated for limited theatrical release on November 4th and Amazon Prime streaming on November 23rd.

Early reviews are mostly solid as it holds a 79% Rotten Tomatoes rating. While that’s certainly decent, there will be plenty of other docs with stronger critical reaction. Yet if it strikes a chord with viewers, perhaps the Academy will put it on their shortlist and maybe even final five. Oppy is also the rare true life tale that could theoretically be a contender for Best Visual Effects. I doubt that will materialize, but it’s at least worth mentioning. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Oscar Predictions: September 5th Edition

As I always say at the beginning of September on this blog – what a difference a few days makes as Venice is at its midpoint and Telluride occurred over the holiday weekend. The Toronto Film Festival begins Thursday. For the first time, I am thrilled to announce that I will be in attendance and have screenings scheduled for several potential heavy hitters! They include The Fabelmans, The Son, The Whale, Women Talking, The Banshees of Inisherin, Triangle of Sadness, Empire of Light, The Menu, The Wonder, Bros, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, and The Good Nurse. 

The fall festivals always cause the fortunes of certain pictures to rise and fall. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo received mixed reviews out of Lido and it has dropped out of my predictions in Picture, Director, Actor (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), and Supporting Actress (Griselda Sicillani). On the other hand, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking looks to have solidified its position as a BP hopeful while Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley appear to be the two likeliest nominees from its ensemble. Cate Blanchett (Tar) and Brendan Fraser (The Whale) have positioned themselves as surefire nominees and potential winners in the lead acting derbies. Tar itself improved its standing in Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. Empire of Light is no slam dunk for BP, but it’s in the mix and Olivia Colman seems solid in Actress. The Banshees of Inisherin may be Fox Searchlight’s better hope over Empire. It drew a rapturous Venice reaction today and has vaulted into Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Original Screenplay on my chart. Bones and All, despite some gushing reviews, could face challenges to fit into the BP race. Don’t Worry Darling, due to some middling write-ups, is probably toast.

Of course, we know that festivals are not the end all and be all for final verdicts. For example, Armageddon Time from James Gray seemed DOA after a so-so Cannes bow in the summer. Yet when it played Telluride over the weekend, the buzz was stronger. It’s awards heart is beating again – even if faintly.

This will probably be my last update for two weeks as I’ll be a Canadian for a few days. You can bet you’ll see lots of other individual Oscar prediction posts as well as reviews of the aforementioned pictures. When I update in a couple of weeks, I’m anticipating branching out to all races covering feature films. Until then, you can peruse all the movement (and there is definitely a lot of it) below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Women Talking (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The Son (PR: 5) (E)

6. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 10) (+4)

7. The Whale (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Tar (PR: 11) (+3)

9. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 18) (+9)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

11. Empire of Light (PR: 7) (-4)

12. Decision to Leave (PR: 12) (E)

13. She Said (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 16) (+2)

15. Elvis (PR: 15) (E)

16. White Noise (PR: 13) (-3)

17. Bones and All (PR: 22) (+5)

18. Armageddon Time (PR: Not Ranked)

19. Till (PR: 20) (+1)

20. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 23) (+3)

21. Broker (PR: 17) (-4)

22. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 19) (-3)

23. Living (PR: 25) (+2)

24. Bardo (PR: 4) (-20)

25. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 24) (-1)

Dropped Out:

The Menu

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 11) (+5)

7. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Florian Zeller, The Son (PR: 9) (+1)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 12) (+3)

10. Darren Aronofsky, The Whale (PR: 10) (E)

11. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light (PR: 7) (-4)

12. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Noah Baumbach, White Noise (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Baz Luhrmann, Elvis (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bardo

Maria Schrader, She Said 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 4) (E)

5. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 6) (E)

7. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Florence Pugh, The Wonder (PR: 12) (+3)

10. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 10) (E)

11. Emma Thompson, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Taylor Russell, Bones and All (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Tang Wei, Decision to Leave (PR: 12) (-2)

15. Jessica Chastain, The Good Nurse (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Regina King, Shirley (moved to 2023)

Frances McDormand, Women Talking (role not large enough)

Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling 

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 10) (+6)

5. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 7) (E)

8. Micheal Ward, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 9) (E)

10. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Timothee Chalamet, Bones and All (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Chevalier (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Park Hae-il, Decision to Leave (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Bardo 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Vanessa Kirby, The Son (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: 14) (+10)

5. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Laura Dern, The Son (PR: 6) (E)

7. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: 8) (E)

9. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Samantha Morton, She Said (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Zoe Kazan, She Said (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Sadie Sink, The Whale (PR: 9) (-3)

13. Dakota Johnson, Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 13) (E)

14. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (-4)

15. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Griselda Sicillani, Bardo

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR 2) (E)

3. Zen McGrath, The Son (PR: 3) (E)

4. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+4)

5. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 7) (E)

8. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 9) (E)

10. Anthony Hopkins, The Son (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Mark Strong, Tar (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans (PR: 13) (E)

14. Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (PR: 14) (E)

15. Russell Crowe, The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 15) (E)

Dropped Out:

Colin Firth, Empire of Light

Toby Jones, Empire of Light

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 7) (+4)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Babylon (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Tar (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Decision to Leave (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Armageddon Time (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Broker (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Bros (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Aftersun (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Cha Cha Real Smooth (PR: 13) (E)

14. Bardo (PR: 5) (-9)

15. The Menu (PR: 10) (-5)

Dropped Out:

Don’t Worry Darling

Chevalier

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Son (PR: 1) (E)

2. Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Whale (PR: 3) (E)

4. She Said (PR: 4) (E)

5. White Noise (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Bones and All (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Living (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 9) (E)

10. Till (PR: 10) (E)

11. The Lost King (PR: 11) (E)

12. The Greatest Beer Run Ever (PR: 12) (E)

13. The Wonder (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Elvis (PR: 13) (-1)

15. The Good Nurse (PR: 14) (-1)

Dropped Out:

The Woman King 

Oscar Predictions: Don’t Worry Darling

For weeks, there’s been loads of gossip pieces focused on Olivia Wilde’s sophomore effort Don’t Worry Darling (her follow-up to her glowingly received 2019 teen comedy Booksmart). They have everything to do with the director’s romance with costar and pop superstar Harry Styles, Florence Pugh’s decision not to participate in promotion for the picture, and confusion over whether original cast mate Shia LaBeouf quit the project or was fired. Even today, the Venice press conference is generating memes of Chris Pine looking like he’d rather be fighting Thanos somewhere.

None of this chatter has anything to do with the quality of the movie. That’s finally part of the discussion today as it has screened at Lido prior to its September 23rd release. The verdict? I don’t think Warner Bros needs to worry much about its awards campaign spending. They could cut that budget as Darling is posting mostly mediocre reviews (39% on RT at press time). Don’t get me wrong – they’re not all terrible, but none are strong enough to warrant any thought of Oscar nods.

Said to be a so-so Stepford Wives knockoff, Pugh is the beneficiary of the best ink. However, I’d say her performance in December’s The Wonder (which screened at Telluride over the weekend) gives her a better chance at a nomination. We’ll know soon if Darling is a financial success based on the “all press is good press” theory. It’s safe to say that won’t translate to the awards season. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

In 1928, D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned in the United States and elsewhere due its explicit sexual nature and profanity. Nearly a century later, the latest celluloid version of his work lands in theaters this November before a December Netflix rollout. It played at Telluride over the weekend. This is Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s second directorial effort following 2019’s critically appreciated The Mustang. Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell are the lead lovers with Matthew Duckett and Joely Richardson in the supporting cast.

Early reviews have this at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with particular praise heaped on Corrin/O’Connell’s chemistry (expect to see a lot of them according to the buzz). Corrin is a Golden Globe winner as Princess Di on The Crown and she has a busy autumn as she costars alongside Harry Styles in My Policeman (soon screening in Toronto). I don’t think this is a BP contender, but I’ll be curious to see if Netflix attempts an Actress campaign for their Crown royalty. Perhaps that notion could pick up steam if the streamer feels she’s the best option, but I wouldn’t count on it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Empire of Light

Empire of Light is the ninth feature film from Sam Mendes. Six of his previous eight titles received at least one Oscar nod. His debut, 1999’s American Beauty, won Best Picture and Director. His last, war epic 1917, garnered ten nominations and was victorious with three of them. The Mendes streak of awards success should continue with Empire of Light, which has premiered at Telluride prior to its December 9th stateside release.

Called the filmmaker’s most personal effort, Empire is a late 70s/early 80s set celebration of cinema with a May/December romance between leads Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward. Costars include Tom Brooke, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth.

We are early in the review process and some of the write-ups are rather mixed. Yet the superlatives going to Colman has me thinking she’s going to receive her fourth Academy mention in five years. She won for Best Actress in 2018 The Favourite and then nabbed a Supporting Actress nod in 2020 for The Father. A lead actress slot followed last year for The Lost Daughter. The other races where this looks strong are Cinematography from the legendary Roger Deakins and the Trent Reznior/Atticus Ross score. Production Design is also doable.

Ward’s work is also being praised. However, I’m not near as confident he makes the Actor cut. Firth’s role, by the way, sounds too small for a supporting bid. The latter’s performance and its viability could be determined by Empire‘s strength in BP (as well as the original screenplay). Voters do love movies about their industry and that could help. I don’t believe this has established a guaranteed spot among the ten. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Wonder

Florence Pugh’s turn in the forthcoming Don’t Worry Darling (which is readying its Venice debut) might be her highest profile autumn project. Yet the actress (a Supporting Actress nominee for Little Women in 2019) is generating kudos for The Wonder, which has premiered at Telluride. A November theatrical release is planned prior to a December Netflix bow.

