Oscar Predictions: Father Stu

If you prefer Mel Gibson playing Mark Wahlberg’s dad in a drama involving religion and inflammatory muscle diseases and not comedy sequels like Daddy’s Home 2, then Father Stu might be your jam. The biopic is out today and the faith-based experience (a rare one that’s rated R) hopes to cash in during Easter weekend.

A passion project for its star, the role for Wahlberg seems like the type of material meant to garner awards chatter. Yet an underwhelming 44% on Rotten Tomatoes tells a different tale. The artist formerly known as Marky has one Oscar nomination to his credit in Supporting Actor for 2006’s The Departed. Even though three of his cast members were up for The Fighter in 2010 (with Christian Bale and Melissa Leo winning), he failed to punch in.

Bottom line: Father Stu would need divine intervention to score a nod for Wahlberg or anything else. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

PGA: The Rise of CODA

When it comes to the Producers Guild of America awards, there’s a 14/21 match between their best picture and the Academy’s in the 21st century. The two-thirds ratio is 3/5 in the past five years. In 2016, La La Land took PGA over the Oscar selection of Moonlight. For 2019, PGA went with 1917 while the big show went with Parasite. Other 21st century examples: The Big Short won PGA in 2015 (Oscar: Spotlight). For 2006, Little Miss Sunshine got the PGA prize while The Departed took Oscar.

The PGA’s for 2021 occurred last night and it’s another feather in the cap for CODA. Sian Heder’s coming-of-age drama built upon its recent SAG ensemble victory  to triumph here. If there was any doubt before, CODA has unquestionably positioned itself as the alternate to The Power of the Dog winning Best Picture at the Oscars. Not Belfast. Not King Richard or Dune. This is a two-horse race between Dog and CODA and they both have important precursor hardware. No matter which one grabs the gold, it will be the first BP win for a streamer (Netflix for Dog and Apple TV for CODA).

Jane Campion’s direction of Dog won the Director Guild of America (DGA) prize this week and that’s a reliable Academy precursor. She’s almost certain to be the Oscar winner (CODA‘s Sian Heder isn’t nominated). In fact, CODA only has three nominations overall: Picture, Supporting Actor (Troy Kotsur), and Adapted Screenplay. It didn’t seem feasible until recently, but it could legitimately go 3 for 3.

Having said that, I wouldn’t dream of counting Dog out. It’s the Globe and BAFTA recipient. The precursor bonafides for it are just as impressive as CODA‘s. Even a week ago, however, I would’ve said Dog had about a 90% chance to be the Oscar BP. Now… well, it’s considerably less and we’ll see what I predict when I make my final picks on Wednesday.

In the Animated Feature and Documentary races at PGA, the respective winners were Encanto and Summer of Soul and they maintain their status as Academy favorites.

Oscar Predictions: The Tender Bar

George Clooney’s The Tender Bar opens in limited release this December before its premiere on Amazon Prime in early January. The coming-of-age drama set in the 1970s and 80s screened at the London Film Festival over the weekend. Early reviews indicate a warm hearted tale that is unlikely to play in the highest profile races like Picture and Director.

Its famous director wooed Oscar voters 16 years ago with his second effort Good Night, and Good Luck. Scoring six nods (including Picture and Director) and winning none, it’s been slim pickings for Clooney’s behind the camera efforts ever since. 2011’s The Ides of March nabbed a sole Adapted Screenplay mention while last year’s The Midnight Sky made the cut in Visual Effects.

As I see it, The Tender Bar could play in two categories. The first is the screenplay adapted by William Monahan. He’s no stranger to Academy attention as he won in 2006 for his penmanship of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Inclusion there is less likely than for one of its performers.

That would be Ben Affleck. Another leading man turned writer/director, Affleck has a deep history with Oscar voters that has nothing to do with his acting. In 1997, his Good Will Hunting script with Matt Damon won. Fifteen years later, he directed and produced (hence a second trophy) Best Picture winner Argo. Surprisingly, he didn’t get a spot for his direction.