Sebastian Lelio directs the drama set in 1860s Ireland. He’s known for critically appreciated efforts like Disobedience and Gloria Bell and five years ago, his Chilean pic A Fantastic Woman won the international feature prize from the Academy. Pugh stars as a nurse tasked with monitoring a young girl said to have survived without food for months. Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Toby Jones, and Ciaran Hinds costar. The screenplay comes from Emma Donoghue and it’s based on her own novel. She is best known for the book and script for Room, which won Brie Larson a Best Actress Oscar.

The smattering of reviews out are mostly positive though they don’t have me thinking The Wonder is a Best Picture contender. I could see Netflix pushing Pugh in lead actress. And with that… get used to this refrain. I believe 60% of the Actress field might be set already. That would be Michelle Yeah in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Cate Blanchett for Tar, and Olivia Colman for Empire of Light (my post for that is about to be published so consider this a spoiler alert). Pugh and anyone else could be competing for two slots and there’s plenty of performances left unseen.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t count Pugh out based on initial reaction for The Wonder but competition is already severe. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Women Talking

After its debut at Telluride, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking has awards pundits talking about its solid reception. Based on a 2018 novel by Miriam Toews, it focuses on a group of Mennonite women who are subject to sexual abuse. The powerhouse cast includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, and Frances McDormand.

Based on a small number of reviews, critics are positive across the board with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. There wasn’t much doubt that Women could be a contender at the Oscars. A better question was which performers would stand out. First things first. McDormand (who serves as a producer) apparently has a small role so she will not vie for a fourth acting statue. If any of the cast goes lead, it sounds like Mara would be the choice and her inclusion in Best Actress could come down to competition. A likelier scenario is Buckley or Foy (or both) in Supporting Actress and Whishaw in Supporting Actor. That would mark the second nomination for Buckley after last year’s The Lost Daughter and the first for Foy (who was surprisingly snubbed in 2018 for First Man). This would also be Whishaw’s first trip to the dance. Early chatter has praised Judith Ivey and Sheila McCarthy as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if United Artists focuses on the higher profile thespians.

I’ve had Women Talking in my ten BP hopefuls for weeks and Telluride confirms its placement there. Polley could make the final five for her direction and her inclusion for Adapted Screenplay seems assured. Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score (she’s a past winner for Joker) and Cinematography are tech possibilities.

Bottom line: Women. Talking is showing itself to be worthy of chatter in the months to come. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Bardo

If you had asked me to guess the Rotten Tomatoes score for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths before its Venice debut today, I probably would’ve needed 55 guesses before I said 45%. Yet that’s where the acclaimed filmmaker’s seventh feature currently stands.

Simply put, that is shocking. Beginning with his debut Amores perros and its nomination for best foreign language pic in 2000, every Inarritu effort has attracted the attention of the Academy. His 2003 English debut 21 Grams landed acting nods for Naomi Watts and Benicio del Toro. 2006’s Babel received seven nominations including Picture and Director. 2010’s Biutiful got mentions in the foreign race and for Javier Bardem in Best Actor. 2014’s Birdman was the biggest breakthrough with nine nods and wins for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay among others. One year later, Inarritu would win Best Director again for The Revenant, which also finally brought Leonardo DiCaprio to the podium in its total of 12 nominations.

So… to put it mildly, anything Inarritu makes is subject to massive awards speculation. Bardo is a return to his native Mexico for a three hour Fellini inspired dramedy. A November 18th theatrical run is planned before a Netflix streaming start on December 16th. It’s said to be based on the auteur’s real life experiences and initial reaction (as evidenced by the early RT rating) is troubling. Indulgent is a common word thus far.

The festival season beginning in Venice and with Telluride and Toronto on deck is just two days old. Bardo buzz is guaranteed to be one of the biggest surprises. In my predictions last week, I had the movie, Inarritu’s direction, and Daniel Gimenez Cacho in Best Actor all ranked 4th. Griselda Sicillani was fifth in Supporting Actress and there’s where I had this for Original Screenplay. It is very possible that it could fall out of contention altogether in each race mentioned when I publish my next update on Labor Day. I am confident I won’t be predicting nominations for any of the above. The largest benefactor to a Bardo collapse could be Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave. The heralded Japanese mystery could find itself as the international frontrunner now and more of an option in the BP derby.

A slight word of caution: this is just one festival. Bardo screens in Telluride this weekend and maybe the negative chatter will turn to the positive and it won’t be the non-factor that I suspect it’s become. Even the disappointed critics are singling out Darius Khondji’s cinematography so it could continue Inarritu’s streak of every picture getting some Oscar love. Let there be no doubt, however, as that streak is in serious danger. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…