With a cast featuring Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, and Christopher Lloyd, the initial critical praise is being heaped upon Affleck. That’s in addition to some kudos for his supporting work in The Last Duel (out this weekend). Mr. Affleck has been on the radar screen before for his performances – think Hollywoodland, Argo, and last year’s The Way Back. Yet he’s never made the dance. As of now, the Supporting Actor derby for 2021 looks wide open. I’d go as far to say there’s no guaranteed nominees (though Jamie Dornan in Belfast and Richard Jenkins in The Humans look probable). I’ve had Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) listed at #1 for two months, but we still don’t know if his role is meaty enough to truly contend.

This could all contribute to Affleck finally getting some Academy TLC. That said, he’s been in the mix before and come up shy. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: September 19th Edition

Thanks to the Toronto Film Festival, we have a new #1 atop the charts in Best Picture and it’s Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. 

The coming-of-age drama won the festival’s People’s Choice Award and that is no minor development. 12 of the past 13 victors have received a BP nod. Five of them have won. And that’s enough to allow Belfast the designation of soft frontrunner (with lots of time to go and lots yet to be seen). However, the fact of the matter is, you have to go back to 2006’s The Departed to find a BP winner that didn’t screen at one of the higher profile festivals.

The Power of the Dog was a runner-up for the People’s Choice prize and it slides just one spot. Director Jane Campion  maintains top billing in her category.

There are further developments to point out:

    • King Richard is back in my top 10 BP projections edging out The Humans. The Will Smith sports drama also enters Original Screenplay over C’Mon C’Mon.
    • Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) is in for Best Director over Ridley Scott for House of Gucci.
    • The praise for Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is enough to put her at #2 in Actress. It’s not enough to dislodge Kristen Stewart (Spencer) from her ruling perch. I will admit that the subpar box office grosses for Faye this weekend doesn’t help, but I’m relatively confident at this juncture that she’s in.
    • The revolving door that is slot #5 in Best Actor lands on Joaquin Phoenix (C’Mon C’Mon) over Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley).
    • Big changes in Supporting Actor as Jamie Dornan (Belfast) and Jared Leto (House of Gucci) are in. Dropping are Dornan’s costar Ciaran Hinds and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).
    • While the Supporting Actress five stays intact, I’ve vaulted Ann Dowd (Mass) back to the top spot.

By this time next Sunday, we will know the buzz for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth as it opens the New York Film Festival this Friday. Stay tuned for my Oscar Predictions post on that next weekend.

You can peruse all the action below and the forecasts will be updated next Sunday!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 4) (+3)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Dune (PR: 5) (+1)

5. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (-2)

6. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (+1)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (-1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 8) (E)

9. Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. King Richard (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. The Humans (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Spencer (PR: 15) (+3)

13. CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Mass (PR: 14) (E)

15. The Hand of God (PR: 13) (-2)

16. Flee (PR: 17) (+1)

17. The French Dispatch (PR: 16) (-1)

18. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 19) (+1)

19. A Hero (PR: 18) (-1)

20. The Lost Daughter (PR: 20) (E)

21. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 24) (+3)

22. Being the Ricardos (PR: 22) (E)

23. Cyrano (PR: 23) (E)

24. Passing (PR: 21) (-3)

25. Parallel Mothers (PR: 25) (E)

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (-1)

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

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

9. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up (PR: 9) (E)

10. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Paolo Sorrentino, The Hand of God (PR: 10) (-1)

12. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee (PR: 13) (+1)

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

14. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero (PR: 14) (E)

15. Stephen Karam, The Humans (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 2) (-1)

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

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 6) (E)

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

8. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+3)

11. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up (PR: 12) (+1)

12. Emilia Jones, CODA (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Halle Berry, Bruised (PR: 15) (+1)

15. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: 14) (-1)

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

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

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

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 5) (-1)

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

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

9. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 11) (E)

12. Ben Foster, The Survivor (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Jude Hill, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Amir Jadidi, A Hero (PR: 12) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Adam Driver, Annette

Filippo Scott, The Hand of God

Simon Rex, Red Rocket

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

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

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Rooney Mara, Nightmare Alley (PR: 10) (+2)

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

10. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 11) (+1)

11. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (-4)

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

13. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Dakota Johnson, The Lost Daughter (PR: 15) (E)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

3. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 7) (+4)

4. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

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

7. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: 3) (-5)

9. Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog (PR: 9) (-1)

11. Willem Dafoe, Nightmare Alley (PR: 12) (+1)

12. David Alvarez, West Side Story (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Reed Birney, Mass (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Timothy Spall, Spencer

Benny Safdie, Licorice Pizza

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. Don’t Look Up (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Hand of God (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The French Dispatch (PR: 8) (-1)

10. A Hero (PR: 12) (+2)

11. Parallel Mothers (PR: 10) (-1)

12. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 13) (+1)

13. Being the Ricardos (PR: 11) (-2)

14. Last Night in Soho (PR: 14) (E)

15. Annette (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Blue Bayou

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Humans (PR: 3) (E)

4. House of Gucci (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 7) (E)

8. CODA (PR: 8) (E)

9. West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Passing (PR: 10) (E)

11. Cyrano (PR: 11) (E)

12. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 12) (E)

13. The Last Duel (PR: 13) (E)

14. The Green Knight (PR: 15) (+1)

15. In the Heights (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Oscar Watch: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen’s most famous and profitable alter ego returns this Friday via Amazon Prime with the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Or more specifically… Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (you can see why I abbreviated). The sequel to the surprise 2006 blockbuster was a surprise in itself as it was shot secretly this year.

If you’re asking whether the pic warrants an Oscar Watch post, I’ll remind you what happened 14 years ago. The original Borat scored a nod at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay (losing to The Departed). At the Golden Globes, the film itself made final cut in Best Musical/Comedy (losing to Dreamgirls) and Baron Cohen was victorious in Best Actor in that Musical/Comedy race.

The review embargo ended today and the results are mostly, well, very nice. With a current ranking of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, the general consensus is that it doesn’t quite the match the original but that it’s quite funny and often shocking and unexpectedly sweet. The latter description probably won’t be shared by Rudy Giuliani as headlines are suggesting he won’t like what ends up onscreen.

So could the sequel generate awards buzz? I have a hard time seeing part 2 contending in Adapted Screenplay. Yet the Globes could be a different story. Depending on how competitive the Musical/Comedy field is for Actor, Baron Cohen could find himself among the possibilities. It’s also worth mentioning that his costar Maria Bakalova (as the title character’s daughter) is getting some raves. Unfortunately for her, the Globes do not separate Drama and Musical/Comedy in the supporting races. I do think there’s an outside chance she gets some Oscar attention, but I wouldn’t count on it.

While the second Borat pic… or movie… or Moviefilm… may not garner Oscar love, its star still could. He is expected to be in the mix for Supporting Actor in The Trial of the Chicago 7 alongside his costars Mark Rylance and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (how many get in remains to be seen). My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Good Joe Bell

Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Good Joe Bell has screened at the Toronto Film Festival and the drama is eliciting markedly different reactions from critics. It comes from co-writers Larry McMurtry and Dianna Ossana, who penned the Oscar winning adapted screenplay 15 years ago for Brokeback Mountain. Mark Wahlberg stars in the title role in this true story of a man walking the country following a tragedy involving his gay son.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating is currently 75%, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Some reaction is quite positive with Wahlberg’s performance being praised. Same goes for Reid Miller, who is said to be a breakout in the part of his child. Variety, on the other hand, deems the whole film “terrible”.

This seems to preview what could be wildly divergent opinions of the feature and that could spell trouble come awards time. Wahlberg has a limited history at the Oscars as he’s only been nominated once. That was a rather surprising nod for 2006’s The Departed. He was the only performer in the top 4 quartet of 2010’s The Fighter not to receive a nomination. Costars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were victorious in the supporting fields.

I doubt that Wahlberg will make the final five in Best Actor a few months from now, but he might creep into the top 15 in my weekly Thursday nominations. The distributor’s best hope could be Miller if they mount a strong campaign in Supporting Actor. It’s just as possible that Bell is ignored completely in the races to come. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscars 2019: The Case of Martin Scorsese

My Case of posts for Oscar nominees now focuses on the fourth director profiled – Martin Scorsese for The Irishman:

The Case for Martin Scorsese

One of the most acclaimed filmmakers in cinematic history, Scorsese’s epic Netflix gangster drama marks his ninth nomination for Best Director. Previous nods were for Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, GoodFellas, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Hugo, and The Wolf of Wall Street. If you’re wondering why Taxi Driver isn’t among the pictures included, so am I. His only victory came for The Departed and there’s  a feeling that Oscar voters have snubbed him in the past. The Irishman pulled in 10 nominations, which is tied for second with 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

The Case Against Martin Scorsese

The Irishman has gone from a Best Picture front runner to a serious long shot. This is thanks mostly to 1917 and Parasite. Therefore the Best Director derby is now seen as a battle between Sam Mendes and Bong Joon-Ho.

The Verdict

Scorsese’s win total will almost certainly be 1/9 after Sunday night as his movie’s hopes have faded in this and other categories.

My Case of posts will continue with Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Oscars 2019: The Case of The Irishman

Continuing with my Oscar series outlining the cases for and against nominees in the top six categories, we arrive at Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. This is my second of (gulp) 34 posts for films and individuals picked in the Picture, Director, and the acting races. If you missed yesterday’s writeup about Ford v Ferrari, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/01/14/oscars-2019-the-case-of-ford-v-ferrari/

Let’s get to it!

The Case for The Irishman

Scorsese’s latest is an epic unification of screen legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in the genre they’re known best for… the gangster tale. The three and a half hour opus certainly has awards gravitas. It was pegged as a likely nominee from the moment it was announced. Both Pacino and Pesci were named in Supporting Actor and the pic sports 10 nominations, which is tied for second along with 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Scorsese is obviously a legendary figure and this is his ninth effort to get a Picture nod (the only winner being 2006’s The Departed).

The critics have been on its side and it has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. Several critics group named it as the year’s best.

The Case Against The Irishman

That attention has not translated to the big awards shows yet. The Golden Globes surprised most when they picked 1917 over this in Best Drama. The Critics Choice Awards chose Hollywood. Some have griped about its length. De Niro, unlike Pacino and Pesci, couldn’t manage a nod with the Globes, SAG, or the Academy. And then there’s the still unsettled notion that the Academy could have a Netflix problem, despite the streamer leading this year’s studios in total number of nominations. In 2018, Roma appeared to be the front runner until that Netflix property lost to Green Book. 

The Verdict

There was little doubt that The Irishman would garner plenty of attention in various categories, including here. Yet viability as a winner is much in question. Scorsese’s latest could still take the top prize, but it appears to be a bit of a long shot at the moment.

Up next in my Case of posts… Jojo Rabbit!

The Irishman Takes The NBR

The National Board of Review announced its victors this afternoon for their best of 2019. For the pictures and performers who were named as winners, you could say that it’s a double edged sword.

Allow me to explain. In this 2010’s, only one of their Best Film recipients took home Best Picture at the Oscars. That was last year with Green Book. This year, the award goes to Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. So from an odds perspective, that could mean it faces an uphill battle for the big gold statue. On the other hand, all of the NBR Film winners from this decade, with the exception of 2014’s A Most Violent Year, have scored an Academy nod. This isn’t really in doubt for The Irishman so expect that trend to continue.

The Board always goes on to name their additional favorite 10 motion pictures and this year they are: 1917, Dolemite Is My Name, Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Richard Jewell, Uncut Gems, and Waves. In 2018, only three of the ten additional NBR selections got Picture noms: Black Panther, Roma and A Star Is Born. Some notable titles that didn’t make the NBR cut for 2019: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Bombshell, The Farewell, Joker, Little Women, Parasite, and The Two Popes. 

When it comes to Best Director, the news is even worse for the NBR recipient. No movie this decade has seen that winner match with Oscar. In fact, the last direct match was in 2006 for… Irishman maker Scorsese for The Departed. The NBR named Quentin Tarantino today for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He’s got history against his side for a walk up the Academy steps.

In Best Actor, it’s the same story as only Casey Affleck for 2016’s Manchester by the Sea won NBR and Oscar in the 2010s. Adam Sandler is the winner for Uncut Gems. He’s part of a packed Best Actor race where there’s about a dozen viable candidates looking for five spots. This victory could at least help him get in as only Oscar Isaac (Violent Year in 2014) and Tom Hanks (2017’s The Post) didn’t land nods.

The numbers improve only slightly for Best Actress with two matches: Julianne Moore for 2014’s Still Alice and Brie Larson for 2015’s Room. The NBR bestowed the award this year to Renee Zellweger for Judy, who could be considered a soft front-runner for Oscar.

This brings us to Brad Pitt, winner today for Supporting Actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He also holds the status of apparent favorite to win the Academy’s love. Yet there’s just two matches this decade between them and NBR: Christian Bale in 2010’s The Fighter and Christopher Plummer from 2011’s Beginners. 

Last year was the only match of the decade for Supporting Actress: Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. Kathy Bates took the NBR for Richard Jewell. I don’t see her winning the Oscar, but it could help her nomination odds.

In Original Screenplay, it’s interesting to note that 7 of the past nine NBR winners didn’t even get an Oscar nomination. Could that be a sign of trouble for honoree Uncut Gems? Time will tell…

And for Adapted Screenplay, the NBR went with The Irishman. Par for the course, just two matches here: 2010’s The Social Network and 2011’s The Descendants. 

Bottom line: the NBR announcements might help with fleshing out who certain nominees will be. As far as winners, that’s a whole different story…

Oscar Watch: The Irishman

The biggest Oscar domino not yet fall screened has been Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, the three and a half hour gangster drama headlined by genre legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. That changed today. The epic opened the New York Film Festival exactly two months ahead of its Netflix debut. And – no real surprise here – it appears to be a serious contender.

The Irishman is said to be both a humorous and contemplative piece with De Niro and Pacino providing their best performances in years. Same goes for Pesci as he’s been away from the silver screen for nearly a decade.

While nearly all reviews are positive, they’re not all raves. My early hunch is that this will earn Picture and Director nods. Winning is another story and that is one still left to play out. The Rotten Tomatoes score is at 100%. This will likely mark Scorsese’s ninth nomination (he’s won once for 2006’s The Departed). That’s also his only effort to be named Best Picture. The Adapted Screenplay from Steve Zaillian should also make the final cut.

Down the line recognition presents many chances including Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, and Visual Effects. For the latter, the de-aging technology that allows its stars to look younger could attract the notice of that branch. The pic would actually be the second Scorsese title to get a Visual Effects nod after 2011’s Hugo (which won).

Now to the thespians. The thinking is that De Niro will be in lead actor with Pacino and Pesci in supporting. It sounds as if they will be the trio in contention. De Niro would gunning for his eighth appearance as a nominee. He won Supporting for 1974’s The Godfather Part II and lead in Scorsese’s 1980 masterwork Raging Bull. I’ve had him listed in spot #6 for some time in my weekly rankings. I could still see him missing the cut as his role is said to be less flashy than his costars, but I think his chances are better today. Numerous critics have stated that Pacino steals the show and he’s going for nomination #9 (his sole win is 1992’s Scent of a Woman). Like De Niro, I’ve had him slotted sixth and I expect him to enter the top five in a supporting actor race that is already jam packed. As for Pesci (who won for 1990’s Scorsese classic GoodFellas), other reviewers are singling him out. That opens the door for two men to be nominated in the supporting race for the second time since 1991 when Harvey Keitel (who’s also in this) and Ben Kingsley were recognized for Bugsy. This occurred again two years ago with Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Pesci is not the near sure thing Pacino is, but it could happen.

Bottom line: The Irishman did what it needed to do in the Big Apple to establish itself as a player in awards chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…